As the LEC ramps up for the playoffs, so too do Europe's second-tier leagues with European Masters qualifications on the horizon. These leagues are teeming with young European talent trying to showcase what they can bring to an LEC organization.
The European second-tier leagues are known for fostering young talent who are ready to contribute on stage. Players such as Zhiqiang “Shadow” Zhao, Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz, and Emil “Larssen” Larsson have all come from regional leagues around Europe to have great success at the LEC level.
Who among this year's talent pool has the promise to make it to the next level?
Adam “LIDER” Ilyasov is the current mid laner for Mousesports and finished the spring split at the quarterfinals of EU Masters. The Norweigian’s team finished second in the playoffs and regular season in the Prime League Pro Division with a record of 13-5.
Fans will recognize LIDER from his one-split stint as the starting mid laner for Misfits Gaming. He captured fans’ attention with his aggressive champion picks, even picking Zed in two games, but was replaced for the 2020 season by Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten.
He has kept his aggressive playstyle in the German league, playing mainly melee champions including Yasuo and Akali. LIDER ended the summer with a 3.4 KDA and a 534.5 DPM. He is currently running over the competition in the PLPD with a CS lead in every game so far and an average 22 CS difference at 15 minutes.
The LEC is full of great mid laners and LIDER could rejoin its ranks if a team is willing to gamble on his aggressive playstyle. His future is bright, especially if the meta shifts in favor of his champion pool.
Ronaldo "Ronaldo" Betea is one of the most versatile and touted young players in the European scene, but has yet to play a game in the LEC. He is signed to Misfits Gaming, and was listed as a sub for Febiven for the 2020 season.
The Romanian can play mid, bot, or support, and actually started his career playing jungle. Ronaldo first jumped onto fans’ radars when he joined Fnatic Rising in the summer of 2019. That squad finished first in the UKLC regular season playoffs as Ronaldo subbed in for multiple roles before sticking to support for the playoffs. His squad made it to the semifinals of that EU Masters, where he played both bot and support.
In that EU Masters tournament, Ronaldo finished with a 4.2 KDA and played six different champions. That was the last major event Ronaldo played before Misfits picked him up.
Ronaldo is currently stuck in limbo, not playing a single professional game in the 2020 Spring Split. He has played two games in a preseason best-of-five against Excel, throughout the French league tournament Underdogs, and one game in the LFL this split.
Ronaldo is an exciting prospect and could fit into a team at any position. Expect him to show up somewhere next year for Misfits, which has him signed until November of 2021.
The LEC seems like it needs another young Danish jungler to hop onto the stage. That is exactly what Christian “Taxer” Jensen could do next season. The current BT Excel jungler has been around the lower European leagues since 2016 and is in his second stint with the Excel organization.
Taxer has been to the quarterfinals of EU Masters twice with BT Excel, in summer of 2019 and spring of 2020. In those splits, he played with other BT Excel alums Jordan “Special” Scheffer and Jesper “Jeskla” Strömberg. While he has not yet made his way to the stage, Excel does see promise in the 21-year-old.
The organization has signed him to its academy squad in 2016, again in 2018, and now once more through the end of the 2020 season. So far in this season, Taxer has a 2 KDA and a vision score of 1.28 with a 67.5% kill participation average. His squad finished first in the UKLC last split and second in the previous summer season.
The LEC is top-heavy when it comes to jungler talent, so there are always openings for young talent at the bottom end of the table. If Taxer does not make it on to the main Excel roster next season, expect him to pop up somewhere else in the league.