League of Legends: Can Rogue’s new roster compete for the LEC trophy?

League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games. /

With the return of European League of Legends just two months away, Rogue announced its starting roster for the 2020 LEC season with a few new faces!

As the inaugural season of the League of Legends European Championship came to a close, the confusion levels amongst LEC viewers reached an all-time high as the sounds of jaws dropping and heads being scratched echoed across the continent.

G2 Esports produced an unbelievable display of dominance by securing back-to-back finals wins, the Origen super-team had astoundingly failed to qualify for the World Championship, but perhaps most shockingly of all, Rogue established themselves as the fourth-best team of the Summer, despite finishing dead last in the previous regular season.

Labeled one of the worst European teams in history by fans and analysts alike, Rogue’s debut split in competitive European League of Legends left a lot to be desired.

Heading into the 2019 season with an underwhelming roster was undoubtedly the root cause of their demise, and even with a flurry of desperate, last-minute substitutions, the team couldn’t prevent a dismal 2-16 finish in the Spring Split regular season.

Roll on the mid-season break and there were changes aplenty in an attempt to redeem the season and salvage some dignity after becoming the LEC’s laughing stock just three months after their introduction to the league.

The Rogue coaching staff announced that Finn would start competing with Profit for the starting top lane spot from the start of the Summer Split, while they also permanently replaced Wadid with the experienced Vander in the support role.

However, the most impactful substitutions undeniably came in the mid and jungle roles as the organization opted to switch out veterans Sencux and Kikis for two promising, young rookies who were about to take the LEC by storm.

Clearly, the European audience was already well aware of the high skill ceiling of new mid laner Larssen due to the cloud of hype surrounding his entry to the league following impressive performances during the Ultraliga and EU Masters Spring.

Inspired, on the other hand, was an unknown quantity and had fans on the fence about his potential upon joining the Rogue starting line-up. But that uncertainty would soon be cleared up.

The new-look roster went on to clinch a playoffs spot on the final day of the regular season, beating out the likes of SK Gaming and Origen, finishing with a much-improved 7-11 scoreline. It would only get better from there as the squad surprised every EU fan by sweeping aside eventual Worlds competitors Splyce in a commanding 3-0 series.

At that point, the miracle run from 10th place to a spot at the World Championship seemed like destiny, but it, unfortunately, wasn’t to be. A narrow defeat at the hands of Schalke 04 in the semi-finals ended Rogue’s season as they hadn’t accumulated enough championship points to feature in the regional qualifier.

In any other circumstances, a fourth-place finish and such a slim chance of qualifying for Worlds would be chalked down as a disappointment for a European team, triggering an instant roster overhaul in an attempt to remedy the situation.

Nevertheless, the manner in which Rogue flipped their season on its head through intelligent substitutions and shifts in gameplay brought hope and promise for 2020, requiring few, minor tweaks to the starting line-up in preparation for a successful season.

Hence, Rogue’s roster announcement earlier in the week revealed that just one new player would be joining the squad during the offseason, Hans Sama, replacing HeaQ and Woolite as the team’s starting AD Carry. As a result, the confirmed roster going into the LEC next season looks like this:

  • Top Lane: Finn “Finn” Wiestål
  • Jungle: Kacper “Inspired” Słoma
  • Mid Lane: Emil “Larssen” Larsson
  • AD Carry: Steven “Hans Sama” Liv
  • Support: Oskar “Vander” Bogdan

With just one split of experience for the most recent iteration of the line-up, it comes as no surprise that the Rogue backroom staff have chosen to keep the group together and see what they can achieve with a full offseason to develop and ready themselves for 2020. One question remains though:

Is this roster strong enough to compete at the very top of the LEC?

Can Rogue go one further than their 2019 achievements and secure a place at the World Championship? Is this roster capable of dismounting G2 Esports in 1st place? Or, more realistically, can they best Fnatic, Origen, and Splyce and reach an LEC playoff final next season?

The only suitable answer is: “Why not?”

With so many fellow LEC teams seemingly downgrading during the offseason – losing star players to the extreme salaries found in other parts of the world and failing to find comparable replacements – Rogue is possibly the only team to have improved their roster over the last few weeks.

Hans Sama’s pedigree and experience at the highest level of European League of Legends is almost unmatched in the current bot lane climate, with three EU LCS Playoffs appearances and a World Championship quarter-final under his belt, a feat only Rekkles, Perkz, and Kobbe share.

Compare that to the list of achievements carried by previous Rogue marksmen, HeaQ and Woolite, and the difference is night-and-day.

Furthermore, stability is key in building a strong, long-lasting line-up that is capable of competing amongst the very best, particularly in Europe. For example, the LEC’s three 2019 World Championship contenders (Fnatic, G2, and Splyce) only made six total changes to their starting rosters in the 2018 offseason preparing for this year’s campaign.

Needless to say, the fewer transfers an organization makes the less time required to build synergy and experience as a team on the Rift.

Hans Sama, Rogue, LEC, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games. /

It all remains up in the air as to whether Rogue can improve on their 2019 season and push on towards Worlds contention and the latter stages of the LEC Playoffs, cementing themselves as a top-four team. Although, it could be argued that the team have strengthened their main problem area from last season, both individually and from a playstyle sense.

Throughout the Summer Split, Rogue’s approach to League of Legends revolved around building a gold lead from their strong mid-jungle duo, then spreading it across the map (especially the bot lane) through smart roams and skirmishes around key objectives.

This game plan was extremely successful through the regular season, and in Rogue’s 3-0 win over Splyce in the first round of playoffs, mainly due to the skill gap between Inspired and Larssen, and their enemy counterparts.

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However, it soon became clear that Inspired’s jungle path options were limited to Rogue’s only route to success, Larssen, which led to the team becoming one-dimensional and easily halted in their tracks. Enemy teams, Schalke 04 in particular, found it straightforward to either repeatedly gank the weaker side lanes, or shut down Larssen and Inspired without any fear of Rogue’s top or bot carrying on their own.

Now, with the addition of a new, aggressive AD Carry, the tides might have turned as their win conditions have increased from 1 to 2.

Hans Sama’s predecessors were simply not capable of carrying on their own and were often the source of their team’s early game collapses, which may no longer be the case as Rogue’s new marksman has shown his carry potential on numerous occasions, particularly on his most comfortable champion, Draven.

By no means does this change solve all of the team’s problems, but it certainly deals with their most glaring issue from the 2019 season, the lack of an accomplished AD Carry. This new Rogue line-up is one to be feared heading into the 2020 LEC Spring Split and should have no issues reaching the playoffs and competing with the very best Europe has to offer.

If Larssen and Inspired continue to dictate games from the center of the map in a similar vein as the Summer Split, and Hans Sama recaptures his 2017-2018 form, then the sky truly is the limit for Rogue next season.

Not only can they challenge at the top of EU, but with momentum and a full year of LEC experience behind them, this young, talented roster has the potential to put up a fight at the 2020 World Championship.

Next. Five players we’d love to see in the LEC in 2020. dark

Want to keep track of LEC roster swaps? How will Splyce and Schalke 04 round out their line-ups? Check this article out for all the latest rumors and finalized moves!