For those who don’t quite know what European Masters is about, it's a Tournament created by Riot in 2018 after the disappearance of the EU Challenger Series and the transition to a closed, franchised LEC European League, where non-LEC European teams coming from various ERLs or European Regional Leagues can face each other and prove who is the best of Europe out of LEC.
This Preview aims to introduce how the tournament works for those new to the scene, as well as explain the developments and teams that participate, current favorites, and a brief run through each ERL and how their spring splits went out, so it will also kind of work as a guide. As Play In Stage has already concluded, I will mainly focus on the Main Stage.
European Masters is divided into two phases. Play In Stage started on April 4th and has already concluded, while Main Stage is the phase covered in this Preview, which begins on April 14th, this Thursday, ending on the 7th of May. The Main Stage is divided into two stages: Play-In Stage and Knockout Stage.
Although few, some new changes are coming to EU Masters this year, mainly centered on see
Play In stage brings the bulk of ERLs teams, especially ones coming from minor leagues such as LPLOL from Portugal, Hitpoint Masters from Czechia-Slovakia, and ESLOL from the Benelux. This year’s edition was quite unsurprising, as all the minor ERL teams couldn’t qualify for Main Stage. French and German teams dominated, and Polish and Spanish ones struggled, as NLC’s 2nd representative, Bifrost, performed the only upset after comfortably defeating FC Barcelona Esports by 2-0.
The teams qualified for the Main Stage were:
· Bifrost from Northern Europe.
· Karmine Corp from France.
· Unicorns of Love Sexy Edition from Germany.
· Vitality.Bee from France.
The Main Stage is comprised of 2 phases: Group Stage and Knockout Stage
The group stage features four groups of 4 teams, seeded based on regions’ previous performances in EUM. Each group will play a Double Round Robin between them, where the top two will advance to the Knockout Stage. The seeding will be decided via tiebreaker at the end of the last day in case of a tie. Group Stage starts on April 14th and lasts eight days, until April 14th, with a break on days 18-20.
The knockout stage will feature the top 8 teams in a regular playoffs format, with random selection where teams ending first in the regular season will face teams finishing in second place, but only if they are not from their group. Teams from the same league can meet each other in the quarterfinals.
Currently, the title of EU Masters champions corresponds to Karmine Corp, the most significant European team outside of LEC in terms of the fanbase. In 2021, the French organization won both editions of European Masters, beating EXCEL’s academy team in Spring and Fnatic’s academy in Summer, both coming from the NLC. However, this time, KCorp comes in a worse position than what they achieved last year. Four out of the five original members (Adam, Cinkrof, XMatty, and Targamas) left for LEC. Although the new names could look more promising on paper (mainly Rekkles and Cabochard), they had to come through the Play-in Stage after ending in 3rd position in the LFL playoffs.
Karmine Corp is comprised of the following players:
· Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet (ex-LEC & Worlds)
· Doğukan "113" Balcı
· Lucas "Saken" Fayard (ex-LEC)
· Martin "Rekkles" Larsson (ex-LEC)
· Jules "Hantera" Bourgeois
Between all that's changed in this EU Masters Edition, one of the biggest doubts is how this super organization will perform compared to ERL teams and LFL itself. Will they be able to shut the doubters, or will we witness the ending of the first ERL dynasty?
Due to how Play-In Stage developed, this edition will only have the presence of 8 out of the 11 ERLs: 5 Major ERLs plus three teams from PG Nationals from Italy, GLL from Greece, and EBL from the Balkan region.
LFL stands for League Française de League of Legends, and it represents teams from France. The playoffs story that developed in this split was quite exciting, as LDLC OL upset almost everyone to top both the regular season and playoffs stage, defeating a BDS Academy in an intense 3-2 match which was the only finals Bo5 in all Major ERLs that didn’t end in a 3-0. The runner up to these two teams was KCorp and Vitality Bee.
