The new and improved LEC’s first Winter Split began on January 21.
2023 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for European League of Legends, although it is now EMEA and not just EU. if you’ve missed the off-season, there were a lot of changes to the league, starting with its new name, League of Legends EMEA Championship. The new name and inclusion of other regions haven’t affected the league yet, but organizations departing and joining definitely did. Misfits Gaming, a long-time partner of the LEC, sold their spot to the Spanish org Team Heretics, and the reigning champions Rogue partnered and changed their name to KOI.
Last but not least, the format changes. LEC has a whole different look in 2023, with a lot of best-of-series and not so many Bo1s. Unlike last year when the top-six was the place team aimed at, this year we will probably look for a top-four. So, let’s see where our teams, both new and returning ones, are before the split starts. This power rankings list will be updated throughout the Winter Split with each week of games.
LEC 2023 Winter Split Daily Recaps
10. Astralis (Previously 9th)
- Top lane: Finn “Finn” Wiestål
- Jungle: Doğukan “113” Balcı
- Mid lane: Oliver “Dajor” Ryppa
- AD Carry: Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup
- Support: Lee “JeongHoon” Jeong-hoon
Week 1 Update
Astralis’s first week can easily be described as a disaster. The only somewhat positive in the whole week was Kobbe looking better than Summer, but don’t think it will matter too much. Finn and 113 found themselves in some advantageous positions but got outclassed at most of these and weren’t able to carry. Still better than Dajor, who had one of the worst individual weeks I’ve seen in recent years. One of the only positives for Astralis last split was JeongHoon on playmakers, but even that won’t be the case this Winter if he keeps playing things like Predator Lux.
Pre-Season Prediction: 9th Place
Despite finishing ninth, Astralis put up some good fights in the Summer of 2022, unlike BDS, and they managed to keep most of their roster intact. In most cases, it’s fair to argue that we should expect some improvements between seasons. But considering one player they lost was the backbone of their team, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, and they replaced him with a rookie, we now have a complicated situation.
Not to mention, many fans scratched their heads about the 113 signing, as his performance in the LFL last year wasn’t all that impressive. He needs to fill some very big shoes in his new role, and don’t think he is capable of doing that, especially in his first split. There is some potential in the rest of the team, we saw both Finn and JeongHoon have their moments last split. But the coin can also flip to the other side. Dajor is very similar to NUCLEARINT, in that he is in a franchise player position for Astralis without playing at the level of one. And with Kobbe still not playing near his peak, even though he was better than Spring, Astralis is another team I don’t think will surprise anyone.
9. SK Gaming (Previously 8th)
- Top lane: Joel “Irrelevant” Miro Scharoll
- Jungle: Mark “Markoon” van Woensel
- Mid lane: Daniel “Sertuss” Gamani
- AD Carry: Thomas “Exakick” Foucou
- Support: Mads “Doss” Schwartz
Week 1 Update
I had some decent expectations from SK Gaming, but they aren’t looking too well at the moment. Exakick had some moments, but he might struggle to put up decent performances as his lane partner didn’t look as good, which is ironic since this isn’t Doss’s first time in the LEC. Also Irrelevant and Markoon really haven’t carried their last split performances to the present so far. Their win against Heretics was decent but even in that game they weren’t clean and might have lost if it wasn’t for a very questionable decision from Heretics. There is still slight hope with their young talent, but it certainly wasn’t a comforting start.
Pre-Season Prediction: 8th Place
Talking about surprises, I can see SK Gaming having that kind of a split. There is some great young talent in SK, especially with the Exakick addition. He was stellar in his time at LFL, and already has existing synergy with his lane partner, which should give them some boost. Also, Doss has prior LEC experience, so he can help Exakick adjust to the new environment.
Another great signing for SK was Markoon. He’s been one of the most exciting junglers while he was on XL, and I think he still has a lot of room for growth. The same can be said for Sertuss. He started out quite in last year, but he was easily the best player for SK in their short-lived playoff push in the Summer. They have the potential to be a good duo, and if they find a good synergy they will have too decent side lanes to play off of. In my mind, Irrelevant was the most impressive rookie last Summer, and I think he will be much better this year. It might be hard to justify putting SK higher on this list, but I wouldn’t be surprised if manage to end there.
