The 2019 LCS Summer Split is in the books. The six playoff teams have been booked—in fact, TSM and Clutch are duking it out on the Rift as this article is being written.
Since the split is over, there really isn’t much point to continuing our weekly power rankings. At this point, playoff matchups are more nuanced than that and as for the rest of the teams, their record reflects a lot of how we think of them.
Instead, we have an LCS version of a popular adolescent game, truth or dare. We’ll detail what exactly we learned about each of the LCS teams and also dish out some bold suggestions. We’ll start with the non-playoff teams in reverse order of the standings.
Truth: Echo Fox have never been up to the task
Echo Fox weren’t supposed to be great this season—not after they went cheap when building the roster and especially not after the recent revelations of ownership strife behind the scenes. It’s nearly impossible for the players to succeed in those conditions.
But Echo Fox’s problems have hardly been a one-year phenomenon. The team has been run incompetently since entering the scene in 2015. In their first split, Echo Fox built the roster too late to get everyone to Los Angeles on time and they were forced to play without mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen for most of the split while he waited for a visa. Over the last four seasons, the team has made the playoffs once, which is crazy considering that 60 percent of the league makes it and that there are two splits every year.
It’s not all bad. Rick Fox was a great ambassador for League and esports, and the team built a solid brand that fans grew to love. But the execution has been sorely lacking. They can’t even sell the team without something going drastically wrong.
The cold hard truth is that this team has never shown an ability for operating inside the LCS. And while it’s sad to see any team go, that may be the reason they might be on the way out.
Dare: Keep SSONG and listen to him
We’re still not quite sure how Riot proposes to fix the ownership situation going forward. But wherever this team ends up, there’s one thing they should do: keep head coach Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo.
SSONG has succeeded everywhere he’s been, except for whatever happened to TSM last year. His performance in guiding Echo Fox to the Spring Split playoffs was downright wizardry. Forget the players, make SSONG the No. 1 offseason priority and let him build the team he wants.
Truth: The death of the North American mid laner
FlyQuest did try to compete this year, but they ran into a problem that has proven impossible to solve: North America’s dearth of mid lane talent. Before this year, FlyQuest’s Eugene “Pobelter” Park was a solid mid laner who could hold down that position and let other players shine. But this year, particularly in the Summer Split, Pobelter has struggled massively with his champion pool and his confidence.
Look around the league, and just two mid laners came from North America as a region: Pobelter and Clutch’s Tanner Damonte. FlyQuest used an import slot on the support position this summer, but it might be time to break out the second such slot.
Dare: Stay the course and import a top laner
That’s not our recommendation, though. Europe is a good place to look for talented mids who speak English well. But our preference for the team is to actually firm up the other solo lane.
Replacing Pobelter isn’t guaranteed to produce results. As we mentioned, he was good basically up until this last split. But top laner Omran “V1per” Shoura has been inconsistent for a longer period of time, and it’s also an easier position to import for because you can look to Asia more easily. Top lane doesn’t have the same communication requirements as mid and Korean tops, in particular, have been pretty successful in North America.
Truth: Mid lane matters
In case you haven’t realized the pattern yet, mid lane really matters in professional League of Legends. 100 Thieves looked competent this year when they had a mid laner who could actually play at the LCS level. It’s too bad it took them a split and a half to realize that.
Dare: Make a move for Fenix
We’re guessing there are changes coming for this team, especially the coaching staff. And if we were calling the shots, we’d like for them to poach the Echo Fox duo of coach SSONG and mid laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun. Fenix is set to become an NA resident any day now, which could allow for the team to reinsert Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho into the top lane.
Truth: They threw the split away
Golden Guardians missed the playoffs just barely because they couldn’t seem to keep it together in the late game. They didn’t have the worst late game in the league—Clutch made the playoffs with an arguably worse time closing games. But they also started much slower than Clutch, which made their throws harder to overcome.
Dare: Replace Contractz
There were a lot of reasons for Golden Guardians’ weakness in lane and missing late game. They solved some of the issues by moving on from ADC Matthew “Deftly” Chen in the middle of the split. But they still have one problem child, and that’s jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia.
Contractz is a flashy, high damage player and he’s fun to watch when he’s “on.” The problem is he’s not “on” enough. His jungle pathing is bad, he doesn’t have great objective control, and he’s inconsistent in picking late-game teamfights. He just doesn’t have command of the map and that’s the biggest reason why Golden Guardians appear on this list.