LEC: Reliance on FEBIVEN could cost Misfits a Worlds spot

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

Misfits Gaming’s precarious LEC start has highlighted a potential weakness

From the 2015 World Championship semi-finals to an underwhelming stint on a struggling LCS team, FEBIVEN’s ongoing professional League of Legends career has been the perfect mixture of unique and exceptional. Now the Dutchman faces the challenging task of guiding a rag-tag group of rookies to the zenith of competitive League of Legends in the same way his Fnatic teammates guided him five years ago.

Bursting onto the European scene as a member of Cloud9 Europe and H2k Gaming alongside recognizable names like Odoamne, Santorin, and Hjarnan, it didn’t take long for Fabian “FEBIVEN” Diepstraten to establish himself as one of the most promising mid laners in the region.

In fact, just twelve months after making his EU Challenger Series debut in Spring 2014, FEBIVEN was signed by Fnatic – Europe’s most decorated organization at the time – and in the same year went on to showcase his immense talent as a vital figure in his team’s unforgettable Worlds run.

One year later the Fnatic roster that inspired hope and optimism in so many passionate European League of Legends fans failed to qualify for the World Championship for just the second time in the organization’s history and was promptly broken up. FEBIVEN returned to H2k but struggled to make an impact. He then traveled across the Atlantic to spearhead Clutch Gaming’s LCS journey but also found little success there.

Today the mid laner is the only remnant of Misfits Gaming’s 2019 ‘super team’, a roster filled with talent and experience that fell flat on its face and will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest disappointments in League of Legends history.

Instead of being led by the unmatched experience of former teammates sOAZ and Gorilla, FEBIVEN finds himself in the unfamiliar position of leading LEC newcomers who, with the exception of Kobbe, had zero appearances in Europe’s top division between them this time last year.

Nevertheless, the absence of LEC experience didn’t obstruct Misfits during the Spring Split as they comfortably reached the playoff stage and went toe-to-toe against some of the best sides Europe has to offer. It is clear that FEBIVEN has what it takes to steer his squad of recruits towards success but the team’s unconvincing start to the Summer Split has raised a different issue that could cost Misfits a place in the 2020 World Championship.

Febiven, Misfits Gaming, LEC, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

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There’s no reason for Misfits Gaming to panic yet. Losses against high quality opposition like Fnatic and Rogue are acceptable especially when paired with an incredibly composed performance in victory against the well-drilled Origen.

In their first three matches, the Misfits have demonstrated their complete understanding of how to control an early game and set themselves up for success during the later stages. However, throughout Week 1 it became increasingly clear that the team have a big problem that could hurt their chances of success in the Summer Split. They rely too heavily on FEBIVEN to make plays in the late game and in team fights.

FEBIVEN’s Zoe was the key to unlocking the map and finding pivotal picks that allowed Misfits to take an early lead against Fnatic that they were unable to capitalize on. Although they were simply outclassed by Rogue on day 2, Febi’s Azir remained a constant threat. And it could be argued that the mid laner deserved a Player of the Game award in Misfits’ win over Origen as he landed key Emperor’s Divides to split up the opposition and set his team up for success.

Having a mid laner in such fine form during one of the most important parts of the season would usually be viewed solely as a positive. In Misfits’ case, it has instead highlighted an area of weakness in the team’s game plan that could be exploited over the course of the regular season.

With FEBIVEN being so integral to starting fights and making plays during the late game, LEC rivals could simply target the mid laner or zone him out of skirmishes to increase their chances of victory.

What about FEBIVEN’s teammates? During the spring, Razork won the LEC Rookie of the Split award as he quickly made his mark on the Berlin stage and became one of the strongest early game junglers in the league, yet he rarely showcased his playmaking ability in the late game. Similarly, Dan Dan further cemented his place as a high tier LEC top laner with solo kills and highlight plays but never seemed capable of dominating team fights even after building a mountainous gold lead over his lane opponent.

Unless either of these players can make the step up and become reliable playmakers for their team then Misfits Gaming risk becoming one-dimensional and too dependent on their star mid laner to make game-winning plays.

Is Kobbe the solution to Misfits’ problems?

TSM Kobbe, Team SoloMid, LCS, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

Perhaps the coaching staff are already well aware of this issue and have taken action during the midseason break to remedy the situation. Unhappy with their sixth place Spring Split finish, Misfits signed seasoned AD Carry Kobbe to replace Bvoy and add necessary experience and carry potential to the line-up.

While Kobbe’s talent is unquestionable and he has already re-established himself as one of the best marksmen in the LEC, it remains to be seen whether the Dane can lighten the load on his mid laner by making big plays during decisive team fights.

Doubtless Misfits’ new signing has the ability to output reliable DPS and offer excellent positioning in the late game, but unfortunately, the marksman role simply does not provide the same level of agency as mid lane and can rarely turn the tide of a team fight on its own. Kobbe certainly adds a new element to the Misfits line-up but cannot single-handedly solve the team’s dependency on FEBIVEN to win games.

This leaves Misfits with the original problem; they are one-dimensional in a hugely competitive league filled with fast thinkers and quick punishers.

Four World Championship qualification places are up for grabs in the LEC and Misfits cannot afford to miss out. Reaching the playoffs should be no issue but strategizing a ‘Plan B’ is vital to the team’s chances of success in best-of-five series. FEBIVEN has the necessary tools to carry the Misfits line-up against some of the best teams in Europe but the over-reliance on the 23-year-old to make game-winning plays in team fights is a slippery slope.

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SK and Vitality’s intelligent roster changes and rapid ascent up the LEC standings mean that at least eight teams are realistically able to qualify for Worlds this year. Misfits will have to be at their best to secure a top four place in the Summer Split lest they forfeit their best chance to reach League of Legends’ most prestigious tournament in years.

It’s time for adaptation and creativity at Misfits and the next few games will be decisive in whether their season ends after the Summer Split playoffs or in Shanghai during the 2020 World Championship.