8. Team BDS (Previously 10th)
- Top lane: Adam “Adam” Maanane
- Jungle: Théo “Sheo” Borile
- Mid lane: Ilias “NUCLEARINT” Bizriken
- AD Carry: Juš “Crownie” Marušič
- Support: Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis
Week 1 Update
Well, there is some life left in BDS, I guess. Crownie has been playing much better than we’ve last seen him and Labrov also stepped up since the last split. The duo wasn’t dominant, but they came out ahead in the lane in all their games and made the games competitive even in the losses. The top side also had some flashes with nuc’s Akali and Adam’s Darius games. Although I’m hoping Adam expanded his champion pool and will play more meta champions as his impact can be limited on things like Olaf. After all, maybe BDS will play some Bo3s.
Pre-Season Prediction: 10th Place
BDS’s first year in LEC was nothing sort of abysmal. They not only finished in the bottom two in both splits, but the team looked functional in only a very small amount of games. Of course, they are coming into 2023 with an almost completely different team, but is it actually that much better? They definitely upgraded their bot lane, both Crownie and Labrov are better players than their predecessors. But they are not exactly top LEC players either, with Labrov not playing up to his solo queue prowess.
The only player remaining from last year is NUCLEARINT, which shows they want to build the team around him. And I’m just not sure if he is good enough to be that guy. He had some decent games, sure, but he hasn’t shown that he could be a playoff-level player. On the other hand, I like their top and jungle, but with Sheo being very inexperienced I’m keeping my expectations low for his debut split. All in all, I would be very surprised if BDS play any Bo3s in the Winter Split.
7. Team Heretics
- Top lane: Shunsuke “Evi” Murase
- Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski
- Mid lane: Lee “Ruby” Sol-min
- AD Carry: Jakob “Jackspektra” Gullvag Kepple
- Support: Mertai “Mersa” Sari
Week 1 Update
Great first game for Heretics, but the hype didn’t last long. The last two games of the week presented some worrying signs. Their two best players the whole week were Evi and Jankos, which is not supposed to be. Not to mention we haven’t seen Evi on another pick than K’Sante. Ruby had a good debut but he looked bad in the other two, especially his Azir game was full of unforced errors. Jackspektra wasn’t necessarily playing badly, but he looked very passive. This Heretics project might take some time to develop and we might need to write them off for Winter.
Pre-Season Prediction: 7th Place
What a team for Heretic’s first LEC roster, albeit a weird one. Not many expected this team to come into the season with Evi and Ruby in their solo lanes. Although Peter Dun was right more than he was wrong, we will have to wait and see how this experiment will end. At the very least, both of these players showed they are good on the Rift at their previous teams, Evi even did it on the international stage. But playing at that level week in and week out is a different ask.
What is sure to help is their jungler. Even though Jankos was slipping a little bit in his last year with G2, there is no denying his pedigree. It also helps that his playstyle in recent years isn’t that reliant on mechanics, but rather on his experience and knowledge. I think he is the best jungler Heretics could’ve gotten, considering they promoted Jackspektra from their Academy team and he will need some help and time to adjust to LEC. Jankos can be the perfect jungler to hold his hand along the way if he needs it, and facilitate him during games. I can see them getting a lot better in Spring, but Winter might be sacrificed in the process.
6. Excel Esports (Previously 4th)
- Top lane: Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu
- Jungle: Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir
- Mid lane: Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié
- AD Carry: Patrik “Patrik” Jírů
- Support: Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé
Week 1 Update
Not the start I expected. Xerxe is back in his Immortals form, Vetheo decided he should be playing Twisted Fate for some reason and the bot duo keeps getting gapped. They played against G2 and KOI bot lanes and couldn’t compete with either of them. This is supposed to be the year when Patrik finally gets a team, and if he can’t capitalize on this opportunity, I don’t think Excel will go that far. The only redeeming fact in this week was three solo kills by Odoamne, so maybe we’ll get the see him on carries more this split.
Pre-Season Prediction: 4th Place
Excel got a taste of playoffs in 2022, but unfortunately, they still haven’t won a series. Now they are back with kind of a budget super team and aiming a lot higher than just playoffs. It’s interesting they parted ways with four of their players after a relatively successful year, but they somehow arguably upgraded in all positions. Targamas and Odoamne suffered some loss to their standing after not-so-great showings at Worlds, but they were at times at the top of their positions last year. And Xerxe just had a breakthrough year in his sixth season.
