During week 5, the LCS in North America and Europe reached its halfway point, well technically slightly over the halfway point, with each team playing 10 out of their 18 matches per split. Today I’ll be taking a look at some of the players and teams that have surprised us with a performance no one expected. Here are my top 5 over performers of the LCS so far.
Soren ‘Soren’ Frederiksen – Copenhagen Wolves
Copenhagen Wolves went into the season just like any other, with fans and analysts alike expecting the team to struggle, and most likely face a battle to avoid relegation. The only change in the lineup was to bring in veteran AD Carry ‘Freeze’ to replace former starter Woolite who moved to ROCCAT. In another little reported move, the team also lost long-time coach ‘Ducky’ to the same team, to be replaced by Dentist. What no one expected however, was the main driving force in the team to instead become mid laner Soren.
The Dane joined up with the team last season, filling in in a crisis after Cowtard took what turned out to be an indefinite break from competitive play. During his short stint in season 4 Soren failed to impress, and looked to be one of the bottom tier players in the LCS. The expectations of Soren were not very high headed into Season 4, with players such as Febiven, Fox, Ryu, Powerofevil, Nukeduck and Froggen.
Copenhagen Wolves sit in 3rd place in the LCS after 5 weeks. You are reading that correctly. Tied with none other than H2K Gaming, Copenhagen Wolves are ahead of ROCCAT, Elements and Gambit Gaming (among others). Freeze has been a great addition to the lineup, but many expected that, Soren has been the real shock. The player that no one expected much of, has taken the LCS by storm and continues to go even or even beat highly esteemed mid laners to help his team to victory. Soren has been particularly impressive on Cassiopeia, and while not quite as deadly on other champions, he’s still shown promise on both mages and assassins.
David ‘Cop’ Roberson – Gravity
Another League of Legends veteran makes the list, as Cop enters an exclusive list of players who have participated in every single LCS split, but not on the same team. When Cop took one for the team it seemed like a fantastic trade for Team Liquid, ditching the passive and KDA oriented Cop, for World Champion and legendary AD Carry Piglet. Funny how things work out isn’t it?
Piglet now finds himself on the bench, sitting behind the challenger AD Carry KeithMcbrief, while Cop is having the time of his life on what was once the Curse Academy team. Now known as Gravity, the team finds themselves neck and neck with Team Liquid, thanks to solid performances across the board, but especially from Cop. Not only has he been as consistent as ever, but the consistency hasn’t come with the sacrifice of passive gameplay, in fact Cop has looked more aggressive than ever this split.
It’s not even just consistent performances that Cop brings, it’s clear that the player has a very relaxed but determined attitude that makes him a must have on most teams. For every Saintvicious there’s a Cop, and that balance seems to be perfect for Gravity. I had Gravity pinned for relegation this season, however the team has defied me with outstanding performances against some teams. When Cop took the bench, many assumed the experienced player would wither away and die like so many others in the past, but there are still vandals out there to apprehended, and anarchy will not reign today, not while our Cop still has some fight left in him.
All of Fnatic (except Yellowstar)
Is it cheating to name 4 players under 1 spot? I think this is acceptable considering the fact that 90% of the community predicted that Fnatic were doomed to fail after the mass exodus of their star lineup. Xpeke took sOAZ to the Challenger scene, Cyanide decided to hang up his mouse, while Rekkles cashed in on a move to Elements, leaving poor Yellowstar all alone, and with quite a mission to rebuild. While many were trialled, the eventual lineup was decided as – Huni, Reignover, Febiven, Steeelback and Yellowstar.
Initial reactions to this announcement were those of shock and distress. The first thing fans locked onto was the standard ‘unknown Koreans’ argument. With the thought process that because no one had heard of these players, they must be bad. As it happens, they’re extremely talented. Huni is the only player to truly challenge Fredy122 as the best top laner in the LCS, while Reignover has re-invented Fnatic with a new style of map domination with the help of Yellowstar.
Febiven was known as a talent as shown by his performance in the LCS expansion tournament. The youngster was almost illegally poached from H2K Gaming, and carried with him the baggage that was the expectation that he would ‘choke on lan’. Of Course this didn’t actually happen, and Febiven only continues to prove that he may well be one of the new stars of Europe. The final addition was challenger AD Carry Steeelback. There actually wasn’t much aimed at Steeelback simply because he was completely unknown, however he has at least proven that he can handle the LCS, though he still has some way to go before he can be considered one of the top tier AD Carries of the region.
Austin ‘Link’ Shin
This split was potentially the last chance Link had to prove himself worthy of being a starter of CLG, that is if CLG truly considered themselves contenders for the top spot in North America. The mid laner has consistently been given free passes for his performances that have been below that of his primary competitors, and for the first time since joining, Link has the optimal conditions for fulfilling his role as a carry.
Despite the odds stacking in his favour this season, many still expected CLG to offer their usual ‘win 1 (or a couple) game/s to give fans false hope’ before settling down to a mid table finish. Instead CLG now find themselves contesting at the top of the standings, with crushing victories over the lower and mid-tier teams, but finding themselves unable to consistently take down their closest rivals.
Link has been both paramount and detrimental to this success, I guess we can call him Schrodingers Link. You really don’t know if Link is going to lead the team to victory (alive) or throw himself into a teamfight as lissandra and ult himself rather than the enemy carry (dead…literally). Link still carries the usual inconsistencies with him, but so far this split we’ve seen more good performances than bad. If he and his team can string together some consistent performances, there’s no reason why CLG can’t be contenders for the top of the region in North America.
Pontus ‘Vardags’ dahlblom – Unicorns Of Love
No one likes being wrong, but I would always prefer to be proven wrong when it comes to discussing players and their ability to compete at an LCS level. Before the season began, many fans and experts threw in their thoughts on the newly promoted teams, one of which being Unicorns of Love, the quirky and cheesy lineup that had shocked Millenium in the promotion tournament. Specifically on the Unicorns of Love lineup, Vardags was targeted by many as not only the weakest of his lineup, but possibly the weakest of his entire role in the LCS.
UOL have hardly lit the scene on fire, but they certainly have exceeded early expectations by keeping to an even 5-5 record after 10 games of the split. As expected, Vizicsacsi and Powerofevil showed strength in the solo lanes, while Kikis continued to stay at the very least, on par with what was expected of him. The bot lane of Hylissang and Vardags started out fairly unnoticed, but then I and others started to notice that these guys and Vardags especially were not getting overwhelmed, not dragging their team back, and actually contributing to the success of Unicorns of Love.
While Vardags and Hylissang haven’t exactly pathed the way for success in the bottom lane of the LCS, the fact that they are capable of matching the other well established duos and in some cases beating them shows how far they’ve come since the Challenger Series. It’s hard to say exactly what caused their improvement, but it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up for the 2nd half of the split. If they do, it’s hard to find the weakness in UOL, and they could even be looking at a surprise playoffs run.