Unbowed, Unbroken, Unforgotten
A tale of mythical beasts and undying memories. A farewell to old Europe
Legends never die, they become a part of you.
Or so begins the celebrated song commissioned by Riot for the 2017 World Championships. Chilling, breathtaking and somehow all too familiar a feeling with the lyrics resonating clearly to the loyal audience of today. A song the bards of the internet will play for ages to come, regaling interested ears of tales and recounting legacies, stories that endure the sordid test of time.
And the history of the teams in the EU LCS, that is one for the ages.
They never lose hope when everything’s cold and the fighting’s near.
Resilience is a word appropriate for the landscape of the EU LCS. The famous meme in the community goes “everyone can beat everyone in the EU LCS but in the end Fnatic/G2 wins”. And yet looking only at Fnatic or G2 Esports is a great disservice to the rest of the teams. Even the mighty juggernauts have faced tumultuous times and crazy performances from the challengers for the crown. Tenacious, resilient and ultimately fearless, those who compete in EU know a moment’s lapse in concentration and boom. SKT almost experienced this against the Misfits, and ask Royal Never Give Up how they feel about this.
It’s deep in their bones, they run into smoke when the fire’s fierce.
This is not the moment for EU’s champions however. The walk down here is one recollecting the tales of the underdogs, the ones who ultimately helped shape the competitive landscape of the EU LCS to what it is today. Truly to them, it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. With the partnership system introduced, we now have to say goodbye to some of these magnificent competitors. We are here to take a stroll down the fond memories they’ve left us over the years. This letter, is to them.
Legends never die.
During the inception of the EU LCS there were only 8 teams. Giants was one of the original 8, and they have mostly been a mainstay in the LCS till today. They were the original Spanish Revolution back in the day and loyal fans of Giants know that their history in the LCS is rather turbulent, often struggling to make a lasting impact despite always having moments of brilliance within the split. Yet this didn’t stop the progress of their sister team now known as Vodafone Giants from consistently challenging for the title in the LVP, the Spanish regional league.
Traditionally, Giants have always hovered around the lower ends of the bracket, but that did not mean they were unremarkable or hated. Far from it. From the resurgence at the hands of Pepiinero and Werlyb, to the heroic Fr3deric “El Bandito” Baron steals, to the unlikely run to playoffs with rookies NighT and Maxlore and finally to this year’s surprising start of the split with their patented lategame Kubz strategies with Djoko and Ruin at the helm, they had plenty of ways to make themselves remembered. Fans will especially fondly reminisce on NighT who won the Outstanding Rookie Award in 2016. The then rookie had some incredible plays and games which many still remember.
But while most were noticing how uneven their LCS roster was, their national fans cherished the successes accomplished by their academy/sister team, now mostly known as Team Vitality; and despite selling their hard-grown roster of Jiizuké, Jactroll, Gilius and Attila who won the 2017 LVP season 13 , they still managed to grow another one and clinch second place in 2018 LVP Summer.
Whether you’re Spanish or not, Giants Gaming will not die here: they will keep up the good fight elsewhere and continue to cement their name in Spain as one of the greats. With the next EU Masters on the horizon, the Giants have yet another target to aim for.
And as one wise man said: if we were able to see further, it was because we were on the shoulders of Giants.
Thank you Giants, we hope to see you again…soon.
Our memorable moment: “El Baron bandito loco”
Giants were in a pinch. Few wins on the table and a hard week going forward, against fan-favourites Elements and Unicorns of Love. The odds were definitely against them. Against Elements it looked especially dire, down 10.3k they looked destined to fall…But when Fr3deric, known as “El Bandito” pressed his Smite key, the odds stood no chance. And with that, Giants had hope once again going forth into the long, arduous split.
Team Roccat is blasting off again! Sound familiar? Known affectionately by the community as The Kingslayers. The forge of talent. The scouts of EULCS. The very first team presence within the heart of the community.
Team Roccat left us with a rich history that is unique in its own right, their resilience, the hunger to compete and the lack of fear throughout the years against much more sturdy opposition has firmly entrenched themselves in our hearts. Roccat’s courage has inspired many and continues to do so.
