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Early winners and losers of the LEC off-season

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Expert
3rd December, 2018
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After Europe’s best overall showing at Worlds since Season One, it might seem a bit obvious to say that the LEC is going to be fascinating next year.

I’m going to say it anyway, though: LEC is going to be fascinating. You heard it here first.

It’s not just a matter of looking back at Worlds with rose-tinted glasses either. Changes to rosters, franchising rules and the addition of completely new organisations are all in the mix, alongside some returning favourites like SK Gaming.

Indeed, it’s been difficult to keep up with all the transfers, be they rumoured or confirmed.

Who will emerge with the best team on paper at the end of it all remains to be seen – we still don’t know a single SK player, for example.

And that might not even matter when the players hit The Rift; we’ve seen teams filled with super-stars crash and burn plenty of times in the past.

It’s still early days, but I’m sure you, like me, find yourself weighing up each transfer and trying to figure out which team is ‘winning’ the off season.

How valuable is the addition of Caps to G2? How badly might Misfits miss Alphari? What will Mowgli bring to Vitality? This week I’m going to have a pop at as many of that type of question as I can.

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Let’s start with Caps and G2, shall we? It’s a weird one, especially as we still don’t really know what’s going on with Perkz. ESPN confirmed that he is probably moving to the AD Carry role after the addition of Caps but with Hjarnan still on the roster, it remains to be seen how that will work out.

It’s also strange because Perkz showed during Worlds that he is still capable of mixing it with some of the best mid laners in the world. Caps had his moments, and we know how good he can be, but you could argue that he was one of the quieter players in Fnatic’s runner-up campaign.

Even if Caps rediscovers the form that got everyone excited about him in the first place, I question whether he’s that much better than Perkz that it’s worth rocking the boat this much.

Maybe Perkz is secretly an AD Carry God and my fears are misplaced, but I can’t help thinking about xPeke in the dying days of Origen struggling to be relevant on Sivir.

On the flip side of the Caps deal, Fnatic are definitely losing out. I said above that had a fairly quiet Worlds, but that is in the context of him being the best mid-laner in the regular season.

He had the most kills in the league (10 more than Perkz), placed 2nd for damage percentage and was less than two cold behind Caps in gold earned per minute.

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Nemesis is good – Fnatic doesn’t pick up bad players nowadays – but is he Caps good? That’s a tough sell.

Fnatic play during the Worlds

Members of team Fnatic, left and second right, and Invictus GamingPhotographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Speaking of former Fnatic players, Soaz moving to Misfits might secretly be the start of something great for a team that had a disappointing end to 2018. After going undefeated for weeks, they dropped off a cliff towards the end of Summer Split and failed to qualify for Worlds.

After nearly beating SKT in the quarter-finals of the previous year, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Enter Korean legend Gorilla and the always-underrated Soaz and I like the direction this team is headed. Losing Alphari – the team’s best performing player – isn’t ideal, but Soaz is at least as good as the Brit, if not better. Gorilla is a strict upgrade to Mikyx, but Febiven is where I’m less certain.

Febiven didn’t exactly set the NA LCS alight this year, despite picking up his first career pentakill. Sencux never looked like an irreplaceable part of Misfits, though, so the move makes sense. If Febiven can get back to the form he showed on Fnatic once upon a time then Misfits can really make an impact on the LEC.

I don’t have room to go into every single transfer without this article turning into a novella, but I will just touch on Vitality before I sign off.

Vitality had an exceptional 2018 and qualified for Worlds via the arcane points system that RIOT employs. We know what happened once they got there, and so it’s a relief that the highly entertaining nearly-men of Worlds 2018 have so far maintained or improved upon their previous roster.

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Kikis, the mega merc did his job and is now moving onto pastures new. His team history on gamepedia is as long as my arm, as is his list of achievements, but Mowgli is an exciting though unexpected replacement.

I like the fact that Vitality hasn’t gone overboard with the changes but is instead looking to build on the foundations already laid.

Mowgli, too, will be looking to put a disappointing ending to 2018 behind him. He was used only sparingly by Afreeca Freecs all year and held a 50 per cent win rate during regular season and playoffs alike.

He barely played at all during Worlds, and will be relishing the opportunity to having a leading role on Vitality. Both parties in this move are hungry for improvement and that could prove to be a perfect recipe for success.