Hello and welcome to the sixth edition of the LEC preview here at Gromp News. After a miniature hiatus, we are back and raring to go as we analyze the remaining five organisations who will be participating in the upcoming LEC Spring Split.
As the title suggests, this article is all about SK Gaming and their return to the upper echelon of professional League of Legends. The side is arguably back where they belong considering they were one of the founding EULCS sides. Interestingly this whole line-up (staff and player) was the very last to be announced. It’ll be interesting to see what roster changes they have made from their campaign in the Premier Tour (the German national circuits) last year.
So without further ado let’s welcome back SK Gaming to the European top division by going through the backroom and starting roster changes.
Backroom staff… TBA?
Considering SK Gaming where one of the last teams to fully announce their roster it’s not a sup[rise that little information has been given regarding their backroom appointments. But, at least we have some indication as to the caliber of staff they are looking to bring in.
Firstly, SK Gaming has announced Sheepy as their new head coach. The coach previously worked for Unicorns of Love and with the org sadly not making it through the franchise system, SK Gaming has swooped in to secure him for the season. Sheepy is highly regarded here at Gromp News, he was the mastermind behind Unicorns of Love’s success as an organisation as a whole despite not have the financial backing compared to other teams. Many will remember UOL’s remarkable 2017, finishing second in the spring split and competing against the top sides such as Fnatic, G2, and Misfits. Sheepy is a great pick up for SK Gaming if he has the right players around him to coach. He has proven his coaching ability at UOL. However, his major downside is that he has only ever coached for one side professionally and considering he has no former UOL players in his line-up, he may struggle to adapt.
Joining Sheepy is the only other announced staff member, Realistik. Don’t be shocked if you have no idea who this person is. Realistik is joining SK as an analyst having previously worked as a coach for Klik Tech and Rift Esports. Little is known about him, however, he is a new face to the LEC scene and he will want his first major opportunity at an org to go down successfully. It is unsure if Brokenshard (SK’s former head coach) will play any part for the team this year. However, if they could secure his services then it will add an experienced backroom member who will undoubtedly strengthen the organisation. Overall, without Brokenshard it’s hard to judge the backroom additions. They have a talented head coach who should be able to improve the roster, However, this is his first role out of UOL. They also have a first-time analyst who despite being potentially a good acquisition lacks LEC experience.
Three Lions, a Former Pheonix, and a Mysterious Monkey.
Mid laner: Pirean
After being the last team to announce their roster, many were questioning who SK was going to sign. The answer was to look at the national circuit and SKT and you’d have found their new roster.
When you realise that SK Gaming have signed a player who in the last split was on SKT, immediately you start to take an interest. The interest goes slightly down when you find out that they were the substitute mid laner. Still, the signing of Pirean should be celebrated not criticized. The Korean will add some brilliant technical ability and wherewithal for the game. He even managed to play a part of the last split ahead of Faker, while this move was seen as more of a publicity move the organisation must have had faith in his ability. If SKT has faith in you you’re certainly doing the right thing. Pirean is also no stranger to the west having played for Team Impulse, Phoenix1, and Team EnVyUs. While NA and EU have their differences, he should be able to adapt to life again in the west. This is a huge risk for SK Gaming because of the fact they have decided to import a mid laner instead of choosing a domestic mid laner considering the depth Europe has in that role. But, certainly Pirean has the talent and due to his time in the west previously he should be a key player for SK this split.
The core of the team is made up of former Mad Lions pros Werlyb, Selfmade and Crownshot. All three of the national circuit players have shown in the SuperLiga Orange that they deserve to be apart of the LEC. The trio helped Mad Lions to a European Masters trophy (the highest accolade in the national circuit system) and they will be sure to bring a new style of play with them. This will be the first time a majority roster is centered around national circuit players and so it will be interesting to see if they all adapt. Expect the synergy to already be there but given the fact they have only tested themselves against other national circuit sides, the quality between the two leagues is unknown. It is quite possible that the players may not cope with the step up in opposition. Out of the three prospects, we here at Gromp News believe that Selfmade could be the star who breaks out from the pack. He was one of the best junglers in the Spanish league and, apart from Nemesis, he was the main component to Mad Lions’ success. Overall these are three exciting young players who people should keep an eye on.
The final addition to round off this roster is none other than former Mysterious Monkeys support Dreams. If people have been keeping up to date with Dreams’ career he was apart of the hugely successful Vitality Academy roster which played in the French National Circuit. Whilst playing full-time for the academy roster he also was the registered substitute for their main team. Vitality either saw that he still has something to give in the then EULCS or that he was a good in-game leader to help the academy team. Either way, this is a great pick up for SK Gaming. due to the positives I just stated. Considering the team consists of national circuit players and Pirean they need a shot-caller who also speaks Korean as well. So, Dreams. While he may not be the most stand-out technical performer, he will be able to command his new teams and prevent them from making rookie mistakes that could have happened if he was not apart of the roster.
The SK Experiment
To summerise, SK Gaming’s roster is not quite the finished article. While they have the basis of a solid structure behind the scenes, the organisation doesn’t seem as prepared compared to some of the new sides added this upcoming split. The signing of Sheepy is a shrewd one and he is known for getting the best out of the player he has at his disposal. Plus, they are by no means a weak side overall. However, their starting line-up relies a lot on ‘maybes’. Maybe Pirean can shine in Europe. Maybe Dreams can prove himself and, maybe this new trio can excel in the LEC. It’s incredibly exciting seeing new players come into the scene and we here at Gromp News are happy to see a side taking a risk on new talent. Still, with very little EULCS/LEC experience in the team, they may struggle in their first split. This might be a case of seeing what sticks and then running with it in summer.
Predicted finish: 9th or 10th
By Tom Daniels