The Biggest Winners of the 2020 LEC Spring Split
With the 2020 Spring Split officially behind us, let’s take a closer look at the biggest LEC winners, listed in no particular order. First of all, we need to create a set of criteria. What constitutes a winner? How do we fully and objectively assess a team and their accomplishments (or lack thereof)? There’s only one “true” winner in the end, and that, in the case of LEC, is G2 Esports — the most dominant roster ever assembled on European soil.
But a team doesn’t have to necessarily win the whole split or leave much of a mark to be deemed as a winner. That might sound confusing, but just have in mind that each team enters a competitive season with varying amounts of hype and momentum. They all have different narratives. Some of them are favored to dominate from the very get-go. Others, however, are immediately deemed as an underdog and they have to fight tooth and nail to prove everyone wrong.
Any kind of deviation (be it positive or negative) from these widespread expectations can then be used to further classify these teams and their results into potential “winners” and “losers.” Just because no one truly managed to give G2 a run for their money doesn’t mean they didn’t have their triumphs and team-wide achievements.
With that in mind, we will divide the 2020 LEC Spring Split winners into two simple groups: the first one will revolve around the teams that performed better than expected and will have at least some hype and momentum coming into Summer; the second group will cover two teams that technically did impress, but failed in one key way or another.
With that out of the way, let’s begin our list of the biggest 2020 LEC Spring Split winners!
The Three Biggest Winners
Even if you didn’t believe in MAD Lions and their inherent potential coming into 2020, you’re probably all aboard the hype train now after watching them challenge G2 Esports in the playoffs. They were the only team that consistently managed to trade blows with the defending champions. Add that to the fact that they hold wins against what everyone thought would end up being the LEC “top three:” G2 Esports, Fnatic, and Origen.
MAD Lions are the real deal, and they’ve accomplished more in their very first split than many of their peers did in years. Their upset win over G2 will go down in the history books as one of the most unexpected twists in the history of the region, and the fashion in which it occurred made everything that much more exciting.
Even the biggest MAD faithfuls couldn’t expect this much success in such a staggeringly short amount of time. It defies reason, after all. They only had one “veteran” aboard, and yet they didn’t look it. Instead, MAD Lions fought their fight, regardless of the odds. There’s something inherently thrilling in their playstyle, and we’ve seen it on many different occasions throughout the split. They play without reserve or fear, a phenomenal virtue that is generally reserved only for the most experienced and mechanically gifted teams out there. They don’t have the pedigree to back it up, but they go for these off-the-wall plays and they play with supreme confidence nonetheless.
A good number of their players have already cemented their spot as some of the best and most promising talents we’ve seen in years, and their coaching staff — talented and stacked in their own right — helped push this rookie-filled line-up to mind-blowing success.
One has to wonder: if they’ve reached Top 3 after playing together for less than three months, how well will they perform by the end of Summer? There’s so much talent present within this line-up that it’s fair to say that they haven’t even scratched the surface.
With rookies like these, the future is bright for the LEC. We might have already been given a glimpse at a couple of superstars of tomorrow, and it’s impossible not to be hyped for what’s to come once the Summer Split comes along.
Next up, we have yet another rookie line-up with just a single seasoned veteran in the mid lane leading the charge. There are many similarities between MAD Lions and Misfits Gaming, and that’s a positive thing for everyone involved.
For a brief moment in time, Misfits Gaming looked nigh unbeatable, as strange as that might sound. They were riding an immense amount of momentum, and their in-game play left no one indifferent. That, however, didn’t last for long, as once others adapted and figured Misfits’ playstyle out, they didn’t have much of a backup plan. Fortunately, their stellar first half of the split allowed them to lock down a spot in the playoffs.
That, in itself, is a huge success and is worthy of the highest praise. Still, things are even better when you factor in the non-existent hype and momentum Misfits had coming into 2020. They had arguably the “cheapest” roster in the LEC and yet they found a ton of success nonetheless. No one believed in their line-up which, fortunately, didn’t deter them from upsetting the status quo, at least ever so slightly.
With a fantastic jungle/mid duo (one of which got the Rookie of the Split nod), Misfits were able to compete with the very best teams the LEC had to offer. Now sure, they were far from perfect and one could argue that they had glaring weaknesses which could easily be exploited, but they still fought and adapted to the best of their ability.
For a brand-new roster that was universally panned coming into Spring, that’s more than enough. Whether or not they’ll improve even further throughout the Summer Split remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there.
