Excel UK have already dethroned Fnatic Rising. With last season’s champions left to scrap it out with the rest, can Excel usher in a new era of dominance in the UK League Championship?

While the LEC sides battled it out at the top, new boys on the block Demise impressed on their UKLC debut, and Diabolus’s fresh roster surpassed expectations to secure a tower final appearance in the first week of the split.

Here’s 5 lessons we learned from Week 1!

Weak laning will be punished

The very first game of the Summer Split was almost our quickest ever. At 23 minutes and 59 seconds, Demise’s win over NVision Esports was just one second away from tying the record held by Diabolus after Game 2 of last split’s Playoffs semifinal against MnM Gaming (23:58). (Sorry Demise!)

But how did the Reapers successfully speedrun their UKLC debut? The answer was good, old-fashioned superior laning, aided by a proactive draft and Batu’s VERY busy Sejuani helping put every single lane ahead.

With their players falling short in the head-to-head with their opponents, NVision Esports’ young roster were given a rude awakening: step up your mechanics or get thumped.

Good flanks win games

Diabolus had a strong opening week, surpassing community expectations to dispatch both Phelan Gaming and Demise en route to the tower final, before losing to eventual champions Excel. Many predicted the Devils to lose in the first round against Phelan, but after a 47-minute back-and-forth, they were finally able to secure the win. One of the keys to their success? Kakan’s Kennen.

Building full AP, Kakan was a constant thorn in Phelan’s side. Though the Irish team often had a big pressure advantage—twice taking Baron, and securing a late Elder Dragon—they continually failed to properly control vision on their flanks.

With well-timed teleports to wards that had evaded Diabolus’s sweepers, Kakan put a stopper on Phelan’s siege and eventually won Diabolus the game.

Bad flanks lose games

AKA: “Don’t fight before your power spikes.” Diabolus held a 4k gold lead at 18 minutes into their semifinal against Demise, yet with Vladimir and Kai’Sa both scaling up for the Reapers, there was always the threat of a comeback. And when Demise saw Diabolus setting siege to the bot lane with a ward behind them, they thought they saw the perfect opportunity to pounce.

Unfortunately for Demise, at only 18 minutes in, their late-game, ultra-scaling hypercarries just didn’t do enough damage to kill a single member of Diabolus. With Kakan’s excellent Poppy ultimate preventing Hidon’s follow-up engage, and Furuy’s well-timed answering teleport, a potential turnaround play ended up only accelerating Demise’s defeat—simply because the timing was poor.

(Bonus: Zhergoth’s sax play after his own failed teleport flank is our personal highlight of the week.)

Flex picks are king (if you do them right)

Excel soared to success in the first week of the UKLC, as they defeated Barrage, MnM, Diabolus and Fnatic Rising in succession. Coach Timkiro certainly had a say in that terrific run, as Excel’s wacky drafts helped keep his team’s compositions utterly unpredictable, shattering any opportunities his opponents had to secure leads through counter-picks.

Of course, Timkiro had a little helping hand from his squad. Not every team can flex champions in three different positions, let alone players!

Flex picks can go wrong, too. We saw that in Demise’s defeat against Diabolus, where the team locked in Camille and Vladimir—two champs which are played both in mid and top—into Diabolus’s Poppy and Neeko. If Vlad had gone top, he might’ve had a much easier time scaling up against the Poppy, and Camille would’ve avoided facing a direct counter in lane. But, whether due to player preference or coaching strategy, Zeiko took the Camille top—and was punished.

Hjarnan and Kasing aren’t bad at League of Legends

As it turns out, having a Worlds Semifinalist paired with a long-time support partner is not a bad recipe for success in the UKLC. Between the two of them, Hjarnan and Kasing won 3 MVPs and 1 Unsung Hero award for their four games this week. And with Hjarnan making appearances in the mid lane (as Corki) and top lane (as Karthus), they didn’t even rely on their synergy to win games—but you can bet that it was there when they needed it.

Note to self: if Kasing’s Yuumi can be seen paired with Hjarnandinger in the enemy team lobby, reconsider life choices.

With Excel’s tremendous showing in Week 1, they stole away the lion’s share of points, leaving the other teams in their wake. Diabolus, Demise and MnM Gaming will also have been pleased to collect their first wins, but there’s many more to play for next week.

Last week, some viewers may have considered the left side of the tower an easier route to the bracket final. This time around, Diabolus and Demise will have the opportunity to prove that their Week 1 victories were no fluke of the matchmaking system, when they come up against tough opposition in the Round of 8. And what better way to finish the first round then have Barrage take on an MnM Gaming side eager to live up to their roster hype?

Make sure you’re ready by following our channel at twitch.tv/lvpuklol. And stay tuned to our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more updates and announcements as all the season’s drama unfolds!

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