New champions and fallen gods: LEC at Worlds 2021 preview

Riot Games

Europe has always been a major player at Worlds, taking home the first Summoner’s Cup in 2011. However, the region has seen mixed fortunes in recent years. Can it find a way to break through the Chinese and Korean dominance as MAD Lions, Fnatic, and Rogue represent the LEC at Worlds 2021?

The LEC has seen major changes this year. G2, who had long been the frontrunner with top-4 finishes in the last three Worlds, will not be present after finishing fourth in the Summer split. In their place, MAD Lions lead the LEC delegation after a fantastic year. They are joined by Fnatic and fellow up-and-comers Rogue.

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If you haven’t caught any of the action this year, here’s a quick debrief of the LEC squads in attendance at Worlds 2021.

Be sure to check out our Worlds 2021 hub and our post-draw preview with commentator Zack ‘Rusty’ Pye. You can find our previews of the other regions by clicking the links below:

MAD Lions (Seed #1)

MAD Lions LEC Summer 2021Riot Games
MAD Lions won both LEC splits in 2021, what can they do at Worlds?

Last Worlds appearance: 2020 (Play-ins)

Best Worlds finish: 19th (2020)

Main roster:

  • İrfan ‘Armut’ Tükek (Top lane)
  • Javier ‘Elyoya’ Prades (Jungle)
  • Marek ‘Humanoid’ Brázda (Mid lane)
  • Matyáš ‘Carzzy’ Orság (AD carry)
  • Norman ‘Kaiser’ Kaiser (Support)

From play-in elimination in 2020 to LEC first seed, MAD Lions have had an incredible journey in the last year. The young team fielded by the Spanish org in 2020 has been bolstered by a year’s experience and the additions of jungler Elyoya and top laner Armut.

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The changes immediately took the MAD Lions to the top of the LEC and saw them become the first team other than G2 or Fnatic to win a European split since Alliance in 2014. They carried the momentum into MSI, where they reached the semifinals.

That was followed by another white-hot split as MAD Lions became LEC’s top seed at Worlds 2021 with ease. It has been nothing short of a meteoric rise, one that could change the face of the LEC for years to come if it can be sustained.

MAD Lions represent the LEC’s best chance at a title at Worlds 2021. At MSI, they proved that they can go toe-to-toe with teams from China and Korea and that they have the talent to be a title challenger. Europe hasn’t won a Summoner’s Cup since 2011, but now it might finally have a team that can do it.

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Player to Watch: Humanoid is the ultimate supportive mid laner. The Czech isn’t afraid of a fight and is exactly the type of aggressive, supportive mid laner MAD need for a deep run at Worlds. What’s more, ShowMaker, possibly the best player in the world, has heaped praised on Humanoid, telling Korean media that the MAD Lions player has a “feeling other EU mids don’t”.

Fnatic (Seed #2)

Fnatic Summer 2021LEC
Can rookie Adam make an impact at Worlds for Fnatic?

Last Worlds appearance: 2020 (Quarterfinals)

Best Worlds finish: Champions (2011)

Main roster:

  • Adam ‘Adam’ Maanane (Top lane)
  • Gabriël ‘Bwipo’ Rau (Jungle)
  • Yasin ‘Nisqy’ Dinçer (Mid lane)
  • Elias ‘Upset’ Lipp (AD carry)
  • Zdravets ‘Hylissang’ Iliev Galabov (Support)

Fnatic have changed a lot in 2021. Longtime botlaner Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson left for G2 prior to the season, while Selfmade was replaced after a Spring split that saw Fnatic finish fifth. Adding French wonderkid Adam in the top lane and moving Bwipo to the jungle earned Fnatic another fifth-place finish in summer.

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However, they ran the playoff gauntlet all the way to the Grand Final, where they were soundly beaten by MAD Lions. While the Grand Final was a wash, it showed that Fnatic still have the fight needed to run with the leading teams of the LEC.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Fnatic in 2021. Will their rookie top laner be able to hold his own against the best teams in the world? Can Fnatic succeed without Rekkles? While they have drawn one of the easier groups, everyone remembers the brutal journey that saw them crash out of Worlds last year.

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Fnatic were the first team to lift the Summoner’s Cup a decade ago. While they are not a title favorite, they have proven this year that if needed, they can surprise everyone with deep runs with the odds firmly against them.

Player to Watch: Adam was playing the second tier of regional French League a year ago. However, after a meteoric rise and an EU Masters title with Karmine Corp, the 19-year-old was picked up by Fnatic ahead of the Summer split. He has gone on to win Rookie of the split and Second-Team All-Pro honors. He loves to play bruising champs like Sett and Renekton, and his debut on the biggest stage in the world is highly anticipated.

Rogue (Seed #3)

Rogue Summer playoffs 2021LEC
Up against the odds at Worlds, what can Rogue do?

Last Worlds appearance: 2020 (Group stage)

Best Worlds finish: 14th (2020)

  • Andrei ‘Odoamme’ Pascu (Top lane)
  • Kacper ‘Inspired’ Słoma (Jungle)
  • Emil ‘Larssen’ Larsson (Mid lane)
  • Steven ‘Hans same’ Liv (AD carry)
  • Adrian ‘Trymbi’ Trybus (Support)

Rogue are once again LEC’s third seed, but they find themselves in the group stage of Worlds due to the withdrawal of the Vietnamese teams. They left with a whimper last year, going 1-5 in an unenviable group that contained eventual champions DWG KIA (then DAMWON Gaming).

It is a familiar but disappointing situation Rogue find themselves in. They were the top seed in the Summer playoffs after going 13-5 in the regular season. While they made it to the Winner’s Final, they were sent down to the Loser’s Bracket by MAD Lions and then had to settle for third place after losing to Fnatic.

Rogue showed strength in the Summer split but stumbled when it comes to the biggest matches of the season. Drawn into the group of death at Worlds, a quiet showing is once again expected from the team led by veteran top laner Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu, who makes his third Worlds appearance.

Player to Watch: Inspired was deadly enough in the jungle to earn LEC Summer MVP honors. He excelled in the prevailing Viego meta but can also use champions like Xin Zhao if needed. He is going to be crucial if Rogue are to stand any chance at Worlds.