Off of the back of their Mid-Season Invitational win, G2 Esports were out to become back-to-back LEC champions in Summer 2019 and the rest of the competition were out to prove that they could catch the infamous superteam
For the first time since the creation of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC, formerly EU LCS), a league split began featuring the holder of a major international trophy. Off of the back of their Mid-Season Invitational win, G2 Esports were out to become back-to-back LEC champions in Summer 2019 and the rest of the competition were out to prove that they could catch the infamous superteam.
The EU superteam have done it again. On their way to completing a perfect year, G2 Esports have now clinched LEC Spring, MSI and LEC Summer within the same season and become the first team to do so. Now only Worlds is in G2’s sites, where they will enter as one of the favourites and will look to take down the likes of SK Telecom and Invictus Gaming in order to do one better than Fnatic’s 2nd place finish in 2018.
After Fnatic’s slow start and subsequent turnaround in Spring, many expected for them to be the biggest competition facing G2 in Summer, and they proved to be exactly that. The pair only dropped one game between them in the opening three weeks with Fnatic starting 6-0 and G2 starting 5-1, with G2’s only loss at the hands of Fnatic themselves.
This dominant form continued for both teams through much of the regular season, with G2 overtaking Fnatic at the top spot in week five and eventually cementing first place seeding for playoffs with a 15-3 record. Fnatic earned 2nd place with 14 wins and 4 losses, one of which coming at the hands of G2 and ultimately deciding the ordering of the two heavyweights.
Third place was occupied by Splyce (12-6) and fourth place by FC Schalke 04 (11-7), while fifth to eighth all shared an equal 7-11 record and were only separated by tiebreaker matches. Roster changes from Spring saw a newfound Rogue finish fifth while Vitality secured the final playoff spot in sixth. SK Gaming and Origen narrowly missed out in seventh and eighth respectively.
Continuing their underachievement in ninth was Misfits Gaming (6-12), who even released players mid-split and promoted their entire academy roster for the final few weeks of competition. Excel Esports, despite looking competitive in many games, finished in last place once again with only four wins to their name.
The LEC’s unique playoff format first saw third place Splyce choose their round one opponent from the remaining playoffs teams below them, and their choice of Rogue proved to be a huge mistake as they crashed out in a 3-0 best-of-5 loss. Elsewhere, Schalke secured their place in round two with a 3-1 win over Team Vitality, and then went on to beat Rogue by another 3-1 scoreline to reach the semi-final.
Finishing as the top two teams in the regular season earned G2 and Fnatic byes to the Juggernaut Match, a best-of-5 series to determine which team reaches the final directly and which must first go through the semi-final. A thrilling 3-2 win for G2 meant that Fnatic would go to face Schalke in the semis, while the close score proved just how far Fnatic had come to reach G2 as many still saw the latter as a cut above the rest in the league before they went head-to-head.
Fnatic further proved their worth as a top team as they made light work of Schalke in a 3-0 victory, setting up a rematch with G2 in the final and a chance to take back the LEC trophy; one that they last won almost exactly a year ago in Summer 2018.
Along with the semi-final, the grand final took place in Athen’s Nikos Galis Olympic Indoor Hall and was one of the most highly anticipated LEC finals ever. Fnatic were out to take back the European crown from rivals G2, and in particular ex-mid laner Caps, while G2 were looking to win the LEC by beating Fnatic in the final for the first time (something they had not done in any of their previous five league titles).
What followed was another gripping series, one that repeated the same 3-2 scoreline from the Juggernaut Match and crowned G2 as the European champions for the sixth time. In doing so, G2 Esports were secured as Europe’s number one seed for Worlds, while ADC Perkz became the most decorated European player in history with six LEC titles.
No match this split came close to the final, fiercely competed by the greatest two teams ever seen in the region and watched online by a record concurrent crowd of 864,337 eager viewers.
A nail-biting back and forth saw alternating wins for each team, where Fnatic once led the series 2-1 and were only one victory away from taking the title. Masterclass performances from elite players of both teams, the likes of Wunder, Rekkles, Perkz, Caps, provided scintillating viewing for fans as the series played out, between two rosters arguably playing some of the best League of Legends Europe had ever produced.
G2 proved their ability to win with little effort throughout the season, even with 3-0 wins in both the LEC Spring and MSI finals, but Fnatic had finally provided a worthy opponent. So much so that G2 were forced to pull out their Joker card in game five; Perkz on a mage.
Having won the first 4 of his European titles from the mid-lane, Perkz was heavily praised throughout the season on his ability to play mages in the bot-lane at a level that has rarely been seen. This was no exception in game five of the LEC Summer 2019 final with a devasting Syndra performance.
10 kills, 2 deaths, 8 assists. Perkz was involved in more kills this game than any other player, more than his jungler and more than his support, while also dealing the most damage to champions in the process. Perkz damage levels were so absurd that he dealt 57% more damage than the next closest competitor; Fnatic’s Rekkles.
With Perkz in such form, Fnatic had little chance of taking the game, and could not be blamed for ultimately losing the series and championship to the superior performers. G2 players were quick to acknowledge Fnatic’s admirable fight, putting a pause on their normal confident, often cocky behaviour to admit what a tough opponent Fnatic had been.
As G2’s starting roster all made it to the LEC’s all-pro team this split it took a world-class performer to shine above the rest; that came in the form of jungler Polish jungler Jankos.
G2 often gained early leads throughout the Summer, with Jankos’ jungle presence playing a key role in this, while the player himself boasted the most average kills, highest average KDA and highest CS/min of any jungler in the region.
Jankos is finally fulfilling his potential after a number of years being so close to the highest level with the likes of Team ROCCAT and H2k-Gaming. His only step left to make is to look to add a World Championship title to his name.
FC Schalke 04 to finish in the top three
After a disappointing Spring in which they failed to reach playoffs on a tiebreaker, FC Schalke 04 opted to make a switch in the jungle role; dropping Momento to their academy team in favour of picking up ex-G2 jungler (and 4-time LEC winner) Trick.
This move immediately paid off and Schalke looked like a different side this Summer, eventually earning a fourth-place finish in the regular season and securing their playoff spot. After reaching the semi-final with back-to-back 3-1 series wins over Rogue and Team Vitality and then finally bowing out at the hands of Fnatic, the German-based team blew away expectations in finalizing a third-place finish this split.
Very few could have expected Schalke to gain such a high placing, and even less were willing to bet on it. Based on form throughout the season, a safer bet on paper would’ve been to tip Splyce as the likely third-place team, though anybody who went through with this paid the price for putting their trust in the snake.