Last week the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) San Jose event gave fans a taste of what the 2016 season of League of Legends may have in store after an eventful offseason shook up the rosters of many a team.
Next month, at IEM Cologne, another slate of contenders will get to show off their shiny new lineups. Today IEM announced that Cloud9 and Team Liquid have won the fan vote ahead of the Cologne event scheduled for Dec. 18-20, meaning those two teams will get a chance to test their mettle against international competition, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
That should be exciting for fans of Cloud9, who will bring a high powered lineup featuring the MVP of the Summer split of the League Championship Series (LCS), Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae, in the jungle. The addition of Lee potentially makes Cloud9 a triple threat team with mid laner Nicolaj “IncarnatiOn” Jensen and AD carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi manning the mid and bottom lanes. Also of interest will be how Cloud9 fields new support player Michael “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo. Will captain and shot caller Hai Lam ride the pine, letting Kurylo and company handle calling duties? Or will the team opt to rotate Lam into the lineup?
Joining Cloud9 in Cologne will be Team Liquid, the team Cloud9 narrowly ousted to earn a surprising berth in the Riot World Championship after a historic run through the regional qualifier gauntlet.
Compared to their domestic rivals like Cloud9 and Team SoloMid, Liquid has had a relatively quiet offseason, making a single change, adding Andy “Smoothie” Ta at support to replace Alex “Xpecial” Chu. While Chu has long been considered America’s top supporter, many feel Ta may be an upgrade after an up-and-down season for Chu and potentially personality clashes within Team Liquid. IEM Cologne will be Ta’s first chance to show what he can do in the lineup.
Cloud9 dominated the fan vote to earn their invite, with Team Liquid easily outpacing Team Dignitas and Gravity Gaming.
- Cloud9, 70 percent
- Team Liquid, 21 percent
- Team Dignitas, 7 percent
- Team Gravity, 2 percent
Other teams in attendance will be Korean side Ever, the surprise winner of the 2015 KeSPA Cup. An amateur team from Korea, Ever shocked the world by beating juggernauts SK Telecom T1 and CJ Entus in two of the biggest upsets of the offseason to earn their spot in Cologne.
While EDward Gaming won the Chinese fan vote to win China’s lone invite, it will be the Qiao Gu Reapers, Cinderellas of China’s summer season, who attend Cologne in their stead. The Reapers received the second most fan votes, so when EDward Gaming withdrew from the competition they were next in line to attend and scored the invite, theScore Esports reports.
That leaves two open spots for teams from Europe, to be filled by a pending fan vote. Of course, the way European rosters look right now, especially after Fnatic lost two key players yesterday, may make it hard for fans to choose a team. But it should make for an exciting tournament in December.