League of Legends Academy: 105
As League of Legends ramps up once again for their Summer Split of the season, this is a good time to check in to see who the best teams in the world truly are. The Spring Split saw lots of the traditional powerhouses around the world struggle early on, but manage to find their footing once they adjusted to online play.
China’s League of Legends Pro League remains on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak. We will focus on the LCK, League Championship Series, and League European Championship and will add in the LPL once play resumes. We won’t see these teams compete against one another from different regions for a while, so this is our best look at comparing the top teams from around the world.
T1 Esports may have started the season rusty, but their success following the early weeks was impressive. When pressured they have performed admirably in team fights and prioritized objectives. Moreover, their game understanding has been top-notch this early in the season, as they have averted disasters time and time again by predicting opponent moves that would have left them compromised.
T1 has done so with prized rookie top laner Canna, whose talent in solo queue was undisputable. As expected, his acclimation to the professional scene was rocky at first, as his KeSPA Cup showings attest, but he has grown into a crucial factor in his team’s victories as of late. If he can develop into a superstar, who knows how good T1 can be.
After suffering a narrow loss to T1 in a battle of title contenders, Gen.G needed to diversify their carry threat beyond bot laner Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk. Enter mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong, whose standout Week 3 reminded us that the former 2017 LCK Summer Split MVP is much more than a KT Rolster lightweight.
But Bdd’s return to glory is only part of the reason Gen.G find themselves atop the LCK with T1. Gen.G’s 1,725 gold differential at 15 minutes — second only to Cloud9 (2,687) is indicative of the decisive early games that have snowballed them to victory, outpacing a league prone to lane-bouncing lethargy. This new roster is starting to flex its power, and if Gen.G continue to improve, expect to see them in the LCK spring final.
G2 is still atop Europe as the premier team for League of Legends, but did not showcase the same dominance in the Spring that we are accostomed to seeing from G2. The role changes and roster swaps have been part of the reason for this, but G2 began to hit their stride towards the end of the Spring Split and won the LEC Spring season.
The role switch between Caps and Perkz has been a place where teams attacked them, pouncing on Caps’ inexperience in his new role. This isn’t the only reason that G2 has looked worse, but it does put a strain on the team as he continues to adjust to the new position. G2 is a team of ridiculously mechanically-talented individuals who are also smart about the game. It’s too difficult to bet against them defending their title come playoffs, regardless of the early hiccups in the Spring.
Everything with Fnatic comes down to fit. 2019 Fnatic had all the talent in the world and a clear path to a world final in their home continent, but the team never could consistently mesh well enough to raise any hardware. This year, Fnatic has improved from their disappointing finish to 2019 with a strong Spring session, finishing second in Europe behind G2.
The introduction of Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek as the starting jungler was going to make or break this team. Almost the personification of Fnatic’s situation, the young jungler has a world-class ceiling but has a checkered past when it comes to behavior. Through five weeks, he’s arguably been the team’s MVP, and it still feels like we haven’t seen his true peak yet.
Cloud9 bullied their way through the North American League this spring on their way to a Spring session title in the LCS. They began the season on a 10-game winning streak, and looked untouchable by any other team in North America. Cloud9 did not let other teams get any control of the map and did not let the other team destroy their first turret in their first 10 games.
The question remains, however, is Cloud9 really that dominant, or are the other teams in North America really that bad. No other LCS squad has offered a true challenge to Cloud9 just yet, and this lack of competition might come as a double-edged sword if they face top teams from the LEC, LCK, or LPL at an international tournament. If Cloud9 does represent the LCS at the 2020 Mid-Season Invitational, we will finally know if this domestically dominating team will falter against top international teams or repeat the success of Team Liquid last year, when they progressed all the way to the finals of 2019 MSI.
DragonX established themselves as the 3rd-best team in South Korea during the Spring Split, as they competed with T1 and Gen.G all season, but couldn’t quite get over the hump against them. DragonX has insane individual talent on their roster, but lack the teamwork to make them one of the best in the world. They were heavily punished by T1 and Gen.G during their matchups because of this lack of discipline in team fights.
I expect DragonX to continue to move up the global rankings as they close the gap between them and the top two teams in South Korea. They have lots of options on the bench and could use a new top laner such as Doran, who is a bright young talent in the LCK.
Origen was one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the spring because of their close duels with seemingly every other team in the LEC. All of their matches this year felt like nail-biters, and they managed to pull out a majority of them, making them the 3rd-best team in Europe going into the Summer session. Elias “Upset” Lipp has established himself as one of Europe’s strongest bot laners, silencing his doubters and top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris is having a career year.
With that being said, there is still a massive gap between Origen and the top two teams in Europe, G2 and Fnatic. When facing off against those teams this year, Origen did not win a game and suffered blowout losses in 2 of the 4 games. They struggle in the draft for Champions against these teams, and they need Xerxe to have a deeper pool of usable Champions.
Misfits have been the biggest surprise of the 2020 season so far without question. Going into the year, if you told me that Misfits would have finished the Spring Split as a top 4 team in Europe, I would’ve laughed in your face. However, Misfits took advantage of their underdog tag and became one of the best in Europe.
After feeling out of place ever since he left Fnatic, Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten has returned to the form which once put him in the conversation for the best up-and-coming mid laner in the world. It’s not only the big-name player on the team, though, as Spanish rookie Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz has risen from being unknown to being one of the heaviest hitters in Europe his debut season.
9. MAD Lions
MAD Lions began the year with an upset of the defending European champions, G2 and has not let off of the gas since that point. The Lions managed to pull away from the middle of the pack in the LEC towards the end of the season thanks to strong play from their roster as a whole.
It is a good sign for MAD Lions that mid-laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda – the lone holdover from Splyce – might be the team’s weakest link. At their best, jungler Zhiqiang “Shadow” Zhao and bot laner Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság can compete with the anyone at their positions, with Carzzy leading the LEC in bot laner damage per minute. MAD Lions are set up well to be a top team in the LEC in the summer and possibly qualify for their first World Championship.
10. Afreeca Freecs
Afreeca Freecs had a strong start to the season to finish as a top-4 team in the LCK at the end of the Spring Split. Freecs showed that they can compete with the best of the best such as T1 and Gen.G. They upset Gen.G in their matchups this season and had some of the craziest matches this year with DragonX and T1 as well.
Freecs is led by superior play from their bot laner, Mystic, and their top laner, Kiin, who were stars in the LCK during the spring. They entered the Pandemic as the 3rd best team in South Korea, but managed to slip up against DragonX at the end of the Summer Split, pushing them down the rankings. They are in a strong spot to finish in the top 3 in the LCK for the Summer Split and have a chance to make it to the World Championships if they take place.