In this analysis piece, Megalodontus looks at the incoming and outgoing League of Legends players at Fnatic and Excel
So, here we are again. At the starting line. The LEC and NLC spring seasons loom over yonder once more, this time for 2021.
For Fnatic fans still clutching their photos of Rekkles and sobbing uncontrollably as they see him in a G2 shirt, one month is not enough to wash away that kind of deep-rooted despair.
Today we take a look at the two big UK-based orgs in the LEC and see what their off-seasons have yielded, as well as their lower-tier NLC rosters fpr 2021.
- Bwipo (top)
- Selfmade (jungle)
- Nisqy (mid)
- Upset (bot)
- Hylissang (support)
There’s no easy way to say this: Fnatic will have to prove people wrong. Whilst they still remain among the European elite, Fnatic will really miss their star man.
Losing Rekkles and ultimately not getting Perkz are certainly huge blows to Fnatic, but I believe their recruitment has been very astute, on both LEC and NLC fronts. Nisqy, Upet and coach YamatoCannon are shrewd acquisitions.
Despite not signing LIDER to replace the outgoing Nemesis (who actually turned down an offer to play for Fnatic Rising), Fnatic quickly made a decision to buy Nisqy from Cloud 9. If the idea is firmly set around a midlaner who can aid his lanes effectively, then in my opinion Nisqy is the perfect signing.
If he manages to develop a powerful bond with star jungler Selfmade, Fnatic fans will be singing a different tune. But it’s an ‘if’.
What about their talismanic captain, Rekkles? Fnatic have given that mantle to Upset. There is still reason to be sceptical, however. First, he’s not Rekkles. Second, Upset enters Fnatic from a disastrous season with Origen, where they finished last. Many have the impression he’s overhyped, and is as intensely resource reliant as a famished hippo.
In the season where Origen finished last, Upset still had the highest damage per minute (DPM) of any botlaner and remains a CSing machine. If Fnatic need an extra lane to hard carry their hopes of toppling G2, Upset fits snuggly into that ideal, especially if he and the ever engaging support in Hylissang are able to work well with one another. Lane kingdom, anyone?
Coach YamatoCannon of course has a long history in the scene, leading Splyce and Team Vitality to Worlds in 2016/2018 respectively. His charisma and know how on how to motivate, as well as get the best out of his players, could be the x-factor Fnatic need to go the extra mile.
With their Rising roster (below), Fnatic are planning on investing in the long term. So while immediate success is nice, it probably isn’t what this team is for. I would say be patient with Fnatic for 2021 and don’t write them off just yet!
LEC prediction for spring: 2nd
Nuclear spice prediction: 1st for false hope… or 3rd (egads)
- Pride (top)
- Maxi (jungle)
- Febiven (mid)
- Bean (ADC)
- Bravado (support)
- rhuckz (support)
- Chibs (mid)
Fnatic Rising’s situation is somewhat different, because Rising’s history in the lower-tier leagues is simple: They just win. Well, except the European Masters (EUM). Akin to the English national football team and the Euros then!
Rising have changed almost all of the members going into 2021, with only top-laner Pride remaining.
Let’s start with the big one: Febiven, Fnatic’s former star mid-laner from 2015, returns. Replacing MagiFelix, he needs no introduction. On paper, no other mid-laner in NLC should even come close. Heck, I’d say very few mid-laners within all of the European Regional Leagues (ERLs) do!
The broader implications of Fnatic’s intentions are clear: They want Febiven and Nisqy to broaden their options and have these two veterans constantly push each other. This makes full use of the academy system and no doubt fans are curious to see how it will work in practice.
Maxi is a familiar name to those who keep up with the EU scene, as an EUM finalist in 2018 and most recently NLC Fall Open champion.
Bean is a botlaner to watch and develop for the future. He’s had some very good performances, even if his former team Berlin International Gaming (BIG) did not finish well in 2020.
Rhuckz is the veteran voice they need in support, coming from his successful stint from the Movistar Riders in Spain.
With Pride remaining in the top-lane (deservedly), Fnatic Rising look like they should dominate the top ranks of NLC again.
Fnatic are also moving the whole Rising team over to Berlin for both rosters to work closer to one another. Who knows, we might even see Fnatic give some of their Rising players opportunities to join the LEC, even as a sub, just like they did with Dan previously.
In terms of how successful they will be in the NLC, however, in my opinion comes down to how well Maxi will work with Febiven and Rhuckz.
Jungler Dan, who left to join Excel Esports, was the beating heart of the team, and if Rising wants to win without just skill checking all of their opponents, these two synergies will be the keys to their continued dominance.
NLC prediction for spring: 1st, at worst 2nd.
- Kryze (top)
- Dan (jungle)
- Czekolad (mid)
- Patrik (ADC)
- Tore (support)
So… Excel. Back with another rebrand. The Power of Better. Will they be better next year?
