Things in the LEC look incredibly different with the 2023 season about to begin. There are new players, new teams, and a brand-new format that could improve international performance. The name has even changed as the E in LEC now stands for EMEA, the region’s new name following the merger of Europe, CIS, Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa.
With there now being three splits, quickly forming team synergy and starting the season well is crucial. With that in mind, I’m going to look at all 10 teams and judge not only their potential but how I think they’ll perform in the short term.
Finn "Finn" Wiestål is a good signing in the top lane. The mechanically talented Swede had a good showing at the LEC Kickoff Event and could be a real bright spark for his new team.
But it seems that the hopes of this team lie solely on the very young shoulders of their new Jungler Doğukan "113" Balcı. The 18-year-old has mountains of potential; hence why French powerhouse Karmine Corp took a chance on him to accompany Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
However, the Turkish Jungler struggled desperately throughout 2022 and seemingly wasn’t ready for the step up then. To see him in the LEC this year is a big surprise.
This could be the making of him but the reality is that he and his team are going to struggle.
Excel have a world-class Top-laner in Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir is a very intelligent Jungler and Vincent "Vetheo" Berrié was one of the strongest players in the league last year despite being so young. Bot-laner Patrik “Patrik” Jírů has always been Excel’s biggest star and Raphaël "Targamas" Crabbé is one of Europe’s best Support players.
This team could be genuine title contenders. However, despite the fact that I highly rate every single member of this squad, I still have my doubts. Especially for the Winter split, as I think there is a very good chance that this group won’t gel immediately. Will “Vetheo” and “Patrik” be able to share resources? “Vetheo” is known for making comebacks but where does that fit in with the aggressive early roaming from “Targamas”?
I’d be cautious of getting too excited about Excel just yet.
With just a new bot lane, Fnatic should be one of the strongest teams in the league early on, though we know that last season’s squad was consistently inconsistent.
Rúben "Rhuckz" Barbosa is a very promising rookie, as shown by his two deathless substitute appearances in the Worlds play-ins last year. He may very well be more consistent than Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov but those are still huge shoes to fill.
And while “Rekkles” is a legend in the game, I don’t think he’s as strong as he once was. After lacklustre showings for G2 and Karmine Corp, I just don’t see him being a difference-maker like Elias “Upset” Lipp was. However, maybe Fnatic wants other players to shine more.
This is definitely a very strong line-up but a meltdown or a shocking early exit from the playoffs wouldn’t surprise me.
Another team with huge expectations, the new bot lane duo of Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle will be expected to dominate the league. And we all know the threat of Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik and Rasmus “Caps” Winther.
However, all eyes will be on rookie Jungler Martin "Yike" Sundelin. The youngster demanded attention at the EU Masters by registering the second-highest average kills (5.4), just 0.1 behind the leader who played six fewer games.
He’s certainly talented but his signing is a huge gamble, especially in such an impactful role. There’s no doubt that G2 will miss the experience of Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski. Without him, the team desperately needs to figure out their identity sooner rather than later.
The rebranded Rogue team have to be title favourites heading into the season, considering they’re reigning champions and have made just one change.
Losing “Odoamne” is obviously a huge blow for the team that heavily benefitted from his consistency. In his place is Mathias "Szygenda" Jensen who gets a second chance in the LEC after having a tough time with Team Vitality.
Rogue and Jungler Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong benefitted heavily from the squad’s ability to win all three lanes consistently. With the third-highest average gold difference at 15 minutes (607) in the LFL, “Szygenda” could be capable of maintaining that but doing so in the LEC will be a much bigger task.
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The arrival of Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer was a big help to MAD last year and I think the balance of this squad could be perfect.
The new bot lane duo of Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság and “Hylissang” does look like a high-risk acquisition – they could well top the leaderboards for kills or deaths, or possibly even both!
But after shoring up their top lane weakness with the addition of Kim "Chasy" Dong-hyeon, who topped the NLC playoffs top-laners in KDA (4.4) and average assists (7.7), as well as now having the supportive nature of “Nisqy”, MAD are perfectly set up to weaponise their new crazy bot lane duo.
Plus, keeping hold of Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla could prove to be the best piece of business from the offseason. Don’t overlook this team this year.
SK have actually made some good signings in Joel "Irrelevant" Miro Scharoll and Mark "Markoon" van Woensel who were very impressive for Misfits Gaming and Excel respectively last year. Mid-laner Daniel "Sertuss" Gamani showed glimpses of his talent towards the end of last year too.
Completing the team are former LDLC bot lane duo Thomas "Exakick" Foucou and Mads "Doss" Schwartz. The former is a very promising rookie who was rumoured to be joining Fnatic at one point. Meanwhile, “Doss” makes his LEC return after a strong showing at the EU Masters with the third-highest average assists (10.8) and will try to shrug off his toxic reputation.
There’s some talent here but overall, I don’t expect this group to set the league alight.
BDS are putting faith in their academy line-up from last year that finished second in the EU Masters. Top-laner Adam "Adam" Maanane, Jungler Théo "Sheo" Borile, and Bot-laner Juš "Crownie" Marušič (formerly known as “Crownshot”) have all been promoted.
Joining them is the mechanically gifted Support player Labros "Labrov" Papoutsakis, who played with “Crownie” previously but never really lived up to his hype with Team Vitality.
There should be good synergy amongst this group so they could surprise a few teams early on during this split. For now, though, it’s hard to imagine this squad will accomplish much this year.
What an eclectic group of players! The roster is all over the place with the LEC’s first Japanese import Shunsuke "Evi" Murase the most surprising addition of all. Yet, this group is bursting with potential.
“Evi” has impressed on the Worlds stage on multiple occasions; Korean Mid-laner Lee "Ruby" Sol-min did pretty well at the EU Masters; and there’s a reason that so many are excited for Bot-laner Jakob "Jackspektra" Gullvag Kepple to finally make his LEC debut.
If anyone could make this eclectic bunch work, it’s legendary Jungler “Jankos” and decorated coach Peter Dun. Those two alone give me a lot of faith in this roster but I think the Winter split may come too soon. Expect them to improve drastically as the season progresses though.
Finally, we have Vitality, who could be a force to be reckoned with IF everything clicks.
That rather big ‘if’ mostly relies on how former T1 Challengers Top-laner Kyeong "Photon" Gyu-tae and former FunPlus Phoenix substitute Jungler Zhou "Bo" Yang-Bo acclimatise to their new group.
The potential of those two is infinite, plus the signing of Matúš "Neon" Jakubčík and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser looks like excellent business. Completing the team is legendary Mid-laner Luka “Perkz” Perković, who finally showed signs of returning to his best at the end of last year.
They might fail miserably but I think this is a team that could shake things up in the title race.