League of Legends

[Column] The Legacy of the EU LCS Mid Lane

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Many regions tend to produce certain roles better than other lanes over other regions. More specifically when speaking about the European region we have to speak about mid laners.

Since the beginnings of Game Europe was able to showcase some of the best mid lane talents in League of Legends. When we speak about some of the legends of the early days of the game, we have to mention xPeke, Ocelote, Froggen and even our polish hero Shushei. Even the newer generation in Bjergsen, Febiven, Perkz, and Power of Evil have shown what a European mid laner is capable off. Where does the mid lane hype even start in European soils?

We aren’t speaking only about a few players that were incredibly skilled, had huge mechanics or were able to backdoor a nexus and get a play named after them. Europe has figured it out since the beginning. They learned to play double ap solo lane when tanks were not as interesting, they learned how to counter jungle when Diamondprox would roam with his mid laner AlexIch in order to put the enemy jungle behind or when it was all about the jungle and mid fights or split pushing with an assassin in season 3. EU has figured it out.

Those OG mid laners were not only talented they were also incredibly smart and efficient. Just look at all those names and you will be able to notice a style, a preference, a signature champion or play. Xpeke definitely his Kassadin or Zed that would farm up during laning phase and shine on the side lanes, Ocelote and his Orianna ultimates, Froggen and his scaling Anivia or Alex Ich with his roaming Kha'zix. Think about how much the Moscow 5 style is still present in today's meta. Every team plays around mid pressure and jungle timers. It turned into a global meta rather than only European.

 

The origin of the mid lane focus in Europe has two starting points. One obviously the huge amount of talented players that pioneered in the early beginnings of the game in the mid lane position. Second the focus on the individual competition. If Europeans have one thing in common is that they are very competitive and can’t stand seeing anyone not playing on the same level.  Players are extremely competitive and also extremely toxic. They prefer to carry by themselves, to prove they are the better individual players and like to show that they are capable to outplay and solo kill their lane opponent. This will be a relatively common thing in low elo and will only change in the high Elo area of Master 300 LP and above.

Where the game will be more oriented on farming and macro movement rather than individual skill to snowball and spread the lead to other lanes. Combined with many mid and jungle duos, Europe sets right from the start a good scenario to create constantly fresh talent. Not only in the mid lane but in general for all positions. So it was basically the combination of the quality of the SoloQ play and the early understanding of the mid lane. Regions like North America or even the Latin American Regions mostly played around their AD carry throughout the years and would shift to more mid lane oriented playstyles as they would adapt to the winning teams in their respective regions. We shouldn’t also count on that even if Europe had already a good foundation early on to keep developing good mid lane talent, Europe also has the second biggest player base in the game. Only Korea has a more active player base. More players mean more competition which results in a better competition at the high elo SoloQ.

Basically creating a good basis for those players individually to withstand the competition on a mechanical standpoint when they reach the top. The adaptation from the low elo to the high elo competition is the biggest those players have to face and this is why most players struggle. They suddenly have to play team and map movement oriented instead of their individual “I’m going to outplay and snowball” playstyle. Some of the players can’t make the move and surpass this hurdle to become a professional player, but some of those either will find a national league team or get scouted by an LCS team and get coached to play on stage.

Basically offering with the broad space of national, wildcard and cross-regional competition there is a lot of possibilities for these young talented players to start scrimming and learning the team metagame of League of Legends. Also resulting in nurturing the talent into better players and also creating a higher amount of competition throughout the ranks of SoloQ.

Despite the SoloQ playing an important factor in developing a lot of talent, there is one specific aspect that actually created the legacy of the EU mid laner. It was their playstyle.

Europeans have been famous since their existence for their aggressive laning where the American mid laners usually highly preferred to play more passively and farm up. So normally European mid laners would perform better in the direct confrontation as they are more comfortable handling pressure in the mid lane. Europeans play since 2012 very mid lane centric, often being the star player of the certain teams. They channel a lot of resources in pressure and vision around the mid lane, such as the raptors camp which is useful for controlling the jungler's and the mid laner's pressure. Or more specific EU mid laners contest every cs and are extremely good at forcing individual mistakes through being really good at trading in lane. Making those mid laners hard to beat.

 

A good example of this would be the Bjergsen and Jensen over in North America. The only North American native mid laner that was able to play on the same level individually was previous Immortals mid laner Pobelter. The playstyle rewards those with the better mechanical skill just as much as those with the better reading or knowledge of the matchup. So over the course of the League of Legends history the mid laners that stood the test of time were mostly those that could overcome metas and constantly be able to find the optimal way to abuse their opponents mistakes and with that would bring more pressure to the mid lane than an only farming mid laner.

Despite mid lane pressure being a common thing nowadays in team play, it wasn’t a priority in most regions besides Europe and Korea as team strategies four years ago.

Even if the meta game changed Europe kept producing high-quality mid laners and we haven’t even seen most of them on the professional play. According to many high elo players there are even more LCS level mid laners waiting to be picked up from SoloQ and make the transition to team play.

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