Apart from the aforementioned KCorp team, LFL brings both academy teams to BDS Academy and Vitality.Bee, plus the title winner, LDLC OL. These teams are comprised of:
· Onurcan "Ragner" Aslan (ex-Turkish League)
· Martin "Yike" Sundelin
· Jérémy "Eika" Valdenaire (ex-LCS EU & NA)
· Thomas "Exakick" Foucou
· Mads "Doss" Schwartz (ex-LEC)
LDLC OL, LFL 2022 Spring Split Champions, are the most unknown and unexpected of the 4. After forming a relatively modest roster for this years’, bringing in new and never-seen faces such as Ragner and Yike, they hit the rookie jackpot with both of them and had Eika Exakick returning to their top form like we have never seen them before.
· Tobiasz "Agresivoo" Ciba
· Théo "Sheo" Borile
· Francisco José "Xico" Cruz Antunes
· Juš "Crownshot" Marušič (ex-LEC)
· Robert "Erdote" Nowak
After the Swiss organization acquired Schalke 04’s spot in LEC, BDS Academy is a newly set up academy team. This team, making its first EU Masters appearance, surprised everyone when upsetting KCorp in the Semifinals. Their most outstanding players could probably be Agresivoo in the top lane, who usually plays carry champions such as his signature Kennen pick or the bot lane, where Crownshot shows why he has had a long career in LEC.
· Mathias "Szygenda" Jensen (ex-LEC)
· Duncan "Skeanz" Marquet (ex-LEC)
· Dimitri "Diplex" Ponomarev
· Jesper "Jeskla" Klarin Strömberg (ex-LEC)
· Jakub "Jactroll" Skurzyński (ex-LEC & Worlds)
As you can see in the list, most of this team comprises ex-LEC players, so it's presumed to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament, besides being LFL’s 4th seed. What’s most remarkable about this team is how this is the first time Vitality.Bee qualifies for Main Stage after losing in Play-In Stage 3 times before.
Let’s be clear: Bringing the most teams, the most veteran and ex-LEC players, and most academy teams, LFL has the biggest shot at winning this tournament, and most people would say every team will qualify for the Playoffs stage. But, with great powers comes great responsibilities, and people are arguing against LFL’s performance based on how their intern meta has developed, becoming quite obsolete compared to other leagues such as Superliga.
Spanish Superliga League of Legends is easily the most changed ERL since last year, with 5 out of the ten teams being newcomers to the League. It is also the only region with LFL to have three academy teams, Housing the academies for MAD Lions, G2, and Fnatic, arguably the three biggest teams in LEC. Bisons also played a pretty promising playoffs run from the bottom of the bracket, upsetting KOI and FC Barcelona with clean 3-0s, although they stood no chance against the champion.
The Spring Split was quite exciting, where Fnatic Team Queso won comfortably after losing only three matches in all Split, 2 in the regular season and 1 in Playoffs. The regular season was the craziest of all ERLs, where most teams had to wait until the last day to see whether they could end in 3rd position or 8th one, out of playoffs.
But, Superliga’s performance in EU Masters leaves a lot desired. However, being considered one of the strongest ERLs alongside LFL, it could not get its 3rd seed to Main Stage after losing to NLC’s 2nd seed. Its history throughout the competition isn’t much better either, so this will have a lot to prove if they want to stand their hegemony and show their changes were for good. The two teams the Superliga is bringing to EU Masters are:
Fnatic Team Queso:
· Óscar "Oscarinin" Muñoz Jiménez
· Magnus "Maxi" Kristensen (ex-LCS)
· João Miguel "Baca" Novais Bigas
· Louis "BEAN" Schmitz (ex-Worlds)
· Rúben "rhuckz" Barbosa
The title champions are one of the favorites for the tournament, counting with 2021 Worlds players Bean and keeping its core of Maxi, Bean, and rhuckz from the former Fnatic Rising that took Karmine Corp to the 5th game in the last EU Masters Summer. The last two players, Baca and Oscarinin, are young players usually put at the top of the league, with the latter winning this Spring’s MVP award. This team is meant to win it all, and everything that isn’t coming home with the EUM title can be considered a failure for them.
