Excel Esports League of Legends player Mikyx holds a microphone onstage as he listens to an interview questionExcel Esports League of Legends player Mikyx holds a microphone onstage as he listens to an interview question

After Korean bootcamp, Excel’s Mikyx, Markoon have lofty expectations for LEC summer split

by Sage Datuin

The League of Legends European Championship returns for the summer split this weekend. The LEC teams will be focused on finishing out the year strong and looking to qualify for the League of Legends World Championship.

Over the past two months, the nine LEC teams not named G2 had the opportunity to be away from the stresses of the everyday LEC grind and take that time to do whatever they pleased. For Excel Esports, that offseason adventure was headlined by a one-month South Korean bootcamp, a positive experience according to a couple members of the team.

After joining Excel late in Week 3 of the LEC spring split, Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle didn’t have a proper offseason to really spend time getting to know his teammates more. Instead, he went from the G2 Esports bench straight into the Excel starting lineup.

“When I first joined Excel, I was a little bit awkward because of how I joined the team mid-split,” Mikyx said. “But after some time, I got quite close to my teammates.”

This was something that he felt got even better once the team was able to spend the offseason together in Korea ahead of the summer split.

Throughout this month-long bootcamp away from their bases in Europe, Mikyx noted how the bootcamp was about more than improving in League of Legends. From eating at delicious restaurants, playing soccer and even making a quick stop at a cat cafe, it was an offseason bootcamp that Mikyx felt really helped him develop closer bonds with his teammates.

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Beyond these fun team activities and experiences, the part of the bootcamp that stood out the most to Mikyx was the elevated level of practice.

“My favorite part about Korea was scrimming really good teams like T1 and EDG,” Mikyx said. “Even though there were a lot of streamers in solo queue, the practice was a lot better there than in Europe.”

A former League of Legends World Championship finalist himself, the Korean bootcamp was an experience Mikyx has had throughout multiple points of his career. However, for teammate and Excel Esports jungler Mark "Markoon" van Woensel, the bootcamp was an entirely new experience.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Just a year-and-a-half ago, Markoon was playing for Excel’s European Regional League team, BT Excel. Now, at just 19 years old, Markoon was traveling to his first Korean bootcamp.

“I had never been to a Korean bootcamp before so it was really nice for me to play solo queue with higher quality,” Markoon said. “I realized that jungling in Europe is a lot more passive compared to China and Korea. The enemy jungler would play a lot more aggressively than Europe. I have been adding that more into my own gameplay.”

Both Mikyx and Markoon truthfully shared that the team had to “play from behind” a lot in Korea.

What EXCEL learned during their time in Korea

Since joining the LEC through franchising in 2019, Excel Esports had never experienced postseason play until their qualification for the recent spring split. In the team’s first LEC playoffs, Excel finished in sixth place after a close five-game series loss to Team Vitality.

Given the circumstances and backstory for Excel, a 9-9 record and close playoff series can be viewed as a victory. Yet, for Mikyx, the playoffs felt like something that was given instead of earned.

“We weren’t anything special,” Mikyx said. “Everything came down to other teams being boosted and a lot worse.”

Earnest and truthful about how he felt about Excel Esports’ performance in the spring, Mikyx noted the weaker level of play in the LEC as a reason behind a lot of their wins. Of their nine wins, eight of those were against teams below them in the regular-season standings.

Photo credit: Riot Games

This was something that both Mikyx and Markoon hope to improve upon following their intensive bootcamp.

“A lot of it was learning how to play lanes better and snowballing those leads when we did have them,” Mikyx said. “We learned how to close out games more efficiently against teams that actually know how to come from behind.”

However, after a split together as a new five-man core combined with their month-long bootcamp in Korea, Mikyx and Markoon now feel ready to compete and improve upon their shortcomings in the spring as they look to achieve new heights for the organization.

“The goal for me is to win the entire split,” Markoon confidently stated. “But the base expectation for myself is to get to Worlds.”

For Mikyx, a seasoned LEC veteran, his expectations were tamer.

“Realistically, our goal should be top three,” Mikyx said. “My personal goal is to win the split, but I think top three is a goal that is very doable for us.”

Both Mikyx and Markoon are grateful for support from the fan base despite the team’s lack of good results in the past.

“First off, thank you to the fans,” Markoon said. “I remember when I first joined Excel from Academy and how there weren’t too many Excel fans. Now, it is cool to see more and more people believe in us, so thank you for everything.”

After an offseason filled with growth on and off the rift, Excel Esports will look to make their goal of a top-three finish a reality this summer.

The LEC summer split will begin Friday, and Excel will take on Misfits Gaming on opening day. They will play Fnatic on Saturday and G2 Esports on Sunday to round out Week 1.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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