Jan 10 2015 - 1:18 pm

2015 NA LCS Spring Season: End of Season Predicitions

Introduction: This is the first post in my new series of rankings I'll be doing periodically throughout the year where I will do power rankings and predictions for the four major leagues of the competitive LoL scene.
Dot Esports

Introduction:

This is the first post in my new series of rankings I'll be doing periodically throughout the year where I will do power rankings and predictions for the four major leagues of the competitive LoL scene. (LCK, LPL, NA LCS, EU LCS) I'm choosing to start with a prediction post about where I think all ten of teams in NA LCS will finish when the regular season ends. Simply put, this is a ranking prediction on where I think the teams will finish based off just the current information available to the general public, and my own personal opinions. This is only meant to cover the regular season, as I will likely do a playoff preview at a later time. First off I will put my rankings in order, and then give a brief comment on the logic behind why I put each team where.  

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2015 NA LCS Spring Season: End of Season Predictions

1. Cloud 9
2. Team Solo Mid
3. Team Liquid
4. Team Impulse
5. Team 8
6. Counter Logic Gaming
7. Gravity Gaming
8. Team Dignitas
9. Winterfox
10. Team Coast

1. Cloud 9

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I honestly don't even think this is a hard one to call. If you wanted to look at results since worlds, this would be your choice just on the fact that they won the decently competitive IEM San Jose tournament. Even ignoring that entire tournament, C9 was still arguably the best western team at Season 4 Worlds. The way they go about decision making in game is not just a cut ahead of any team in NA, but elite in terms of the best teams in the world. Mechanically many of their players are top three in their positions in the region as well. Add onto that they are the only team to retain their entire line-up, and that's plenty enough reasons to make me feel that they are still at the top of the region.

2. Team Solo Mid

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They certainly did get shown up at IEM San Jose, though part of that can be attributed to their lack of ability to deal with odd champion picks. Which is a very legitimate problem, but in terms of using traditional strategies there's no hard evidence to think that they have dropped off at all from last season. TSM was putting on displays of incredible team fight prowess at Worlds, and they are still easily capable of putting on a show. Santorin is the biggest question mark heading into the split, but because its just one change I can't see how the train is falling off the rails just yet. TSM gets the benefit of the doubt for now, and until we see more, I imagine they'll secure the other first round bye for the playoffs.

3. Team Liquid

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A lot of rankings I've seen have TL ending in first or second place, but I'm not buying into that level of hype yet. This team has three members of the Curse team that finished forth place in both the last regular season and playoffs. The key additions here are Piglet at ADC replacing Cop, and FeniX (formerly Miso) filling in Voyboys mid lane. Both of these players were seen as holding Curse back last year so the new players seem to be home-run moves. However, I think it's fairly un-realistic to expect Piglet to play at his world championship level in a brand new region, though he should still be solid at the least. FeniX has a lot to prove in my eyes, as a former top lane tank player on a rather bad Jin Air Falcons team, he will have to prove he can even be an average mid laner in NA. But in terms of a collection of players, it would be a surprise if they weren't challenging for a top spot in the region.

4. Team Impulse

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The new brand for LMQ retains just XiaoWeiXiao, who was defiantly an elite mid laner in the region last split, but the other four we have to take at face value for now. The new top laner is Impact, the second SKT T1 K player to move to the region. He was still one of the best tops in Korea, so it seems logical he will hold his own here. They also picked up a jungler from Korea, Rush, who is completely unproven other than being ranked high on the Korean ladder. The bot lane is made up of Apollo (formerly WizFujiiN), who struggled greatly in this one split with team Coast, and Adrian, a support player that has bounced around a bit in the amateur scene. So with two world class players and some promising prospects, fourth seems a solid pre-season bet.

5. Team 8

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The most promising of the newly promoted teams is probably Team 8. While I think they'll struggle to win at all against the top three, this team has shown that it can definitely take down any mediocre team in this region. The only former LCS player here is frommaplestreet, who had a rough time in his one split. However; in their promotion games they were surprisingly coordinated and intelligent in their decision making despite the other four players being relative unknowns and amateur players. Most of the hype of those four is with CaliTrlolz who was very eye catching with his interesting yet effective top lane play. While they are definitely not an elite team, I expect them to be near the middle of the table when the season ends.

6. Counter Logic Gaming

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The last few years CLG has fallen around sixth place in most LCS splits, and I think they are about at that level right now. They bring back their middle and bottom lanes, which of course includes Doublelift and Aphromoo, who were unanimous best bot lane in the region last split. The new players coming in are Xmithie and ZionSpartan, who have both been extremely successful players in the region. So why do I think they'll remain mostly un-improved? Well even CLG of last split had mechanical players that were capable of a top two finish, but the area where they always fell a good distance short was shot calling and decision making, and with these new players, the only way I'll believe that its improved is if we see it. A partly new team, but the same problem. Still good enough to slip into the playoffs though, and of course, plenty of potential to improve. 

7. Gravity Gaming

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To be completely honest they didn't blow many people away in the promotion  and expansions tournaments, but the team is still quite capable. Former retiree Saintvicious was probably the biggest reason Gravity climbed into the LCS, Cop and BunnyFuFu were an average-or-so bot lane when they laned together with Curse, and the jury is still out on Keane and Haunterz. The bright spots with Gravity are the good in game decisions they display, as they basically never lost hard on objective trades in the expansion tournament, and the reliability of the jungle and bottom lane. While Keane seems to fall behind on tradition match-ups, he seems adept when he puts his enemy laner out of their comfort zone. They'll likely be near the borderline of playoffs and relegation.

8. Team Dignitas

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Crumbzz, Shiphtur, and KiWiKiD are the returning members of Dig. Of those three the only one with that can be considered elite is Shiphtur, but even he seems to have problems working within the team sometimes. They grabbed two Korean players to bolster their roster. The new ADC CoreJJ I never liked even in his region, but the top laner, Gamsu, seems to have a good bright side as he caught the eye and trained with Samsung Blue. We did see them play and do awful at IEM Cologone, but given a month of work I think they'll be a bit more coordinated. Despite the negatives these are still capable players, and might manage to avoid the relegation zone and challenge the higher teams.

 9. Winterfox

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The problem with drawing conclusions about Winterfox is that the roster is still unclear, they currently have an impressive nine players at their disposal. Of those they have four players that have LCS experience, three of which played with their old brand EG. We can pretty much expect those three are still starters, which means the top laner and support player are the question marks for this split. We have to remember that EG were simply abysmal at times last year, and this year there's not a whole lot to get excited over, pending the growth of Altec and Pobelters "potential". This team is still a bit of a wildcard, but for now its logical to guess that nothing here has gotten that much better despite some changes.

10. Team Coast

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In the expansion tournament against Fusion Gaming, after game three of five, I was convinced that the winner of that set would be the worst team in NA LCS next season and I'm going to stick with that call. The region continues to improve and that means that teams that makes more mistakes are getting killed off quicker. I think this team just makes far too many mistakes to exist at a professional level. They do possess five players with LCS experience on their roster, but I'm of the opinion that the mechanical skills and in game decision making of this team are just not up to par. Unless they've made really good use of their time in the offseason, I can't see this team not being a bottom dweller, and are favorites in my mind for automatic relegation.

Sources used: eSportspedia. lolesports. Gravity Gaming Facebook. Liquidlegends. Esports-newcenter