The North American League Championship Series is about to start back up, and so are our power rankings.
The points for these power rankings will be calculated based on the rankings submitted by any of the GAMURS staff members. These staff members were asked to rank the 10 teams in order from best to worst as the teams currently stand. Of course, No. 1 is the best and No. 10 is the worst. These rankings are not predictions for the end of the split. Points will be awarded to mirror a team’s ranking; for example, the first place team will receive 10 points, while the 10th place team will receive one point.
After every week of action, we will be releasing another power rankings article where the teams will either move up or down based on how they perform in their matches, so don’t forget to check back here each week for the latest power rankings.
The landscape of the NA LCS has changed completely, with the exit of NRG Esports and the addition of FlyQuest and many new imports. Most teams have completely new looks, so ranking an entire league of teams that we basically have not seen yet is a hilarious idea, and we will undoubtedly be wrong about a lot of things. Regardless, the rankings are here.
These rankings will provide a much more in-depth look than our typical weekly rankings, and the normal set will resume when the league starts. For this article, however, it felt necessary to explain things a little bit more thoroughly and give background information on the teams. Because of all of the extra information, this article is being split into two. Part two will be out tomorrow.
Without further ado, here are the preseason power rankings for the 2017 NA LCS spring split, starting from No. 10.
NA LCS Power Rankings – Preseason (Spring Split 2017: No. 10 to 6)
10. Team EnVyUs (17 total points)
- Top – Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong
- Jungle – Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo
- Mid – Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo
- ADC – Apollo “Apollo” Price
- Support – Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent
- Coach – Dylan Falco
Team EnVyUs is a sad little bunch. Last split, the team started off a hot 4-0, and proceeded to only win four of their final 12 series. For the rest of the split, no one expected anything.
The winning streak was ended by Immortals in week three, but EnVyUs bounced back by beating a struggling CLG to keep its record strong at 5-1. Then the real problems started and the losses just kept coming. For the rest of the split, all EnVyUs could do was beat Echo Fox twice and Apex once. The team made the playoffs because of that miraculous win over Apex, but got stomped in the opening round by Cloud9. LirA came in over the offseason from the LCK’s Afreeca Freecs, and Apollo came in to replace LOD after he left the team to join Dignitas. Falco is coming off of an impressive year as the head coach of Immortals, but it is unsure just how big of a role he played in that team’s success. Huni was allowed to run rampant, doing whatever he wanted, while the rest of the team just went with it. Strategy did not seem to be the top priority. Regardless, that was EnVyUs’ offseason; a bit lackluster.
Last split, this team played around Seraph. This split, in a meta suited for top laners, they likely will again. LirA brings more talent to the jungle, but his addition will not be a smooth transition. Ninja can be a serviceable mid laner, but his talent seems to stop there. The duo lane is undoubtedly one of the worst in the league. Seraph and LirA may be good, but they are not good enough to carry this team.
Player to watch – LirA: Aside from Seraph, LirA is the best player on this roster and he is in one of the most important roles. LirA, Seraph, and Ninja will have no communication problems, since the three all speak Korean, but the duo lane is a pair of native English speakers. Developing synergy while speaking the same language is hard enough, but developing synergy while speaking different languages is even harder. All of these lanes are going to need LirA’s help, and the team needs to figure out how to distribute effectively. Falco and the coaching staff will obviously help with that, but LirA is the one doing it in the end. LirA has the potential to carry this team, but he also needs to make sure his laners do not fall behind in the process. A tough task, considering most of the world thinks EnVyUs has the worst roster man-for-man in the league.
9. Echo Fox (18 total points)
- Top – Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok
- Jungle – Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham
- Mid – Henrik “Froggen” Hansen
- ADC – Yuri “KEITH” Jew
- Support – Austin “Gate” Yu
- Coach – Simon “heavenTime” Jeon
Echo Fox was the biggest disappointment of the summer split. The team’s spring campaign was not all that great, but things were looking up by the end of it and hopes were high going into the summer split. That hope quickly faded. Pretty much by the end of the second week of play, Echo Fox felt dead in the water. The team beat Phoenix1 in their first series of the split, not an accomplishment by any means, and proceeded to lose every single series after that. In the promotion tournament, Echo Fox edged past a weak Team Liquid Academy, got crushed by Phoenix1, and demolished an already-beaten NRG side to stay in the LCS. Then, roster changes happened.
Looper, the former world champion, was brought in from the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up, Akaadian was brought in from the NA CS, and Gate was added on from Phoenix1 after that squad’s revamp left him looking for a team. By all means, Looper is a major upgrade from Park “kfo” Jeong-hun, but the language barrier still exists and the rest of the team just is not good enough. Gate is probably better than Terry “BIG” Chuong, but he is not a top tier support and really is not even a mid tier support. Akaadian is an LCS rookie, so he could be great. He could also be pretty bad, especially working with a top laner that does not speak his language in a meta that favors top lane pressure. Froggen is still great, but it is safe to say that he does not have enough talent to carry this team. Everyone knows of Keith’s exploits on the Korean ladder, but none of that success and skill has translated into professional play.
