The winds of change that blow through the offseason always create a fascinating set of loose threads ready to be woven into new storylines. And while North American and Chinese franchising has dominated headlines, there’s plenty of reason for excitement and curiosity in Europe, too.
Here are three of the EU LCS’s offseason moves that have captured my imagination the most going into 2018.
Hylissang joins Fnatic
Anything Fnatic does generates plenty of attention, simply given who they are as a brand and what they represent for Europe as a region. But Hylissang doesn’t just deserve discussion because of the team he’s joining. In my opinion, he has the potential to be among the most influential pick-ups for any team in Europe.
Over the past few years, Hylissang has been a consistent anchor for the Unicorns of Love. He and Vizicsacsi carried multiple unheralded rosters to very respectable finishes, outperforming outside expectations.
For a good stretch of time, the UoL duo were among the most underrated players in Europe. Vizicsacsi broke out (in public perception) in 2017, earning MVP honours in the spring split, though I had personally been rating him at or near the top of my All Star ballots for multiple splits before that. Because of that breakthrough, Vizicsacsi’s movement to Schalke 04 is likely to fly higher on many people’s radars than Hylissang’s move to Fnatic, but that’s partly why Hylissang is such a compelling figure for me going into 2018.
Hylissang’s potential as part of Fnatic is huge. His own skillset is worthy of comment, but the team context he’s entering is maybe even more enticing. Just by playing alongside Rekkles, Hylissang will be lining up with more firepower, and certainly more starpower, than he’s had available at any time in his career to date (depending on how you characterize the 2015 incarnation of Steeelback).
But it’s far from certain that Hylissang’s move to Fnatic will have a positive outcome. There’s also potential for him to flounder, to struggle now that he’s been separated from Vizicsacsi (and from long-time coach Sheepy, for that matter). Having left his comfortable home, Hylissang will have to blaze a new path. I can’t wait to watch him try, and I’m optimistic about the road ahead.
Jankos to G2
In a similar way, I’m very curious what G2 Jankos will look like in the coming season. As a team, G2 has a lot of questions to answer, coming in with only one returning member in Perkz, and creating a very different team dynamic around him. Jankos stands out as the second pillar of the new G2, a player who will draw the spotlight as he seeks to maintain his reputation as a premier European jungler, now as part of the most successful European organization of the last few years.
Given the importance of jungle+mid synergy and the star power of the Jankos+Perkz combo, anything less than dominance in this aspect of the game will be bitterly disappointing for G2 and their fans.
Luckily for Jankos, both the G2 roster balance and the current meta look poised to favour him. With two strong solo laners capable of carrying games in Perkz and Wunder, and with aggressive champions like Jarvan IV and Kha’zix being so prevalent in the preseason, a lane-influencing jungler like Jankos should be licking his lips in anticipation.
I expect Jankos to be a critical deciding factor in whether the new G2 sinks or swims. Should be fun!
Peter Dun becomes Splyce head coach
I have always been a proponent of building teams from the coaching staff outwards. The more League of Legends matures, the more teams should be recognizing that it makes more sense to sign players who fit a coach’s vision for the team, rather than putting a selection of players together and hoping whatever coaching staff you hire can find some way to mould them into a functioning, balanced unit. There are too many complexities to play style, team structure, and the division of roles and responsibilities within a roster to leave coach selection until the end of the process.
For this reason, I can’t wait to see what Peter Dun does with Splyce in 2018.
Signed with Splyce 2018 EU LCS. Working in new region is always equal parts exciting+daunting, cannot wait to starthttps://t.co/hWv9K5EjoO
— Peter Dun (@pcdv8r) October 31, 2017
There’s so much to discuss with Splyce, given their wholesale change and the quality of the roster they’ve constructed, but I’m most intrigued by the process they followed, the fact that they began their process by bringing in Peter and then (judging by what I’ve heard from the outside) allowing him to shape so much of the roster-building process.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not claiming that other teams haven’t followed this process, or that Splyce are trailblazing something that all of the other teams need to follow. But there’s something about Peter, specifically, that has me itching to watch this team play. He comes across as a very complete package, with a great attitude and work ethic, strong communication skills, a good mixture of confidence and humility, deep game knowledge, and a passion (and pedigree) for teaching. And that doesn’t even touch on his coaching résumé from Brazil and China.
Even more so than teams or players, I find myself cheering for coaches these days, and Peter is definitely someone I’ve got my eye on.