It came as no surprise that, after so many complaints from the community regarding the groups system for the EULCS, Riot finally stepped up and decided to implement some changes for next season. Whether these changes are the right ones, however, remains to be seen. It was only just over a week ago that ESPN reported on Riot’s new plan to divide the European league into four different regions: London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Each of these regions would be made up of 6 teams, and the structure would work similarly to the Champions League: The top 2 teams in each region will make it into the ‘greater’ league, which will be made up of 16 teams which will battle it out for first place and a secured spot in Worlds.
The 10 teams that already are part of the LCS have already taken their pick, and although G2 has claimed London and H2K reportedly switched from Barcelona to Berlin, the general consensus is that teams will stick to their regions.
This creates an interesting situation in Spain since, with the absence of G2 and only Giants confirmed in the region, at least three spots would remain in the open for upcoming teams. Some say new teams will be formed, others that Origen will resurface (*sigh*), and others yet that non-Spanish teams could take up most of the free spots. Whether it is one or the other, Spain is home to some strong organisations that are quietly starting to grow and might very well make up the region.
So who are the contenders?
- Mad Lions E.C.
Mad Lions E.C. is at the moment Spain’s most hyped up eSports club. With additional teams in Clash Royale and CS:GO, the new LoL quintet led by Alvar ‘Araneae’ Martin as the coach is bound to turn heads. They bought a Superliga Orange, the current Spanish National League, spot on August 31st and their roster, which was presented only a couple of weeks ago, brings something of a new hope to the Spanish league scene. Made up of 3/5 of Baskonia’s previous roster with ‘Werlyb’ in the top lane, ‘Selfmademan’ in the jungle and ‘Falco’ as Support, ‘Sou’ joins as ADC (who had also previously played alongside Falco in G2), and new talent ‘Konektiv’ as the midlaner.
Players to watch? ‘Werlyb’, ‘Falco’ and ‘Selfmademan’ are strong players who come from the roster that won giant ThunderX3 Baskonia the national league last June with a mindblowing 3-0 series against Kiyf.
- ThunderX3 Baskonia
Crowned kings of the Spanish League scene last June in Gamergy after an easy win against Kiyf, Baskonia’s winning roster and coach left the team, most of which now make up Mad Lions. Baskonia’s new roster is, however, also promising, with ‘Dan Dan’ in the toplane, ‘Diamond’ in mid, ‘Itsi’ in the jungle, ‘Homi’ as Support, ‘Darkside’ as AD and Raúl ‘Rlocus’ Fuentes Martínez as new coach. This new roster brings back two past Baskonia players of whom we can expect great things: ‘Diamond’, who has shown his worth as midlaner in Valencia C.F. Esports, and Homi, who previously played for Kiyf and is considered one of the best supports in the country. Baskonia’s esports team is backed up by a large traditional sports organisation that counts with a renown Spanish basketball team, something to take into account when it comes to the requirements in terms of structure and finance a team needs to be able to level up to LCS.
- Movistar Riders
Like Baskonia, Movistar Riders has a significant advantage due to the investors behind the club. Backed up by Spain’s largest telecommunications groups, Movistar Riders count with a strong organisation that has the means to take a team to the top. The club’s massive headquarters and gaming centre, ‘Movistar Esports Center’, was inaugurated earlier this year in Madrid, and counts with 7 different professional esports teams and topnotch training facilities. Their LoL roster for next season after buying a spot in SLO counts with ‘Carbono’ as jungler, ‘Hatrixx’ in mid, ‘Lastwolf’ as AD, ‘Treatz’ as support, and the most recent signing of ‘Xyraz’ as toplaner. ‘Xyraz’, who previously played for Lemondogs, Besiktas and Team Turquality, achieved 3rd and 4th place in the playoffs of the Turkish league in 2015 and 2 nd place the following year. Definitely Movistar’s ‘player to watch’.
It remains to be seen whether Riot’s new changes and the way they will be executed will play out in the favour of new teams entering the LCS or will instead feed even further the constant criticism towards Riot’s insistence on further group systems. In the meantime, these three teams are the favourites that could take that step forward in Spain’s region.
What’s up with Origen and Valencia C.F?
Origen has, after a troubling season and a status of seemingly being on the verge of extinction after losing their SLO spot, expressed an interest in a place for the new region. However, a roster hasn’t been announced as of now, and hopes for the organisation to revive and make a comeback are quickly starting to fade.
Valencia C.F., on the other hand, managed to make it to semi-finals at Gamergy last season, but are also currently without an announced roster. They gave up their LoL team a couple of months ago and have been keeping an extremely low profile since. For now, there is no news on whether they are planning anything at all. Will these two additional contenders make it for a spot in the new region system? We’ll have to patiently wait for further announcements.
Riot stepped up and answered the community’s complaints on the group divisions… by creating further group divisions and calling them regions. Whether this was a bold move or an extremely dangerous one remains to be seen. If it turns out to be a mistake, it could very well cost Riot the clinging reputation of the EU scene as well as the departure of several EU teams, such as H2K, which has already warned that if the right changes don’t occur soon, they could be transferring to other regions. Only time will tell whether Riot makes the right move.