Grading and Evaluating LEC rosters

With all of the LEC teams announcing their starting rosters for 2021, here is what we think of their roster changes.

The LEC offseason started after Worlds ended and the Free Agency window opened on 16th November. There were a lot of moves done by many teams, including some big changes and some shocking ones.

We graded the offseason and rosters for all teams. One thing to note is we graded the offseason based on whether they improved or degraded in their areas of need. Similarly, we graded the rosters to how we see it amongst their peers. Here is what we think of each of the team’s roster changes and the grades of each team:

G2 Esports

Offseason Grade: A+
Roster Grade: A+

Where else to start but the top team in the LEC in G2 Esports. Everyone has heard of the news of the departure of Perkz and the inclusion of Rekkles by now and it was a bit of a shock. Perkz was the face of G2 and Rekkles was the face of Fnatic. With Rekkles now joining EU’s best team make it a headline story. They are easily LEC title front runners if not Worlds front runners for 2021. The offseason summary for the team is as follows:

  • Players out: Perkz (to Cloud9)
  • Players in: Rekkles (from Fnatic)

This is the best move G2 could have done given Perkz was set to leave reportedly before the offseason started. This keeps them in line with contending at Worlds 2021 and how far they go will depend on their performance. Anything other than an A+ to their offseason grade would be underselling their roster move.

Fnatic

Offseason Grade: B
Roster Grade: A-

Now we come to the other side of the Rekkles acquisition for G2. Fnatic losing Rekkles is a big blow for them as he has been their pillar for a really long time. However, everything is not doom and gloom for them. They still managed to get Upset and acquire Nisqy from Cloud9 to replace Rekkles and Nemesis.

While Upset is not on the same level of a player Rekkles is, he is still a very solid ADC in the LEC. Also, given Nemesis’s performances last year, getting Nisqy may be a better fit and situation for Fnatic. Nisqy is a stable mid laner and they will need something like that to recover from the loss of Rekkles.

Furthermore, they added YamatoCannon as their Head Coach who is a very knowledgeable and successful coach in the LEC. They also re-signed Hyllisang and Bwipo which keeps them steady for next season. The offseason summary for the team is as follows:

  • Players out: Rekkles (to G2), Nemesis (to FA, will not play spring split)
  • Players in: Upset (from Astralis), Nisqy (from Cloud9)

The loss of Rekkles is big but they did get a reasonable amount of pieces to justify the grade given and they will be a title contender in the LEC. Whether they take their level up a notch is going to be something to watch out for.

Rogue

Offseason Grade: B+
Roster Grade: A-

Rogue was a very consistent team last year. They made it to Worlds and sadly were put in the toughest group in Worlds with JDG and DAMWON Gaming with them. The team is a cohesive unit and have players who are capable at performing at a high level.

Last year, everyone knew that Rogue’s weakness was Finn in the top lane. Finn is a weakside laner and they played him as such. Teams will very good top and jungle duo could exploit that and win games against them. Rogue addressed that by signing Odoamne and letting Finn go.

Odoamne is a consistent top laner and he played well in Schalke 04’s almost miracle run to Worlds in 2020. He fits the team’s style of play and will contribute to their success. However, they lost Vander in the offseason to Misfits Gaming. That is a big blow and could have problems for Rogue in the bot lane with the void of shotcalling that Vander was responsible for.

They replaced Vander with Trymbi, a support from AGO Rogue. Trymbi is a young and upcoming talent they hope will perform alongside Hans Sama in the bot lane. However, how good he will be is yet to be seen. Their offseason roster summary is as follows:

  • Players Out: Finn (to CLG), Vander (to MSF)
  • Players In: Odoamne (from S04), Trymbi (from AGO Rogue)

Given all of that, due to the loss of Vander and the uncertainty of certain aspects of their team, their grade was not higher. However, they made a solid change in the top lane and they should improve in that aspect. Teams should not underestimate Rogue and their potential to be at the top of the LEC and should consider them a title contender in the league.

MAD Lions:

Offseason Grade: B+
Roster Grade: A-

Apart from their hot start in Summer 2020 and a G2 playoff upset, MAD Lions had a lot to work on. Building a team around Humanoid, who has proven to be a top flight mid laner in the LEC, and with several Rookies manages to qualify for Worlds play-ins is great for them. However, their play style has drawn a lot of criticism and rightfully so with many of their decisions being strange and did not yield results.

Some would have said after their burnout from Worlds play-ins that they should consider running it back with the same team. However, the organization had different plans. They replaced Orome in the top lane with Armut from SuperMassive in the TCL. Also, they signed Elyoya as their jungler. Therefore, Shadow’s role in the team is unknown. He may or may not be leaving the team from potentially the LPL.

