The word tragedy wouldn’t even begin to describe Elements' collapse during the 2015 Spring Split. The former European champions had a catastrophic performance during the 2015 Spring Split as the team. For the first time in its storied history, Elements (formerly Alliance) failed to reach the European LCS playoffs. To make matters even worse, their ousting also marked the first time since the inauguration of the LCS that a former champion had failed to make the next splits' playoffs.
Billed originally as the European Super Team by many (despite only having two of the five players that were part of the original line up) and hand picked by veteran European mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, Elements, as Alliance, went on to win the European LCS and remains to date, the only team besides Fnatic to do so.
But Elements' days as a European super team are long gone and they emerge from the 2015 Spring split as a broken and reforged team. Elements’ situation in many ways resembles the predicament that Fnatic were in earlier this year. Four members of Elements’ spring split roster are no longer present and the team is left with one veteran player left to guide the team.
But that is where the comparisons end. Whereas Fnatic groomed a team of rookies to win the European spring split, Elements have opted to shoehorn the roster with experience. Jesper "Jwaow" Strandgren, Marcel "dexter" Feldkamp, Erik "Tabzz" van Helvert and Hansen all have years of competitive experience under their belt and three of the four have played in the World Championships. Hampus "promisQ" Abrahamsson, Element’s only uncapped player, may have issues against veteran support players, but the rest of the squad should feel at home in the European LCS.
But to what extent does competitive experience matter? Fnatic, Unicorns of Love and H2k finished first, second and third respectively. Fnatic and H2k both had one player who had played in a previous split and the Unicorns of Love none.
In many ways, the new Elements roster is better than the 2015 Spring one. Jwaow has shown oftentimes to have a better versatility in Champions than Mike "Wickd" Petersen, and Tabzz has proven to be more aggressive than Rekkles. Questions remain over PromiseQ and dexter though, as there has been some debate as to if they were the best possible choices for the roles.
Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema was, in many ways, the definition of Alliance. At his peak, he was a monster. Renowned for his proficiency on Lee Sin, he led Alliance to a perfect game versus Najin White Shield. But Shook's inconsistency have been his downfall. Although he still possesses a large skill ceiling, he has rarely hit it over the past split. The rise of the cinderhulk meta also contributed to his downfall, with Elements struggling to figure out a comprehensive style. Eventually, dexter was announced as his replacement for the 2015 Summer Split.
Dexter told LoLesports' Leah Jackson that he had lost all motivation to play with his former team, Counter Logic Gaming, after a string of lackluster results. "The longer I played in the team, the more my confidence dropped, which actually showed in my play at the end of CLG," he stated. "I knew that I wouldn't be happy continuing with the same four players, so I pretty much left.”
Much of Dexter's issues could be attributed to the mismanagement and miscommunication that occurred during his time in Counter Logic Gaming and he is expected to do much better in his home region of Europe, under the Elements banner.
Dexter should provide the much needed consistency that Elements needs in their jungler. While he may not have the extreme highs that Shook had, he is overall a much more consistent jungler who can go toe-to-toe with Europe's best. His time with CLG was a tantamount to that fact. Additionally, Froggen’s playstyle could be a massive boon for Dexter. It’s well known that Dexter prefers a mid laner who directs him where to go, and Froggen has always been a very vocal member of every team he’s played on.
For his part, Dexter believes that Elements wouldn’t suffer the same issues CLG did. "We have veterans combined with fresh blood so I don't think the same issues will be there where egos might clash and the team environment gets bad," he told Riot Games, "I'm not sure what we will accomplish in the upcoming Split, but our goals are high and we are [working] very hard."
Dexter’s playstyle and current strength can be assessed when Elements takes on Gambit later this week. Dexter's opponent, Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov is one of the most celebrated junglers in League of Legends and one of the EU LCS' Top 3 junglers. If dexter can go toe to toe with Diamondprox, then Elements may have found the consistency they need to go to worlds.
With that being said, promisQ is, of course, the team's biggest question mark. He’ll be walking in the shadows of Mitch "Krepo" Voorspoels and Patrick "Nyph" Funke - two European supports who are beloved by the community. Krepo’s initial retirement came off the heels of a terrible performance by the team in the 2014 Spring Split. “I feel like I joined a ship that, instead of it sinking, had already hit the bottom on the ocean," Voorspoels told Katherine Stull, of LoLesports.com. "I tried to fix it, I really tried. There were a lot of underlying issues that were never treated and were allowed to fester to the point where they became unfixable. This wasn't any particular person's fault, but over the two months that I was there, I literally just got the energy drained out of me."
For his part, promisQ has realistic goals. “Individually I just want to see that I can deliver, that’s my first expectation. My aim is pretty low, I just want to feel that I can keep up and make it in the LCS, but I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.” he told Tobias Lundgren of Aftonbladet. Competing on the LCS stage will be a new experience for the rookie and he’ll have a tough match against Gambit’s Konstantinos "FORG1VENGRE" Tzortziou/Edward "Gosu Pepper" Abgaryan bot-lane when the two play each other this week.
The new Elements roster has potential, a combination of experience and eagerness could catapult the team into the limelight once more, promisQ and Dexter remain the biggest questions and how they perform will be vital to how Elements places this split.
Nilu Kulasingham is a staff writer for theScore eSports. He likes Umbreons. You can follow him on Twitter.