Biggest 2020 LEC Summer Split Winners
With the 2020 LEC Summer Split officially behind us, let’s take a closer look at who stood out the most — the biggest winners and teams that have managed to leave a mark. As is always the case, there can only be one champion; therefore, only a handful of players can truly be considered as “winners.” Still, there are many ways to gauge a team’s success, and hoisting the LEC trophy — while certainly a dream of many — isn’t the only thing that matters. Instead, it’s all about the incremental upgrades and adjustments that have to happen daily for a team to gradually improve and, eventually, stand a chance of making history.
With that said, let’s focus on the biggest winners of the 2020 LEC Summer Split.
G2 Esports — The Definitive Kings
Coming into the 2020 LEC Summer Split finals, G2 and Fnatic both had seven titles apiece. That, in itself, is just mind-blowing. They’ve been trading places at the throne, without any intention of letting someone else try it out — not even for a moment. They’re two of the best and most talented teams Europe ever fostered.
G2 belongs on this list because no list of winners could ever be truly complete without them. This time around, we’ve seen the age-old G2 Esports: they slacked off, they improvised, they fooled around whenever they wanted and then, when it mattered the most, kicked things into high gear and just obliterated Fnatic in the grand finals (for what feels like is the millionth time). It’s hard to explain just how much talent these individuals need to possess to pull off such a thing. It’s baffling. And also somewhat unfair to the other nine LEC permanent partners. Then again, it’s not their fault they’re better than everyone else.
But toying with their opposition on European soil is nothing new or unexpected. We’ve seen them do it in the past as well. However, they need to prove their worth on the international stage against some of the best and most dangerous teams in the history of the game. They’ll have their hands full with four LPL behemoths and an LCK champion that looks mighty strong.
Fortunately, G2 isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. It’s the opposite — they’ve been itching for one ever since FunPlus Phoenix outclassed them in the 2019 World Championship finals.
Rogue — A Challenger At Long Last
2020 is the year Rogue finally broke through. Ever since they went on that huge (and quite surprising) streak back in 2019 Summer, everyone expected Rogue to come into 2020 and create absolute chaos. With an updated bottom lane duo, it seemed like quite a possibility. Unfortunately, this surge didn’t happen as soon as most of us thought it would. Still, better late than never.
As things stand, Rogue is one of the best and most capable teams the LEC has to offer. Just writing such a sentence makes one feel strange. For so long, whenever someone said “top teams” they pretty much meant G2 Esports and Fnatic. No one else fits the bill, no matter how hard they tried. But 2020 flipped the script, at least ever so slightly. And after many years of carbon-copy outcomes, this small, nuanced change hit like an earthquake.
The next breed of LEC talent is here, and it’s quite impressive. Now, granted, they’re still not as seasoned and experienced to take on the likes of G2 or Fnatic (at least not in a Best of 5), but they’re getting there and will no doubt leave a mark on European soil sooner or later.
Kacper “Inspired” Słoma and Emil “Larssen” Larsson stood out in more ways than one. Right now, they’re 90% superstars. The last 10% is what separates them from the absolute best. At the highest levels of play, 10% is more than enough to make a difference. Fortunately, they supplement each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses. When they’re both “online,” they’re a force to be reckoned with. That’s when they’re able to go blow for blow with the best teams in the LEC and even take them down. But if one of the two doesn’t perform quite well, then the duo itself crumbles almost momentarily. That’s a problem, as you can imagine.
Those last 10% are crucial. They can only be obtained through experience and time — there are no shortcuts. They need to win and lose and succeed and fail a lot more before they can truly realize their inherent potential. It’s a process riddled with trial and error. It consists of both seismic triumphs and crushing defeats. Fortunately, both players are still very young, and they’ll undoubtedly grow even further as time goes on.
2020 has given us a glimpse at Rogue’s potential, and no one was left indifferent. We can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the table in a couple of months once the 2021 Spring Split comes along.
MAD Lions — A Diamond in the Rough
Despite how their season concluded, MAD Lions are still more than worthy of the hype they’ve been getting. They are one of the most original and flexible challengers in the history of the region. The last time a team broke through with so much talent (and, more importantly, a different take on the game) was none other than G2 Esports.
How’s that for an introduction?
But despite their talent, there’s still a lot of work ahead of them. They’ve tasted both success and defeat in 2020, and they’ll even go to Worlds for their valiant efforts. That’s about as good of a first-year as you can hope for. 2021, therefore, will be the year we can rightfully and justifiably expect greatness from the MAD Lions bunch. They’re young, and they wear their inexperience on their sleeves, but it often ends up being a hindrance more than anything else.