This team just does not look right. Looper is strong, but has communication issues and is not as good as he once was. Akaadian is a total question mark, and working with Looper is going to be difficult due to the language barrier. Re-signing Froggen was a great move. Keith and Gate just do not compare to most of the other duo lanes in the league. Aside from Looper and Froggen, it seems like no effort was put into this squad. Looper was a good addition, but it is possible that too many resources were allocated in order to bring him in. The solo laners will be good enough to create leads against the weaker teams in the league like FlyQuest and EnVyUs, but this team does not have the individual skill or the overall teamwork needed to really win games. Echo Fox may be able to steal a few series off of FlyQuest and EnVyUs, but do not be surprised if this team is back in the promotion tournament at the end of the split. Honestly, do not be surprised if this team fails to survive the promotion tournament this time around.
Player to watch – Akaadian: Akaadian is a traveler, starting for 10 different teams since 2014. However, his game on Friday will be his LCS debut. Every other team that Akaadian has played for has been in the NA CS or worse. In 2016, Akaadian had a decent year playing for Team Liquid Academy and Dream Team, but it was nothing to brag about. Echo Fox has Looper and Froggen, and then a mess of other players. Akaadian needs to take advantage of this opportunity, or Echo Fox will fall and he will not get another one.
8. FlyQuest (26 total points)
- Top – An “BalIs” Van Le
- Jungle – Galen “Moon” Holgate
- Mid – Hai “Hai” Du Lam
- ADC – Johnny “Altec” Ru
- Support – Daerek “LemonNation” Hart
- Coach – Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin
FlyQuest (or ex-Cloud9.Challenger – Contractz + Moon) is a team that everyone felt bad about placing so low, but we just do not currently have faith in the veterans and the new jungler.
Balls, Hai, Altec, and LemonNation have been around for quite some time. Balls, Hai, and LemonNation were once the stars of Cloud9, one of the greatest teams that North America had ever produced. Those days, however, are long past. These players are not who they once were. They are all shadows of their former selves. Hai still has his mind, and that is basically the one factor keeping this team outside of our bottom two. This squad stomped the Challenger Series last split, but that was just the Challenger Series. Realistically, none of those teams were very good, not even Team Liquid Academy. Now that they are back in the big leagues, it is unsure whether or not these players can actually compete at an LCS level, and the addition of Moon does not help ease anyone’s mind.
Balls is looking at a world of hurt facing this split’s group of top laners, and Moon may not be in the greatest position to help him out. Altec and LemonNation may be serviceable, maybe, but they will not be any better than that. As a mid laner, Hai is average. Do not expect him to crush his opponent in lane and carry the game by himself. Hai’s contribution is his mind. He is quite possibly the best strategic mind that the west has ever seen. On Cloud9, he had a lot of talent around him to work with. On FlyQuest, he has a pretty mediocre bunch of players. If FlyQuest succeeds, it will be because of teamwork and Hai’s brain. The team has no stable firepower, and the players are not going to win games by being mechanically better than their opponents. This will be the greatest test of strategy and wits in the history of the NA LCS. If anyone can do it, it is Hai. Sadly, this team is likely headed to the promotion tournament.
Player to watch – Moon: Hai is probably the most important player on this roster, but we already know what to expect from him. On the other hand, Moon is a giant question mark. Moon showed promise in the NA CS, so NRG gave him a chance in the LCS in the spring split of 2016, to poor results. His most recent appearance in the LCS with Team Liquid was even worse, though he stepped in when the team was volatile and it is understandable that he struggled. He may or may not have potential, but Moon is going to need to be a strong player this split if FlyQuest wants to avoid the promotion tournament. Hai’s shotcalling and strategic mind will certainly help the young player get focused, but he cannot rely on Hai for everything. All three of his lanes are going to need help to keep up with the rest of the league, and Moon needs to be ready for that.
7. Phoenix1 (32 total points)
- Top – Derek “zig” Shao
- Jungle – Rami “Inori” Charagh
- Mid – Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook
- ADC – Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon
- Support – Adrian “Adrian” Ma
- Coach – Kim “Fly” Sang-chul
Phoenix1’s offseason moves were actually really impressive, and it is surprising that the organization was able to bring in the players that it did. Still, this team is full of question marks.
