As the 2020 League of Legends season heads towards its climax, teams from all over Europe are preparing for the biggest matches of the year. For the teams in the LEC it's the Summer Split playoffs and potentially Worlds further down the line, but for the teams outside of the LEC the big final competition of the year is the EU Masters.
The competition pits the top teams from the European Regional Leagues against each other in a month-long tournament to find the best team outside of the franchised LEC. Teams from every corner of Europe battle it out for the EU Masters title, and for the players involved this is the biggest trophy they can hope to lift during the season.
For Spanish team Vodafone Giants the EU Masters is the trophy they’re always looking to take home. Competing in the Spanish SuperLiga during the regular season, Giants are easily one of the top teams, so finally getting to step onto the EU Masters stage, even if it is online this year, gives them a chance to play against stronger competition.
“Honestly it's the best time of the year for the teams that want to compete at the very top,” says Giants Jungler Leon "Lamabear" Krüger. “It’s a chance for talented players to prove themselves as one of the best, to eventually reach their goal, which probably is reaching LEC. But it’s not individual skills that count of course, all that matters in the end is the strength of the whole team.”
In order to qualify for the main event of the EU Masters, skipping the difficult Play In stage where only four out of 16 teams advance to the main event, Giants had to finish in the top two of the SuperLiga in Summer. They easily managed to take second place to make that happen, but even so, it was not the performance the team was looking for, and they know they need to fix some issues if they wish to perform well at the EU Masters.
“Our split was good, but not that good,” says team coach Miguel "FearlessS" Santos. “We were doing better than everyone else despite losing two times for our strongest competitor, Movistar Riders, but we had some troubles and lost more games than we should, leading to second place in the regular split only.”
The entire 2020 season has been a little like that for Vodafone Giants. They qualified for the Spring EU Masters main event earlier in the year, and after getting off to a hot start in groups they crumbled in the final games and failed to advance to the playoff bracket, ending their run in 9th-12th place. They were in a stacked group, but for this team that doesn’t matter. They know they are capable of beating all the teams in the EU Masters, and anything less than doing just that would be a disappointment this time around.
“Obviously we are not happy with another 9th-12th place, this team was put together to win everything, and anything less than that is a failure in the eyes of any Giants fan,” Says FearlessS. “That being said I think making Finals would already be a solid achievement in such a competitive tournament.”
After the disappointment of a poor finish at the Spring EU Masters event the team is fully locked in to make sure they can do better this time around. They know what can happen when they take their foot off the gas for even a second at an event as competitive as this. In the lead up to the competition they are making sure they are fully prepared to compete against the best in Europe.
“We took five days off after the end of the regular season,” says Prodromos "Pretty" Kevezitidis. “It’s very important for us as players to disconnect a bit from the game and get some time off so we will have a lighter mind for the one and a half months remaining of competition.”
With just a few days until the main event of EU Masters gets started, the Giants team is in full preparation mode for the competition. The players know that this is their big opportunity to lift a trophy, to show the rest of the world how good they are, and to show LEC teams that they deserve a shot at the biggest league in Europe. The pressure is well and truly on for the players, and despite the poor performance in Spring, they are confident this time will be different.
“The goal is to win it,” says bot laner Amadeu "Attila" Carvalho. “Winning a tournament means that you're the best team and the best team should be able to defeat anyone.”
The EU Masters Summer main event kicks off on August 24, with Giants looking to improve on their disappointing Spring result and take home the €40,000 first place prize. But the money is not the key factor for the players – lifting the trophy and showing the rest of the world they are the best team in Europe outside of the LEC is way more important, and could have a big impact on the future careers of the players. The stage is set, now they just have to execute the script they have written to become EU Masters champions.