Fantasy LCS will return next week, and with it, a new season of play. Released in beta before the 2014 Season, Fantasy LCS is similar to those of other major sports. With Fantasy LCS, fans join a league and create a team; drafting LCS pros for their teams. Throughout the season, teams will earn points and compete against other teams. The expansion of the LCS in the 2015 season opens up more options, as the player pool will increase.
The following is a strategy guide for Fantasy LCS; featuring the top “must-have” players, the players to stay away from, and how a team should be managed once the season progresses.
The Challenger Tier – 1st Round Must-Haves
The first round of Fantasy LCS will likely see the most popular players, and most successful players leave the board. Although Riot Games will publish an official power rankings / projections list on the Fantasy LCS, here are the “Challenger Tier” that should go in the first round of the draft.
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson / ADC / Elements
Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin / ADC / Team Liquid
Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi / ADC / Cloud 9
Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou / ADC / SK Gaming
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng / ADC / CLG
Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg / MID / Team SoloMid
Henrik “Froggen” Hansen / MID / Elements
Will “Meteos” Hartman / JUNG / Cloud 9
Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski / JUNG / ROCCAT
Players who do well in Fantasy LCS are players who are a prioritized carry on their team. To earn points, your drafted players must consistently get kills, substantial farm, assists, and victories. Although it can be debated that other players might be more consistent or better mechanically than players on this list, it is necessary that a player who will put up large numbers consistently be drafted in the first round.
The 2014 season of Fantasy LCS saw Bjergsen, Rekkles, and Doublelift be prioritized as the top picks in the draft. These players will still certainly put up solid numbers, however many more players join the picture in the argument for first pick.
“Focus the ADC”
The nature of the ADC role is to become a monster come middle and late game. Focusing on farm and kills, the AD Carry is the “Quarterback” of League of Legends Fantasy. Although midlaners, toplaners, and junglers will periodically outperform the marksman, this carry role is the most consistent at putting up strong numbers in fantasy. When picking your first-round player, you should aim to grab a top-tier ADC before any other position. However, when selecting an ADC, each individual player’s situation should be taken into account.
Team Liquid’s acquisition of Piglet this offseason immediately put Gwang-jin in the running for top marksman in the west. Although the former world champion has past success, Piglet’s performance in the NA LCS is contingent on synergy with support Xpecial, and the rest of the Team Liquid lineup. While picks such as Rekkles or Sneaky appear to be safer than picking Piglet, it might be worth it if the synergy is there.
In just his short experience in the EU LCS, Forg1ven proved that he could compete with the best marksmen in the world. Now signed with SK, Tzortziou is in a team that could compete for a top spot due to strong offseason changes. Concerns, however, arise when looking at Forg1ven’s past issues when in Copenhagen Wolves. Apparently causing multiple arguments and issues, CW removed the player from the team due to personal issues between teammates. If these issues are legitimate, Forg1ven’s synergy with support nRated could become an issue if SK cannot find success in the early weeks. The fact that ADCs Tabzz and Niels will not be playing in the spring split creates an opportunity for SK’s botlane to dominate. If synergy is created, Forg1ven could potentially be a top-performing European ADC this spring.
Cloud 9 has been the epitome of consistency since their LCS tenure began. Overlooked initially, ADC Sneaky has since dominated from the marksman position. Paired with support, LemonNation, Cloud 9 as a whole has gone longer than any other NA or EU LCS team without a single roster change. In addition to their recent victory of IEM San Jose, C9 is again in a position to take a top spot in the coming split.
Doublelift, ADC for Counter Logic Gaming, is another risky pick this season. CLG’s offseason moves seemed to be subpar in the eye of the community, and the suspensions of toplaner ZionSpartan and coach Scarra could harm the team in opening weeks. However, the nature of CLG puts Doublelift as a top pick in the upcoming fantasy season. Known for focusing most of the farm and kills on their ADC, it’s likely that Doublelift will essentially be handed fantasy points by his team. Even if the team’s success falters in the upcoming season, there is no doubt that Doublelift will put up consistent numbers due to his role within the team.
It’s arguable that the best strategy in the upcoming season of Fantasy LCS would be to play safe and take no risks. There are many toss-ups in the upcoming season; but Cloud 9’s consistent success, strong performances from Elements, and Doublelift’s ability to carry teamfights likely are factors that won’t change throughout the spring split.
“MID OR FEED”
The ADC position is the main role to look at when picking in the first round of the draft. This being said, there is potential to get a bargain by choosing to pick a midlaner instead of grabbing a first-round marksman.
When picking late in the first round of the draft, it might actually be ideal to select a midlaner before choosing an ADC for your fantasy team. For example, take the following situation. I have the 6th pick in the draft, and Rekkles, Sneaky, Piglet, Doublelift, and FORG1VEN have already been selected. Instead of aiming to pick up a “second tier” ADC such as WildTurtle, Altec, P1noy, or Freeze, it is more ideal to select a midlaner for your team. Because of the fact that most “Challenger Tier” marksmen are off the table, I can pick a top midlaner and still guarantee that I could get a second tier ADC in the second round.
