The 2023 LEC Winter Split is going to kick off and so I figured… why not take a good look at the new teams that are going to be competing in this exciting new format!
Out of all the new teams and roster configurations that we are seeing this time around, I was particularly intrigued by the new Excel team.
This team has managed to balance out its powerful carry players in Vetheo and Patrik with some legendary weakside players in Odoamne.
I suspect Excel to be a very classic take on team identity, using their team’s strong carry laners to win out in critical mid and late game teamfights whilst Odoamne can be the low resource tank player that can help funnel resources into his carries.
While the blueprint for this team is straightforward and easily upper echelon, I am quizzical of how Xerxe and Targamas fit into this equation.
Let’s take Targamas for example. He had a good debut split on G2 where he showed off his prowess on a multitude of different styles and picks. His aggressive roaming style, combined with his playmaking ability on Pyke and Bard, made him a fabulously entertaining player at times, who was also capable of tuning it back for a more supportive playstyle.
His pairing with Patrik, although strong, might not be the best thing for the both of them. Patrik is a capable laner who has remained one of the best players in his position for quite some time now. I don’t believe Targamas’s roaming ability complements his laning prowess and it might shun their potential as a carry threat from the bottom lane.
However, Targamas’s roaming style does help Vetheo in his endeavors to snowball on the enemy mid laner’s head. The 2022 Spring Split MVP’s stocks are through the roof after his breakout season last year and he will remain the focal point of this new Excel roster as they vie for a top 4 finish.
Now, I don’t think Xerxe is a bad player at all!
If anything, JeongHoon and him were the shining light of the dumpster fire that was Astralis in 2022.
However competent he may be, with his solid jungling fundamentals to unique jungle picks that make him a drafting terror, Xerxe’s strengths are not congruent with what Excel needs to win games.
He has traditionally been a farming, slower-paced jungler, who does not always sacrifice his economy in order to help his laners get ahead. While this can make him look good on bad teams like Astralis and Immortals, it is a different story when he has two carries that can easily contend for top 3 at their position.
I have followed him for the entirety of his career and I have not yet seen him adopt a more selfless style in his play. Which is doubly worrying since he has never been the best carry jungler at any point in time either, even with his rather selfish style of play.
Should Xerxe buy into his superstar carries and play for them, Excel can definitely become a dark horse to take it all this year. But you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I suspect Xerxe will become a lowkey weakpoint for Excel going forward.
Overall, I think this Excel lineup is easily a middle-of-the-pack team, with more than a puncher’s chance to break into top 4. Their powerful carry players, as well as Odoamne’s legendary weakside playstyle, is already capable of winning the split, but it will come down to their more supportive players to see how probabilistic that ceiling is.