There’s less than a week to the opening of NA LCS. Normally, at around this period of time, all teams’ rosters are revealed. Fans start thinking how the players are and close their eyes to imagine how the season will go. Some will enjoy analyzing thoroughly, and some will just try ranking them for fun.
However, this season is very hard to decide. In most sports, even if some players are changed, the favorites usually stay as the favorites, and underdogs stay as underdogs. There aren’t many sudden changes. The strong teams have their own strategies to keep their team strong, and they also usually have the valuable players on their team already. But. The NA LCS of 2018 is drastically different from 2017.
Some teams have a new coaching staff and all members have changed, and half of the players of the champions have changed. Chaos. Four teams are completely new to the league. For those of you, who might wonder how the season will go, we have decided to make a power ranking for the upcoming season.
10th – Golden Guardians
The team Golden State Warriors of NBA made. They introduced their team at their home stadium, Oracle Arena, to commerce the team widely. But when we look at the roster, the first thought that comes to mind is “meh?”
Top laner Lourlo delivers stable performance, but the jungler, Contractz, isn’t quite getting used to the new meta. Actually, he wasn’t a jungler who can be described as ‘stable’ before though. The most interesting part of the stove league was that all teams changed their junglers, proving that this is a time that the jungle position is very important. Contractz isn’t that great recently.
Mid laner Hai is lacking in mechanics already, but his in-game knowledge is still alive. However, the ability of ADC Deftly isn’t good enough to follow up on Hai’s macro. It may have been better if they searched for a better player in foreign leagues.
9th – Echo Fox
During the stove league, Echo Fox has released all their starting members and recruited five new members. The main focus is with Huni, who have played against the best toplaners spread across all regions, and the troublemaker Dardoch. Echo Fox could be rubbing their foreheads thinking how the synergy will be with these two.
Midlaner Fenix is a player who does his share, and the bottom duo, Altec and Adrian, aren’t that noticeable but have played pretty well together on Dignitas. Altec is still forever a hot prospect, and Adrian had been aching with an awful sophomore jinx.
The problem is that the current meta emphasizes the importance of the top lane and jungle, and the key to the team performing well is in the hands of Huni and Dardoch. The reason we ranked them 9th is simply that we just don’t see them having good synergy. Of course, if they achieve that ‘golden synergy’, they could be ranked a lot higher than this.
8th – Optic Gaming
The forever favorite of FPS games, Optic Gaming has finally joined the NA LCS. The first impression to this roster is that the bottom side of the map looks much stronger than the top side. This is because of POE and Arrow. POE is a mid laner with the potential to bring this team up to the top 5; he is one of the few players that can perform against the king of NA’s mid lane: Bjergsen. Arrow is an ADC who has always proven his value, and LemmonNation is a logical player who can pull up the team’s draft to another level.
There are two problems. One is that Zig’s recent performance isn’t that good and Akaadian is going through his sophomore jinx. The other is that there doesn’t seem to be a good shotcaller within the team. Akaadian is a player that is said to have doubtful decision making, and even if LemonNation is a macro player, most of the shotcalls came from Hai when he was playing for FlyQuest. This team seems to be a team that doesn’t quite know the macro game.
7th – Clutch Gaming
This is the eSports team sponsored by Houston Rockets of the NBA. The main players are jungler LirA, who carried around EnVyUs for the whole year, and Febiven who is one of the best mid laners of EU. We don’t know how they will communicate, but if they form good synergy, there won’t be many better combinations within the NA.
Compared to that, Solo was a top laner that hadn’t shown much even in the NA CS, and Apollo and Hakuho aren’t delivering good performance on the pro scene. So Clutch Gaming has to rely most of their performance on their jungle and mid lane, but the main part of the game that mid lane and jungle is efficient is from the early game to around the middle. This team seems to be a team that will be weak in long games. Another thing is that the coach is David Lim. I won’t be saying much about him except for that he always started GoldenGlue when he was coaching TL.
6th – FlyQuest
Coach: Robert Yip
The two of the most “brainy” players in the NA LCS last season were Hai and LemonNation. However, FlyQuest ended up changing all 5 players on their roster with the lesson that they have learned last season.
If we take a look at the team individually, Fly is a strong midlaner with a deep champion pool. He is capable of handling many different situations. Flame feels like the “main” player of the team. WildTurtle has a lot of experience, and Anda and Stunt are highly capable of blending in well with the rest.
However, there are problems that are present in the team as well. First off, the team is highly likely to put all of their focus on the topside of the map. As seen through many interviews and videos, Flame is an independent player that has the desire to be in the spotlight. Although he has said in the past that he has noticed the problems while playing for IMT and have said to have shifted to a more team-oriented player, the rest of the roster lack a strong player that can give room for Flame to be the “team” player that he desires to be.
The other problem that can arise within FlyQuest is shared across many other teams in the NA LCS - macro management. Although Wildturtle has had a long and respectable career, he was never really known as a strong shotcaller. Flame is a player that puts most of his focus on his lane opponent. And finally, in an interview, Fly has said himself that his English is very lackluster - enough to get him nauseous when he hears too much English. Most NA teams this time around has revealed that they’re practicing with no designated shotcaller but rather, have all of the players in the team make calls depending on the situation. But this is easier said than done and is not something that can be mastered within a day or two. It’s highly likely that for some time, team communication will be quite chaotic.
