The Summer Split is about to kick off. Who will hit the ground running, hit their summer goals and flex on the rest?
The sun’s shining, the birds are singing, and nine UK League Championship teams are heading into the Summer Split with glory in their eyes. But forget the title for now; we’ve handed each team a summer goal that they’ll have to achieve if they’re going to prove to us that they mean business.
With familiar faces returning, and a healthy sprinkle of new talent making their first appearances, every team has something to prove. Who’s ready to make a statement in Week 1 of the 2019 UKLC Summer Split?
It’s full steam ahead for a new-look Barrage, who may no longer be satisfied with a mid-table finish after signing last year’s runner-up for MVP, Munckizz. The superstar jungler showed the league what early pressure should look like in Spring, but he may have a tougher time of things this time round. Top laner Zhergoth and mid laner Diva both have a sterling reputation in the UK, but have been out of the local scene for a while. Meanwhile, their bot lane has come under some scrutiny as a potential weak point in the squad; but if they can step up, the boys in blue can battle with the best.
Summer Goal: Keep the ship afloat and listen to Captain Munckizz
Give Munckizz stable lanes and he’ll take over games. First fixture: Game 4 vs Excel UK (21:00 BST)
New boys on the block Demise are looking to cause trouble in the neighbourhood. They looked pretty beastly in the Promotion Tournament, and their bot laner, upcoming talent Den Voksne, has been singled out for praise. However, their team captain and shotcaller—the team’s jungler, Batu—will be in Korea for the first half of the split, so substitute Hidon has big shoes to fill. Without the main voice of the team, can Demise remain challengers?
Summer Goal: DON’T TILT if things don’t go your way
Training a new shotcaller takes time, and losing your team captain will make for a rough start. Keep cool and play the long game. First fixture: Game 1 vs NVision Esports (18:00 BST)
Hell’s frozen over: Diabolus have had a complete roster overhaul and will have to start from scratch. Following on from their previous achievements will be no easy task—the team topped the table during the Spring Split, and only fell to Fnatic Rising in the Grand Final of Playoffs. They even made a splash at EU Masters, before being knocked out a best-of-3 against the tournament’s eventual winners, Misfits Academy. Public perception of their new squad places them firmly in the bottom half of most tier lists, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause some surprises.
Summer Goal: Shrug off your demons (and focus on your own game)
Don’t aim to live up to the previous roster’s achievements. With emerging talent like PFI and The Heathen showing continuous improvement, building throughout the split should be the aim. First fixture: Game 2 vs Phelan Gaming (19:00 BST)
Enclave head into summer with one of the only bot lanes in the league that has a full split of experience playing together. Kehvo and Raizins might not be headline names just yet, but they’ve shown they can rub shoulders with the LEC squads and their synergy is only going to improve. With the rest of the roster shaking up, how well the top side of the map synergizes will likely decide how Enclave fare this split.
Summer Goal: Build from your bot lane boys
Play around your solid bot lane to pick up some early season points and work on improving your topside synergy throughout the split. First fixture: Game 3 vs MnM Gaming (20:00 BST)
Excel are in something of a funny spot. They’ve seen more interchange between their continental and regional squads than anyone else in the LEC, yet the influx of superstar players into the UKLC has yet to lead to a serious title challenge. This time around, they’ll be looking to leverage their united roster at their stellar facilities in Twickenham to full effect.
Summer Goal: Beat MnM Gaming
MnM are considered the most likely team to challenge Excel’s claim to a top 2 spot. If they can put some distance between themselves and the Marshmallows, Excel can focus on overthrowing Fnatic. First fixture: Game 4 vs Barrage (21:00 BST)
All eyes are on new jungle signing Nji, the only roster change that Fnatic Rising have made since doing the domestic double (apart from saying goodbye to Targamas). With former starting jungler Dan now stepping up to join Fnatic’s first team in Berlin, Nji will be walking into the strongest team in the league.
Summer Goal: Win everything
Prosfair has won 3 national titles in a row. Shikari has won 4. If Fnatic fail to claim the Summer Split title, it will be a massive upset. But last split showed that they are not infallible. First fixture: the tower challenge, Thursday’s last game (21:00 BST)
They’ve done it. They’ve completed assembling Exodia: a full UK roster that actually might be able to win something. While the loss of the mechanically-gifted mumus and Monk from their line-up will be tough, MnM have secured two promising replacements in Only Angel and Yusa, rounding out a roster with incredible talent in every lane.
Summer Goal: Don’t bottle it
For a team with this much potential, anything less than a top 3 finish would be a disappointment. But they ARE full UK. Show us more Russia 2018 than Germany 2006. First fixture: Game 3 vs Enclave (20:00 BST)
NVision surprised everyone by qualifying for the UKLC, but they have shown that they deserve to be here. With community predictions placing this raw and untested line-up rock bottom despite a promising Promotion run, every win will be an opportunity to prove their doubters wrong. And they aim to do it with relentless aggression and high-tempo gameplay.
Summer Goal: Keep attacking your opponents
Teams will underestimate you. They will expect an easy game and they can be thrown off if you keep up the kill-hungry style you showed in Forge. First fixture: Game 1 vs Demise (18:00 BST)
Phelan are aiming to improve on last split and show that they can compete with the best teams from the UK. And their new roster might just be able to do it. Retaining Achuu and Sof, two of the team’s strongest members last split, and adding on the experience of Danish support Visdom, the line-up has all the makings of a top four challenger.
Summer Goal: Beat your Spring Split finish
Phelan finished sixth in the Spring Split, with only three wins to their name. If they’re serious about improving, they’ll need the results to show it. First fixture: Game 2 vs Diabolus (19:00 BST)
Remember, this week’s action doesn’t stop with the Round of 8. The four winners of the above fixtures progress to the bracket semifinals on Thursday, which also starts at 6pm BST. The winner of the bracket will then have an opportunity to dethrone our reigning tower champions, Fnatic Rising, in the UKLC’s first tower challenge of the Summer Split.