· Alex "Myrwn" Villarejo
· Phil "Albetrayber" Qin
· Adam "Random" Grepl
· Frederik "Guubi" Mortensen
· Víctor "Oscure" Guzmán
Bisons is a newly formed Basque organization that surprised everyone in Spain. A team full of rookie and sophomore players that had a rough offseason and that most people put outside of playoffs, some even in last place, were able to clutch their way to the finals, and not because of their rivals underperforming, but because they were able to play a unique playstyle which enemy teams could adapt against. Its most important asset is his solo lanes in Myrwn and Random and their drafting style, which can be a big headache for most of the teams in the tournament…
Superliga being the league that usually chokes the most on these tournaments means they are the most tired of their bad performances. Their hunger for the win could be bigger than the competition’s, so it's certainly a dangerous league to not underestimate.
Strauss Prime League is a significant ERL that comprises German-speaking organizations from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. This Spring Split went quite calmly compared to other ERLs, mainly because of a big difference between top and bottom teams. Playoffs were more exciting, as GamerLegion and Eintracht Spandau went back and forth throughout the playoffs, with the first winning in Finals with a clean 3-0. Its 3rd team, UOL Sexy Edition, was also able to qualify comfortably to Main Stage via Play Ins.
The 3 teams the Prime League is bringing to EU Masters are:
· Toni "Sacre" Sabalić (ex-LEC)
· Daniel "D4nKa" Golzmann
· Tomasz "Eścik" Skwarczyński
· Ronan "jinjo" Swingler
· Benjamin "Visdom" Ruberg Larsen
GamerLegion had a solid regular season and overcame the difficulties suffered in playoffs after losing 0-3 in the Upper Bracket finals to overcome Eintracht Spandau 3-0. As most title winners, GamerLegion are favorites to win the tournament, and one of the most feared teams, with Sacre living a second golden age and youngsters Escik and D4nka playing at a very high level.
· Mahdi "Pride" Nasserzadeh
· Patrick "Obsess" Engelmann
· Joran "Special" Scheffer (ex-LEC)
· Leander "Kynetic" Sydekum
· Olivier "Prime" Payet
Eintracht Spandau is a new organization coming to the Prime League, captained by German influencer HandofBlood. Its rosters are composed of bits and bobs from all ERLs, usually at the top side of the leagues. Its biggest asset is how they managed to defeat GamerLegion 3-0 in the UB finals.
Unicorns of Love Sexy Edition
· Marcin "iBo" Lebuda
· Lukas "Lurox" Thoma (ex-LEC)
· Lee "Ruby" Sol-min (ex-LPL and Challengers Korea)
· Jona "Reptile" Fritz
· Tobias "Dreamer Ace" Schreckeneder
UOL Sexy Edition is indeed a dark horse in this competition. Although having some unknown players, with some investigation, you can see the team fields an ex LPL player in Ruby, an ex LEC player in Lurox, a Rookie of the Split in Reptile, and a top-laner considered by LEC teams such as iBo (yeah, that's a tiny leak). Its Play In stage went smoothly, and on the Main Stage, I expect them to perform similarly.
Prime League sits in a difficult position, where LFL and Superliga are considered the cool kidz at school, and Prime League has always been left aside. But, although there is no comparison when talking about viewership or content creation, their level is another discussion. With all leagues stepping up for this occasion, Prime League certainly doesn't want to be left behind.
NLC stands for Northern League of Legends Championship. It comprises a variety of organizations coming from several Northern countries, such as Iceland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. These splits’ developments were quite interesting, as the usual tournament winners, LEC academies, were this time overshadowed by 2 of the six new teams coming to the league this year.
Although Bifrost made an impressive playoffs run, taking X7 to 5th map on UB Finals, in the rerun, they ended up having 0 chance against the might of the Mann-based organization. Still, they managed to qualify via Play Ins after defeating FC Barcelona. These teams are comprised of the following players:
· Lennart "Jaeger" Warkus (ex-LEC)
· Kang "Haru" Min-seung (ex-LCK and Worlds 2017 champion)
· Kang "Tempt" Myung-gu (ex-LCK)
· Nataniel "Nata" Fikrisellasie
· Raymond "kaSing" Tsang (ex-LEC and Worlds)
If we were just to evaluate players by their previous achievements, this team would win by a long shot. Just having two ex Worlds players on Haru and Kasing, one of them even winning the title, and ex LCK and LEC players in Jaeger and Tempt certainly can’t be ignored. But, having to play in a League that usually is marked as having the worst level of the 5 Major leagues could mean that they have gone soft…
· Jordan "Shikari" Pointon
· Casper "Cboi" Bo Simonsen
· Mike "Furuy" Wils
· Adrian "Odi11" Kruk
· Ángel "DuaLL" Fernández Alvarez
Although not too much can be said about Bifrost in their favor based on Spring Split alone, its Play Ins run certainly marks them as a team worthy of respect. Their playstyle is quite entertaining, with flashy drafting mainly thanks to its support DuaLL qualifies them as a team that won't bore while watching them unless they get stomped by the big boys.