Armut performed really well at Worlds 2020 play-ins but his team could not qualify for groups stages. He is a young, carry top laner who could help MAD Lions with winning through the top lane. On the other hand, Elyoya is a promising young player who played the last year in Movistar Riders. Both acquisitions are of young players with upside in the future. Whether they will blossom in the LEC is a question mark.

However, the acquisitions do make sense in terms of play style. They need someone in the top lane so that they could play through him. However, the jungle change is surprising given Shadow did perform really well in the LEC last year. The changes are as follows:

  • Players Out: Orome (to BT Excel), Shadow (Free Agent)
  • Players In: Armut (from SuperMassive in the TCL), Elyoya (from MoviStar Riders)

It will be interesting to see this team perform with another year of pro play under the belt of Carzzy and Kaiser and Humanoid improving. Also getting two more talented young players, the future is looking good for them. However, given the unknown quantities of the team, the grade cannot be higher despite their upgrade in the top lane. They should be very competitive in the LEC with this much talent and should contend for the LEC title.

FC Schalke 04:

Offseason Grade: A-
Roster Grade: A-

The miracle run for Schalke was in their grasp until MAD Lions knocked them out in the Summer 2020 playoffs. At the later stages of that split, they rallied and played incredibly well. Being short of their goal at the end of the split, it was time for them to build up the roster.

They lost Odoamne to Rogue but acquired Broken Blade from TSM. Broken Blade is a very talented top laner with an upside. He has shown that he can be a very good top laner in the LCS. Whether that translates to the LEC is another matter. They also upgraded their support position by signing LIMIT from SK Gaming.

However, as of now its unclear who their ADC will be. It’s currently rumored that they will re-sign Neon to complete their roster, given Crownshot has already said he will not play next split. Their changes are as follows:

  • Players Out: Odoamne (to RGE)
  • Players In: Broken Blade (from TSM), LIMIT (from SK)

Expect Schalke04 to continue improving and contend for the top spots in the LEC this year. They are a team that should not be slept on given their late surge last year.

Astralis

Offseason grade: C+
Roster Grade: C

Astralis (previously Origen) has officially dismantled their roster. After last year being an underwhelming year for them, the management decided to blow up the roster except NukeDuck. Most fans won’t be happy with the restructuring but it was necessary. The team last year just felt lost in what they wanted to do.

It was clear in Summer Split 2020 that Alphari is leaving. Also, Xerxe and Jactroll/Destiny did not improve them at all so it was wise to let them go. Upset has had criticism regarding his passive playstyle and Astralis thought it was better to move on than to retain him. The problem that sits badly with us is why Nukeduck was retained. Nukeduck was one of the worst mid laners last split and it just felt like he just unraveled. Possibly this year will be Nukeduck’s last hurrah with Astralis and they will likely move on from him next year.

They signed a bunch of news players in WhiteKnight, Zanzarah, Jeskla and promisq. However, this feels like they are getting a team to compete as oppose to rebuild and improve. WhiteKnight and promisq are veteran players as they have been around the LEC/EU LCS for a long time. Jeskla is much newer to the scene and he has played one year in the LEC and it did not work out. Zanzarah has spent a lot of his time played in the CIS region and then joining several other teams in EU to get his shot at the LEC. Here is a rundown of the changes:

  • Players out: Alphari (to Team Liquid), Xerxe and Destiny (to Immortals), Upset (to Fnatic), Jactroll (to Misfits Premier).
  • Players in: WhiteKnight (from Berlin International Gaming), Zanzarah (from AGO Rogue), Jeskla and promisq (from mousesports)

This roster feels like a veteran team with some potential to compete. Jeskla and Promiseq will give them a boost. However, there are reasonable doubts as to whether it will work. Nukeduck will need to bounce back and Zanzarah and WhiteKnight will need to perform. The skepticism from us will remain until they prove that the roster changes were the right call and they can contend for playoffs.

Excel Esports

Offseason Grade: B+
Roster Grade: B

Excel were put in a tough spot with the sudden retirement announcement from Caedrel. However, they still addressed their lackings with some promise for the future. Special was poor last split and they needed a new mid laner.

Thus, in comes Czekolad, one of the more promising mid laners in EU Masters. He has been one of the better mid laners in the EU Masters and it will be a boost for Excel to get him in. They also signed another great prospect in Dan from EU Masters. Not only that but they also got Orome for their academy roster which bodes well in case Kryze regresses and they need another steady top laner. Their roster changes are as follows:

  • Players Out: Special (FA), Caedrel (retired)
  • Players In: Czekolad (from AGO Rogue), Dan (from Fnatic Rising), Orome (to BT Excel from MAD Lions)

With the acquisitions, they addressed their main issues and look to building up to a contending position. This brings promise to the Excel team as they bring in more talented players to improve this roster even more. Kryze last year showed some promise in one split and Patrik has been a standout player for them. With them just failing to qualify for the playoffs in Summer 2020, they will look to finally make their place in the playoffs.