Danish midlaners Bjergsen and Froggen are still likely the midlaners to prioritize in your draft, however there is depth and potential below the pair.
Try to avoid picking toplaners and support players in the first round of the fantasy draft. These players play roles assisting the rest of their team; providing utility for the carries to utilize in teamfights.
Selecting a jungler is an option in the first round, due to the skill disparity between junglers in both Europe and North America. C9’s Meteos and ROCCAT’s Jankos are both junglers that have immense impact on their team. Both junglers have proven to be skilful at snowballing leads and executing ganks from the jungler position. While midlaners and ADCs might put up more points than a jungler on average, the selection of a top-tier jungler could be a risk worth taking.
The Master Tier – Looking for a Bargain?
The first round of the fantasy draft will likely be filled with big names and top players. Past the first round, however, is where the prioritization of players in the draft is up to the individual. Theoretically, an ADC should be selected in the first round, followed by a midlaner, jungler / toplaner, and support in the following rounds. While many players could fall into the second tier of players, here are some stand-outs that should be taken in the 2nd – 4th rounds.
Jason “WildTurtle” Chan / ADC / Team SoloMid
Johnny “Altec” Ru / ADC / Winterfox
Kristoffer “P1noy” Pederson / ADC / Gambit Gaming
Ales “Freeze” Knezinek / ADC / Copenhagen Wolves
Eugene “Pobelter” Park / MID / Winterfox
Xian “XiaoWeiXiao” Yu / MID / Team Impulse
Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten / MID / Fnatic
Danny “Shiphtur” Le / MID / Dignitas
Ryu “Ryu” Sang-ook / MID / H2k Gaming
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen / JUNG / SK Gaming
Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera / JUNG / Team Liquid
An “Balls” Van Lee / TOP / Cloud 9
Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong / TOP / Team Impulse
Selecting rising talent in fantasy drafts is always a risk – younger players can often fall off or go on tilt easier than veterans of the game. This being said, mechanically strong players usually will find a way to make plays and create advantages in games; no matter the situation of the player.
Febiven qualified for the LCS with H2k Gaming, formerly known as the challenger team Cloud 9 Eclipse. Primarily known for his Ahri, Febiven impressed the community with his sharp mechanics and playmaking ability. Now with Fnatic, Febiven will look to compete with the highest level of European midlaners. Diepstraten has also dominated SoloQ – taking multiple spots in the top of the EUW rankings. With the pressure on, it will be up to Febiven to continue his success when facing off against players such as Froggen or Ryu.
Altec shares a similar position with Febiven; both are in a position to compete with the potential of becoming a top player in their respective role. While Altec might have more LCS experience than Febiven, this 17-year old ADC has already proven that he has mechanics comparable to those of Doublelift, Sneaky, or Rekkles. While I considered adding Ru to the “Challenger Tier” list of players, there are still many unknowns with Altec’s 2015 situation. Paired with a new Korean support, Jang “Imagine” Hyeonsu, Ru will have to create synergy with a player that doesn’t speak fluent English. While there are no questions regarding Altec’s raw talent, his botlane success is unpredictable throughout the Spring Split.
Last split, LMQ (and now TiP) midlaner XiaoWeiXiao put up a monstrous performance, taking the NA LCS Summer Split MVP award and earning the most fantasy points throughout the summer split. XiaoWeiXiao is now on a Korean-Chinese-American team, that is expected to have to address lingual issues internally. Additionally, TiP’s botlane is unpredictable coming into the next season; featuring former CST-ADC WizFujiin and challenger support, Adrian. It’s possible that XWX could put up a similar performance in the upcoming split, however the internal issues within the team could keep Yu’s performance from being as great as his past success. XiaoWeiXiao might fall into the later rounds of fantasy drafts due to the depth of the midlane talent pool; and if so, could turn out to be a great bargain due to his raw talent and laning abilities.
In addition to XiaoWeiXiao, Shiphtur of Team Dignitas put up strong numbers in the 2014 Summer fantasy season. Earning a pentakill in the early weeks, Le proved to be a top fantasy pick in midlane. Dignitas wasn’t entirely successful in IEM Cologne: losing out 2-0 to Gambit Gaming after taking out Aces High eSports Club in the first round. More pressure might be on Shiphtur’s back this split, due to the loss of toplaner ZionSpartan and ADC Imaqtpie. Replaced by Koreans Gamsu and CoreJJ, Shiphtur might be required to put up stronger performances in order for Dignitas to find success as a team.
