We spoke to casting talent from across Europe to find out the most exciting young players to keep an eye out for at the 2022 Spring EU Masters tournament. Watch out, LEC – these players are coming for you.
EU Masters is, undoubtedly, one of the most important events in Europe’s League calendar.
It’s a battle for regional pride and a chance for Europe’s LEC hopefuls to prove themselves on one of the biggest stages of their careers. Many of the LEC’s most incredible talents have been graduates of the EU Masters system, and it’s part of what enables Europe’s unmatched ability to produce talented rookie players.
But for those who aren’t up to date with the European Regional Leagues, EU Masters can be more than a little daunting. Every region has its own unique, rich ecosystem, and EU Masters is where those varying styles clash, making for an exciting competition to watch.
— Amazon European Masters (@EUMasters) April 8, 2022
If you’re going to be watching EU Masters for the first time this year, or even if you’re a returning veteran viewer of the tournament, it always helps to have the advice of some regional experts.
We spoke to casters from all of the contributing regions for EU Masters for their hot takes on what their region has to offer this year. Here are some of the players you should be watching out for as potential MVP candidates, or even LEC hopefuls.
LFL: BDS Academy mid laner Francisco José ‘Xico’ Cruz Antunes
The LFL has always been stacked with incredible talent and is one of the most successful ERLs in Europe. It has multiple ex-LEC stars representing it at EU Masters this year, with AD Carries Juš ‘Crownshot’ Marušič and Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larssen joining LFL rosters in the offseason.
It may be surprising to hear, then, that LFL English caster Nathaniel ‘BeatDownBlvd’ Birhane’s player to watch for the region at EU Masters is not an AD Carry but a mid laner – BDS Academy’s Xico.
Morning routine done even tho fucking sick, can’t sleep properly, throat and body hurts buty mental is COMPLETE BANGER AND EVEN THO IT HURTS I STILL DO IT SO IF I WIN MY MORNING I WIN MY DAY!
ITS ALL A MENTAL THING AND IM WINNING THIS MENTAL BATTLE! pic.twitter.com/x4uK0AheyD
— Xico (@Xicoolol) April 10, 2022
BeatDownBlvd describes Xico as “a strong laner and a fantastic team fighter” who was responsible for multiple game-winning picks for BDS throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. LFL teams will always have a target on their backs as some of the strongest rosters at EU Masters, but Xico is more than capable of living up to the reputation of the mid laners who have come before him.
Ultraliga: Team Esca Gaming support Igor ‘marlon’ Tomczyk and bot laner Franciszek ‘Harpoon’ Gryszkiewicz
Technically, we asked for one nomination, but Ultraliga caster Tomasz ‘TheFakeOne’ Milaniuk couldn’t resist the opportunity to shout out two players from Polish representatives Team Esca Gaming. He describes the team’s bot lane as having a “breathtaking” level of synergy considering they only have a season of experience as a duo.
He hails marlon as a player with a “great understanding of map movement” who has had “massive performances on both engage and enchanter supports”. He’s already shown proficiency on League’s newest support, Renata Glasc – a strong pocket pick that relatively few teams seem to be picking up.
Harpoon has gone from being a weakside bot laner to ESCA’s primary carry within the space of a single split. He had always been a safe laner, but TheFakeOne explained that he’s found a “new identity around strong laning carries and team fighters” with exceptional positioning and decision-making on champions like Kai’Sa.
Superliga: FNC TQ top laner Óscar ‘Oscarinin’ Muñoz Jiménez
Spain’s Superliga has never been short of talented LEC candidates. And FNC TQ top laner Oscarinin is another example of that, according to Superliga caster Ainhoa ‘Noa’ Campos. She describes the 18-year-old as “incredible”, and for good reason – he was the MVP of the Superliga spring split in a league with some of the best young players in Europe.
Quién lo diría al empezar el año 🥴 muchas gracias a todo el mundo que me votó y que me ha estado apoyando a mí y a mis compañeros <3 pic.twitter.com/0CuY4M820e
— Oscarinin (@OscarininXD) March 31, 2022
“He’s talented, he’s humble, he’s a good person – he deserves to succeed,” she explains. The Superliga has produced some fantastic LEC talents, including LEC Spring 2022 champion Victor ‘Flakked’ Lirola, and Noa is confident that Oscarinin will carry on the region’s prestige at EU Masters.
His talent is evident. He’s got a diverse champion pool that leans more towards carry-oriented picks, and he’s a monstrous laner who has averaged a gold, cs, and experience advantage at 15 minutes in lane throughout both the regular season and the playoffs.
Prime League: Eintracht Spandau support Oliver ‘Prime’ Payet
Prime League caster Nico ‘Sola’ Linke describes Prime’s playmaking ability as a ‘sixth sense’, particularly on hook champions like Nautilus and Thresh. He has been the primary facilitator for Eintracht Spandau all split, looking at home on hard-engage champions with the agency to turn games around.
His most-played champions from Spring 2022 are Alistar, Tahm Kench, and Leona, but he’s not afraid to whip out the Lux and Karma picks when it’s necessary (even though he has not been quite so successful on enchanters).
Eintracht Spandau head into EU Masters as the second seed from their region, but Prime managed to look strong even in their 3-0 finals loss to GamerLegion with high-impact games on Nautilus and Leona.
