This year was supposed to be another year of the horse. Despite the Chinese zodiac starting over in 2020, nearly all LCS fans thought Liquid were going to add to their LCS trophy case with the offseason roster improvements they made.
But after the first week of play, it looks like their grip over the region may be fading. In fact, our League experts were shaken enough that a new contender has risen to the top of the rankings. Of course, there are reasons for Liquid’s uneven play of late—we’ll get to that in the analysis below. But for starters, we had our experts rank each team from worst (one point) to best (10 points). Here’s the result:
So why did Liquid drop and what’s going on with the rest of the LCS? Let’s break it down, tier by tier.
Trust the process: Immortals, 100 Thieves, Golden Guardians
Right off the bat, we have an interesting set of results. Each of these teams is in this tier for a different reason. Golden Guardians belong the most. All of our rankers had them down as the worst team in the LCS after losses to 100 Thieves and Cloud9.
As for 100 Thieves, we’re trying to trust the process with new manager Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith. But their win over Golden Guardians wasn’t the most convincing victory. Mid laner Tommy “Ryoma” Le, the team’s biggest question mark, had a bad start in an admittedly tough matchup. But it took a blunder by Golden Guardians at Elder Drake to hand control back to 100T.
On paper, Immortals had a good week, beating TSM and losing to a solid Evil Geniuses side. But like 100T, they didn’t really have control of that game until TSM made a map blunder, handing over a free Baron. It was the type of play that you rarely see in high-level solo queue, much less competitive. We don’t think Immortals are bad, but it’s a crowded field in the middle of the LCS and they’ll have to show us more early-game prowess to earn a promotion.
Hanging on: TSM, CLG, Evil Geniuses
We know, we have a pair of 0-2 teams listed as fifth and sixth in our rankings. It’s possible that TSM and CLG are getting by on brand recognition at this point. Both did take quite a tumble from where we expected them to be in the preseason. Another bad week and who knows where they could fall.
But if you look at the games, there are reasons for optimism for both sides. TSM has had one of the strongest early games in the league—their losses came on the back of some bizarre and disastrous late-game calls. CLG’s top-jungle combination struggled mightily in week one, but they were fine last summer and we’re counting on a quick return to form.
Evil Geniuses had the best week of these three teams on paper, but we have some concerns over their loss to Dignitas. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, last summer’s MVP, was outplayed by Jonathan “Grig” Armao, yet another jungler TSM didn’t want. Svenskeren will need to build more synergy with his new teammates to succeed.
Welcome back: Dignitas, FlyQuest
After starting out in the bottom three of our preseason LCS power rankings, Dignitas and FlyQuest proved doubters wrong with their week one showings. Color us impressed, but don’t be surprised if a bad week causes them to fall right back down.
Dignitas proved that they weren’t washed up, with mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen especially contributing with pressure and smart positioning. FlyQuest won multiple phases in their two wins. These two teams get to play against a potentially hobbled Liquid squad in week two.
Changing the guard: C9, Liquid
Let’s get the elephant out of the room: We know that Liquid are playing without offseason jungle acquisition Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen due to issues with his visa application. He was duoing with European players just a couple days ago, according to his Twitter account, so it’s possible that he still won’t be with the team for week two.
Liquid lost against C9 in the first game of the split but still won their Monday night matchup against TSM with backup jungler Shern “Shernfire” Cherng Tai. Shernfire has some international experience, having previously played for Australia’s Dire Wolves. Liquid should be talented enough to win without Broxah, but the team’s synergy may be thrown off in the short run.
But that’s not the only reason for the change in rankings. C9 just look really good right now. Losing ADC Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi is a hit to their brand—and potentially their performances internationally—but it’s looking like they’ll have a better time in the region with the new roster.
C9 haven’t won an LCS trophy for over five years. Maybe that finally changes in 2020.
All photos via Riot Games.