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The dust has settled from MSI 2019 and Team Liquid have returned from one of North America’s most successful international tournament performances of all-time.
But their work is far from over. In fact, there are nine other teams that have put in plenty of work for the upcoming 2019 LCS Summer Split. Every single organization wants to hoist the LCS trophy and each player wants to represent NA at the 2019 World Championship in Europe.
There are so many stories to be told this season in North America, but only one team’s book will end with them lifting the trophy at the end of the summer. Here are some of the most exciting narratives for the 2019 LCS Summer Split, starting with TSM’s quest to regain the throne.
TSM’s quest for the crown
TSM had a rough start to their Spring Split campaign, winning only two games through three weeks. But they hit their stride in week four and only dropped one game for the rest of the regular season. It was a scary sight for the rest of the league as TSM headed into the playoffs with a ton of momentum.
They were so close to taking back their seat at the apex of the LCS world. In the end, though, they fell victim to the same thing that propelled them into the LCS finals in the first place—a reverse sweep. Liquid stunned a TSM squad that was poised for an MSI berth, and yet, it was never meant to be.
Now, TSM must regroup and reload for a fiery summer. There was plenty of promise at the end of the Spring Split when they showed the potential of their new, proactive strategies. With superstars Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, as well as rising talent Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik coming back for more, this could be the season where we see TSM lift the trophy again.
The only question mark surrounding this lineup has to be at the jungler position. TSM revealed a few days ago that Jonathan “Grig” Armao is now rejoining the starting roster alongside Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham—they’ll split playing time this season. Has Grig improved since the last time we saw him on stage? Could having two junglers actually harm TSM more than it helps them? TSM has gone through four junglers in the past four seasons, so maybe consistency should have been a priority over variety.
Cloud9’s quest for revenge
Cloud9 haven’t won an LCS championship since the 2014 Spring Split, which is an incredible fact considering how long they’ve stayed at the top of the North American scene. They have consistently been a top three team in the region but have always failed in the playoffs.
Last season was no different. Cloud9 reached the postseason as one of the only consistent teams in the LCS next to Liquid. Their new lineup with Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer seemed to be working flawlessly until game three of the LCS Spring Split semifinals, where they were dealt a crushing reverse sweep at the hands of their rival, TSM.
It was a demoralizing loss for the team. It seemed like the path was already set for them to take their revenge on former mid laner Nicolaj Jensen and Liquid. TSM derailed any hopes of that and sent them back to the drawing board. But this also means that Cloud9’s list of names grew longer for the Summer Split.
This new, fast-paced meta looks like its perfect for Cloud9 to flourish, especially with how flexible the roster can be. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie is still one of the best top laners in NA and should be a focal point for this team moving forward. The team also acquired Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin as a coach, which is a welcome addition to an already strong supporting staff.
Remember, Cloud9 were one win away from the Spring Split finals. They have plenty of motivation to push themselves even farther than before, just in time for Worlds.
CLG’s quest for redemption
CLG’s decline over the past few years has been sad to watch for many fans, especially with how dominant they used to be before 2017. It’s weird to see the team’s logo at the bottom of the standings after every week, but this squad is completely different from what it used to be when CLG won the 2016 Spring Split championship over TSM.
CLG constantly fell short in the playoffs and their performances started to degrade year after year. Cornerstone players like Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black eventually moved on to greener pastures and the team parted ways with Darshan Upadhyaya earlier this month. Now, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes is the last remaining player from CLG’s miraculous 2016 season.
There’s no question about it—this team needs a new beginning. Maybe their newest top laner Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min will be the one to kickstart the revolution. Ruin was the main carry for a 1907 Fenerbahçe team that barely missed out on an appearance in MSI’s main stage. He’s a talented player and maybe a big change like this could help motivate CLG, energize them, and push them forward.
Many fans talk about faith when it comes to CLG. It’s hard to believe, but we can still see some light left at the end of the tunnel.
100 Thieves’ quest for consistency
There was so much hype surrounding 100 Thieves when the organization announced its roster before the 2019 Spring Split. Many people believed that reuniting Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun with Aphromoo and adding Bae “Bang” Jun-sik would make 100 Thieves contenders for the LCS crown. Boy, were they wrong.
Huhi had one of the worst seasons of his career and was promptly replaced on the roster by Academy mid laner Max “Soligo” Soong before week seven. The team couldn’t find any synergy and their communication seemed to be all out of sorts as they flopped into last place with an abysmal 4-14 record. It was clear that 100 Thieves had plenty of problems that needed to be addressed.
By picking up Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, the team has acquired a good jungler who can lead a team to victory. We know that Amazing is a vocal player and that he could provide direction to a 100 Thieves roster that seemed to be going nowhere. Hopefully, his presence can help keep this team in check as the season rolls on.
But 100 Thieves’ mid lane will still be a weak point that teams will pick on time and time again. Although Soligo is young and growing, the LCS simply has too many top tier mid laners who will bully him throughout the laning phase. 100 Thieves’ four other players will have to step up and provide the firepower required to keep up with the rest of the league.
Team Liquid’s quest for four
No team has won four LCS championships in a row, and yet Liquid seem to be on the right track to make history once again. They’re coming off of an incredible MSI run that saw them take down SK Telecom T1 in the group stage and Invictus Gaming in a five-game series.
Liquid are now running into this upcoming Summer Split with a full head of steam. With valuable experience against some of the best teams in the world under their belt, Liquid now have creative strategies, new playstyles, and a ton of confidence.
Their series loss against G2 Esports revealed a ton of weaknesses that should have been buffed out by head coach Jang “Cain” Nu-ri and Kang “Dodo” Jun-hyeok. As a result, Liquid should be coming back stronger than the team that won the 2019 Spring Split championship.
Of course, there’s plenty of competition in North America that could contend for a spot at the top. But there’s still no doubt that Liquid has the strongest roster in the region.
The 2019 LCS Summer Split begins on June 1.