A special shoutout has to go to their head coach (and LEC/LCS legend) Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider. This League of Legends veteran was integral in Misfits’ success this split, and he managed to accomplish far more with a seemingly weaker roster than Misfits could with multiple superstars throughout 2019. v
Seeing a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs on this list kind of defies all logic and reason. There’s no other way to put it. Still, Schalke deserves to be here, if anything then for the way they’ve handled a seemingly horrendous series of events. After their polarizing AD carry decided to leave mid-split (six losses into the season, to be more exact), they scrambled to the best of their ability and even improved far more than anyone thought they could. It wasn’t easy and it took them a while, but the important part is that they finally looked like a cohesive unit by the end of Spring.
With fantastic performances from Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu and Nihat “Innaxe” Aliev, this relatively underwhelming roster became deceptively capable and competitive. The saddest part, however, was that they didn’t improve in time to salvage their otherwise abysmal split.
Schalke faced their (many) challenges head-on, and they persevered even in the harshest of conditions. They emerged stronger and are, therefore, winners. You can bet they’re going to enter Summer with a chip on their shoulder, and if they maintain their late Spring level of play, they might even be able to compete for a spot in the playoffs.
Close But No Cigar
What does one say about Fnatic and their 2020 Spring Split run? On the one hand, it was terrific. Some thought that losing Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen would turn them into a noticeably weaker team, but no such thing happened. It was the opposite. With Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek by their side, we saw a brand-new, unrelenting, bafflingly aggressive shade of Fnatic. It was quite the sight, really.
As the split went along — and their play improved with each passing week — it was impossible not to wonder whether they had what it took to compete with G2 Esports on even footing. Once G2 dropped a Best of 5 to MAD Lions, it felt like Fnatic were primed and ready to take over their long-lost throne.
It seemed like Europe once against had two incredibly competitive teams, two giants of seemingly equal strength and potential. Whoever thought that, however, was wrong. There is only one LEC champion and only one true king — G2 Esports. The fashion in which they demolished Fnatic mere days ago was mind-blowing. They played three perfect games in succession, made arguably no mistakes whatsoever, and schooled their biggest adversaries without breaking a sweat. Somehow, it felt “dirty,” even. Like they were playing with their food like they intentionally slacked off throughout the split only to remind everyone watching from home just how good they are. They’re peerless, and this one Best of 5 solidified their already (awe-inspiring) legacy.
For Fnatic, however, this was about as crushing a defeat as they could have. No matter their progress and inherent potential, it was a painful reminder of the seemingly endless gap between them — the second-best team in the region — and those who are on top.
Still, to lose a key player like Broxah and not skip a beat is worthy of praise, and Fnatic certainly impressed everyone with their incredible play throughout the season. It’s just the very end, the conclusion of it all that left a sour taste in one’s mouth.
Where do we even put Rogue, coming into Summer Split? Should they have our benefit of the doubt? Or were their losses and inherent inconsistency a bit too much; did it affect their stock in any meaningful way?
The answer, frankly, will depend solely on your own opinion. If you think they’re insanely talented and have a ton of potential, then you’re right. If, on the other hand, you believe they’ve been getting more hype than they’re worth, then there’s a fair bit of credence to that stance as well.
Who’ll be correct, in the end, depends on how Rogue adapt during the off-season. Admittedly, we’re talking about a very short time, a meager number of days that don’t give a lot of room for growth and introspection. They have potential, but that doesn’t mean they’ll act upon it and grow as much as necessary to compete with the very best teams in the region.
Right now, we have G2 on top, with Fnatic in sole possession of second place. MAD Lions are third, and Origen — talented though they are — cannot be placed any higher than fourth. Rogue was rarely as good as any of these teams, which means they’re, at best, the fifth most dangerous and stacked team the LEC has to offer. That’s not exactly a bad position to be in, but it’s not sensational either.
At its best, Rogue’s play is incredibly impressive. It’s so good that it makes you wonder whether or not you’re seeing a top-tier behemoth in the making or just a mid-tier gatekeeper who’s having a short flash of brilliance.
There’s always an utterly abysmal game following one of those mind-blowing flashes, and these “implosions” are every bit as baffling. Rogue, as a team, goes from zero to a hundred in a blink of an eye, only to plummet mere moments afterward. Just when you think they’ve fixed their issues, they go on and showcase a couple of new problems that they have to solve in time for next week’s games. One step forward, two steps back. Rinse and repeat.
The upcoming Summer Split should give us a big enough sample size to fully judge this line-up and deduce whether or not they’re the superstars of tomorrow or an incomplete “prototype” of the next breed of LEC talent.