They need to learn how to harness their talent and when to dial things down ever so slightly. They’re every bit as aggressive as G2 Esports, but they lack their experience and ability to pivot in a blink of an eye. When they enter their groove, it’s like they forget the rules of the game, which often ends up backfiring in quite spectacular fashion.
Their biggest mistakes and flaws are entirely justifiable, seeing how four-fifths of this lineup never had any LEC stage experience before 2020. They’re rookies, yet they’ve already accomplished more than most of their peers did in years. That’s what you get when you scout and assemble a roster with care and thought. MAD Lions’ coaching staff deserves a ton of praise as well, as they’ve enabled this young team in more ways than one.
Much like with Rogue, watching MAD Lions come 2021 should be at the top of your list of priorities.
SK Gaming — Better Than Expected
No one expected much from SK Gaming. That’s just pretty much a fact. They were, at best, a mid-tier gatekeeper. Seeing how they’re competing in one of the most stacked and competitive regions in the world, that’s not that bad of a title. Still, it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s certainly not what most players dream of when they first venture into competitive esports.
And while they didn’t exactly upset the long-established status quo, SK Gaming still did way better than anyone thought was possible. They did so without any world-renown superstar or hardcarry. Instead of putting all of their eggs into just one basket, the SK bunch decided to assign carrying duties democratically and fight their way towards victory as a five-man unit. And, despite the odds, they succeeded more often than not. They were disciplined, well-prepared, they drafted to their strengths, and fought their hearts out.
Their new head coach (and former LEC player) Jesse “Jesiz” Le also deserves a ton of praise for his work throughout the second half of 2020. That one signing alone made a world of difference and immediately pushed SK towards playoff contender status. No one’s quite sure whether they’ll undergo any immense changes during the off-season, but it’s fair to assume that we’ll see a couple of new faces under the SK banner come 2021. Still, if they keep Juš “Crownshot” Marušič and Dirk “ZaZee” Mallner (and perhaps upgrade in other areas), they’ll stand a chance of once again finding success.
Either way, watching their growth has been an absolute pleasure. We don’t see mid-tier gatekeepers improve all that often, making SK’s achievements all the more impressive.
Schalke 04 — A Most Historic Run
Schalke 04 has made history, and that fact alone is mind-blowing. Whenever there’s a miracle run happening, it’s mostly coming from a team that has stood the test of time, a group of veterans and talented superstars.
Schalke 04, frankly, is neither.
With only two veterans aboard, no one gave them much of a shot. But even when they had a single win, this feisty ragtag lineup went above and beyond to secure a spot in the playoffs. Their determination was astounding. Even though there will always be a small asterisk next to their accomplishment because it happened in an online-only environment, they still played better League of Legends than the vast majority of their peers.
And all of this happened in the presumed second-best region in the world. Calling it a success story wouldn’t do it justice. They didn’t accomplish much in the playoffs, but finishing in the Top 5 after having a 1W-10L record at one point is quite commendable.
They made the region take notice. Now everyone’s dying to see whether they’ll be able to replicate their success in a couple of months. Either way, they’ve earned our benefit of the doubt.
Honorable Mention: Fnatic — Incrementally Better
If you’re a Fnatic fan, 2020 was pretty much the bog-standard season. Inconsistent throughout, with a spectacular couple of performances in the playoffs. Then, as expected, the denouement: a shellacking in the finals. And like many instances when G2 Esports hoisted the trophy, Fnatic was on the receiving end of things.
So, frankly, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or unexpected throughout the year. There was a lot of flame from their fans (or “fans,” depending on how you want to put it), many seismic triumphs and crushing defeats. In the end, they finished near the very top of the standings. Still, Fnatic found new and exciting ways in which they could play the game. They grew both individually as well as a five-man unit. They were all on the same page, for better or worse. And Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek? Absolutely sublime. Coming into Worlds, this Polish powerhouse is one of the most dangerous and impactful junglers around. Many are expecting him to be the difference maker against the toughest opposition in the world.
Fnatic failed in the one thing they set out to do: take down G2. Then again, only the most optimistic fans expected that to happen. G2 is still stacked to the brim with talent. Fnatic can’t compete, and probably never will (at least not in this iteration). Still, they closed the gap ever so slightly. They’ve diversified their arsenal in important ways. In itself, that is a huge success, especially for a team that has historically relied so heavily on Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
They’ve kept their position safe in a region that’s ever-changing; that is reason alone to put them on our list of biggest 2020 LEC Summer Split winners. The fact that they’re still playing second fiddle to G2 Esports (and no one else) is a true testament to Fnatic’s endurance. That’s how good G2 is. They’re the benchmark by which we gauge others’ strength and long-term potential.