Their announcement video passes by in a flash of fancy shots and a slogan ringing deftly through my ears. I found ‘The Power of Better’ somewhat corny, and could only think of ‘better jungler wins’ thereafter. How does Excel plan to harness this cheesy jingle in practice?
Will their team basically run on curdled milk? From their signings? Probably not. They’ve been busy this off-season, with incoming players Dan and Czekolad, replacing Caedrel and Special respectively, to lead their battlelines.
And I honestly think for the first time in two years, I’m hopeful Excel can finally reach their goal of reaching playoffs.
Jungler Dan has been a noteworthy point of contention on social media of late, however justified those opinions are. He was arguably the heart of Fnatic Rising, and Youngbuck has probably brought him in to be the new team captain.
Other than his intelligence in-game, Dan’s leadership, shotcalling and versatility – regardless of meta – have also been praised by many, and this will be the qualities that Excel desperately need to reach their goals.
Czekolad – which means ‘chocolate’ in Polish – is more for people who have kept up with the ERLs and EUM, where he is both Polish and EUM champion in 2020. Nicknamed the ‘Beast from Barczewo’, he’s had a phenomenal year and, in my opinion, is a player to watch.
Czekolad is a teamfighting monster, an Ultraliga specialty, especially on champions like Orianna, Azir or Sylas as per the tweet.
His stats from both his EUM runs are impressive such as placing top 3 in DPM and consistently high Kill Participation (KP). However, Excel fans will undoubtedly be cautious as former mid-laner Special struggled tremendously in the summer.
It would be wise to not expect the world for this young mid-laner, and Excel will probably have plans in place should problems arise.
With Excel retaining the services of Kryze, Patrik and Tore, an exceptionally solid mid-jungle duo could be the missing pieces they need to unlock their playoffs dream. But the race to playoffs is always fierce in the LEC, and how fast Excel can improve and adapt relative to their competition will be key.
I honestly do think they’ve upgraded, but is it enough in comparison to their rivals? We shall see.
LEC prediction for spring: 6th
Nuclear spice prediction: Miss playoffs. Again. (Author’s note: Sorry lads, Kieran Holmes-Darby’s payment in BT routers is unacceptable, unfortunately)
- Orome (top)
- Markoon (jungle)
- Hatrixx (mid)
- Deadly (ADC)
- Advienne (support)
BT Excel is a team I have been privately critical of. I always felt they were afraid of change and seemed to lack a clear identity as an academy team. For 2021 though, they have earned my respect.
Removing Send0o, Taxer and Kasing is a big shake-up but one that in my opinion, is very necessary if BT Excel truly want to not just finally win NLC, but also be a serious contender for EUM. Their recruits of Orome, Markoon and Advienne are solid pick-ups and are clear long term investments.
Orome, as LEC fans will know, was with MAD Lions for the whole of 2020 where he made Worlds 2020 with them. After some less than stellar performances due to mitigating circumstances in Shanghai, he finds himself back in the ERLs. But make no mistake, he is a solid team player and for the ERL level, Orome should easily be one of the top names.
The Dutch duo of Markoon and Advienne are the young guns Excel really need, especially in terms of being able to compete for an LEC spot.
Markoon comes off an eventful year in Spain, recently finishing second in the Iberian Cup. An aggressive, proactive jungler, on paper he should work well with Advienne who played for Nordavind in the Nordic Championship 2020 (before it became the NLC) and BIG afterwards.
Advienne is a talent many have been keeping an eye on, and he certainly will relish the chance to face his old BIG lane partner, Bean, who is now with Fnatic Rising.
But perhaps the biggest upside of these signings, in my view, is how well this plays off their LEC roster: Kryze can learn from or be challenged by Orome, Markoon benefits immensely under Dan and Tore can work with Advienne.
In my view, overall the new signings are a result of a very thorough long-term plan devised by Excel aimed at both short-term goals (win NLC and contend for EUM) and make playoffs for LEC.
I have higher hopes for BT Excel, even if they don’t win the NLC against their more prestigious rivals Fnatic Rising in 2021. This academy team has a clear purpose, and is one I hope to see them develop for the coming years.
NLC prediction for spring: Same as Fnatic Rising (1st or 2nd). Unless there is an unlikely third challenger, I think NLC will be a two-horse race.
The NLC returns on January 19th 2021 and the LEC on January 22nd. You can catch all the action on the LEC Twitch and the NLC Twitch channels.
Megalodontus is a miraculous survivor from the mass extinction and somehow learnt how to use his stubby fins to operate complicated mechanical equipment and drink tea. Worryingly for cryptozoologists, he’s been writing League of Legends articles too.
A self-taught writer who’s had the privilege to work with good editors who aren’t terrified of his pearly whites, Megalodontus is often seen writing either independently or for various websites such as this one. When not writing, he usually runs it down mid in real life and is fascinated with watching paint dry.