5th - Cloud 9
During the last season, C9 was the only NA team that reached quarterfinals during Worlds. However, their roster this time around, seems “lukewarm”. The meta at the moment is quite ‘topside-focused’, and the new players that joined are the toplaner and jungler, Licorice and Svenskeren. As for Licorice, he had proven his worth in eUnited, and as a domestic talent, he had cleared up an import slot for C9. Svenskeren, however, looked to be a questionable pickup.
Svenskeren was once a very well-known and strong jungler. But in Season 7, he had shown more “weaknesses” over “strengths”. Picking up Svenskeren may not have been the safest pickup. The import spot could’ve been used for foreign players that were looking to play in NA, such as Karsa, Levi, and other various Korean junglers. It’s possible that Svenskeren can unlock and perform the way he used to through his new teammates, but until then, it’s highly likely that C9 had taken a “step down”.
4th - 100 Thieves
ADC: Cody Sun
100 Thieves is famous for their Call of Duty esports team, and now, they have joined the NA LCS. Taking a glance at their roster, they have the potential to be the best of the new teams. There’s almost no argument in agreeing that Ssumday is one of the best toplaners. He has been a part of the League of Legends scene for a long time, and he had also shown the performance to match his reputation. As for the jungler, Meteos, although he rarely appeared on stage in recent times, he was quite a reputable jungler in the past. Cody Sun and Aphromoo are also well-known players that are acknowledged by fans to be strong players, despite having shown questionable plays in the past.
The possible problem with the team is that, although the roster has players of high caliber, there is a lot of room for inconsistency. The team may vary in performance, and lose to the “bottom” teams from time to time. The core of the team and the persons to play the most important role, will most likely be Ryu and pr0lly. The two has reached the top of their careers in H2K, and are figures that have proven themselves to be of high caliber. If the coaching staff is able to point out and refine the “inconsistent” element that is present in the team, 100 Thieves may just have the potential to make playoffs.
3rd - Counter Logic Gaming
CLG’s player acquisitions for the upcoming season was quite good. They maintained the “core” of the team, Darshan, Huhi, and Stixxay, and acquired Reignover. Last year, CLG suffered the “Dardoch syndrome” right before having recruited an amateur player for the empty spot. So the addition of Reignover could definitely change the pace for CLG. The acquisition of Biofrost, however, made a lot of room for debate for the fans.
The real problem doesn’t stem from Biofrost, but the fact that a veteran that had been with the team for a considerable amount of time, Aphromoo, had left. Until the last season, Aphromoo led CLG through many games, but now, it’s uncertain who will lead the team. For Biofrost, he grew up in the scene as a support player under Wildturtle and Doublelift - he wasn’t the player to draw out the battles on TSM, but rather a player that backed up his aggressive ADC.
The positive side of things is that Reignover is a very talkative player that has no trouble in communicating with his team. Overall, If he is fluently able to lead the team, everything may just turn out well for CLG. But if he isn’t able to, the team may end up being a strong mechanical team with weak macro management.
2nd - Team Liquid
Team Liquid had an “exciting” preseason themselves, as they had completely rebuilt their roster. But despite having put together a new team from scratch, the result of the mashup actually seemed to have turned out strong. Currently, the team with the most anticipation from the fans of the LCS is TL. As if they were trying to take revenge on IMT for the beatdown that they have received during the last split(though TL wasn’t the only victim), TL’s owner, Steve, acquired most of the contracts of the players that were released from IMT. If you haven’t been keeping up with the esports news, it could be easy to mistaken TL for IMT.
The roster actually turned out quite strong. Impact is a strong teamplay-oriented toplaner, in addition, he’s fully capable of making shotcalls. Also, TL’s jungler, Xmithie, has been performing in the NA LCS for a long while. The midlaner, Pobelter, is almost the only domestic talent that can hold his own against Bjergsen. As for the botlane, TL acquired Olleh, a player that supported Cody Sun, who actually shares quite a bit of playstyle resemblance to Doublelift. Aside from TSM, TL actually looks to be the most stable out of the 10 teams in the NA LCS - not to mention the potential of the carries in the team. TL’s advancement to the playoffs will not be a surprising one.
1st - Team SoloMid
The reconstruction of TSM’s roster is one of the best ones as of yet. Hauntzer and Bjergsen have almost always stayed consistent - even during difficult times in a game. In other words, the players that showed even a little bit of inconsistency, left the team. However, simply swapping out members to create the “best” roster doesn’t always ensure victory. It’s true that MikeYeung has shown impressive performances despite the short career that he’s had - but he’s still inexperienced, and he’s yet to prove the depth of his champion pool.
Arguably, the more worrisome player, however, is Mithy. Although his synergy with Zven is definitely something else, Mithy gathered experience by playing through Lemondog, Origen, and G2 - and all of these teams had troubles in macro and securing objectives in the late-game. Also, in the past, when TSM had Bjergsen as the main shotcaller, the team showed signs of struggle.
Fortunately, TSM acquired the coach that has been receiving the most praise in NA, Ssong, and somewhat relieved the fans’ worries. TSM has always shown the best of NA, and the addition of Ssong keeps fans anticipating for the team’s first game of the Spring.