As we are patiently waiting for the LEC Spring Groups to begin, Europe’s regional leagues have just crowned their champions while the rebranded EMEA Masters waits around the corner, starting on April 4. The LFL, whose teams have won half of the ten EU Masters titles and which have sent no less than three teams to the last edition’s semi-finals, appear to be the favored European Regional League (ERL) to win EMEA Masters Spring 2023.
So, who are the three French entries to the competition and what should we expect from them?
Team Aegis (Third Seed, Play-In Tournament)
Unquestionably the best team of the second half of the regular season, Team Aegis managed to secure a playoff spot thanks to eleven consecutive victories during this phase. This amazing run started with a 3-0 Superweek and culminated with them clinching a perfect game against Solary (14 kills to nil in 30 minutes). In addition to some reimagining of their tactics internally, Aegis owe this renewal to Artjoms “Shiganari” Pervušins and Jules “Hantera” Bourgeois. The organization’s botlaners indeed maximized the change of meta with the advent of 13.3, allowing for more aggressive botlanes.
In their current form, Aegis looks like an inspiring team all around, with Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire as an experienced guarantee against all positioning-related mistakes. The squad, led by former Misfits (Premier and LEC) and Vitality Bee coach Nikola “xani” Zrinjski, delivers a clinical League of Legends playstyle – not always impressive but patient and solid.
Not surprisingly, their midgames are often super clean and it’s almost impossible for other teams to make them flinch if they can’t take a decent advantage in the early game, during which Aegis tends to be more passive. This marks an area of improvement for them — as well as a potential exploit for their future European opponents in this tricky Play-In tournament.
In a nutshell, Team Aegis put up a very encouraging and well-executed split. This new organization, founded by three famous TFT and multi-game French streamers, finished runner-up of the League, ended up confirming the expectations their roster had generated, and earned a first European qualification.
Roster: Lot, SkewMond, Eika, Shiganari, Hantera
Our prediction: Semi-finalists
Team GO (Second Seed, Main Event Pool 2)
Skimming through the LFL’s results might get you thinking that Team GO, clinching the podium of the regular season and reaching the final, has been the strong title contender everyone expected in the off-season. But not everything came around smoothly. Team GO, formerly known as GamersOrigin, actually struggled to maintain a positive win-loss record until the season’s halfway mark. They appeared to lack ideas and tended to draft their comps and combos too ambitiously; especially with such a low level of confidence, which resulted in a weird identity where flashy snowballs alternated with boring scaling games.
However, strong individuals and fancy teamfights run with front-to-back compositions turned things around for GO. Building upon a momentum found during the midseason offline event in front of the Parisian crowd, they put up a great — although maybe more in appearance than in reality — comeback and even nearly finished on top of the League. Which kind of brings into question the level of the LFL, or at least puts it into perspective compared to the 2022 editions. Is it still the best ERL if such inconsistent teams can make it to the first place of the regular season and the finals of playoffs? We’ll see how all this calibrates against the rest of Europe, and especially Turkey, in the EMEA Masters.
In any case, during the playoffs, GO did climb the lower bracket in great fashion. Led by a fantastic Loïc “toucouille” Dubois, they cleanly knocked out Gameward, BDS Academy and Aegis, never dropping more than one game, only to fall against LDLC OL. Maybe this run unveiled so much of GO's tactics the tank was empty by the time they reached the finals. Former LEC botlaner Jean “Jezu” Massol not putting up the best performances in the final best-of 5 surely did not help either, but, and we'll come back to that, which AD carry on earth would have played well against LDLC OL's support?
Roster: Ragner, Lyncas, toucouille, Jezu, kamilius
Our prediction: Quarter-finalists
LDLC OL (First Seed, Main Event Pool 1)
Last but not least, LDLC OL will be France’s first seed at the EMEA Masters and are undoubtedly a serious title contender. Having just secured a back-to-back-to-back LFL title on Friday, despite registering a whole new roster and staff. They’ve received many praises and the honorary status of the best ever French League of Legends organization thanks to this record-breaking fifth title.
Their finest player, Théo “Zoelys” Le Scornec, earned the nickname “the French Keria”, thanks to his national domination as well as his impressive collection of prizes. Judge for yourself: coming into the League as a rookie (and 2022 second division MVP), he was crowned Rookie of the Split and Split MVP (the first ever support to get it.) He would have been Finals MVP had the honor existed at the time. In line with the most oppressive supports of his generation, he knows when to press and when to peel. He’s inventive in his engages and shows a harmonic synergy with Aslan “White” Panglose, together forming the young French axis among an otherwise Scandinavian, experienced and balanced team. Zoelys even unlocked the third (and only close) game of the LFL Finals with miraculous Blitzcrank grabs – nothing less than a signature pick to secure his first top title.
Zoelys plays a key role in this teamfight-oriented team, which stands out in an LFL playstyle that tends to revolve around skirmishes. It will be to this extent very interesting to see them competing against Spanish teams, especially Heretics, the only organization potentially capable of matching LDLC OL’s individual quality.
But LDLC OL is far from only being a teamfight squad. As their results show — first in the League, only dropped one game in playoffs — LDLC OL also has superior quality drafts, proactive early games, and impressively clean mid games while allowing themselves to limit-test their macro. Although they tended to disrespect the other teams a little bit at some point in the second half of the regular season, they rectified the situation when it truly mattered. Now they simply appear as one of the best, if not the best ERL team out there.
Roster: Kryze, White, Backlund, Jeskla, Zoelys
Our prediction: EMEA Masters champions
With the EMEA Masters Spring 2023 set to start in short order, be sure to keep up with BLIX's LOL coverage as we cover the event along with the LEC Spring Split!