Bundle up for some blazing battles on the Summoner's Rift.
It’s still pretty cold out, but in a couple of weeks, the action will be heating up on Summoner’s Rift when the 2023 LEC Winter Split begins. Fans from across the globe will get to sit back, relax, and enjoy some competitive League of Legends from the finest players Europe has to offer from Saturday, Jan. 21.
There are plenty of perspectives to enjoy this coming season, whether you’re checking out the LEC’s newest addition, Team Heretics, the many different newcomers in the league, or simply awaiting the return of the best AD carry in the region’s history.
The league is also debuting a drastically different format for 2023 with a new, three-split yearly system with regular seasons, group stages, and playoffs. All in all, these changes should add plenty of spice to a league that has never lacked star power. Here are the best games to watch in the first week of the 2023 LEC Winter Split.
It wouldn’t be the start of the new season in Europe if it wasn’t welcomed in by the league’s resident samurais. G2 Esports is entering a new era without their longtime star jungler Jankos, but they still have one of the best lineups in the league with Mikyx making his return to the organization alongside Hans Sama, Caps, Broken Blade, and rookie jungler Yike.
This capable combination of stars will have their hands full when Excel Esports’ revamped lineup takes the stage, boasting veteran names like Odoamne, Xerxe, and Patrik, while also featuring some of the best rising stars in the region in Vetheo and Targamas. It’ll be exciting to see how this new roster fares against the perennial LEC champs.
In a similar vein, both Team Heretics and Team Vitality will be debuting new rosters for 2023. As the new kids on the block, Heretics will be looking to make a mark on the league early with a win against a longtime member of the LEC. With veteran jungler Jankos leading the way against his former teammate Perkz, the Spanish org will want as much momentum as possible coming out of the gate this season.
Vitality, on the other hand, will be heading into 2023 with a couple of rookies, compared to the failed superteam they ran with last year. For example, the team’s starting jungler Bo will finally be making his long-awaited LEC debut after getting acquired by the team last year, while top laner Photon is getting his first taste of major league play after spending the last few years in the Korean Challengers development scene.
There is a healthy mix of veterans and rookies jumping into this match, which should also be a great indicator of what to expect in the coming weeks until playoffs.
New brand, same squad. Formerly known as Rogue, KOI is heading into the new year with a championship-winning lineup, minus their All-Star top laner. Szygenda has some pretty big shoes to fill this season, but with such great synergy already built between the four other members, it’ll be hard to vote against this team heading into the winter.
This should be a good litmus test for KOI to start off the split, with Excel representing their first real challenge of the weekend. This will also be the first time Odoamne will face off against his old team, which should be rather emotional since he won his first-ever championship with Rogue during the 2022 Summer Split.
The LEC’s version of El Clásico is back and better than ever. Not only is this the marquee matchup of the weekend, but there are plenty of storylines to follow in this single game alone.
The biggest plot will be Rekkles’ return to pro play, facing off against the team he originally left Fnatic for in 2020. After spending a year away from the LEC, the 26-year-old icon has returned to his forever home and is ready to get closure from G2 with a win.
Meanwhile, G2 is focused on maintaining their hold over the G2-Fnatic rivalry, while also taking down Rekkles in the process. When the team built that superteam in 2020, many people expected them to dominate the league. Instead, they failed at nearly every step. If they beat Rekkles, you can bet the trash talk will be just as explosive as the battles on the Rift.
The 2023 LEC Winter Split will begin on Saturday, Jan. 21.