This NA LCS split looks to be the best yet with the new mixture of foreign and domestic talent. Here are my personal predictions and team rankings.
10. Team 8
In all fairness Team 8 definitely earned their spot in the LCS after their summer performance in the challenger scene and defeat of Complexity. The newcomers, however, will struggle more than any other team this upcoming split. The signature off-meta picks from their top laner CaliTrlolz won’t do much to help the team in the LCS’ league format. The shotcalling and commitment from CaliTrlolz will prove to be somewhat sub par as he will spend a large amount of time next split pondering his future. All across the board Team 8 just seem to lack individual talent and this will be their greatest downfall overall, despite whatever tactics they may have.
Key Player: Slooshi
9. Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses look to have their toughest split yet. Without their mascot Krepo, the team’s fan base and support will shrink significantly. At the time of writing this article, the positions of top and support have not yet been confirmed, but the possibility of big stars Flame or MadLife joining has been ruled out. With no Korean talent left, the organization may have to take their biggest gamble yet and seek solo queue players, whether abroad or domestic, to accommodate the vacancies.
Key Player: Pobelter
Dignitas look even weaker than they did at this exact time last year. Following the team’s terrible showing at IEM Cologne, it may seem like the investment in the new Koreans Gamsu and CoreJJ has already been marked with regret. Dignitas management will realize that the no-name Koreans did not perform to expectations and will likely be sent back packing after just one split. With KiwiKid and Crumbzz’s severe inconsistency, expect an up and down Dignitas next split and don’t be surprised if they beat Cloud 9 one only to lose to Team 8 the following. Shiphtur will be the last hope of all Dignitas fans and will be the only reason Dignitas don’t finish below 8th.
Key Player: Shiphtur
7. Team Impulse
The team formerly known as LMQ will not perform nearly as well as LMQ did the previous split. The organization released all players except for the star XiaoWeiXiao and decided against investing in anything other than solo queue talent. The team acquired WizFujiin, who looked somewhat impressive in his games with Team LoLPro. Even with the individual talent of every role, especially mid, the team will be plagued by communication issues and new jungler Rush IX will have a hard time settling in. The team will ironically now have a more ‘Chinese style’ of play compared to before because communication issues will hurt their rotations and tactics. Expect this team to be like NA’s own Starhorn Royal Club except with Uzi in the mid lane.
Key Player: XiaoWeiXiao
6. Team Coast
Team Coast beat Fusion in a nail-biting 5 game series to secure their spot in the LCS. Although no player appears to be super strong within their individual roles, each player’s experience will guarantee at least a 6th place finish. Impaler will rise to the occassion and show us that he is a top 3 jungler in the region. More importantly, as all members are fluent in English, there should be no communication problems that will grief a majority of NA teams for the beginning of the split. The only downfall to this team could be the Team Coast management which has been criticized by a number of their foreign players. Expect the team to have a strong start and an average finish.
Key Player: Impaler
5. Counter Logic Gaming
This upcoming season will be more of a testament to Scarra than any single CLG player. The coaching of Scarra will be the pivot of the CLG team that has always struggled at a strategic level. The addition of ZionSpartan will have more positive than negative effects in the long run as he will be the ‘second carry’ that the team have always aspired to have in Link. Doublelift and Aphromoo will have an unimpressive split compared to other NA bot lanes. New addition Xmithie will be nothing special, undoubtedly worse than Dexter, but will still carry his own weight in the team and won’t be a large issue. This will most likely be Link’s last split with the team as it will truly show this upcoming split that he is a large reason as to why they won’t be able to be a top team in the region.
Key Player: ZionSpartan
4. Curse Academy
Curse Academy, or whatever their name will be by the time LCS starts, had captured the attention of all in their 5 game series vs CLG. They looked like an LCS worthy team against an arguably stronger CLG team. Now that Curse Academy is a better team as a whole after showing their dominance in the Expansion Tournament, it’s hard to imagine them finishing below the team that they went 2-0 up against. The super talented Keane will prove himself on the LCS stage and his synergy with Saintvicious will probably be the best in NA. The experienced Cop and BunnyFuFuu will more than cover for the inexperienced solo laners of the squad. The newcomers will be a top team in the LCS assuming no internal or management issues affect their attitudes.
Key Player: Keane
3. Curse Gaming
Curse, or Team Liquid as it seems likely to be the title sponsor now, will not meet expectations their first split. Many fans look to Curse to demolish all of their opponents with new addition Piglet. Although Piglet is arguably the best Korean player to enter the NA scene, he will struggle greatly with communication issues. It seems that because of his introverted personality mixed with his bad English, he will have a problem communicating concerns that should arise. New addition FeniX will also face similar problems and the role swap of top to mid lane will also affect his individual gameplay. Curse will almost definitely struggle in the opening weeks of the split but by the end of the split they will prove themselves as a top team in NA with their two long term investments.
Key Player: Xpecial
2. Team SoloMid
Bjergsen had his poorest showing ever in the series vs Unicorns of Love at IEM San Jose. Repeatedly getting solo killed by Powerofevil many argued that Bjergsen could not handle shot calling and playing at the same time. This split he will prove his doubters wrong, however. The mid laner will rise to the occasion after extensive off season training and become the player Reginald always envisioned him to be next split. His mechanical and conceptual play will prove that he is the best mid laner in NA bar none. The only downfall to the team will be from the top lane. Dyrus will have a reasonable decline from his last split as the question of retirement becomes more relevant than before. This upcoming season will mark TSM’s search for a new top laner and possibly ADC as WildTurtle seems likely to under perform similarly to how he did the previous split. However, Bjergsen’s undeniable talent will lead this team to a 2nd place finish.
Key Player: Bjergsen
1. Cloud 9
Obviously it was going to be Cloud 9. After IEM San Jose the team still looks to be the absolute strongest in the west. Possessing by far the best shot calling and the best possible player in 3/5 roles the team is going to dominate the next split. Sneaky will have his breakthrough split and will even outshine the likes of Piglet to prove he is the best ADC in the region. The bot lane of C9 will be even more dominant than that of Aphromoo and Doublelift at the beginning of last split. With Zed and Rumble now as top picks in their roles, Hai and Balls will be able to cause a lot of problems for any laning against them. Cloud 9 look set to be the strongest they have ever been.
Key Player: Sneaky
image credit: dailydot, sickgamers, team-dignitas, mmo24