A surprising Summer Split is about to enter its second phase in France, with the regular season ending just last week. Although the overall level still hasn't returned to its 2022 splendor, the league isn't short of exciting narratives. The second to last team from the Spring split finished first and is the strongest favorite for title contention.
The Spring champions finished second to last and will imminently disband. All this while a fan favorite roster rose to prominence from rank 8 to runner-up. Find out what to expect from the six LFL organizations that made it to playoffs before the opening series on Wednesday.
#1 Karmine Corp – A complete metamorphosis
Karmine Corp’s journey this year has been nothing short of remarkable – from missing out on playoffs in a gloomy first split to being undeniably favored by the odds in the second. France’s most popular League of Legends team underwent a radical and spectacular transformation thanks to the mid-season addition of young prodigy Caliste “Caliste” Henry-Hennebert and the triumphant return of Jakub “Cinkrof” Rikicki, leaving behind the struggles and external dramas of spring.
The months of June and July saw everything fall perfectly into place, and Karmine reclaimed its LFL-powerhouse status. While there were initial concerns about the sololaners’ level and mental strength coming into summer, those doubts quickly vanished as all the players showcased individual feats throughout the split.
Caliste, alongside support Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé, built a powerful and coherent botlane ready to drive the team and convert a resource-demanding playstyle into high damage per second figures. Not only did the combination of a 16-year-old hypercarry wonderkid and a legendary KC player mix experience, fan service and potential in an intelligent duo, but this botlane also went on to shatter some records. With 116 kills as an ad carry and 224 assists as a support, they both registered the best ever regular season tallies in the LFL, earning this praise in the very last week. A way for the young ad carry, who was playing in the third division a year ago, to skyrocket his career.
Yet, Karmine Corp’s most impactful player remains Cinkrof. An heir to the Polish jungle tradition, he had already distinguished himself as the only satisfying player in a bleak Team BDS last year during his sole LEC stint. This summer, he once again proved that playing in ERL is punching way under his weight. Cinkrof's mastery of the early game, lane surveillance, and jungle tracking single-handedly solidified the team's foundation.
Just like Solary's, Karmine's hype still soars high and pleasantly drives the French League, both on social media and in real-life events – and now, again, competitively.
#2 BK Rog – Improving imports
Image Credit: @ASUS_BK_ROG
From the start, BK Rog was never the average bottom tier ERL team. Despite a low-key announcement that they would acquire Mirage Elyandra’s slot and join the league in 2023, and a brand (ASUS Rog) that never really found an audience in the country, LFL enjoyers quickly realized that the dimension of this new team was not usual for a low-tier franchise.
First, Orelsan, one of the most prominent French rappers,announced their arrival in the LFL during a concert in Europe’s biggest arena as the org’s ambassador. Then, more importantly, BK Rog announced the hirings of two Korean imports and two former LEC players to form a roster that definitely did not belong to the relegating spots.
Yet, this was BK Rog’s place at the end of the Spring split. They embodied the glorious losers who were exciting to watch but constantly ranked 8th week in week out. This summer, however, they too displayed a tremendous transformation to become a consistent podium contender. It has been truly thrilling to follow their improvement throughout the year. BK Rog is now a less of a coinflip team, although still a low-floor, high-ceiling squad.
The driving force behind this development might be attributed to a coaching change. Although Serdar “Pades” Padeş, who previously led the team, had a great track record at a secondary level with 3 TCL and 1 CBLOL titles, commentators were indeed surprised to see the 2022 second division staff re-sign in a completely upgraded 2023 LFL roster. Thus, his replacement by Joshua “Jarge” Smith, with experience in esteemed organizations such as Fnatic, Movistar Riders, Excel, Team Liquid, and TSM, probably brought an elevated level of expertise.
BK Rog’s ability to engage and execute teamfights with precision, probably the best in the league, has been a defining aspect of their playstyle, though issues in macro and decision-making have been only partially addressed over the year.
#3 Solary – Finally over the moon?
Image Credit: @SolaryTV
A fight-centered team heavily relying on either skirmishes or teamfights, Solary demonstrated an all-around solid split from its individualities to its gameplan and cohesion. Although there is still room for improvement in terms of consistency, their progress over the year has been interesting and made them rely less on individual performances than during the Spring split.
While they proved somewhat shaky in drafts with some hazardous compositions, particularly in the on-stage “Classique” in Nice against Karmine Corp, Solary’s three carry players have achieved an exceptional level, bringing long-awaited satisfaction to their numerous fans.
Luckan “Shlatan” Ahmad really was outstanding (except for the first few games) in spite of the meta shifting towards supporting junglers. He played, has been playing and will continue to play his own picks – i.e., not Maokai, Sejuani or Rell – and carry with Kindred or Lee Sin. This tends to reassure on Solary’s ability to remain at this level while not completely giving in to meta changes, even if, on the other hand, Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi strongly benefited from the new advent of engage supports.
