As we enter the 2015 Season of the EU LCS, the excitement for the new mid-laners is increasing. A recent YouTube montage showcased their exceptional ability to make plays, raising the expectations even more.
However, it is important to understand that European midlane dominance is not solely due to natural talent, but also because of the historical playstyle of the European region. The midlane is considered the primary playmaking role and the focal point of teams. Understanding European mid-lane dominance is more about grasping this concept rather than it being simply a result of talent.
European mid-laners are undoubtedly more talented than their NA counterparts, but the emphasis on mid-lane playmaking in Europe makes the gap appear even larger.
Three Generations of Mids
The new talent in the EU LCS can be seen as the third generation of European mid-laners, with the first generation being players like xPeke, Froggen, and Alex Ich, and the second generation being players like Bjergsen and Nukeduck. While the third generation is largely unproven on the big stage, they have shown promise in qualifying tournaments and with teams like Unicorns of Love at IEM San Jose.
The Bjergsen Shock
When Bjergsen transferred to TSM, he went from being a top 4 mid in his region to being the clear number 1 in NA. This initial surge in the Spring split can be called the ‘Bjergsen Shock’. While Bjergsen’s performance cannot be dismissed, his excellence can partly be attributed to the shock value he brought to NA.
Before Bjergsen, there was never as much emphasis on being a ‘lane carry’ in NA. When Bjergsen joined TSM, he not only matched Reginald’s playmaking status but also brought a strong laning phase that allowed him to carry. This style of play was not as successful in Europe, where the region was more adjusted to it.
A Metagame That Forces Big Plays
Froggen and Alex Ich, two of the first generation mid-laners, are sometimes overrated in terms of natural talent. Their excellence can be attributed to their incredible work ethic, passion for the game, and dedication to improving their mechanics. Their impact on the European scene led to a culture of increasing mid-lane playmaking.
However, neither Froggen nor Alex has what it takes to be a full lane carry anymore. Europe has yet to see a universal Faker-like mid-laner, someone whose excellence extends to all aspects of the game.
While Power of Evil, Febiven, Fox, and Pepinero are great talents, it is important to understand that Europe demands playmaking mid-laners. This can sometimes distort the perception of European mid-lane talent. When European mid-laners win, they always look superb because the fundamental win condition for a European team is a strong performance from the mid-lane.
In conclusion, European mid-lane dominance is a result of both talent and playstyle. It is crucial to recognize the historical context and the emphasis on playmaking in the region.