Last but not least, the former MVP. Finally, Patrik will have another real carry to help him share the load. I am surprising myself by rating Excel highly second year in a row. But unlike last year, they probably will have actual consistency from their solo lanes. Maybe this is the year they win a best-of-series?
5. MAD Lions (Previously 6th)
- Top lane: Kim “Chasy” Dong-hyeon
- Jungle: Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla
- Mid lane: Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer
- AD Carry: Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság
- Support: Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov
Week 1 Update
Nearly all signs were positive for MAD in their first week. Hylissang and Carzzy looked like they shook off the dust from the last split. Hyli especially was great moving around the map and seems to already have some synergy with his jungler. Chasy also had a good debut, contributing to the wins despite not getting much attention during the laning phase. The most important part of this roster, the mid-jungle duo, was also working well. But they got outclassed against Vitality, which is a bit worrying. At the very least, we saw Nisqy play Victor and Akali, two champions he played only once last year despite being strong in the meta. The hope his he feels more comfortable playing carry champions, which he lacked in the past.
Pre-Season Prediction: 6th Place
Not the greatest 2022 for MAD Lions after they got eliminated at the Worlds Play-Ins. The second time that happened to a major region team, with the first one being them too. But the most important news of the off-season was that they managed to hold on to Elyoya, despite nearly all teams going after the star jungler. If he and Nisqy are in form, MAD will have a say in most games they play. The problem is they will have to be in top shape, as the rest of MAD isn’t all that reliable.
Neither Hyli nor Carzzy had a good Summer, despite the former being an MVP candidate in Spring. The hope for MAD is that Hylissang shakes off his slump from Worlds while a return back to the nest reinvigorates Carzzy. The other side lane for them is another question mark, with MAD also joining the teams importing their top laners. Chasy is a talented player who came out of DAMWON’s Challengers team, but he doesn’t have any experience playing at this level in a consistent fashion. If all goes well, MAD can be a Worlds representative at the end of the year, but I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation.
4. Fnatic (Previously 5th)
- Top lane: Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen
- Jungle: Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz
- Mid lane: Marek “Humanoid” Brázda
- AD Carry: Carl Martin Erik “Rekkles” Larsson
- Support: Rúben “Rhuckz” Barbosa
Week 1 Update
Before we talk about Fnatic, let’s forget about the G2 game. They made a disastrous judgment call to fight an early 3v3 and managed to lose the game in five minutes, not much to learn from that game. Now the other two games, they looked pretty good against Vitality and downright great in the KOI matchup. In both of these games, they had clear goals in the draft and they executed very well in the game. Razork and Humanoid had a good start to the split, which will be very important for them to win games. Also, Rhuckz had a very impressive debut week. He and Rekkles had a decent time in the 2v2, again not counting the G2 game. With a little bit more focus and a little bit better decision-making, they looked like contenders despite the 1-2 record.
Pre-Season Prediction: 5th Place
Fnatic fans start out the season as the biggest winners. What else can they want now that Rekkles is back? We saw him dominate during the SKE, even though it was just a showmatch. He was also great during his time with KCorp so his return to LEC is shaping up to be very exciting. Unfortunately, he won’t be playing with Hyli anymore, although Rhuckz is a great replacement as he showed the fans at Worlds 2022.
The problem with his team is the top side. Last year, this trio wouldn’t have had the chance to make playoffs, and play much better once there, if it wasn’t for their bot lane dragging them along. But Upset isn’t here anymore, and Rekkles isn’t exactly a drag people kind of an ADC. They are of course great players, especially Wunder and Humanoid, but the three will have to improve a lot in the consistency department if Fnatic wants to get into the top four.
3. KOI (Previously 1st)
- Top lane: Mathias “Szygenda” Jensen
- Jungle: Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong
- Mid lane: Emil “Larssen” Larsson
- AD Carry: Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos
- Support: Adrian “Trymbi” Trybus
Week 1 Update
Despite the 2-1 start for KOI, there were some missteps along the way. They almost lost their first game against Excel who themselves did not look good this week. If Odoamne didn’t make a couple of crucial mistakes in two back-to-back fights, they could’ve had a losing Week 1 record. The Fnatic loss also showed another possible weakness. They got ahead in the top lane early but Szygenda had a hard time impacting the game with his lead, and Larssen didn’t really do anything the whole game. Hopefully, this won’t become a trend where they need Comp to carry to win, but even if they do Comp/Trymbi duo is good enough to keep them close to the top.
