It’s finally happening. The EU LCS has rebranded as the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), and adopted the franchising model that’s been pioneered by North America. With that, the promotion/relegation system is gone, and all 10 teams accepted into the LEC will have permanent franchised slots.
The new league kicks off on January 18, 2019. We take a look at the orgs that made the cut and the implications this move has on the future of European League of Legends.
EU LCS franchised teams
Of course, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is which EU LCS teams will be competing in the new league. The answer mostly aligns with this ESPN report by Jacob Wolf. The full list of LEC teams includes:
- FC Schalke 04
- G2 Esports
- Misfits Gaming
- exceL Esports
- SK Gaming
This means that Giants Gaming, H2K Gaming, Unicorns of Love, and Team ROCCAT will no longer be a part of the EU LCS—or, rather, LEC—ecosystem. Meanwhile, Fnatic, FC Schalke 04, G2 Esports, Misfits Gaming, Splyce, and Vitality will continue to represent the highest level of European League of Legends. All of these LEC teams have strong track records of competitive success, and if you’ve ever tuned into the EU LCS broadcast, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with them.
The new orgs are more intriguing.
In that regard, the name that stands out the most is Origen. There have been rumors that the once-dominant European organizations didn’t even bother applying for the EU LCS franchising, but looks like that wasn’t the case. Moreover, Origen teamed up with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive powerhouse Astralis for the application process and the two will be taking on Europe together.
Many fans still have fond memories of Origen’s 2015 World Championship run. Others will recall the massive fall from grace that culminated in Origen not winning a single series in the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split and falling prey to Misfits Academy and Giants Gaming in the promotion tournament. It will be interesting to see how Origen choose to rebuild their legacy. That said, they’re still a massive brand with almost 750,000 followers on Twitter, so their addition to the LEC is definitely a welcome one.
Another name that old-school fans will recognize is SK Gaming. The organization is a juggernaut of the early League of Legends scene, and it’s managed to keep the momentum going in the first seasons of the EU LCS. Much like Origen, though, SK Gaming ran out of steam when they replaced Forg1ven with CandyPanda in summer of 2015, and they went from a top-4 finish to relegation in a matter of a single split. Still, there’s no denying that the SK Gaming brand holds a lot of value in Europe, and we’re excited to see what they bring to the table.
exceL Esports are the new kids on the block. If you haven’t been paying attention to other leagues, there’s a good chance you know nothing about this organization, but exceL Esports are a staple of the UK League of Legends scene. They also have a wealth of experience in other esports as well as ambitions to make themselves a force to be reckoned with in the LEC. It remains to be seen whether they can succeed, but the backing from some of the biggest esports franchises from Asia and the Pacific’s should give exceL Esports plenty of room to build their brand.
Finally, we have Rogue. Most MOBA fans are probably unfamiliar with this org, but Rogue are a major player in the FPS scene. They fielded the clear-cut best Western team in the early days of Overwatch, and they still have a strong presence in titles like CS: GO, H1Z1, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege. On top of that, Rogue have the backing of Steve Aoki and Imagine Dragons, so they will certainly bring a unique flair to the LEC.
The LEC vs the EU LCS
One thing that’s likely to fly under the radar is the decision to rebrand the league and distance it from the LCS label. The narrative of the EU LCS being secondary to its North American counterpart has been going strong ever since the inception of the league format, and the similarities in names and logos certainly didn’t help to solve this problem. However, the EU LCS production team went above and beyond to differentiate its product in 2018. With a new banner above its head, the competition will be taking another step towards establishing its own brand and finding its place in the League of Legends ecosystem.
Of course, a lot of it will depend on the teams. The promotion/relegation system has been a huge factor in the EU LCS history. Without it, organizations like Origen, Misfits, and FC Schalke 04 wouldn’t have even existed in League of Legends, so removing it is bound to stifle the competition. And it will largely come down to the franchised teams to make up for this loss and bring something new and exciting to the table.
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