In order to help us better understand how LEC teams are shaping up, we sat down with color caster Alex ‘Nymaera’ Hapgood.
Nymaera has been casting the NLC as well as the European Masters in 2022, while also making occasional appearances on the LEC broadcast. When it comes to the LEC or ERL players, the guy knows what he’s doing. We had an extensive discussion on the rumors and covered every single LEC team to a certain extent.
Below you will be able to find the main takeaways on each topic EsportsDotNet and Nymaera covered.
Now that the World Championship is over, teams will have a two-month break before action resumes in January with the 2023 LEC Spring Split. That being said, the LEC free agency period is around the corner and teams will be able to make their upgrades or roster changes.
Compared to previous years, there have been quite a lot of rumors well before Nov. 21 and teams have already reached verbal agreements with most of their players for 2023. With the number of rumored changes, it’s hard to understand which teams have made the better choices on paper.
DISCLAIMER: The free agency period hasn’t officially started, and none of the roster moves have been confirmed. The analysis was purely based on the speculations and the rumors that have been circulating on the internet or social media.
Which teams/roster moves you are most hyped about & why?
Excel Esports – Most improved team
First of all, I think that XL are going to be the “most improved” team coming into the next year of the LEC. You got Vetheo and Patrik that were the stars of their own team but often the solo carries. I don’t think they will have the same burden anymore and the players around them are really good enablers.
They have Odoamne who I think was the best top laner in the LEC, Xerxe who was in my top 3 junglers in summer with great consistency and strong jungle tracking while Targamas comes from a decent year on G2. There are ways that things can go wrong, especially if there’s a meta shift towards the top side and that will depend on how Odoamne reacts to it. But all in all, they have the potential to do well.
Team Heretics come in with great mentality
My second team to watch out for is Team Heretics. I think they will be an interesting team. While we still don’t know their jungler yet, they have Peter Dun coming in as their head coach; Evi as their top laner, which, for those who don’t know, it’s actually “Ebi” (which means shrimp in Japanese); Ruby, Jackspektra and Mersa. In some ways, I don’t really care what level they start at, but the team seems to have the right tools and the players with the right mindset to improve.
Jackspektra one of the most intelligent, well-spoken and eloquent players I’ve had the chance to talk with. If he goes in the LEC with that mentality and the ability to communicate, with players like Mersa, who improved a lot in 2022 on MSF, and a coach like Peter Dun who is one of best examples in the west that has taken fresh prospects and experienced players, align them to his point of view and make the most out of them. Then you got Evi, if the move goes through, who comes from “DetonationFocusMe, one of the most diligent and dedicated practicing teams I’ve ever seen. They take everything very seriously and they are committed to learning so Evi should mesh well in the environment set up by Heretics and learn well together. It will be intriguing to see how they progress during the season.
[UPDATE] Nov. 15: With Jankos rumored to join HRTS as their starting jungler, I think the team has all the pieces to become a worlds caliber roster by the end of the year.
I think there’s going to be a race in 2023 about who can integrate their import top laners the fastest. You’ve got three second-language English speakers coming in (Photon, Chasy and Evi) and communication with their jungler and their team overall will be something to look out for. This directly relates to the bigger picture to how these three teams can potentially play for their top side of the map, especially MAD Lions.
MAD Lions is all about top side
Before the Chasy rumor came out, I thought Elyoya was the only true carry of the team. Carzzy is great with utility carries and a late game insurance but he’s not someone you’re going to be playing towards every game. Chasy, though, should fix that issue. He’s incredibly strong in 1v1 laning matchups and when he has a lead, the game just felt like were over. He has great teamfighting and knows how to play his champions which tend to be carry-oriented champions like Fiora and Yone. In other words, he’s able to play those 1v1 and skill-based champions.
Before, I thought that MAD could only play for its jungler. Now, however, if you can Elyoya and Nisqy play for top side and put Carzzy on weakside, they do have the potential to do well. In addition, you got Hylissang, who just like Kaiser before him, is a great roaming support who will be able to move towards the top side of the map. Chasy should be getting as many resources as possible and I think it will be a great way to integrate him into the team, thus putting MAD in position for success.
Considerations for other LEC teams
Vitality with a heavy jungle-support focus
Then you have a team like Vitality who can potentially play through any lane and I’m waiting to see how they will integrate Photon into the team. It will be curious to watch how VIT are going to deal with that, because even if you have a pop-off carry and explosive jungler like Bo, there isn’t a clear way of playing for them currently. We saw how despite having great individual talents this year, the team was struggling, especially because their jungle-support didn’t work. When they recovered a little bit in Summer, it was mainly due to Haru and Labrov performing better.
Now, with Kaiser probably coming in as the new support, things might change. Assuming that Kaiser and Bo can link up, then that will be huge for the team. Let’s remember that Kaiser and Elyoya were the main reasons why MAD won the LEC back-to-back in 2021. If Kaiser can make him and Bo a top-tier jungle support duo, Vitality will have a great season. But I haven’t seen it play out yet and I think that’s what VIT need to really play around.
