LEC: SK Gaming 2020 Spring Split Preview

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

A look at whether SK Gaming can emerge from the middle of the pack to the contender tier of LEC teams in 2020.

One of the most storied programs in the history of European League of Legends, SK Gaming has been on a downturn in recent years. While the LEC is being dominated by Fnatic and G2, SK has languished towards the middle and bottom of the table.

Last year, SK Gaming finished the Spring and Summer Splits in sixth and seventh place, respectively, never finishing above .500 in either split. In the summer, SK failed to qualify for the LEC playoffs, ending a bitter and frustrating 2019 campaign.

SK Gaming fans are looking at the 2020 season as more of the same, and perhaps even a tumble further down the ranks, after losing one of their best players in jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek left for the greener pastures of Fnatic. But is this team completely without hope, or is there talent on this roster to challenge the tops of the LEC?

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Top Lane: Toni “Sacre” Sabalić

Sacre was hyped a lot after coming in to replace Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas between splits. He performed well, if inconsistently, for a rookie in Summer 2019 and showed flashes of being able to be a steady performer in the league. If he can iron out his laning issues (he had the second-worst CS differential at 10 minutes), Sacre can continue to grow into the starting role.

Jungle: Kim “Trick” Gang-yun

Trick hasn’t shown the same level of play that he did as part of those dominant G2 teams from years past and was one of the worst junglers in the LEC following his return to Europe. Now he has the tall task of replacing one of the best junglers in the league in Selfmade and acting as a veteran presence among a very green roster. Considering that Trick was graded our second-worst early game jungler last summer, this team could be poised for disaster if he cannot right the ship and direct his teammates.

Mid Lane: Janik “Jenax” Bartels

After getting a taste of LEC action last summer, playing seven games and proving to have a decent level of play, the young Jenax is finally getting his chance to prove his worth in 2020. He’s far from the only mid laner in the LEC who comes into this split untested, but he’s perhaps the one with the least tools around him to help him succeed.

Bot Lane: Juš “Crownshot” Marušič

One of the lone bright spots for SK Gaming last season, I had Crownshot graded as my fourth-best ADC in the league last year, ahead even of Perkz. While he certainly got hammered a ton by having a pretty poor laning partner in Dreams, he made up for it by doing the most adjusted damage per minute of any ADC in the league. His 30.7% damage share was better than any in his position other than Rogue’s Woolite, who did over 100 DPM less than him.

Support: Dino “LiMiT” Tot

Another untested rookie coming into 2020, LiMiT played in the Italian national league last year, posting the best KDA among all supports. This move is, certainly, a risky one, given his lack of playing experience but luckily LiMiT is paired with a very solid bot lane partner to learn from.

Prediction: 5th Place

Although the top echelons of the LEC are pretty-well set, there are a lot of opportunities for teams to maneuver in those fourth through seventh spots and I think SK Gaming could be a big beneficiary of a lot of teams that finished ahead of them last year (like Vitality, Splyce, and Schalke 04) taking a bit of a step back and investing in their youth.

While those other teams are betting on young, unproven players to step up and deliver, SK Gaming has the veteran squad that could very easily come together and make a run. They also have their own mix of young talent in the mid and support positions, so it’s not as if the team lacks any upward potential.

Ultimately, there are far too many question marks on the team to make them a sure-fire pick to finish higher than fourth, but if everything goes right they should find themselves doing better than last year. Once you get into the playoffs, as Rogue showed last year, anything can happen.

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The 2020 League of Legends European Championship begins on Friday 24 January! Catch Fnatic vs. Origen at 16:00 EST / 22:00 CET on the Riot Games Twitch channel!