Historically one of the oldest teams in Europe together with Fnatic and the Unicorns of Love, Roccat set foot on the stage for the first time in 2014 off of the performance of five jolly Polish friends: the undying roster of Xaxus, Jankos, OverPow, Celaver and VanDerNoob, which you might know as Vander by now. Old fans will know them as Kiedyś Miałem Team who surprised the old roster of Nukeduck and Mithy, beating them 3–0 to qualify for the LCS. And from that moment on, they never never looked back. After failing to qualify for Worlds 2014, Roccat then played in one of the closest series of 2014 vs perennial powerhouses Fnatic and then were on the verge of denying fan favourites Origen a ticket to the World Championships in 2015.
Over the years Team Roccat became well known as a talent house. Never to shy away from developing younger players or nurturing lesser known names, they produced many players who took their first step here as professionals but then moved on to greener pastures. This engraved the blue tigers in the fans’ minds as the factory of talent: just think of Kikis, Nukeduck, Vander, Jankos, MrRallez, YamatoCannon, Fredy (as a coach), Pridestalker, Maxlore, Phaxi, Wadid, Hjarnan, GrabbZ, Profit, Memento and Norskeren. No other organization comes even closer to producing so much talent and giving chances to so many aspiring pros, and we hope that there will be another organisation in the newly formed LEC that cares about this as much as Roccat did.
We will certainly miss the amazing PR duo of Tien Ho and Mario on Reddit. In victory hyped but respectful and in defeat gracious, they willingly interacted with the fans to give them something to relate and look forward to each week. May their next venture together or seperate be just as wonderful as their last, even us neutral fans enjoyed the weekly banter and the enthusiasm they gave out.
Sometimes you are remembered because you win. Sometimes you are remembered because you make others grow. And it was with you, Roccat, that EU as a whole, from the community to the teams, from the players to the fans, grew so much.
Our memorable moment: “To slay a king”
Among the many memories of Roccat, for us, the one outstanding series was against G2 Esports in 2017 Spring. Yes, the one which really earned them the moniker of Kingslayers. Bringing down the then undefeated G2 and beating everyone else in their group, Roccat almost made the cinderella run into playoffs with this titanic victory. Enjoy.
“H-2-WHAT??? H2k!” A resonating and resounding chant that any fan of EU will be very familiar with. Amongst the greatest of EU on the World stage, H2k-Gaming planted their foot firmly next to them, making them one of only 5 EU teams then ever to make the semifinals of the World Championship. From their entertainly crafted meme videos to the open letter to fight for orgs’ rights, as an org H2k has never been afraid to try something new or speak out when they felt it benefits the scene as a whole.
This makes their untimely departure all the more difficult.
H2k has rose to excellence since their beginning, just after Roccat shocked Europe with an impressive 2014 run. Making it through the 2015 Spring expansion tournament, H2k went into the Spring split rather quietly, despite having popular and charismatic coach Prolly. But H2k aimed higher: when their time started looking bleak, they brought in KaSing, a jolly Brit who turned the team around -“The KaSing effect”- and allowed them to soar to Worlds 2015. All in their first split in LCS. If their 2015 run wasn’t satisfying enough, that lead the team to do only better. And in 2016 sure enough, H2k-Gaming assembled a mighty squad. While domestic results were not to expectations, their moment of glory was on a different stage…With the unstoppable duo of legendary marksman Forg1ven and Vander (aka Lane Kingdom), the last European team remaining put all of Europe’s hopes on their shoulders and achieved the highest competitive result ever: a place among the best teams in the world.
Since then H2k has had mixed results, never returning to the World stage they once set ablaze. 2017 saw them on the brink of making Worlds for the third time, but failure was not an option and the org saw no other alternative. Disappointed in Riot’s system, they waged a mediatic war for better policies, but their cry was left unheard at the time.
2018 then was a year where most wrote H2k off, yet the 2nd half of their Spring Split returned a sliver of hope for the loyalists where they climbed from last place all the way to playoffs, taking Team Vitality all the way to 5 games before falling.
The journey of H2k is truly a roller coaster ride of emotions. From their highs of their first entry into the LCS, to them always being so close yet so far to making the finals, to near the summit of the World stage and finally to the tale of 2 splits in 2018. Love them or hate them, H2k brought fans and viewers together.
We will miss their tenacity and hope they soldier on. Who knows, maybe one day again in the distant future we will see their emblem waved among the pantheon of League’s most revered competitors once again. The memory of their name standing next to legendary teams such as Samsung Galaxy, ROX Tigers and SK Telecom T1 will always be: Hard to kill.