Pre-Season Prediction: 1st Place
New name but familiar faces. The Summer 2022 champions nearly kept their winning roster together, only losing Odoamne. Although the change came from the organization, so it means they have a lot of trust in Szygenda, which isn’t a wrong thought as the Danish top laner was one of the best in his position at EU Masters. And considering the competition isn’t that great in LEC, he can offer a lot to KOI in his return to the league.
The other four players don’t need much discussion. Comp/Trymbi duo showed that they are a world-class bot lane during their Worlds 2022 campaign, and with no Upset in the league, Comp is the best ADC in LEC. While I consider them a lock for the final-four stage of the Winter Split, they might need more consistent performances from Larssen and Malrang to repeat their championship. The two had their fair share of bad games last year, and with G2 and Vitality on their heels, they might not afford too many of those this split.
2. Team Vitality (Previously 2nd)
- Top lane: Kyeong “Photon” Gyu-tae
- Jungle: Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo
- Mid lane: Luka “Perkz” Perković
- AD Carry: Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík
- Support: Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser
Week 1 Update
After a bit of a shaky start against Fnatic, Vitality seemed like they found a good form, especially with Perkz looking much better in the other two games. The hype for Bo coming into the split was pretty scary, but it seems to be working out for now. The good news is that he showed that he is willing to play different styles out of the gate and he is comfortable with the team enough to be put on champions like Sejuani. Against MAD Lions, he and Perkz dominated their opponents as a mid-jungle duo. Photon was also impressive, finding solo kills in most of his matchups. Despite having five players who never played with each other, they looked like they had previous synergy in the last two games they played.
Pre-Season Prediction: 2nd Place
Is it too optimistic to place the failed “super team” at number two, after they disbanded the said super team? I’m not sure, but I feel like 2023 will finally be the year of Vitality. They apparently saw the success of Berserker at Cloud9 and decided to take a chance on a T1 Challenger player themselves. Photon is a versatile young player who many Korean fans speak very highly of. I am very high on him and with the weak top lane pool in the league, I expect him to be good from the get-go. His new bot laner being used to playing weak side and his support having a heavy roam style will also be very helpful for him.
But it’s normal to doubt Photon or the new bot lane for Vitality. So let’s talk about the obvious. If you don’t follow LEC pros off the Rift, you might not know how big of a mayhem Bo is causing in the EU West solo queue. Sure, it is just solo queue, but he’s been looking great. Also considering he’s been away from the stage some time and he was hungry to get another shot after his suspension, I am scared for other LEC junglers. His new partner, Perkz, is also back in form. He had a great Summer performance and nearly dragged his team into the playoffs. Not to mention the coveted wife buff.
1. G2 Esports (Previously 3rd)
- Top lane: Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik
- Jungle: Martin “Yike” Sundelin
- Mid lane: Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther
- AD Carry: Steven “Hans sama” Liv
- Support: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle
Week 1 Update
The first week couldn’t have gone better for G2, and not just in terms of their 3-0 record. Before preseason, I talked about two big worries. How will Yike look and how in form the bot lane is after individually bad splits? Well, both Hans Sama and Mikyx looked like the 2022 Summer was a fever dream. They put on one of the most dominating bot lane performances in the recent LCS years against Fnatic and were great in the lane in other matchups. Yike was the bigger surprise. Everyone knew he was good, but I don’t think no one expected him to come out the gate and gap LEC junglers. They didn’t even need BB and Caps to do much to go 3-0. A scary prospect for the rest of the league.
Pre-Season Prediction: 3rd Place
A bittersweet start to the new season for G2 fans. They lost Jankos, but Mikyx made his return home. This will also be great for Mikyx, who will be reuniting with his former ADC Hans Sama. This would be an insane bot lane at the start of 2022, but after the year both players had, I’m a little worried. Still, there is always a chance they can step it up again, and they won’t have too much pressure to start the split thanks to the carry players in their solo lanes.
We know both BB and Caps like to play aggressively and take the game into their hands. The problem is they won’t have the best EU jungler ever to support them this season. While Yike is a great prospect and a potential star, it’s unfair to expect him to play at Janko’s level. It may take G2 some time as they wait for Yike to get some experience and Hans and Mikyx to adjust to each other, but they are always a contender. For the sole fact that they have Caps.
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