Since its inception in 2018, EU Masters has become the place to see the next great European League of Legends talent following One only needs to look towards a team like MAD Lions, who promoted four-fifths of its EUM roster to the League of Legends European Championship in 2020, and has now qualified for two World Championships and won back-to-back LEC titles in 2021 while still retaining two of those four EUM players.
However, for all of the talent present in EUM, a team in EU Masters reach a level of notoriety that matches that of a major region organization — until this year. Throughout 2021, French organization Karmine Corp, who competes in France’s La Ligue Française de League of Legends, have directly and indirectly changed the competitive landscape of League of Legends esports more than any EUM squad as a unit has been able to do previously.
Let’s take a look at how Karmine Corp has changed the global perception of EU Masters — and all of LoL esports — for keeps.
1: Karmine Corp was congratulated by the President of France following spring title
As the representative of the LFL, Karmine Corp brought great pride to France in its victory over NLC representative BT Excel in the finals of EU Masters 2021 Spring, and a particular French citizen took special notice. French President Emmanual Macron, admitting that he doesn’t know much about League of Legends, sent Karmine Corp a direct message on Twitter congratulating them on allowing the flag of France to fly high.
No esports team in Western culture has ever received presidential recognition or anything of the like at a similar level, and for a team that is not even playing at the highest level of competition in the competitive League of Legends hierarchy, it is all the more impressive that it was Karmine Corp who drew the attention of its country’s leader.
2: Karmine Corp is responsible for G2 Esports missing its first World Championship
Following KC’s spring title, rumors began to surface of Fnatic signing the French squad’s top laner Adam "Adam" Maanane, with at-the-time top laner for, Fnatic Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau, reportedly eyeing a mid-season roleswap to jungle. Fnatic had just finished 5th in the 2021 LEC Spring Playoffs — its first post-season finish outside of the top 3 since 2016 — but the reported shakeup came under heavy skepticism as it seemed to not address the problems Fnatic had in spring.
Eventually, the moves were confirmed, and it could not have worked out better for Fnatic. In his rookie split, Adam led the LEC with 15 solo kills on his way to capturing the Rookie of the Split Award. Bwipo was a revelation in the jungle, and ultimately, the revitalized Fnatic was competitive enough to return to the top team conversation throughout summer.
Fnatic beat G2 Esports 3-2 in the lower bracket of the LEC Summer Playoffs to secure the final Worlds 2021 seed for the LEC along MAD Lions and Rogue, marking the first time in history that G2 has missed Worlds. It’s hard to imagine that Fnatic would have defeated G2 Esports, or frankly, would have even been in a position to do so, without Fnatic’s summer roster adjustments, which only came after Adam’s success on KC and subsequent confirmation that the young top laner was LEC ready.
3: Karmine Corp opened the door for Cabochard to come out of retirement
Karmine Corp was supportive of Adam’s venture into the LEC, but the French champion still needed a top laner. Fortunately, a sleeping giant answered KC’s call, right in the squad’s own backyard.
French top laner Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet had retired after a storied six year career in the LEC. Cabochard made his debut in 2015 on Gambit and spent the next five seasons as the cornerstone of many a Team Vitality roster.
Cabochard never won a LEC title, but at Worlds 2018, made huge waves with arguably the best VIT squad ever assembled. Cabochard is one of the most accomplished French players in the history of LoL esports, and in signing with KC, he proved that he still has plenty left in the tank only six months after retiring.
4: Karmine Corp is the first ever back-to-back EU Masters champion
With Cabochard in Adam’s place, KC was able to repeat its success in spring and win EU Masters Summer 2021. In the finals against Fnatic Rising, the academy squad of Fnatic, KC was pushed to the limit in a series that went all five games, but when the dust settled. It was the LFL representative who remained standing.
Karmine Corp’s 3-2 win over Fnatic Rising made it the first ever back-to-back EU Masters Champion. It’s been less than 24 hours since KC successfully defended its throne from FNCR, and one has to wonder if Macron will be sliding into the org’s DMs once again in congratulations.
5: Karmine Corp is the single greatest argument for LEC expansion
Throughout all of its accomplishments in 2021, Karmine Corp has solidified itself as the strongest argument for a potential expansion of the LEC. No plans have been put in place to expand the LEC beyond 10 teams, but Riot Games has also not ruled out potential expansion in the future, and no one checks as many boxes in favor of the concept than Karmine Corp.
No one has dominated EUM the way Karmine Corp has, and in doing so, it has launched the LEC career of Adam, revived the career of Cabochard, and put EU Masters on the map in a way never before seen. The EU Masters finals numbers have never been higher, rivaling those of many major regions around the world, and has elevated it to a premiere competition worthy enough to get the attention of the French President in addition to its notoriety as a hotbed for young talent.
Whether the LEC needs to be expanded is still up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that if another franchise slot becomes available, Karmine Corp is far and away the most ideal candidate should that scenario come to fruition.
Disclaimer: This article previously stated that MAD Lions had retained three of the same players that the organization promoted to the LEC before the 2020 season. In actuality, only two of those players were retained as of 2021. This mistake has been rectified in the article above.