The LEC (League of Legends EMEA Championship) is the top-flight division for competitive League of Legends in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In 2022, the league underwent significant changes, which included adding the MENA region and reinventing its competitive format.
Last year, also continued the trend of new organisations joining the LEC with two teams purchasing franchise spots for its 2023 season. Whilst most names in the LEC will be familiar, who actually are the organisations that are competing in Europe’s largest tournament? This article provides a brief background and history of the LEC’s franchise teams.
Danish esports organisation Astralis is largely known for its CS:GO roster, which was one of the most successful in the game’s history. The organisation first entered the LEC by acquiring Origen in 2018, and renamed the team Astralis in 2020. Origen founder xPeke joined Astralis as a shareholder of the organisation after the merger.
Astralis, however, has not replicated the success found through its CS:GO team in League of Legends. The organisation has struggled to finish in the top half of the table since it started competing in the LEC, with its best finish in the league being eighth place in the LEC Summer Split in 2021.
EXCEL is perhaps one of the most well-known esports organisations based in the United Kingdom. Apart from competing in the LEC, the organisation also has teams in VALORANT and FIFA. The organisation first joined the LEC in 2019, when the league started its franchise programme.
EXCEL’s most successful year was in 2022, when the team qualified for the LEC playoffs twice. Throughout its history, the organisation has competed in a myriad of titles, including Fortnite, Call of Duty and CS:GO. Apart from League of Legends, FIFA is perhaps EXCEL’s most successful game with its roster winning the FGS 22 Masters Cup last year.
European powerhouse Fnatic has regularly been one of the best-performing League of Legends teams in the region. Fnatic is known for being the only European team to ever win the League of Legends World Championship, having done so in 2011. Fnatic is also one of the oldest teams in the world with an active League of Legends roster, with its first team also created back in 2011.
When it comes to the LEC, Fnatic has 18 total top-three finishes in the EU LCS and LEC. Fnatic has seven Split wins and is the only team to participate in every split in the current competitive format, competing in every season since 2013.
Outside of League of Legends, Fnatic is known for its CS:GO team, which has won three Major tournaments in total, as well as its rosters in VALORANT, Rainbow Six and Dota 2.
Founded in 2013 by former professional League of Legends player Carlos Rodriguez, G2 is a highly regarded organisation in Europe. The company has rosters in all major esports titles, but is most known for its success in League of Legends and CS:GO.
G2 has been a part of the EU LCS and LEC since 2014, and is, along with Fnatic, the most successful team in the league. G2 has won a total of nine EU LCS and LEC splits, the most wins for any team in history. G2 was also the finalist of the 2019 World Championship, the only European team besides Fnatic to do so and the only European team to do it in the current format.
Although G2 started as a League of Legends organisation, the company has transferred its success into other esports. Its CS:GO roster won the BLAST World Final 2022 and the organisation has a highly regarded Rocket League division. G2’s women’s VALORANT team is also the reigning champion of the VALORANT Game Changers tournament series.
KOI is one of LEC’s new names for the 2023 season. The team is actually a rebranded Rogue, created as a result of a partnership between Rogue and KOI, an esports organisation owned by streamer Ibai Lianos and former footballer Gerard Pique. The partnership has seen the Rogue brand replaced by KOI in the LEC, but its rosters and management structure remained.
KOI is perhaps most well-known for its owners, with one being a prominent caster and streamer in Spanish, and the other one of the most successful footballers in the modern era. The organisation is also one of the partner teams for the upcoming VALORANT VCT EMEA tournament series.
As Rogue, KOI won the LEC Summer Split 2022 and participated in three League of Legends World Championships.
MAD Lions is a Spanish organisation formed in 2017. The company was acquired by Canadian esports holding company OverActive Media in 2019, and joined the LEC in 2020 as a replacement for American organisation Splyce. MAD Lions’ crowning achievement was winning the LEC Spring and Summer Split in 2021. Interestingly, the organisation also won the European Masters, Europe’s second-highest League of Legends competition, in 2018.
MAD Lions competes only in League of Legends, but has had rosters in other games, namely in CS:GO. The MAD Lions CS:GO team notably won the first season of Flashpoint in 2020. The company’s owners, OverActive Media, are also the owners of the Toronto Defiant in the Overwatch League and Toronto Ultra in the Call of Duty League.
SK Gaming is one of the oldest esports organisations in the world, founded in 1997. SK Gaming is perhaps most known for its dominant CS:GO team, but the organisation also saw early success in League of Legends. The team is the only current LEC team besides Fnatic to compete in the inaugural season of the EU LCS in 2013.
SK Gaming did not compete in the EU LCS from 2016 to 2019, until it rejoined the league as a franchised team. Some of the organisation’s accolades outside of League of Legends include a Major title in CS:GO from 2016, as well as having successful teams in Clash Royale and Brawl Stars, two mobile games developed by SUPERCELL. One of the founders of SK Gaming, Tim Reichert, is the current CEO of another LEC team, EXCEL ESPORTS.
Team BDS is a Swiss organisation that competed in the French national League of Legends league, the LFL, before joining the LEC in 2022. Team BDS became a part of the LEC after purchasing a slot from Schalke 04 Esports for €26.5m (~£22.8m).
In its first year of competing, Team BDS finished ninth in the LEC Spring Split 2022 and 10th in the Summer Split. Apart from League of Legends, the organisation is very successful in Rocket League, having won the RLCS World Championship in August 2022, the top-tier tournament in the game.
The organisation is owned by Patrice Bailo de Spoelberch, a Swiss businessman whose family owns a substantial share of InBev, a global drink brand which includes Stella Artois, Corona, Budweiser and Becks, to name a few.
Also making its debut in 2023, Team Heretics is a Spanish organisation that acquired its slot from Misfits Gaming Group in 2022, with Misfits remaining a minority partner in the team.
Team Heretics has recently seen a resurgence in League of Legends after being inactive between 2017 and 2022. The team competed in the Spanish Superliga in 2022, and won the league in its Summer Split. Heretics also won the European Masters Summer 2022.
Apart from League of Legends, Heretics is also a solid performer in VALORANT. The team has been a part of the VCT EMEA circuit since 2022 and has previously competed in CS:GO, Call of Duty and mobile esports games.
One of the most famous esports organisations coming from France, Team Vitality has been a part of the EU LCS and LEC since 2016. Interestingly, even though the organisation is known for fielding star-studded rosters, within League of Legends and other titles, its biggest success happened in 2018, with a third-place finish in the EU LCS Summer Split.
Vitality is also well-known for its CS:GO roster, the current champions of the ESL Pro League. Vitality’s academy League of Legends team competes in the LFL, the French national League of Legends league, and the company also competes in Rocket League, FIFA and VALORANT.
Team Vitality’s star player, Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković, holds the record for most EU LCS and LEC wins, with eight wins.