LEC: Excel make positive strides with midseason roster changes

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

After an underwhelming start to the 2020 season, Excel Esports have made two forward-thinking changes to their LEC roster that will set them up for success in the Summer Split.

Heading into the 2020 LEC Spring Split, Excel Esports were set lofty expectations as one of the most experienced and promising line-ups in the league. The additions of Patrik and Tore in the bot lane were a clear upgrade on their predecessors and had many fans and analysts predicting the British organization to finish in the playoff places at the end of the regular season.

Fast forward three months and it was yet another disappointing split for Excel as they failed to qualify for the LEC playoffs for the third time running. The team have yet to make it to the final stage of a split since they joined the LEC back in 2019 Spring.

This prompted action with Excel staff immediately reassuring fans that changes would be made shortly after playoffs elimination was confirmed, the first steps of which have already been announced.

Fan favorites Ki “Expect” Dae-han and Son “Mickey” Young-min were recently released by Excel Esports in preparation for the Summer Split, opening up the top and mid lane positions for upcoming signings. The South Korean duo made a combined 88 LEC appearances for the team and their wealth of experience was invaluable in guiding Excel through their first 18 months in Europe’s top division.

While Excel Esports have yet to make the official announcement, reputable sources claim that Unicorns of Love Academy’s Felix “Kryze” Hellström is set to replace Expect in the top lane and Joran “Special” Scheffer will be promoted from Excel’s Academy taking over from Mickey in the mid lane.

Kryze and Special play a crucial role in Excel’s two-year plan to challenge for the LEC title

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What this duo lack in LEC experience, they make up for in potential and consistent performances in European regional leagues over the last two years.

Kryze was a force in the Nordic region on a number of teams throughout 2019, grabbing three playoffs runners-up medals from the Swedish Esports League and Nordic Championship. Most recently, the top laner achieved a top four finish with Unicorns of Love Academy in the Prime League Spring Playoffs, boasting an excellent 3.7 KDA and catching the eye of Excel Esports in the process.

Excel fans will be very familiar with Special who is more than deserving of a promotion to the starting line-up after helping the Academy team stroll to a 14-0 record in the UKLC Spring regular season. Despite falling to Fnatic Rising in the playoff final, the Excel UK squad exceeded their Spring Split expectations and mid laner Special was at the forefront of the team’s incredible performances.

While he may have struggled to find his feet on the Excel roster in the LEC last year, Special is the obvious choice to replace Mickey. The Dutchman impressed in the UKLC and has been rewarded with a shot at redemption and the opportunity to guide Excel to the LEC playoffs in the Summer Split.

Together, these two signings provide hope and optimism for Excel fans who will have felt frustrated after the disappointing start their side made to the 2020 season. Witnessing the Spring Split achievements of the MAD Lions and Misfits Gaming rookies will no doubt excite the Excel faithful and have them brimming with confidence in their new recruits.

Nevertheless, it’s important to manage expectations and not expect immediate success from a new-look roster that will be forced to re-establish synergies across the map during the midseason break. Kryze and Special need time to settle in the LEC and Excel fans should be patient during the first few weeks of the Summer Split as the step up from regional leagues to Europe’s top ten is a steep learning curve.

That being said, once the duo have acclimatized with their new LEC surroundings, the only way is up for Excel. The new ideas, champion pools, and unpredictability Kryze and Special offer could prove invaluable for their team towards the back end of the split.

Reaching playoffs is the target for Excel Esports, but World Championship qualification may be a bridge too far so soon after making extensive roster changes (even with the extra seed granted to the LEC for recent international success).

Excel’s “two-year plan” ends with a push for the LEC trophy in 2021 and begins now by securing a top six place in the 2020 LEC Summer Split with their two new signings.