Opinion: Excel have turned a corner, but can they finally make LEC playoffs this season?

excel beat g2

Substitute players Advienne and Markoon look like the piece of the puzzle Excel’s been sorely missing these past few years, writes Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco in this opinion piece on Excel’s 2-0 week

There’s nothing quite like a week of wins for Excel Esports. I admit it, I have a soft spot for them – they are, after all, the UK’s core representatives in the League of Legends LEC.

Sure, Fnatic have their headquarters in London, but they’ve always felt like more of a global brand to me. With Excel, I’ve seen these boys go from the bottom of the ESL UK & Ireland Premiership to the heights of the LEC in the space of a few years.

Co-founders Kieran and Joel Holmes-Darby are a pair of plucky Brits who famously came up with the idea for Excel in a pub, and while Joel has left for Method now, he left his mark on the org. Excel feel like the underdogs, they’re one of the UK’s biggest esports orgs and show glimmers of potential at times.

That’s why it’s been so frustrating for me – and I’m sure to them and their fans – that Excel’s League of Legends side has been so inconsistent since playing in the LEC.

If you look at past seasons, you could argue that Excel are doing what they always do – start the season off relatively slowly, go on a run of victories, before whimpering towards the end. The last weekend becomes a stressful time for the team, who at that point often have to win all their games and hope that other results go their way.

“That must really raise up the spirits of Excel. It’s been a tough past few weeks for them, and now taking down G2 on [Advienne and Markoon’s] debut game, it was beautiful to watch.”

Caedrel after Excel’s win vs G2

This has resulted in Excel narrowly missing out on the top six playoff spaces, often to Schalke, for example in Summer 2020 and the Spring 2021 LEC.

But, for me, something is different this time around. The addition of support player Advienne and jungler Markoon from the BT XL academy side, in place of Denyk and Dan respectively, is looking like an excellent change so far.

The pair slotted in effortlessly, helping Excel pick up much-needed wins against both G2 and Vitality this weekend. Sure, those sides aren’t at their strongest and have seen mixed results, but they’re still not easy to beat. Excel came into this weekend with two wins and five losses, but they turned up.

I feel bad for Denyk and Dan, and hope their time will come, but for now the new subs impressed.

Not only did Advienne and Markoon play well, with Markoon impressing me with his mid-lane dives on Caps and Advienne’s composure in the bot-lane, they showed togetherness with their teammates.

Excel felt like a team this weekend – they showed a team spirit that’s previously been lacking from them at times. Markoon had solid synergy with mid-laner Nukeduck. They also showed confidence too, with Markoon being comfortable with a low health bar or popping cheeky emotes mid-game, and Advienne respected the likes of Rekkles in the bot-lane, while also taking his opportunities.

As caster Foxdrop said after today’s game versus Vitality: “They look like a whole different team with the addition of Markoon and Advienne.”

Caedrel commented after the G2 game: “That must really raise up the spirits of Excel. It’s been a really tough past few weeks for them, and now taking down G2 on [Advienne and Markoon’s] debut game, it was beautiful to watch.”

A big test is around the corner – next week Excel face Fnatic and Mad Lions. For me, one win next week would be positive for Excel.

Now, the question remains: Can Excel show some consistency, can they keep up this togetherness, this composure and confidence, and carry on until they finally finish in those hallowed playoff spaces?

This season, you know what? I think they just might.

Further reading: Excel to open new London HQ close to local rivals Fnatic after securing £17m in funding

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