NLC: Bifrost mid laner Mike ‘Furuy’ Wils and bot laner Adrian ‘Odi11’ Kruk
Much like our Ultraliga representative, NLC caster Adrian ‘Jamada’ Wharlton-Thorne couldn’t pick just one NLC representative as the region’s most exciting player to watch. Cue two representatives from second-placed Bifrost – mid laner Furuy and bot laner Odi11.
This isn’t Odi11’s first rodeo in the EU Masters. He represented the Ultraliga with Illuminar Gaming and PDW in the 2021 Spring and Summer splits, and although his teams didn’t exactly put up the best of showings, he was the shining light on both rosters.
— Amazon European Masters (@EUMasters) April 7, 2022
Although Bifrost are attending EU Masters as the NLC’s second seed, Jamada describes Odi11 as arguably the region’s best AD Carry, better even that first seed X7’s Nataniel ‘Nata’ Fikrisellasie Asrat. He also currently holds the record for the most kills in a single game at EU Masters 2022, with a 19-kill Kai’Sa performance versus eSuba in the play-in stage.
Furuy has been a steadfast presence in the UK and Nordic scene for the last three years, but this will be his first EU Masters after multiple attempts to qualify. He has finally made it, and he has proven that he is not afraid to whip out some of the spicier picks on the main stage. His Leblanc and Ahri have been instrumental in Bifrost’s victories, but he’s also been unafraid to take a step back to less flashy champions like Veigar and Vex.
EBL: Crvena Zvezda Esports top laner Ondrej ‘Wondro’ Kenda
Top lane can sometimes be a difficult role to shine from. Especially when the meta dictates a tank-heavy, low-impact champion pool, top laners can sometimes be left on an island. That is perhaps why one of the most important qualities in a top laner is adaptability – something that Crvena Zvezda’s top laner Wondro has in spades.
— Crvena zvezda Esports (@czvesports) April 1, 2022
Not only is Wondro a consistent weak side player, but he can solo carry an entire game if given the opportunity, EBL caster Rastko ‘Ralla’ Kojić explains. His greatest strength is his adaptability, and he’s got the champion pool to back that up with pocket picks and strength on meta champions like Gangplank, Ornn, and Jayce.
PG Nats: Atleta Esport top laner Gabriel ‘Gabbo’ Olivieri
PG Nationals’ will have a new first seed representative at EU Masters this year. Atleta Esports is a relatively new organization in the Italian scene, having been promoted into PG Nationals at the start of Spring 2022. They pulled off a heroic 3-0 versus regional darlings Macko Esports to attend EU Masters for the first time in the organization’s history.
And they couldn’t have done it without top laner Gabbo. PG Nats caster Emiliano ‘Moonboy’ Marini describes Gabbo as “the rock to cling to” for Atleta, a steadfast presence in the top lane with “incredible consistency” and an ability to solo carry if necessary.
— Atleta Esport (@EsportAtleta) April 2, 2022
Even before the group draw had taken place, Moonboy was confident in Gabbo’s ability to hold his own against any top laner in the tournament. As Atleta’s “rock”, he’ll need to keep a level head at what is only his third EU Masters appearance if he wants to make it out of groups.
GLL: Team Phantasma mid laner Petros ‘Peppe’ Berdebes
After failing to qualify from the EU Masters play-in stage in Summer 2021, Team Phantasma are back as the number one seed from the GLL. They managed to clutch a domestic victory in a nail-biting five game series versus WLGaming, and they’re looking to carry that winning streak into EU Masters Spring.
Front and center of the Phantasma roster is mid laner Peppe. GLL Caster Antonis ‘Rev’ Stepchenko describes him as a player who has matured massively since his last unsuccessful stint at EU Masters, and one who can play “both for his team and for himself”.
PENTA KILL FOR PEPPE:
— Amazon European Masters (@EUMasters) March 23, 2022
His champion pool ticks all the boxes for a strong mid laner. He’s been most comfortable on Viktor so far in Spring, but he has also proven he’s more than capable of piloting skirmish-heavy champions like Akali and Leblanc when his team requires it.
Team Phantasma have got a hard road ahead of them at EU Masters, facing off against European giants KCorp and NLC upstarts X7 Esports. But even with the weight of his past failure on his shoulders, Rev is confident that Peppe can put up a fight in the mid lane.
The honorable mentions
At every EU Masters, there are regions that don’t quite make the cut. It’s a cutthroat tournament with a limited number of spots, and the unfortunate truth is that not every region can field a representative in the main event.
Our following nominees were eliminated in the play-in stage, but the fact they made it to EU Masters shows they’re some of the most talented in their domestic leagues, and worth looking out for at future events.
From the Benelux region’s Elite Series, caster Thomas ‘ThomSonic’ Legebeke put forward KRC Genk top laner Rob ‘Robba’ Zoon, the “most decorated player in the Benelux region” who singlehandedly secured his team’s victory in their regional finals with a back door Sion play.
— Elite Series: League of Legends (@EliteSeriesLOL) March 19, 2022
From the LPLoL, caster Rafael ‘Ahnyfar’ Oliveira chose to highlight EGN Esports bot laner Vincent ‘xDrop’ Reitberg, a hyper aggressive player who’s already managed to snipe three pentakills in Spring 2022.
And for Hitpoint Masters, the player to watch was none other than bot laner Cosmin ‘Khantos’ Florin Leontin Dănilă, one of the region’s best laning marksmen and an Aphelios mastermind with the second-highest total kill count of the Hitpoint Masters playoffs.