The North American League of Legends Championship Series is less than one month away, and we shall see if all of the hype behind the many roster swaps that took place will yield results. Over the last couple years, Cloud 9 and Team Solomid have dominated the scene. Will any of the eight other challengers step up to finally free us from the same best of five finals match as we’ve witnessed for the past three splits? Below are my predictions for how all ten teams will finish the 2015 North American LCS Spring Split (from bottom to top).
Team Impulse (formerly LMQ)
It is really unfortunate to see the promising old LMQ squad dissolve so suddenly. The only remaining member of the former LMQ is mid laner XiaoWeiXiao. At support, they picked up PopstarAdrian from NA solo queue, while Rush, a Chinese solo queue import, joins as jungler. I can’t judge Team Impulse much further than what I see.
However, I feel that they would need to pick up an extraordinary top laner and AD carry to keep this team afloat. XiaoWeiXiao is good, but he also has to synergize with his new team. Communication will be a major issue with this team, and honestly, I do not feel like they will work together well enough to win too many games. We shall see if they surprise us.
If this list were measuring which roster was the most stable over the past year, Team 8 would win hands down. Team 8 is filled with promising players that look great on paper and looked dominant in the North American Challenger Scene last year. They qualified for the season by beating a stumbling Complexity team 3 to 2 in the Relegation Tournament. Unfortunately, I feel that Team 8 may be a bit outclassed in the North American LCS.
Top laner CaliTrlolz is a very strong individual laner, mid laner Slooshi can be an unbelievable playmaker when at the top of his game, and jungler PorpoisePops can be defined as nothing less than solid. Former Velocity eSports AD carry Maplestreet returns to the bottom lane with support Dodo8. With a stronger support and more solid roster than last time, Maplestreet may be able to carry a bit harder this time around. However, I don’t feel the results will change too much. In season 3, this team would be a contender for the top, but now that competition is much fiercer, I don’t see this team taking many games off the top teams.
You may not be a fan of the organization themselves, but Team Coast certainly has players that can compete at the highest level. All of the players on the team are former LCS professionals themselves.
Top laner Cris, formerly of Season 3’s Velocity eSports, is a solid laner but needs to work on his late game playmaking. Jungler Impaler, once from the Supa Hot Crew in Europe, is definitely the carry of his team. Mid laner Jesiz, formerly of SK Gaming in Europe, can play his position at the highest level when on his game. Unfortunately, Jesiz has not been on his game since before the World Championships. AD carry Dontmashme, formerly of the original Good Game University/Coast roster, and support Sheep, formerly of XDG, have the potential to be one of the best bottom lanes in North America.
So why am I putting Team Coast at number 8 when I mention all of the potential on their team? Unfortunately, this team is a top contender only when everything goes right. Impaler would need to put the team on his back, bottom lane would need to win out, and Jesiz would need to be on the top of his game. If these three mentioned scenarios do not play out, I can’t see Team Coast lasting very long.
Evil Geniuses (or whatever they’ll be called)
Ever since Evil Geniuses entered the North American LCS, they have been a perennial candidate for relegations. With longtime support Krepo and top laner InnoX stepping down from the main roster, the top lane and support positions are still up in the air. Korean jungler Helios proved his worth near the end of last split, Altec showed he could be a top AD carry in North America, and Pobelter showed he had the mechanics to be a great mid laner.
Unfortunately, there are no supports available from what I see that are better than Krepo and very few available top laners that could beat out InnoX. They may look to Korea to find new teammates, but that would force another slow start out of Evil Geniuses due to communication. The roster at the end of last split looked like a major contender, but we are not dealing with that roster. In the end, this looks like another rebuilding split for Evil Geniuses.
This may be a bit of a harsh estimate for Team Dignitas, but their performance at IEM Cologne did not help their case. They dropped a game to wild card team Aces High, and they got handily destroyed by Gambit Gaming. With two new Korean players on the team (granted they do speak some English), communication may be a bit difficult for Dignitas, who usually break away from the pack early only to falter late in the season.
AD carry acquisition CoreJJ and top lane acquisition Gamsu both played solid at IEM, while jungler Crumbzz and support player KiWiKiD, the veterans of the team, struggled immensely. Although Shiphtur is a solid mid laner, I still can hardly imagine him carrying this team. If Team Dignitas want to climb above the middle of the pack, they need to make a rally late season because an early season rally looks impossible.
Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming returns to cycle in retreads from the North American scene after Project Seraph ended up in complete failure. With former Dignitas coach Scarra and top laner Zion Spartan, Counter Logic Gaming may try to break from its stubborn roots (enter Protect the Doublelift composition) and learn a new way to play the game. I apologize to all the CLG fans if this comes off as more of a comedy act than a review, but at least you can say you got to the finals at IEM (unlike TSM).
Once one of the strongest junglers in North America, Xmithie joined Counter Logic Gaming and returns to the North American LCS. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see Xmithie in action at IEM Cologne due to visa issues. With the exception of one game, AD carry Doublelift put on a show at IEM, mid laner Link played solid, and Aphromoo did alright for himself. If the bottom lane shows up as it did last year, Link returns to season 3 form, and Xmithie once again conquers the jungle like in the old days, CLG will do fine. My problem with this roster is that, on paper, they look outclassed at almost all positions by the top teams.
After winning the Expansion tournament handily, Curse Academy showed that they were more than ready for the North American LCS. Jungler Saintvicious and AD carry Cop, formerly of the Team Curse roster, bring veteran status to this team that shows more potential than most to be a top contender. Mid laner Keane and top laner Hauntzer are both strong individual laners with the potential to be the best in North America. Support BunnyFuFuu is practically a god on Thresh (that will be banned out almost every game against him), has played with Cop before on Team Curse’s main roster, and may be the best support in North America after this split, if Saintvicious’ prediction is correct. Their team play is strong, and I feel that their roster outclasses that of Counter Logic Gaming and Team Dignitas going into the next split.
The Team Solomid hype train came to a screeching halt when they got obliterated by European LCS contender Unicorns of Love during IEM San Jose. Formerly the #1 team in North America, TSM looks upon another slow start for next split, as they ease new European jungler Santorin into the promising squad. To be honest, I barely believe Team Solomid is a top three contender for next split, but I placed them at number 3 because they always seem to end up there. It is unfair to make my ranking solely based off results from IEM, where the team is not exactly ready.
However, their roster is still fairly solid. Top laner Dyrus continues to be a rock in the top lane that never seems to falter. Jungler Santorin will need to work on his synergy with his solo laners. Mid laner Bjergsen has not looked as dominant as he was at the beginning of season 4; if he can return to that form, then TSM will be a top contender again. AD carry WildTurtle seems to get worse by the split, but we all know the potential is there for him to carry the game when it matters most. Support Lustboy is a solid veteran from Korea, whose safer style will complement WildTurtle’s overaggressive nature. The roster looks top 3, but the execution is what matters most.
Team Liquid? (formerly Team Curse)
With a name change, I feel that Team Curse will break their fourth place curse. However, that is not the only reason why I placed Team Liquid in second place for the upcoming split. After the loss of longtime stalwart Voyboy, new Korean acquisition Fen1x (formerly Miso of Jin Air Green Wings Falcons) will take over the mid lane for an active roster with a high level of talent.
Top laner Quas and jungler IWillDominate continue to improve ever since joining the roster at the beginning of season 4. Former SKT T1K AD carry Piglet joined the roster straight out of Korea to lane with top North American support Xpecial. On paper, this team looks to be a team that could push Cloud 9 and TSM for that top North American spot. I could see communication being an issue, especially in the bottom lane between Piglet and Xpecial. However, with a team of players that are this high-caliber, I feel individual mechanics can get them through the first few weeks while they find themselves.
How many of you were hoping I wouldn’t place Cloud 9 at number 1? To be honest, it would be completely unfair to place Cloud 9 anywhere but number 1. They dominated IEM San Jose, their roster hasn’t changed in almost two years, and they have more synergy than most of these teams with roster changes right out of the gate. The only other team with the same roster they qualified with for this split is Team 8 (must be something with those numbers). If you still don’t believe me, let me break it down for you.
Top laner Balls is still the best top laner in North America. Jungler Meteos is still the best jungler in North America. Mid laner Hai is a top 5 mid laner who is also the best shotcaller North America. AD carry Sneaky reached the pinnacle of his position in North America last split, and support LemonNation is definitely near the top as well. There is no way to justify any other team as the top team next split in these predictions, especially looking at the other rosters.
Also check out my EU LCS predictions here.
2015 European LCS Predictions