Many may be surprised to see Fnatic on top of this list after they lost their star player, Rasmus â€˜Capsâ€™ Winther, to title rivals G2. However, Fnatic still has the advantage of existing synergy within their squad. Fnatic has the best coach in Europe - six-time EU LCS champion Joey â€˜Youngbuckâ€™ Steltenpool and the rest of their roster proved their worth at Worlds. Martin â€˜Rekklesâ€™ Larsson will become the star-man once more while Gabriel â€˜Bwipoâ€™ Rau and Mads â€˜Broxahâ€™ Brock-Pedersen are capable of stepping up while promising rookie Tim â€˜Nemesisâ€™ Lipovsek settles in.
G2 have potentially formed the most formidable roster in Western LoL history with the signing of Caps and fellow superstar mid-laner Luka â€˜Perkzâ€™ Perkovic role-swapping to ADC. The mechanical ability of this roster is sublime if everything clicks there will be very little chance of stopping them. Despite that, Perkzâ€™s move is a big risk and Marcin â€˜Jankosâ€™ Jankowski isnâ€™t always consistent. Expect this team to have high highs and low lows at first.
Misfits has had an excellent off-season as the organization pulled out all the stops during the free-agency period - forming a very impressive roster. Korean player Kang â€˜Gorillaâ€™ Beom-hyeon is one of the greatest supports of all time and Paul â€˜sOAZâ€™ Boyer is the most decorated Western player of all time. The mixture of experience and raw talent give this team an extremely high ceiling but itâ€™s going to take time for the team to mould - especially as this is Gorillaâ€™s first season outside of Korea. This team will be title contenders but the Spring Split might come a little too early.
Vitality shocked everyone at the World Championships earlier this year as they nearly escaped the â€˜group of deathâ€™ - taking games off tournament favourites Royal Never Give Up and the previous champions Gen.G (formerly Samsung Galaxy). The group of rookies won the hearts of fans around the world but this is no longer their breakout year - they have to show up once more. The team has added even more firepower with the signing of young Korean jungler Lee â€˜Mowgliâ€™ Jae-ha from Afreeca Freecs. Vitality spent most of their time at Worlds scrimming with Mowgli so the organisation will have little doubt of his talent or work ethic - plus he already has quite good English skills. The team will be more certain of their quality now but will have to remain hungry in order to avoid stagnating.
One of the most successful teams in EU LCS history, Origen, has returned with the backing of top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive organisation, Astralis. The organisation has formed a strong core of backroom staff and a talented roster. The biggest question mark is experienced support Alfonso â€˜Mithyâ€™ Aguirre Rodriguez who struggled on TSM in the NA LCS. However, he is a veteran who can lead a team and new bot-lane partner is probably the fresh change his career needed. If Mithy hits his stride, Origen will be dark horses.
Splyce has returned and has upgraded a lot of their roster despite losing Yasin â€˜Nisqyâ€™ Dincer to Cloud9. Support Tore â€˜Norsekerenâ€™ Hoel looks to be a good pick up and could form a formidable partnership with Kasper â€˜Kobbeâ€™ Kobberup. The really interesting part of this roster is their two junglers, Andrei â€˜Xerxeâ€™ Dragomir and new signee Sebastian â€˜Tierwulfâ€™ Andres Mateluna from Chile. That adaptability could be crucial in gaining a playoffs place but the teams above them simply look stronger on paper.
Itâ€™s been a torrid off-season for Schalke as the German football club has lost the majority of its LoL roster and background staff that helped the team finish second last Summer. Holding onto talented ADC Elias â€˜Upsetâ€™ Lipp was probably their biggest coup of the free-agency period. The organisation has done well to rebuild with Dylan Falco, the coach who took Fnatic to the Worlds final this year, joining the organization but all the unrest of the off-season and the general increase in level of the league will make things difficult for them.
The final three is expected to be made up by these three remaining teams but we think exceL has the edge with the bold move of creating a 10-man roster. The most experienced three are Englishman Raymond â€˜KaSingâ€™ Tsang, former G2 top laner Ki â€˜Expectâ€™ Dae-han and former Unicorns of Love mid-laner Fabian â€˜Exilehâ€™ Schubert. The latter is a double edged sword, either taking over the game or throwing with over aggression. If the teamâ€™s large group of background staff can tame the mid-laner and take full advantage of the rosterâ€™s flexibility, exceL could punch above their weight.
As an organisation, Rogue has impressed so far with their marketing but on the Rift could be a different story. The star of the team is former G2 support Kim â€˜Wadidâ€™ Bae-in however, the Korean is better known for his play on picks like Tahm Kench who rely heavily on teammates. Iâ€™m not convinced Rogue has the firepower to take advantage of that. Jungler Mateusz â€˜Kikisâ€™ Szkudlarek is another standout on the team as the jungler played a huge part in getting Vitality to Worlds. The Polish player is finally getting his chance to lead a team but he faces an uphill struggle with the tough competition in this league.
The SK Gaming roster is the biggest question mark going into the Spring Split with a mixture of imports and rookies. Three of the players are from the talented roster of Spanish organisation MAD Lions who won the most recent European Masters. The star of the team will be talented Korean mid-laner Choi â€˜Pireanâ€™ Jun-sik who spent a long time in the America before occasionally subbing in for Lee â€˜Fakerâ€™ Sang-hyeok on SKT last season. Vitality proved a team of rookies can exceed expectations but that seems like a step too far for this roster.