With the likes of reigning NLC champions Fnatic and even last summer’s runners-up Riddle Esports grouped together, this should be a blast! Let’s take a look at what each team thinks of their season ahead.
Fnatic Rising returns as the defending back-to-back-to-back-to-back champions from the UKLC 2019 spring season (try saying that really fast 10 times). No matter the obstacle, no matter their struggles, they always seem to overcome. Fnatic Rising ruled last summer with an iron fist, going undefeated in the regular season and only dropping three games in playoffs. A true testament to their dominating presence.
Even with a veteran and decorated name like Febiven joining them this season, many are looking to pry the ERL crown off Fnatic’s head. One lesson many teams will tell you though: Even if Fnatic Rising starts shakily, never count them out!
“I’m pretty new to NLC, and to be fair I haven’t really watched it but it’s not a bad league. A number of big names are playing in the NLC this year and facing some of those teams might be difficult. The goal of course is to win everything, but we're going to take it step by step first. LoL in the ERLs especially is like a marathon, not a sprint. So for me, the results at the start of the year are not as important in comparison to how we play.
My mentality when I became a coach is to lead a team who aren’t afraid to be proactive and do whatever’s necessary to win. That’s my philosophy and focus. I don't really like players who go 0-1 and take zero risks, and don’t do much in order to win the game. I like flashy players. I like players who are willing to take responsibility on their shoulders, and I believe my players are exactly that. As a group, we're really having fun with each other, at least for now.
We’re moving into Fnatic’s gaming house in Berlin, so you should ask me in a few weeks. But i'm sure we will have fun!” - delord, Fnatic Rising Head Coach
Barrage have somewhat been a bit of a mixed package in recent times, but it is clear they are on an upwards trajectory (except maybe their academy last season). In UKLC 2020 spring, they achieved top 4 despite low expectations and last summer they made playoffs against all odds. They are also the defending NLC Fall Open champions. It seems Barrage are slowly steadying their rocky ships.
For 2021 spring, Barrage are aiming to surprise once more by assembling a roster that can potentially challenge the academy teams. The last time marksmen Kehvo joined them in 2020 spring, Barrage defeated Fnatic Rising in the regular season. Are their cannons locked and loaded for the task ahead?
“After what we see as a very successful 2020, we're challenging ourselves to go one step further and push the academy teams for an EU Masters spot. Winning the Fall Open was a fantastic way to end the year, but we need to build on that. I firmly believe that we have built a team that is capable of beating anybody. Our coaching staff have been together longer than any other staff team in the league, and they will make a huge difference in pushing the team to play at their best.
I know some people will look at the roster and say, "It's more of a Finnish team than a UK team". When it comes to roster building, we don't take players nationality into account (outside of LTR). We pick the best players that fit the team dynamic, and the org ethos, and this team fits the bill.
It’s important for us to try and finish higher than in summer 2020. 5th/6th was a fantastic achievement at the time, but we're here to win, and we will do our best to win every game we play.” - Froomie, Barrage Esports LoL Director
What Riddle Esports achieved last summer was nothing short of remarkable. A run to the NLC 2021 summer finals, beating BT Excel along the way and qualifying for the EU Masters (EUM) Play-Ins stage. They played 19 matches in five days, a herculean effort from their squad and they almost made it to the EUM Main Event too.
To match what they’ve done is no small feat, but for 2021 Riddle are going to try to anyways. Picking up former Fnatic Rising support Bravado means that teams are going to have to consider banning Taric once again, lest Riddle potentially makes another run to the finals!
“Although there are some big shoes to fill from the inaugural season of the NLC, I'm very happy with our roster for the spring season. I’m especially happy with getting Bravado on board as he is a very young and talented player that has a lot to offer.
The competition this season will be very tough as the academy teams geared up a lot. But we are confident and will do what it takes to succeed as a team.” - Snilltvedt, Riddle Esports Team Manager
Last summer was a season to forget for Team Singularity (well, Fall Open too). They constantly struggled at every turn and just could not find the form needed, which resulted in a last placed finish and a relegations match against KOVA Esports. Their close 3-2 win over the Finnish outfit gives but a glimmer of hope to the fans.
However, retaining their spot in the NLC has definitely inspired them. Over the offseason, they’ve shown their intent to contest for playoffs with acquisitions such as veterans Prosfair and Noltey, as well as Furuy from PSV Esports. The pressure from last season’s results will surely hang over their heads, will they succeed this time around?
“Heading into spring 2021, I have no strict expectations other than the goal of taking another step further in Team Singularity's march towards the top end of the NLC. Following summer 2020 and the subsequent Fall Cup, Singularity has gone from strength to strength and I believe our latest squad is the key in advancing that process.
I couldn't be happier with the group of players we've got together, and I'm extremely excited to show what we can do in the upcoming season.” - Torok, Team Singularity Head Coach
KOVA Esports had an incredible summer. Hailing from Telia Finland, KOVA dominated their local scene and went on to similarly crush the competition in the Telia Masters, winning it 3-1 over Granit Gaming. Despite their relegations loss to Team Singularity, with ENCE and Munster Rugby Gaming stepping down from the NLC, KOVA were invited to participate and are now the premier Finnish team.
While they’ve retained most of their championship winning squad, they’ve made two changes, bringing in Proker and Outlandisch. Jungler Outlandisch is a veteran and just might be the experienced hand KOVA needs to show the NLC they’re not here for a participation award.
“First of all, our players are really hyped up for their first ever NLC season. We made some roster changes at the end 2020 to make our line-up even stronger: with a core of three Finnish players (Tatuy, Snurmi and Tiara), we acquired Proker from the Czech Republic, Outlandisch and coach CastielMid from Germany. This will also be KOVA's first international line-up so there's a lot of excitement in the air from the organisation's side as well!
Our main goal for the season is to reach the playoffs and as a minimum to keep our spot in the league. It’s of course unfortunate that there will be no LAN events but then again with the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, we all need to make sure that the season will be organised as safely as possible. Stay safe, everyone!” - Timo Tarvainen, KOVA Esports General Manager
Like Team Singularity, MNM had a season to forget. Their experiment with Monk in the midlane did not bear desired results and even with their quick response to it, they could not keep up with the rest of the teams in their group. Finishing last, they had to face Granit Gaming in relegations. MNM prevailed 3-0, staying in the NLC for 2021.
For the spring season, MNM have decided to find and give young talents a chance, hoping to nurture them throughout the season. Whether this strategy pays off remains to be seen, but you can be sure the marshmallow madlads will not go down without a fight!
"I'm here to win the NLC and drink a sugar free Red Bull, and I've just finished my sugar free Red Bull.” - OfficerNaughty, MNM Gaming Team Manager
“Nice, we’re not relegated from NLC.” - Kavlin Chung, MNM Founder and Manager
With our roundup of all 12 teams complete, all that’s left is for it to start! Will Fnatic Rising retain their crown? Can any team defeat the academies this season? Which team or matches are you most excited to see?