With industry legends Fnatic currently sitting at the bottom of the standings, kept out of last place by only Excel and Schalke 04, now is the time for the new cream of the LEC to rise.
And rise it shall, with star players and killer rookie teams determined to make a name for themselves, and new heroes surfacing with every week of play.
- Read more: Fnatic suffer huge loss against G2 Esports
LEC Summer is heading into its fourth week (Picture: Riot Games)
Who’s the better ADC - Carzzy or Hans Sama?
At first glance, the answer to this question should appear fairly self-evident; with MAD Lions beating Rogue in week three in order to secure themselves a place at the top of the standings.
However, the battle of these two rookie AD Carries takes an interesting turn when we focus on their statistics in the split so far. MAD’s Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság is a damage-oriented carry, with his constant early lane trading, backed up by aggressive support Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser, netting him an average of 453.3 DPM. However, this aggressive playstyle often negatively impacts his ability to farm, with his average CS being 12.4 minions less than his lane opponent at 15 minutes.
Steven "Hans Sama" Liv, however, is completely the opposite: a slightly lower average DPM of 439.8 counterbalanced by an average of +5 creep score on his lane opponent at 15 minutes. As of right now, it’s impossible to say who is ‘better’, despite MAD sitting ahead of Rogue in the standings. However, it will be interesting to see whether one of the two can break away in the coming weeks, and secure their spot as the best AD Carry in the LEC.
What’s going on with Fnatic?
After an incredibly strong opening weekend, getting them off to a 3-0 start, Fnatic’s performance has crumbled in the past two weeks. They now sit joint fourth in the standings, beating out only Excel and Schalke in terms of total wins.
Despite a strong early game, netting themselves first blood in 71% of their matches, it feels as though they are unable to translate these leads into meaningful advantages. Despite their high early game kill pressure, in the majority of their games they’re the first team to lose a tower, and they generally average a CS deficit at 15 minutes; statistics which speak to excessive lane aggression at the expense of game winning advantages, which is particularly noticeable in the support and top lane roles.
AD Carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson is responsible for the highest share of the team’s damage, yet one of his two most player champions is Soraka; a supportive bot laner whose damage output is almost negligible.
It feels as though Fnatic have lost their identity in favour of needless innovation - an issue which coach Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez will hopefully be looking to fix moving forward in the LEC.
Who are the LEC’s best performing players right now?
With uncharacteristically poor performances from the LEC’s historically two best teams, the Summer Split has offered new players a chance at the spotlight; with EU becoming a region famous for its rookie talent, thanks largely to it’s Emerging Regional League (ERL) structure.
Of these rookies, perhaps the most notable are the MAD Lions roster, in which every player except midlaner Marek "Humanoid" Brázda is in their first year of competition in a major region.
Other notable players include Rogue’s mid laner Emil "Larssen" Larsson, currently the second highest-scoring player in the LEC’s official fantasy league, and Juš "Crownshot" Marušič, an AD Carry in his second year of professional play, taking the majority of responsibility for SK Gaming’s surprisingly strong performance.
Are SK a top-tier team?
SK have been making waves in the LEC recently, having already equalled their Spring Split wins only three weeks into Summer.
Their abysmal performance in Spring looked as though it would remain the same into Summer, with the team making changes in the support and jungle roles, and role swapping mid laner Janik "Jenax" Bartels to top lane; with role swaps being a move that has historically not provided great amounts of success (here’s looking at you, G2).
However, the introduction of new mid laner Dirk "ZaZee" Mallner, and his subsequent synergy with jungler Kim "Trick" Gang-yun, has corrected SK’s early game issues, allowing them to progress to a late game where their not-so-secret weapon, AD Carry Juš "Crownshot" Marušič, can shine.
And shine he does, having done over 30% of his team’s damage so far this split, while maintaining an average CS differential of +5.9 at 15 minutes.
SK’s adaptations in mid and jungle have allowed their carry to truly excel. With the introduction of ex-player and Misfits coach Jesse "Jesiz" Le as their Head Coach too, it looks as though the team truly deserves its current 3rd place standing.
More importantly, the team seems happy; their recent voice comms series showcasing their in-game synergy, impressive for a team with so many new components.
Why isn’t Graves finding EU success?
Simply put, because EU teams don’t trust their junglers. In China, the region where Graves has seen the most success, lanes are far more willing to put themselves behind in order to gain their jungler an advantage; unsurprising in a region whose entire play style is centred on a mastery of early-game skirmishing.
Supportive mid picks like Galio and Sett are much more popular, and free up junglers to carry. One key example of this is in FunPlus Phoenix's jungler Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang - a hyper-aggressive jungler whose midlaner, the infamous Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, is renowned for his supportive roaming style of midlane play, a style which enables aggressive picks such as Graves and Nidalee for his jungler.
However, no such synergy is to be found in Europe, with players much less likely to sacrifice a lane advantage for the sake of securing their jungler a successful early invade. Until EU’s mids learn to be a little more self-sacrificing, Graves will remain an unsuccessful pick, with his current win record in the LEC sitting at 0-4, the only jungle pick (besides Kindred) to currently be winless in Europe.
Graves is most popular in China (Picture: Riot Games)