With the Spring Split having drawn to a close, Riot has filled the gap in competitive play by pitting teams from the various regional leagues against each other to battle it out in a grand tournament, the EU Masters Cup.
The cup is not the only thing at stake here. Regional pride and gaining coveted publicity for EU LCS, since most of the new European talent are competing in the EU Masters Cup, is also on the line.
After gauging the teams in the group stage, Final Kill evaluates what happened and what we can expect from the knockout stage.
This group contained GamersOrigin, the team that won the Open Tour in France, Penguin Mafia from Spain, Illuminar Gaming, the Polish champions and Ad Hoc Gaming that formerly competed in the Challenger Series as Mysterious Monkeys.
GamersOrigin completely dominated their games while Ad Hoc Gaming failed to show the potential to pose a serious threat to the teams that finished above them. They exited the tournament haven’t lost all three of their games.
Second place was decided by a tense game between Penguins and Illuminar, with the Spanish side coming out on top.
What caught our attention?
GamersOrigin where by far the strongest team in this group. Their mid Scott “Tonerre” Ménard had a very consistent showing, picking Ryze and Taliyah while only giving up one kill during 3 games.
The star of the team however is their jungler Kristian “TynX” Hansen. He was selected as the group stage MVP. On his way to this award he picked Nidalee, Lee Sin and Graves, going against the current meta and excelling on all of those picks.
AD carry Augustas “Toaster” Ruplys, has also played in LCS for six matches and he has been consistent.
Given that LCS support Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé came out of this organisation, you can expect this team to go far.
The Penguins also have a good shot, but inconsistent carry performances and rather messy games have plagued them so far.
Illuminar Gaming have a core of Veterans such as Marcin “IceBeasto” Lebuda, former Fnatic jungler Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek, former Roccat AD carry Woolite. Likewise, all five players have previously played together. They are an all-Polish squad and while the margins for improving their macro is small, it is not unthinkable that they will be able to surprise some opponents before exiting the tournament.
This group contained another French represetative, Millenium, Misfits Academy, WAR from the ESL Premier league, as well as Team Atlantis from the Nordic Open.
Millenium had two 30-minute stomps against Misfits and, after a tussle with Atlantis, they secured a confident first place finish.
Misfits put in a poor performance in their first game against Millenium, but they played towards their strengths and secured second. WAR and Atlantis fought for third. Atlantis jungler Frank “Aesthetic” Norqvist, nominated for the MVP award, was the deciding factor and secured the victory for the Swedish side.
What caught our attention?
Millenium, despite being fifth in circuit points in the French Open, had qualified via the Challenger Series. WAR found a similar route into the tournament, despite playing in the Premiership. This failure to qualify from their domestic leagues raised some doubts regarding the strength of the two rosters.
Millenium expertly dispelled these worries in impressive fashion. Individual players stepped up, in particular the team’s carries. Veteran jungler Thomas “Kirei” Yuen ha enabled his carries in the midlane (Marcel “Scarlet” Wiederhofer) and bot (Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík).
Scarlet impressed, giving up one kill in three games. Nonetheless, the true MVP was Neon, a young prospect at the top of the solo queue ladder that dished out a lot of his team’s damage (34%), while having low resources (25.9%). He also managed to secure a quadrakill.
Millenium’s prospects in this tournament, given their spring woes, largely rely on exceptional carry performances from these two.
Misfits Academy, on the other hand, had a strong showing with solid team-fighting and stalling. Strong drafts that led to late-gaming insurances were important to their success and this is certainly one of the teams than the sum of its components.
A tough path lays ahead for Team Atlantis, but the exceptional performance of Aesthetic shows that there is some promise.
This has been arguably the most competitive group, since a tiebreaker was needed to determine first place.
Origen fielded a new roster that included names like ex-G2 toplaner Ki “Expect” Dae-han, the famous Lee Sin innovator Choi “inSec” In-seok, ex-Echo Fox midlaner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, ex-Fnatic support Jesse “Jesiz” Le and infamous AD carry Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou.
The teams drawn against this roster of superstars were German side Euronics Gaming, KlikTech from the Balkan League and ExceL Esports from the UK.
KlikTeck managed to upset the new Origen roster in their first game, but they lost to ExceL. ExceL lost to Origen and in combination with the fact that Euronics lost all 3 games, tiebreakers ensued. Origen eventually managed to secure the top spot.
What caught our attention?
This group proved to be very stacked. Origen had an excellent roster that still had to build synergy, but after their first loss they are now on a four-game winning streak.
Froggen has shown steady improvement over the games and he looks set on his way to carry his team through.
Forg1ven has returned to his ways of farming for late game and it is not a coincidence that in several games, Origen has first picked Tristana for him.
Expect has been lees than solid, surrendering a solo kill in lane, but he has served his role well.
The only clear-cut flaw of this team is Jesiz and Insec playing out of sync with the rest of the team and yielding unnecessary kills. Once the language barrier with Insec is sorted, this team has great potential.
The other team that has impressed in this group is klikTech. The Balkan team had been on a 27-0 streak in 2018 (including five games in the play-ins for the EU Masters Cup) and it has.
They have arguably the strongest midlaner in Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić, as well as talent in the rest of the roles. It is no coincidence that both the toplaner oni “Sacre” Sabalić and the support Dimitar “EdinPriqtel” Piskov were LCS substitutes this split (in G2 and Roccat respectively).
Given their comfort with multiple drafts and win conditions, if they manage to clean up their macro they can challenge the best teams in this tournament.
ExceL are a strong team too, but the person that has performed best is Alexander “Venzer” Kostadinov. His team has adapted to his playstyle and they play around him in order to enable him to carry.
Mid picks like Karma and Galio and aggressive bottom lane picks like Varus and Caitlyn support this. It seems that ExceL Will have to count on Venzer in order to advance further in the knockout stages, or some of their jungler Christian “Taxer” Vendelbo Bylling Jensen’s superb baron steals.
This is third group with a clear winner, Mad Lions from Spain, who went 3-0 over their opponents.
The other teams in the groups were Movistar Riders from Spain, NiP from Sweden and SPG from the German League. These three teams battled it out in the tiebreakers, since all of them had a 1-1 score. SPG were the team that lost their place after suffering two defeats.
What caught our attention?
It is interesting that in this group, the finalists of the LVP tournament in Spain were pitted against each. The result was the same though. MAD Lions beat the Movistar Riders convincingly.
Mad Lions are one of the favorites to win the EU Masters Cup since they have probably the strongest macro sense in the whole tournament. This, combined with the presence of Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek and Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek in the mid and jungle position correspondingly leads to immense pressure over the whole map.
While Nemesis has only played Azir, he went through the group stage deathless. Meanwhile, Selfmade managed to impact the whole map with a variety of picks.
Given that Juš “Crownshot” Marušič draws a lot of pressure too, it is not hard to see this team going all the way.
The name of the game for the rest of the teams from this group is stability.
Movistar Riders cruised through the Play-ins, but once their heavy toplane focus got figured out, they had to regroup. Putting the more stable Gustav “Xyraz” Blomkvist in place of Olof “Flaxxish” Medin in the top lane has provided stability but also made the team less threatening.
NiP, on the other hand, had very inconsistent showings as a whole. They often manage to accrue leads but if they fall behind in the early game, they have to rely on their team-fighting in order to make a comeback.
In the following days, the teams that remain will battle it out to be crowned as the regional kings of Europe.
Whether you want to cheer on your region, check out the new European talent, or see staple names like Forg1ven, Froggen and Expect compete, you don’t want to miss the EU Masters Cup.