Goodbye EU LCS, hello LEC. After six years of the old name, a rebrand is bound to feel strange - and strange it does. After what was seen as the EU LCS' most successful year since 2015 - having two teams in the Worlds semi-finals - was further accentuated by having an EU team actually reach the World Finals, we bid farewell to the old names of not only the tournament, but also some of the organizations that established themselves within Spring and Summer splits past.
However, we must also welcome some new (and returning!) organizations back into the fold, though whether or not they can fill the unicorn-shaped hole in our hearts has yet to be seen.
Without further ado, allow me to present to you your LEC teams for the years to come.
Returning from Last Year:
The face of EU at this point, as they have been for multiple years now, it's no surprise that the posterboys of the EU LCS (...LEC) have secured themselves a spot following a blazingly hot World Championship showing. However, whilst they were able to hold onto their place here, holding onto their players seems like another struggle in and of itself - with stalwart toplaner soAz already on the way out and up-and-coming talent of the year Caps rumoured to find a place for himself on G2.
The yang to Fnatic's yin (an ironic analogy given Chinese fans' past opinions of G2's franchise player Perkz), EU's perennial villains have certainly found a place in the hearts of many, finding unparalleled success this year after a complete overhaul of their roster. This, apparently, wasn't enough for the Spanish samurai in grey and black, however - with rumours surfacing of star midlaner Perkz making a role transition to accommodate Fnatic's Caps into the lineup.
With a disappointing year following a fantastic showing at Worlds in their debut year, Misfits looked to only hold onto one player for certain heading into 2019 - young, but unquestionably talented all-star botlaner Hans Sama. With rumours that longterm toplaner Alphari has already signed to Origen, it looks like Misfits are going for a complete overhaul this time around - a change in coaching staff also following suit.
FC Schalke 04
FC Schalke Null Vier. Null Vier. It means zero-four, but you could construe it as "no fear" if you try hard enough - which is certainly the approach this iconic football club is taking to their LoL roster this offseason. Looking like one of the best teams in the League period towards the end of the Summer Split, narrowly missing out on Worlds was a tragic end to a tumultuous year for this team. Their actions this offseason mirror the aforementioned Misfits, as Schalke look to release every player bar their own superstar botlaner Upset as they begin to peruse a burgeoning free agent market.
With one of the most heartbreaking, yet inspiring, exits from a Worlds stage, Vitality and their roster of three rookies took the World by storm in 2018. Already hot off of a year fueled by roster overhauls (changing every player bar iconic toplaner Cabochard), Vitality seem more than happy enough to just hold onto the talents they have and look as they hopefully continue to develop under YamatoCannon's leadership.
Initially being declined from franchising, Splyce are italicized here because they had already allowed their players to explore other options before receiving confirmation that they would remain in League of Legends as an organization heading into the future. Already considered a superteam heading into the year, a disappointing finish (missing Worlds) suggests that we could see some roster overhauls even if they were able to intervene before their previously-released players could sign elsewhere.
Returning from Previous Years:
In Season 2, SK were one of the most iconic faces of League of Legends in general - emotional midlaner Ocelote and a pre-Fnatic Yellowstar spearheaded a roster that looked set for success. A disappointing showing at Worlds, followed by a lack of qualification for the subsequent one meant that star player Ocelote departed to start his own organization (G2). One overhaul later, SK were back at Worlds (with current C9 jungler Svenskeren); so this team is certainly no stranger to building successes from scratch. As well as this, their German Regional League team is currently head-and-shoulders above the competition, proving that coach and LCS veteran Brokenshard may just have a few more aces up his sleeve.
Origen are highlighted here because, whilst being Origen in name and almost-logo, they are in fact renowned Danish CS:GO organization Astralis. Fan-favourite EU LCS caster Deficio leads the charge as GM, having already secured Misfits' Alphari, Schalke's Nukeduck, and H2K's Sheriff for the centerpieces of what is sure to be a competitive roster.
Rogue initially come off as an organization that haven't had much presence in League of Legends in the past - or any at all - but the staff they've secured show that there are some important figureheads with faith in the organization. Comprised of key members of Enemy Esports (a former NA LCS organization in Season 5, their team featured one of the hottest junglers in the free agent market, Trashy/Kold), a good deal of former Roccat members, as well as a renowned esports lawyer, the EU branch of this organization look to show the world how serious they take League of Legends in EU.
In a similar boat to Splyce, xL initially didn't make it into franchising - but made a convincing enough case that we now find ourselves with yet another UK organization in the LEC. Similar to SK in the sense that they also place consistently top of their regional leagues, xL also hosted their own scouting grounds to gauge upcoming UK talent earlier this year. Rumours surrounding this organization are scarce, but if they are able to match at least some of the offers the other heavy-hitter teams are pitching, perhaps we could find ourselves with yet another dark horse for a playoffs finish from a debuting EU team.
Regardless, for the LEC, 2019 looks to be a very promising year. For competitive League of Legends fans, spectators, players, teams, production, and business enthusiasts alike, we've certainly only seen the beginning of what European LoL has in store for us.