NLC is a weird ERL to describe. The average level certainly could be significantly improved. Still, at the same time, they are always able to overperform at EU Masters, with them appearing in both EUM Finals last year, making them the 2nd best ERL by results. Because of that, the expectations are high, and this years’ teams are, in my opinion, going to surprise a lot of people.
Ultraliga represents organizations coming mainly from Poland, but as a new feature this year, it has also absorbed the former Baltic League, that being the main reason for having four seeds instead of 3. The Spring Split had AGO Rogue showing complete dominance over the rest of the teams, with ESCA falling 3-0 twice against them in playoffs. The other two representatives, Iron Wolves and Zero Tenacity couldn’t qualify through Play Ins, which was a performance that many people could rate as disappointing.
The two teams representing Ultraliga, these EU Masters, are:
· Jakub "Sinmivak" Rucki
· Jochem "Rabble" van Graafeiland
· Ardian "Nite" Spahiu
· Damian "Lucker" Konefał
· Leon "Leon" Maximilian Anton
Rogue’s academy team has a comfortable split, which certifies them as one of the top teams this EU Masters. Keeping a solid core from last year in Sinmivak and Lucker, the latter being considered by LEC teams, and adding up Prime League talent on Nite, Rabble and Leon will bring a lot of success, but will this be enough to reclaim the title after two years?
· Paweł "HeSSZero" Karwot
· Karol "Xeonerr" Kowalski
· Adrian "Mrozku" Skonieczny
· Franciszek "Harpoon" Gryszkiewicz
· Igor "marlon" Tomczyk
ESCA Gaming sits in a very uncomfortable and unpredictable position. Their entire roster comprises unknown players who have never set foot on EUM, with Marlon and Harpoon being their strongest assets. They have an essential task to complete, as their performance could mean the public consideration of the league becoming either the worst of the Major ERLs or the most talented one.
As I just said, Ultraliga is already losing half of their spots in Play Ins. It’s very detrimental, and we have a lot to work on if they still want to be considered a top ERL.
PG Nationals is a Minor ERL that comprises organizations primarily based in Italy. PG Nats was arguably the best Minor ERL in 2021, having superteams fielding former LEC Players such as MKERS and Macko Esports. This year, though, they have very big shoes to fill in, as Spring Split favorites, Macko, were upset by Atleta Esports with a clean 3-0 in the finals and failed to qualify to Main Stage.
The only Italian team present in this years’ EU Masters Main Stage is Atleta Esports, a new organization composed of the following players.
· Gabriel "Gabbo" Olivieri
· Yaroslav "MightyDragon" Svistun (ex-Russian League)
· Khaled "XoNix" Noman (ex-Russian League)
· Lauri "Endz" Tarkus
· Janar "Cospect" Mändsalu
Both MightyDragon and XoNix are for top players in Russian LCL, as well as having veteran players such as Gabbo could mean that Atleta could surprise a lot of people who don't expect minor leagues to step up. But, having no experience to back them, and having big shoes to fill in, certainly doesn’t play in their favor.
GLL stands for Greek Legends League, and it's composed of teams from Greece and Cyprus. It is a crazy league, filled with young talent and OTPs, where this year, Team Phantasma, with a more modest roster on paper, was able to defeat Tournaments’ favorites, We Love Gaming, who also wasn’t able to survive the Play-In Stage.
Team Phantasma is comprised of the following players:
· Thodoris "Bako" Bakogiannis
· Nikos "Nikolex" Kechris
· Petros "Peppe" Berdebes
· Stavros "Vaynedeta" Giannoulakis
· Argyris "Sanity" Kalathenos
I think a lot of people usually forget even GLL even exists, and I honestly don't know why. A good performance could put them as the strongest Minor ERL, but having all players new to EUM Main Stage certainly does not play in their favor.