Our memorable moment: “JEST KURWA!!!”
A-ha! You were probably expecting the monumental upset vs EDG here but we remembered something a little different…something with a little bit more spice attached. Schalke 04 used to be a dark horse back in the day, posing a threat to most teams despite being eventually relegated. One of the games that proved it was the closest base race of the split — but no dark horse could override Jankos’ Hecarim, as he saved the H2k nexus with unbelievably low HP and his reaction…you probably know it very well!
Unicorns of Love
To be honest, no matter what we write or how we write this, it will probably not do justice to arguably the most iconic departure from the EU LCS yet. The fantasy of any esports underdog story is one of friendship, hard work, punching above their weight, achieving success above all odds…and a little bit of magic. Unicorns of Love ticks all of these boxes. Whether you’re a fan or not, one cannot deny the Unicorns are truly iconic. The bold, unpredictable strategies. The pink, unforgettable logo. Romain completely painted, standing proud with a pink flag in his hands. The raucous chants of their faithful Love Hurts Crew…Truly as a team, their brand, their fans, their presence…one could argue they were the heart of the EU LCS.
Ask anyone you know to list you the EU teams at any point in history. They might forget some teams, or some players, but nobody on their guessing lists will omit the Unicorns of Love.
Their entrance in EULCS was most unexpected and glorious at the same time: a Poppy pick (which was considered by many nigh unplayable at the time) reverse-swept Millennium in a decisive series that placed them among the best in the continent. And make no mistake: their first split ended up in a second place. The only teams that managed to do so again were G2 and Origen, the latter defeating the Unicorns in heartbreaking fashion within the Regional Gauntlet, preventing them from reaching World’s in their first year of LCS entry.
The legendary trio of Vizicsacsi, Hylissang and Sheepy stuck together through thick and thin and managed to accomplish an unrepeatable task across the splits: every iteration of the roster that was based around them reached playoffs, no matter how many rookies or struggling players they had.
Unicorns also built their teams without bleeding money: their limited budget forced them to develop a sustainable model that, despite not being exceedingly tempting for established players, was effective in making sure the org stayed afloat in such an exorbitant environment. Kikis, Gilius, DiamondProx, Steeelback, Fox, Move, Veritas, Exileh, Samux, Kold, Neon: all players considered mediocre or not top tier at the time, yet they were enabled to the point they could compete with the best. All thanks to the unique environment created by the backbone of Unicorns.
And to add even more sorrow, they were the only LCS team with an actually recognized and official fanbase, the Love Hurts Crew, one of the most passionate and dedicated fanbases in esports. Polarizing at times, no one can deny their enthusiasm for the team was infectious and while we will sorely miss their chants in the new LEC, we hope they spread the word of UoL to the Premier Tour where the Unicorns will continue to compete.
It still feels so surreal that the LEC will not feature the Unicorns of Love. Nevertheless, the Unicorns leave their family with their horn held up high because before Misfits, before Vitality, it was them who taught Europe to be creative, to go beyond what’s standard, to believe in your skills, yourself and make the best out of them. Europe will miss you, and remember you. Keep your sparkles, spread your magic.
Remember our horn.
Our memorable moment: “It’s Poppy time!”
It was the end of 2014, Millennium and Unicorns were duking it out in the last series of the year to conquer an LCS spot. Up 2–0, the French team locked in Dr Mundo for Kev1n, a powerpick without counters at the time. Little did he know that Vizicsacsi had something ready for him…and the rest, as we say, is history.
Now as our walk down memory lane is concluded, we say our final goodbyes, ushering in the new age of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) dawning on the horizon. As four new teams are soon to enter the Berlin Arena, the hardest task is upon them: earning a place in our hearts that Unicorns, Giants, Roccat and H2k are leaving for them. To be remembered as much as we will remember them.
They don’t have to win it all. As long as they remain true to their beliefs, posses the hunger to compete, but most importantly giving back to the fans, be it with memorable moments inside the Rift and entertaining content outside of it. We would like to finish this by extending a bittersweet welcome to the new teams -or welcome back to some- in the LEC.
Don’t let their sacrifices of your predecessors be in vain.
Farewell, old EU.
3rd piece written in collaboration with: https://medium.com/@Clockwoork