SK Gaming

Offseason Grade: B
Roster Grade: C+

SK Gaming was a contender for playoffs last year and it was due to one player, Crownshot. Now he is gone and he has announced he will not be playing next split. SK Gaming decided to build up and get some new young players into the team to give a boost. In comes, Blue, TynX, Jezu, and Treatz.

Blue has been regarded as one of the best mid laners in the TCL. TynX has performed really well in EU Masters and LFL despite one bad split. Jezu played really well in the LFL Finals and Treatz was TSM’s support for a short stint. It’s a young roster with good upside in the future. Here are their roster changes:

  • Players Out: Trick (Free Agent), ZaZee (to SK Premier), Crownshot (Free Agent), LIMIT (to Schalke04)
  • Players In: TynX (from LDLC OL), Blue (from 1907 Fenerbahçe), Jezu (from Misfits Premier), Treatz (from TSM)

However, the loss of Crownshot is big when it comes to making the playoffs. Expectations for them should not be to make playoffs. Even so, with the LEC making a lot of moves to get in newer players and rookies, they can make a push for playoffs.

Misfits Gaming

Offseason Grade: A-
Roster Grade: B

Misfits Gaming was a disaster in terms of performance especially in Spring Split. Although, they got Kobbe last split, it did not work out especially with Doss as support. Dan Dan did not also meet expectations and Febiven could not propel this team forward. So they decided to go a different direction by getting rookies in.

HiRit and Agresivoo are two top laners signed in for the team. On one hand, HiRit played one split in the TCL where he played well. On the other hand, Agresivoo played pretty good in the LFL and EU Masters and he was exceptional in the LFL Summer Finals. Vetheo is a promising mid laner joining the team from the LFL and EU Masters circuit. Lastly, getting Vander from Rogue brings a shot caller and a veteran to the team to guide and lead the youngsters. Here are the roster changes:

  • Players Out: Dan Dan (Free Agent), Febiven (to Fnatic Rising), Doss (CyberGround Gaming)
  • Players In: HiRit (from Free Agent), Agresivoo (promoted from Academy team), Vetheo (from LDLC OL), Vander (from Rogue)

Razork and Kobbe remains but this will be a year for both of them to prove they belong in the team. With Vander’s leadership, new coaching staff, and Deficio as director of the team, you can expect them to compete to make a playoffs run. With how the league is shaping up especially at the bottom end of the spectrum, they might just make it.

Team Vitality

Offseason Grade: A
Roster Grade: B-

Coming into last year, Vitality was a rebuilding team with young players. Going into this year, it looks very similar. It feels like they are trying to evaluate the young players they have and developing them to be in playoff contention in the future. Most of the roster is intact except the signing of Szygenda.

Szygenda has been playing since 2019 and has proven with his performances in EU Masters 2020 and other tournaments that he is a very promising top laner. Also, retaining Skeanz, Comp, Labrov and Milica was a good move. They all showed promise last year to win 7 games in a very competitive league in Summer Split 2020. Here is the roster change:

  • Players Out: Cabochard (Free Agent), Mowgli (T1 Academy), Nji (Free Agent)
  • Players In: Szygenda (From AGO Rogue)

With so many new rookies in the bottom half of the league, Vitality could possibly make a run for the playoffs. However, that can only happen if Szygenda proves he is really a difference maker for the team and others improve. They are a rebuilding team and would just want to be competitive in a league with very strong teams.

LEC 2021 in a Glance

Looking at the teams, it would seem that G2 Esports is the lead dog and then everyone else is just fighting for the rest of the spots. However, MAD Lions, Rogue and Schalke have all improved their rosters and Fnatic did not degrade to obscurity. It is not going to be as easy as people may think for G2 to run away with the league. It is going to be a very competitive league and G2 Esports has to perform or it may spell trouble for them.

Early Power Rankings

Our preliminary power rankings for the teams are:

  1. G2 Esports
  2. Fnatic
  3. MAD Lions
  4. Rogue
  5. Schalke04
  6. Misfits Gaming
  7. Excel Esports
  8. Team Vitality
  9. SK Gaming
  10. Astralis

G2 Esports should be favorites to win the league, there is no question about it. However, if they slip up, the other teams like Fnatic, MAD Lions, or Rogue will make a move for first place. The bottom 5 in the list could easily swap places with each other with all of their players really unknown to the LEC scene.

Last Thoughts

This year is building up to be a great LEC year domestically. With a lot of rookies and new players, there is a lot of excitement for fans to look forward to how their teams perform. It is going to be an exciting year of the LEC and we will cover it when it starts in 22nd January 2021.

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