Edit: I think I got misunderstood, so I'm going to change some bits, sorry on that. I think GLL is the most underestimated ERL in terms of talent. It could be a nice match between PG NATS, GLL and EBL for who of those 3 are the strongest that could be very interesting to follow.
EBL stands for Esports Balkan League, which comprises organizations representing Balkan countries plus Hungary. The main story for the split derived from the rivalry between Valiance and Crvena Zvezda Esports throughout the whole regular season, who was a step above the rest of the teams. The playoffs stage went differently, as Crvena Zvezda quickly swept Valiance with a 3-0 to qualify for Main Stage, while Valiance could not survive Play Ins.
Crvena Zvezda is comprised of the following players:
· Ondrej "Wondro" Kenda
· Aleksa "DoubleAiM" Stanković
· Vasilis "Tsiperakos" Lalas
· Valmir "Goldento4st" Fejzullahu
· Igor "TasteLess" Radusinović
Some of the players, like DoubleAiM, Tasteless, and Goldent4st, are EBL veterans and have been in EU Masters several times already. Will this EBL team outperform Major League teams and qualify for playoffs? As I have said already, this EU Masters being so stacked means it’s impossible to predict…
· AGO Rogue
· Crvena Zvezda Esports
· Eintrach Spandau
Group A is composed of teams from Poland, the Balkans, Germany, and France. Although it can be said that Crvena Zvezda could be the underdog of the lot, AGO Rogue's position being from Ultraliga could raise some doubts. On the other hand, Vitality Bee showed dominance in Play Ins, plus Eintracht Spandau got an impressive 8-1 regular season half, although getting swept 3-0 in finals could have been a hit not yet overcome.
· Karmine Corp
· Team Phantasma
· X7 Esports
Group B comprises teams from Germany, Greece, France, and Northern Europe. Not expected to win the competition, Team Phantasma certainly doesn't play in their favor, apart from facing current title defenders and two region winners being, GamerLegion and X7. This group could easily be the most surprising of them all, so I suggest paying particular attention, as its seedings could very well decide the fate of the entire tournament.
· Fnatic TQ
· Team BDS Academy
· Team ESCA Gaming
Group C comprises teams from Northern Europe, Spain, France, and Poland. Being the only one made of Major ERLs, this group could be the “Group of Death.” Nevertheless, most people would say that both Fnatic TQ and BDSA are a step above Bifrost and ESCA, which makes this group the one where upsets will be the most shocking, and losing a game could mean being first or last.
· Atleta Esport
· LDLC OL
· Unicorns of Love Sexy Edition
I must admit being biased toward this group. Being composed of teams from Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, they bring two teams that could be dark horses in this competition, Bison and UOL Sexy Edition. Plus, with the addition of LFL winner LDLC and Atleta, a team coming from the league with the weirdest drafting, It’s sure to say that Group D can easily be the most enjoyable group to watch.
To end this Preview, I thought making some predictions could be a fun and a non-polemic way to add some spice and takes. I must say my opinions are biased, will very probably be wrong, but I can’t say I have doubts about it:
- Group A Winners: AGO Rogue and Vitality.Bee. I think AGO Rogue is currently the only Polish superteam, plus the French team buff always matters.
- Group B Winners: GamerLegion and Karmine Corp are 2 of the strongest team in the tournament and a step above the rest of the group
- Group C Winners: Fnatic TQ and BDS Academy. We need as many French and Spanish Teams as possible, so drama gets as big as possible in Knockouts.
- Group D Winners: Bisons and UOL Sexy Edition. We needed some upset in the tournament, and what’s better than the best team from the best league for that?
- Runner-Up: GamerLegion. With LDLC OL being out of the picture and KCorp in a low peak, its dominance in the German League will prove throughout the tournament.
- Tournament Winner: Fnatic TQ. Fnatic must redeem themselves after their LEC fiasco, and LVP’s adaptive style, where Fnatic was dominant, will bring the first EU Masters to Spain since 2018.
I hope you all enjoyed this Preview, and make sure to follow Blix for more League-related content.