After only two weeks of European League Championship Series play, it’s clear that the roster shuffles that dominated the offseason have had very mixed results. The desire to sign Korean talent regardless of what scouting reports may have told them has left teams looking lost on the Rift. Vitality has already started scrambling for a new AD Carry, as it was clear that being Korean didn’t make Park “Police” Hyeong-gi a viable LCS starter; it’s unclear whether jungler Kim “Mightybear” Min-su is faring any better. Both Giants Gaming and the Unicorns of Love are suffering similar fates, consistently struggling to find an identity against top teams with only GIA mid laner Na “NighT” Gun-woo looking like a potential long-term solution. Even the top tier of teams is suffering under the weight of their Korean signings, as G2 Esports chose to start Ki “Expect” Dae-han over the veteran, consistent presence of Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek when given an ultimatum. The new best-of-two format gives each team some time to get adjusted to new rosters, but if progress is slow, the pressure will be tremendous heading into the second half of the split.
Of course, Korean imports are far from the only problem plaguing the European scene. While Origen looks for a long-term replacement for Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou-Napoleon, it’s been left with a strategy revolving entirely around ensuring Paul “sOAZ” Boyer can achieve super Saiyan levels and hard carry the team to victory. Even pleasant surprises like Team ROCCAT and Schalke 04 are being held back by the inconsistent jungle presence of Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia and Berk “Gilius” Demir respectively. It’s a tough road ahead for the European scene as a whole if it wants to be competitive in the world championships.
Luckily, there’s still time for all of these teams to improve. Expect could ultimately surprise us and rise to the occasion within the strong G2 Esports infrastructure. H2k-Gaming saw Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek step up in a big way thanks to his ability to shape the game into the League of Draven once more. Fnatic’s Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim appears poised to return to form, looking less and less like TSM YellOwStaR every week, and while neither ROCCAT nor Schalke have been consistent enough to place them in the top of the standings yet, there’s still plenty of time for them to get there. It’s been a rough two weeks of play within the European LCS, but there’s a bright future ahead of them, which is more than enough to keep me watching week after week.
Final note: sadly, at the time of this recording, Unikrn had not posted the gambling lines due to unforeseeable circumstances. The odds have now been posted, and a bonus episode breaking down the odds will be added as soon as possible.
Today on the Rough Drafts Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk power through without Unikrn’s lines to preview this week’s EU LCS action. Together, they discuss whether ROCCAT has taken a step forward, Origen’s new sOAZ-centric play style, G2’s newfound top lane problem and what it means for the European scene moving forward, and if H2k-Gaming is the new team to beat after their strong display against Fnatic.
UPDATE: Here is the bonus “just the lines”podcast.
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