Options Up Top
Toplaners play an interesting role in Fantasy LCS, as their role in most games of LoL is to be a supportive laner: farming in order to become a tank / bruiser. This means that toplaners will be a part of less kills and plays than the jungler, ADC, or midlaner. However, toplaners that can consistently win lane, create kills in lane, perform in team fights, or that come out of games with high farm can provide a solid number of points to a fantasy squad. If a majority of strong toplaners fall into the 3rd through 5th rounds, you might be able to find a bargain.
Cloud 9’s toplaner, Balls, has proven to be consistent throughout LCS splits. Known for his Rumble, Balls is usually able to play whatever role is necessary to come out of top. Balls, like most player on C9, will likely turn out to be one of the most consistent toplaners in regards to scoring in the Spring Split.
Like Balls, the acquisition of Impact into your fantasy lineup could turn out to be a great decision. Impact was a part of the SK Telecom World Championship team in Season 3, coming into North America with tons of experience from Korea. Impact showed promise during the OGN Spring Preseason, playing with SKT. Now with Team Impulse, Impact could turn out to dominate his competition in NA: putting Impact as a strong pick out of the early rounds of drafting.
The Unknowns – Players to Gamble On
Many well-known international players joined LCS teams for the Spring split, such as Ryu, Impact, Piglet, FeniX, Jesiz, and Impaler. There were, however, also a surprising number of unknown Korean players that joined LCS teams. These players have success in SoloQ or a small number of pro games; meaning that the public has limited knowledge on how these players will do in the upcoming season.
Shin “Avalon” Dong-hyeon / TOP / Winterfox
Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon / TOP / Fnatic
Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae / JUNG / Team Impulse
Kim “ReignOver” Yeu-jin / JUNG / Fnatic
Jang “Imagine” Hyeon-Su / SUP / Winterfox
These players are primarily shrouded in mystery. Although a majority of these names have some experience in the professional scene, many were simply picked out of SoloQ.
Avalon, the new toplaner for Winterfox, is the brother of the team’s jungler, Helios. The addition of these players was heavily questioned by the community due to the lack of experience of the group. Although Rush was able to hit the top rank in Korean SoloQ, others were simply Diamond 1 in Korea.
When drafting, you should attempt to avoid selecting these players. The lack of knowledge that the public has regarding these players and their relationship with the rest of the team makes it hard to suggestion selecting “unknowns” in your fantasy draft. Out of the group, Rush is likely the safest pick. His ability to climb the Korean leaderboards proves that he has talent; whether or not it is put in display is the question.
Selecting an LCS Team
In addition to players, one must draft a team when conducting a fantasy draft. Wins, kills, team farm, and killstreaks are all taken into account when conducting the points a team has earned every week. This means that teams that play long games, collect a large number of kills, and consistently win games are the teams that should be picked. Teams should usually start being selected in the third round; starting a race to see who can get their favorite organization before a majority of top teams are taken.
Opinion on the state of each team differs between fans and analysts: however this is my personal rankings on the teams that will likely score the most fantasy points in the upcoming split.
2. Cloud 9
3. Team Liquid
4. SK Gaming
5. Team SoloMid
6. Team ROCCAT
8. Gambit Gaming
9. Counter Logic Gaming
10. Team Impulse
12. Team Dignitas
13. H2k Gaming
14. Unicorns of Love
16. Meet Your Makers
17. Copenhagen Wolves
18. Team Coast
19. Giants Gaming
20. Team 8
Multiple factors go into the selection of a team. Elements has been known for having slow-paced, high farm games that could collect a large number of points when compared to other teams of “equal skill”.
Personal opinion is obviously a factor when selecting teams, however do not forget take the scoring system into account when choosing.
Managing Your Team
Once the season has begun, a different type of decision making must be put in place. You must now select your lineup on a weekly basis, add / drop players, and look to adjust according to your opponent’s lineup of players.
Every team has 1 TOP / 1 JG / 1 MID / 1 ADC / 1 SUP / 1 Flex / 1 Team / 3 Subs. Each team essentially has 9 players that can be swapped in and out throughout the split. Before every week of play, you must look at the schedules of your players. Substitutions should take place depending on what teams your players are against. For example: if my ADC A is playing against Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid during one week of play, I might choose to substitute in ADC B who is playing against Team 8 and Team Coast. Each situation is different, and a players performance against each team in the past should be taken into account when making decisions.
As your team’s manager, you can also release and add players from the free agent pool. It’s important that you utilize the pool to improve your team on a weekly basis. If a player is consistently underperforming, and if they are on a team that is underperforming, it might be ideal to look for a replacement. In the situation that an underperforming player is on a performing team, take careful consideration when looking at your options. When a team is doing well on a weekly basis, players who are underperforming are usually in slumps or perhaps were against tough opponents in the lane phase. If you choose to release a player in favor of another, be sure that it cannot come back to bite you in future weeks, as other teams could then take your former player.
[Photo Credit: Riot Games, Fnatic, GamingNation.nl]