As someone who primarily follows American sports, there’s an immediate association between “transfer deadline” and “nothing of any interest happening.” It not that a transfer period couldn’t be interesting, but most teams either search to make a move well before that period so they can get the most out of it, or hold tight in hopes that a better deal may arrive during the offseason. Historically, the League Championship Series has kept to this trend, saving the big moves for the offseason period, driving social media sites like Reddit to lose their mind while writers scramble to put together a speculative article that could very easily be outdated within 48 hours.
This year, Europe didn’t get that memo, as five teams were involved in roster moves that could very well shake the foundation of the European scene…or do absolutely nothing at all, depending on how much you trust team press releases.
You can break down these signings into two different categories. The first category is “Terrified Teams Facing Relegation.” If you have a weak link that is so bad it might cost you a series, fixing it while you still can becomes a top priority. To that end, Team ROCCAT signed jungler Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi, a player with experience for the LCL Team Empire and the EU CS bottom dwellers Nerv. Optimism may vary on the signing depending on how much credit you give Memento for decent efforts in a lost cause, but it’s hard to imagine getting much worse than Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia, who has made a name for himself as the worst EU LCS player and the cause of most of my nightmares. In a similar fashion, a crumbling Origen, which has struggled to maintain its staff due to disagreements with management, finally realized four weeks too late that signing an actual ADC would be a good plan. WhileAugustas “Toaster” Ruplys’s UK National League experience with Exertus Gaming doesn’t strike one with an incredible amount of confidence, the move does allow xPeke to return to an administrative position and try to make sense of all of the organization’s issues. Those who enjoy speculation should also note Toaster’s teammate Benjamin “Zhergoth” Sánchez has joined as a substitute top laner. This could mean absolutely nothing at all…or imply that Paul “sOAZ” Boyer isn’t likely to be interested in a full-on rebuild that may come this offseason after he has fallen off in recent weeks. Stay tuned on that one.
The second set of transfer moves, and likely far more exciting for the average fan, can be considered the “We Will Do Anything for Worlds” category. No signing exemplifies this better than H2k-Gaming welcoming back controversial ADC Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou-Napoleon. While he’s undisputedly an incredible talented player in a position of need given starter Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek’s recent wrist issues, it’s hard to feel confident when your press release includes the statement “Break-ups are hard, and we sometimes say things we don’t mean.” One of those statements included support Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan saying “FORG1VEN won’t return, and if he does, I’m leaving the team” on stream, and that doesn’t even mention FORG1VEN’s own statement on a lack of motivation when he stepped down from Origen after only one week of play. Of course, H2k isn’t the only team worried about its worlds hopes. Fnatic released Top Laner Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin, once considered to be a crucial part of the package deal when signing star Jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon, due to “philosophical differences.” In his place now stands former G2 Top Laner Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek, who says he is willing to split time with substitute Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas Moreno-Torres despite leaving G2 Esports for that very reason earlier this split. It’s hard to say whether Kikis decided he wanted to go to worlds more than he wanted the pride that comes with having sole possession of a starting role or if there were bigger issues behind the scenes at G2 Esports, but either answer leaves Fnatic fans wondering if the improvement in talent will be worth the hit to team chemistry moving forward.
This week will likely be a bit of a mess as teams rush to incorporate these new players into their system, but that just means there are tons of value to be found in this week’s gambling lines. It’s time to get into the podcast and really break down each of these signings and what it means for each team moving forward, as well as our smart money bets of the week.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Guess the Lines Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk find themselves faced with a slew of unexpected roster changes. Together, they look at ROCCAT’s new jungler (2:50), Origen’s new Toaster (11:15), and FORG1VEN’s return to H2k-Gaming (23:45), before they debate which team has earned the right to call themselves the third best team in the league (29:25). They take a quick look at Fnatic’s signing of Kikis (38:45) before they break down this week’s action (45:30). They close with their smart money bets of the week.
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