The 2017 League of Legends World Championship came to an end... and following it, so did the contracts of many players. And as expected, countless teams jumped at the opportunity to pick up the players who became available for hire.
This happens every year, but this year was a bit more "intense"... and the reason for it is that four teams have been "removed" from the NA LCS as the league was being reconstructed into its new franchise system. Players from teams that were considered to be some of the strongest competitors, Immortals and Dignitas, have found new teams within the league. Players from teams that displayed impressive performance during the Spring Split, Phoenix1 and Team EnVyUs, have also found new homes.
In addition, three NBA organizations have started investing in the League of Legends esports scene. Including 'OpTic Gaming', which has been taking part in other esports games, four new teams will take part in the upcoming split. For a while, there was not a single day in which the FA market went by silently, as multiple announcements regarding player transfers were released almost daily. As the heat started dying down, I felt the need to organize all the information into an easy-to-follow list.
※ Please note that not all players' positions in the following list are 100% confirmed.
Being the champions of the previous Split, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that TSM would make it through Riot's evaluation and remain in the NA LCS.
After Worlds, TSM went through a rather large roster makeover. After dismissing the team's botlane, which was arguably considered one of the team's big weaknesses, TSM employed Zven and Mithy, players who were possibly Europe's best botlane . In addition, the team strengthened their strategical aspects by employing coach 'Ssong', the one who possibly played the most important role in bringing Immortals to the Finals of the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split.
Counter Logic Gaming
Having been one of the oldest organizations in the scene, CLG will continue to play in the NA LCS. Although the general structure of the team hasn't seen any extreme change, two former players were swapped out for two new ones. Former jungler and support, OmarGod and Aphromoo, have left the team. To fill in the empty seats, Reignover and Biofrost joined the team.
Along with TSM and CLG, C9 is one of the strongest teams in NA. And as expected, the team will remain in the NA LCS - but with a few changes to the player roster. Although C9 has yet to prove if the changes are "positive" for the team, the core of Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie have stayed the same.
FlyQuest has acquired a bit of "new blood" for their roster, and therefore, we can expect a different style of gameplay from them in the upcoming Split. However, the departure of a great shotcaller, Hai, and the "brain" support, Lemonnation, is sad to see.
As if trying to make up for the poor performance during the last split, the team owner, Steve, has been on a shopping spree. He's signed so many players that midlane has 3 players for that role. For the players, not only will they have to compete against other teams, but they'll have to compete with their teammates for the starting position.
For Echo Fox, every single player has been replaced with a new member. As many strong players were released into the market due to the rejection of certain teams such as IMT and DIG, FOX didn't waste time and reached out for DIG's former botlane, Adrian and Altec. FOX had also acquired a "joker card" in the form of 'Dardoch', who is famous for not being able to stay in one team for a long period. It's fairly clear that FOX is attempting to reconstruct a brand new team atmosphere.
Originally, OpTic was an esports organization that specialized in console shooters such as Call of Duty, Halo, and Gears of War. In 2017, they acquired a spot in the NA LCS and became one of the ten teams that'll participate in the league. They have currently finished building their starting roster. When looking at the individual members of the team, they have a variety of talents that have either great mechanics or great thinking. But we'll have to wait and see if the players' teamwork will play out the way we expect or not.
Clutch Gaming is one of the new teams that was created through the fundings of an NBA team, the Houston Rockets. Unlike the other teams in the league, Clutch Gaming does not have teams for other esports games. Currently, their starting members have been set. One thing to note is that they employed a lot of the former NV players. How Febiven and Solo will match up to the former NV players' teamwork will be something to pay attention to.
Originally an organization that only had an esports team for Call of Duty, thanks to the investment of an NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 100 Thieves have acquired a spot in the NA LCS. The team owner is Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag, and the team is yet to release information about their ADC player. We can expect an announcement to be made soon.
Along with Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves, Golden Guardians is one of the three NBA-funded teams - with their NBA counterpart being the Golden State Warriors. Although their player information was announced at a slow pace, they have completed their roster and also hired an experienced coach. Former FlyQuest player, Hai, has found himself playing for the Golden Guardians along with Locodoco, who was highly praised in the past for his quick thinking. As long as the players follow each other and play their role accordingly, we can expect great things from this roster.