Meanwhile, Pengsheng “Peng” Shen and Belan “TakeSet” Ahour are both having a tremendous year. The latter should definitely be able to attend several LEC tryouts during offseason.
#4 Team GO – The good old boa constrictor
Image Credit: @Team_GO
GO's gameplay strategy has been reminiscent of Hadrien “Duke” Forestier's (former Splyce and Vitality head coach) style: slow, steady, but hustle-prone. It is marked by a meticulous and cold lane control where players traditionally push back their waves to avoid dives, a safe, calculated scaling, and an error rate kept to an absolute minimum.
All this in spite of boasting an exciting roster – one of the best ever assembled in ERLs – and a rich history of valiant and fighting roster identities. Fortunately, GO stepped up theirsocial media game to keep their fans entertained.
Past this not so flattering description, let’s not pretend that GO is an average team: this playstyle has been working very well. GO finished third of the regular season, only losing a tiebreaker for rank two to BK Rog. This boa-slowly-choking-its-prey game plan showed its efficiency at ERL level, especially in best-of-ones. However, doubts may be cast upon this strategy in best-of-fives and at EU Masters (provided they qualify). The real challenge lies in adapting to riskier game plans as we have seen from UOL Sexy Edition and Istanbul Wildcats. Do these players have an ON/OFF button for this mindset? They certainly have the talent.
Onurcan “Ragner” Aslan, for instance, displayed yet another year of micro teamfighting proficiency that complements well his team’s clinical gameplay, while Linas “Lyncas” Nauncika discreetly but surely became hands down the second best jungler in the league.
#5 Vitality Bee – Stinking or stinging bees?
Image Credit: @TeamVitality
Vitality Bee’s inconsistency has been puzzling given the individual talent within their ranks. While their players from jungle to support may indeed be considered as top tier in the LFL, the collective mix that resulted from the sum of these individuals have displayed unreliability and a worrying lack of faith in whatever game plan they were supposed to follow.
However, Daniel “Scarface” Aitbelkacem’s arrival, in place of Aleksandar “Patkica” Stefanović, spiced things up and the team started looking way better going forwards, despite criticisms from fans and observers about Vitality potentially destroying yet another young talent. Kacper “Daglas” Dagiel also stepped up following his short spell replacing Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo in VIT’s LEC sister team – it has been an eventful split for the Bees.
Relieved from pressure after a disappointing first part of the year that discouraged Vitality fans from believing in this roster, Vitality Bee’s definitive squad ended up playing properly and earning a playoffs spot after having stooped to the tenth rank earlier in the split. It is, after all, never too late for a roster to start working, and this one might as well go on an EU Masters run.
#6 Aegis – “Shields up” (because we won’t engage)
Unlike BK Rog, Aegis has not improved a lot over the year. Fortunately, they were already pretty good. Still, it’s a team who chronically struggled to fully take control of the games they managed to get a lead in, which they often did considering Rudy “SkewMond” Semaan's impact in early game.
Their lack of aggression in closing out advantages, let alone games, has hindered their progress. Aegis relies way more on their opponents’ mistakes than on their own proactivity to get wins. This is symptomatic in Jules “Hantera” Bourgeois’s level of creativity, which looks to have unfortunately returned to its Karmine Corp year level.
Aegis nevertheless deserved this fifth seed. Artjoms “Shiganari” Pervušins regularly honored his summoner name by being a key factor in their victories and showcasing a huge teamfighting ability, especially on picks such as Aphelios, Jinx, and a decent shift towards Kai’Sa. Besides, it’s an encouraging thing that Aegis’s recent drafts tended to entrust Eren “Lot” Yıldız way more, freeing one of the league’s best toplaners from the Ornn- or Sion-duty.
#Out LDLC OL – A final white handkerchief
Image Credit: @LDLC_OL
Since these power rankings almost act as a season review, we could not have ended this piece without bidding farewell to LDLC OL. The multiple and 2023 Spring split champion will indeed not be returning for another year, as Olympique Lyonnais new owner John Textor decided to cease the club’s esports activities for budgetary reasons.
LDLC OL, or formerly Team-LDLC, will stay in our hearts for their five LFL titles in as many years, their 2020 EU Masters title captained by legend Bora “Yell0wStaR” Kim, and the many players they discovered and/or propelled to the forefront of the sport, among whom Martin “Yike” Soderlund, Thomas “Exakick” Foucou, and Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié rank high in today’s European scene. And we’re only talking about League of Legends…
Their legacy also lives in part through Aegis’s satisfying rookie year, with historic LDLC members Léo “Lounet” Maurice and Jérémy “Eika” Valdenair onboard.
Perhaps we'll see them compete for one last dance at the year-end French Cup in a more or less official fashion?
Feature image credit: @KarmineCorp