Is the Next Breed of LEC Talent Finally Here?
The fourth week of the 2020 LEC Spring Split gave us something unexpected: a good, thorough look at the next breed of LEC talent. To say that these “new kids on the block” are staggeringly talented would truly be an understatement. It’s not just that they’re young and hungry and competitive, but also the fact that they see the game differently and, therefore, compete in a somewhat different style.
Such a thing is only natural when a passing of the guard occurs. The old veterans who’ve been playing for over half a decade eventually get phased out and with them goes a certain style of League of Legends. They’ve played through many different metas and iterations of the game, but this constant struggle to adapt with each new patch and season leaves a mark — they become less aggressive, creative, and flexible.
Of course, with age comes experience and with it comes wisdom, so it’s an interesting trade-off. You lose a bit of your edge but gain something perhaps equally as valuable. Still, esports is and always was a “young man’s game.” League of Legends gets updated on a bi-weekly cycle. It allows Riot to keep things fresh but after a while the game changes in a more in-depth, layered way. This shift isn’t immediately noticeable, but it exists all the same.
These up-and-coming rookies, they don’t carry any of the baggage. They might have played the game for many years but not on a competitive level. Therefore, they view the meta and its many intricate layers with fresh eyes and, by proxy, approach things differently. They’re more bold, unhinged, they worry less about the weight of their actions and are often fighting for every inch of the Summoner’s Rift.
In other words, they want a piece of the spotlight.
Staking a Claim in the LEC
2020 truly did usher in a different kind of era, one that is brimming with the LEC talent of tomorrow. Misfits Gaming brought many new faces to the LEC, as did MAD Lions and Team Vitality. To the uninitiated, these rookies might not have seemed all that competitive or worthy of attention coming into the split, but they earned their shot at playing on the LEC stage by bulldozing through the “little leagues.”
Their talent and potential were evident from the moment they stepped foot on stage. Well, in some cases, at least. Certain players shined bright immediately, whereas others needed a bit of time. In both cases, however, most of us were not left indifferent.
MAD Lions are currently a Top 5 team in the LEC. Yet, they’ve accomplished such a feat with just a single veteran among their ranks (Marek “Humanoid” Brázda). Heck, calling Humanoid a veteran feels strange, but when compared to his teammates he certainly brings a lot more experience to the table. And yet he was hard carried often during the first few weeks of play when he was underperforming. His allies rallied and made the world take notice. These up-and-comers aren’t playing like a bunch of scrubs, but instead like the superstars of tomorrow.
That’s a big, theatrical statement, but it doesn’t make it any less true. There is a lot to say about the clash of old vs. young. The LEC broadcast was the first to jump on the hype train for marketing purposes.
Initially, once you hear these hype-inducing lines, you think “of course they’re not going to do much.” But then you see them in action. You see the seriousness and focus with which they play. Then suddenly, you’re not so sure what to think. They’re fighting their hearts out. It shows. They’re going blow for blow with some of the best and most accomplished teams in the region.
Who would’ve thought? We’ve had many hype trains over the years. Almost each one of them quickly derailed. This time, however, things feel different.
We have Rogue, another spectacular challenger brimming with young LEC talent. They might not be the most consistent team around, but their potential is undeniable. The same thing is happening with MAD Lions and their LEC roster as well. Their wins are far from flukes. They’ve displayed admirable cohesion and team fighting prowess on more than one occasion. All of this (and a stellar 5W-3L record) after just a couple of months of play. They didn’t have much time to synergize, but when you pair a well-rounded team with the spectacular coaching staff, you’re bound to end up with a successful, resilient line-up.
No one’s even quite sure where to rank Misfits Gaming either. They’re on a six-game win streak, which is… unexpected, to say the least. Are they good? Are they just going through the patented honeymoon phase? They’ve beaten both Origen and G2 Esports. While you can certainly make a case for both wins being “flukes” (Origen experimenting with their draft and G2 deciding to troll), they still had to go blow for blow with some of the best players in the region to triumph.
That’s not a small accomplishment. Not in the slightest.
So, things are changing. Enough time has passed. We finally see the next breed of LEC talent come forth in the form of MAD Lions and their contemporaries — and they’re fearless. If you’re a fan of top-tier play, there’s more than enough reason to tune in every Friday and Saturday and watch these “kids” test their mettle against the European pantheon.
Perhaps the best thing of all, is that they’re winning. It’s not a mismatch by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a fight between seemingly equal competitors. That’s why it’s so darn exciting. You can’t predict anything with confidence.
These newcomers see things differently. They’re unburdened by any preconceived, age-old notion on how the game should be played. Instead, they thrive off instinct. They’re hungry, talented and know their time has come.
Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság is already making a statement with his insane damage output (598 DPM at the time of this writing with an equally impressive 33.3% damage share), but he’s not the only one who’s making waves. There are many spectacular candidates for the “Rookie of the Split” award, which is one of the main indicators that Europe, as a region, is growing in many new and exciting ways.
It feels like the fight for the LEC throne will be fiercer than ever. Watching things unfold (especially the impending action-packed playoffs) will be an absolute must.