The jury is still out on whether or not zig has developed into a strong top laner, but he seemed to be on his way by the end of 2016. Going up against the top laners in this league, though, zig might be in over his head. In the case of Inori, there is a reason that some people considered him the rookie of the year, even though he only played for the final six weeks. Inori started for Phoenix1 when the team was 0-6 (2-12 on game count), and led the team to victory in his second week. Phoenix1 finished the split 5-13, going 5-7 with Inori in the jungle. Team SoloMid, Cloud9, and an in-form Team Liquid were the only teams that managed to sweep Phoenix1 after Inori became a starter. It may not sound like much, but this team was expected to bomb out of the LCS before he came around. Pheonix1 even beat TSM in week eight, handing the players their only series loss of the split. It would be crazy to say that all of this was purely because of Inori, but he played a major role in reviving Phoenix1 and looked great doing it.
Ryu is coming off of a fantastic split with H2k-Gaming in the EU LCS, going all the way to the semifinals at Worlds. Expectations for the mid laner seem to have lowered substantially, but Ryu is no slouch. He will always perform. He may not be super flashy and bring in the fans with his sick plays and great personality like Bjergsen and Jensen, but do not be surprised if we see Ryu end the split as one of North America’s most important players. Ryu can easily distract his opponents and be enough of a problem that Inori becomes a monster, dominating the map while the rest of the enemy team is focused on Ryu.
Arrow and Adrian are an interesting pair, as Arrow leaves a dominant KT Rolster side and Adrian leaves a dominant Immortals side. The problem is, they may not mesh. This pair will be discussed more in a bit.
The domestic core of zig, Inori, and Adrian might be the strongest in North America. Ryu and Arrow are both very impressive imports who could lead this team to a successful split. This team has a high ceiling, but the players are all far from it right now. Keep an eye on zig, Inori, and Arrow as the split progresses. Zig needs to become a formidable top laner, Inori needs to build on his success from last split, and Arrow needs to integrate himself into this team.
Player to watch – Arrow: Inori and Ryu are good, but Arrow is going to have to push through a lot of problems to help this team succeed. First, the language barrier with Adrian. While talking a lot is not an extremely important thing for an AD carry to do, it helps when there is synergy with the support. Adrian’s seemingly small champion pool definitely is not doing this duo any favors. Another major obstacle for Arrow is going to be the fact that the AD carry position is just plain bad in the current meta. Being a consistent threat in the top levels of play is a tough thing to do as an AD carry right now, but this team needs Arrow to be a consistent threat and jell with Adrian.
6. Team Dignitas (53 total points)
- Top – Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho
- Jungle – Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun
- Mid – Jang “Keane” Lae-young
- ADC – Benjamin “LOD” deMunck
- Support – Alex “Xpecial” Chu
- Coach – Kim Jeong-soo and Park Jae-seok
Dignitas is quite the enigma. Staff members have this squad anywhere from No. 3 to No. 7. No one is quite sure about it, but most people agree that this team has the potential to end up as one of North America’s best rosters. In the team’s current state, though, not everyone is convinced.
Back in the LCS after the blockbuster deal involving Apex Gaming and the Philadelphia 76ers, Dignitas made a couple major changes to Apex’s former roster over the offseason. Last year on KT Rolster, Ssumday was considered one of the best top laners in the world, rivaled only by Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho. The team, however, failed to make it to Worlds and proceeded to split up. Chaser was part of the failed Longzhu Gaming super team experiment, but is still likely an incredible jungler. The problems that now face these two players are similar. They are foreign powers, ready to take the NA LCS by storm, but they each have chips on their shoulders. Both of them need to redeem themselves for last season. Though Ssumday performed well, his team could not succeed, and Chaser had an average season on an underachieving team. The two enter the NA LCS as non-native speakers, joining a new team in which synergy and communication will be needed to succeed. They need to live up to expectations, individually and as a top/jungle duo.
The duo lane is very interesting. LOD has the potential to be a great AD carry by North America’s standards, but did not quite meet the mark last year with Team EnVyUs. Xpecial is a legend in North America, but he is not the player that he once was. If this veteran can get some of his old tricks back and help LOD reach his potential, this duo lane will threaten the entire league.
Since the Philadelphia 76ers own Dignitas, money is being dumped into this organization and being effectively used. Ssumday and Chaser were both incredible additions to the team, and adding LOD is also an upgrade from the last roster. The new coaching staff and structure is a huge bonus, and this team looks to be on the right track.
Player to watch – Keane: Keane has been dubbed the “anti-carry,” due to his tendency to just focus on shutting down the enemy mid laner by using cheese picks instead of trying to carry the game himself. He was called one-dimensional and easily beatable, so people began to ignore him. Silently, however, Keane grew into one of the better mid laners in the NA LCS. Over the summer split, while everyone ignored him, Keane developed and improved as a player, diversifying his champion pool and becoming a reliable secondary damage dealer. If Keane can continue his success, work on roaming and developing synergy with his new jungler, top laner, and AD carry, he will not be flying under the radar for much longer.
What do you think about our preseason power rankings so far? Are there any teams that you would rank higher or lower? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Photos via KeSPA/Twitch/LCK Spring 2016/Riot Games