Before we can get into the excitement of the European race for one of the three spots at the League of Legends World Championship, we have to plow our way through the dregs the League Championship Series left behind along the way. The placement of the promotion tournament has always been an interesting one to me: it’s only natural that Riot Games wants to get these games over with in the same way fans of the teams that found themselves at the bottom of the standings did while watching their team muddle their way through nine weeks of terrible play. It might be the darkest time for the fans of these established brands, but for European Challenger teams, this is their big moment to prove their worth and show the public just how good they can be.
Let’s start with the optimism: Misfits is an organization that deserves better than the way Riot handled the Renegades situation, but they’ve found a way to persevere nonetheless, emerging stronger than even the most optimistic pundits expected heading into this Challenger Series. The emergence of Barney “Alphari” Morris in the top lane has proven to be the final piece the Misfits needed to become a top-tier power among their Challenger brethren, giving them a third weapon behind the finally eligible Steven “Hans sama” Liv in their ADC spot and mid lane veteran Marcin “Selfie” Wolski. The three combined are a power that may put them ahead of every other team at this tournament. The only potential hiccup comes in Leon “Lamabear” Krüger, their new jungler who will be playing without any major experience in the big stage. If he’s on point with the rest of the team, they should be an easy lock into the LCS, potentially poised to become the next Splyce.
On the other end of the spectrum is the battle for “worst team here” between Origen and Team ROCCAT. Certainly, Origen is the most disappointing of the two, going from the semifinals at worlds to second place in Europe to a ninth place relegation spot. It’s easy to see where things went wrong: after Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou quit on the team, putting owner and former all-pro mid laner Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez at the ADC spot was the equivalent of trying to stop a flood with a bucket of water. It was well-intentioned at first while slowly becoming more and more frustrating as their stubbornness led them to wait far too long to find outside help. By the time they attempted to address the situation, their only option was Augustas “Toaster” Ruplys, who was simply not ready for the bright lights of the LCS stage. No wonder Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, a player notorious for his criticism of coaches and maintaining a strong work ethic, appeared like he was playing on autopilot the whole split. Putting xPeke’s mom in charge of the team didn’t seem to help either.
Of course, as one of maybe five remaining ROCCAT fans not directly related to the team — hell, even the ROCCAT reddit guy has stopped posting in post-game threads — I can assure you that there’s little reason to hope for a miraculous resurgence from these guys. Lee “Parang” Sang-won and Oh “Raise” Ji-hwan earned their reputation as the worst players at their position this split, Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi has been ineffective as a stopgap in the jungle, and Felix “Betsy” Edling is already dreaming about his next big contract where he can play literally anywhere else. Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi is living proof that you can be one of the three best players at your position and have it be entirely irrelevant when you’re dragged down by the rest of your team. We’re not far from seeing these teams get the chance to prove me wrong, but acceptance is the last step of grief, and I’ve been on the acceptance stage with ROCCAT for a long time now.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Podcast, Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk takes the reigns for a still recovering Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar as the two try to find the optimism in this promotion tournament. Together, they discuss whether Team ROCCAT or Origen is the weakest team to come from the European LCS, whether Millenium is capable of shocking anybody, and just how good Misfits is at this point. They end with their picks for who will enter the LCS and a couple quick gambling lines that leave one of them very unhappy.
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