Having said all of this, if these three teams can make it work with their top laner, we suddenly have four or five potential top lane carries, considering KOI also should pick up Szygenda. In 2022, the only carry top laner was BrokenBlade.
I believe that with these new players coming in, teams are going to diversify the way they play, withstanding the fact that they must be good at their own “style”. It’s going to be a huge shift from 2022.
Yike is the key for G2 Esports
The next team that I want to talk about is another one that can potentially play through any lane like Vitality and that is G2. They have incredibly proficient carries in every lane, and everything will come down to how they will deal with Yike. He was the best ERL player this year and one of the hottest prospects when I talked to coaches about who they were looking at from the ERLs and it was him. Even LEC players mentioned that they wanted to see him play.
When I think of Yike, there are a couple of playstyles which I attribute to him. Being a rookie jungler going towards the LEC, though, is kind of rough. While he was quite versatile in the ERL and responded quickly to weird situations, it’s going to be a hard shift for him when he will play in the LEC. That being said, I think having experienced teammates like Mikyx, Caps and Hans Sama that will help him integrate but I want to see where he starts and where he has to adapt to.
When he was on LDLC OL, he would often play for its mid laner Eika with the help of the roam by support Doss. If the same thing translates to Mikyx and Yike doing this for Caps, then G2 is going to be ready to fight for the title.
I spoke to some of the LFL casters leading to European Masters and they told me he would often sacrifice tempo to put vision or play in a certain way to track the enemy jungler. This and the fact that he’s good at impacting mid lane are the key prospects, I see from Yike in terms of what he can bring to the table, and I hope to see him develop beyond that.
I believe G2 has all the pieces to compete for the top of the LEC and internationally. The one problem I see is that G2 have both BrokenBlade and Hans Sama who are fairly resource-heavy players so if the team decides to play for mid lane, we will have to see how they can figure out a way to solve this.
AST and the 113 situation
Doğukan “113” Balcı is a great teamfighter and strong skirmisher but he also has some moments where he coinflips some early games. I don’t think the coinflips in the way he does will work at a LEC level.
For example, you got players like Malrang who also kind of ‘coinflips’ games or do the less expected least efficient move and it works for them. That would be 113’s pinnacle but I think he’s not there yet.
Back when he was on Giants, one of their analysts told me that the team had a really strong level one. The team was great at researching and scouting the enemies and make those gameplans work. The reasons why I think he couldn’t repeat the performance he had on Giants is related to this. KCorp was more content to play out the early game through laning leads and brutalize the enemies. However, 113 would then get caught out on the map or not coordinate himself with the team and put KC in weird situations.
I think 113 has the potential, but unfortunately, we’re not going to see it this year, especially considering the amount of strong junglers coming: Yike, Malrang, Elyoya, Xerxe and even Bo will give him a hard time.
Team BDS & SK sticking to one style, hoping for the synergy to work out
By looking at their roster, I feel like you gotta hope that the BDS Academy sticks together and the synergy works out. The lineup seems to lack higher level LEC experience and while people say that Crownie should be an upgrade over xMatty, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. In 2022, BDS had an awkward support situation where both Erdote and LIMIT were struggling. During spring, for example, the team didn’t play for bot side in a bot-centric meta, so it will be more about what Labrov can do to stabilize the support role. Then, we might see the brilliance coming from BDS’ top side, hoping they can match the LEC level. Sadly, however, for me BDS is destined to be bottom three, with Astralis and SK in similar position.
For SK, I feel like they lack the ability to be versatile. You need Markoon to lead that team: if he steps up, SK might have a shot punching above bottom three but they will probably just have to play one style and perfect that.
Fnatic – Which side lane will they play for?
I’m a little worried about FNC. I think they have a well of experience and it will be great for Rhuckz to improve. However, at the same time, you have Wunder, who is typically low-resource and when he tried to play Fiora at Worlds, it didn’t work out so unless you have a revival of 2019 Wunder back when he was on G2, I believe that FNC are going to struggle to play towards one side of the map.
While Razork is an extremely good jungler, he’s not the same type of jungler Elyoya is for example and Rekkles, just like Wunder, is more of a late-game insurance type of player. For these reasons, I’m expecting FNC to have issues with their early game because they don’t really have a “pressure point” besides Humanoid.
While they have all the pieces like other teams in the LEC to be top contenders, they have to figure out who’s going to carry their ‘flag’ in the early game and take the burden of getting the resources. In one way, FNC is the opposite of G2: the latter has too many people that need resources while FNC don’t have enough people that want those.
Nymaera’s speculative power rankings
Alex gave us his power rankings which he also talked about on his twitch stream.
McDonald team – Players that should remain in the LEC
“I have no idea how Treatz didn’t get a team. He’s like criminally underrated and was one of the better support. The guy was so important to SK and I find it quite annoying that Treatz will not be in the LEC.
I think the two roles which LEC suffered the most internationally or at least towards the higher levels of play are support and top lane. Now, apparently, we’ve found something to address that issue for top lane with the number of imports coming in. For support, however, I feel like players like Mikyx, Hylissang and Kaiser need to re-find their form or that issue will still be present.”