With the North American LCS halfway through its fifth week out of the eight, I figured now would be a better time than ever to do focus on player performance. The difference in this ratings list of North American bot lanes is that I’m going to take a much deeper look into what makes a bot lane in NA great.
Starting off with the list in order of best bottom lane duos down to the worst bottom lane duos I can tell you all of the factors I’m taking in to account.
First and foremost is performance. Yes it’s the most important thing, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the scenes if the players drop all of that baggage off before they come out on the stage.
Second is synergy. This is what matters, if the support is having to hold the carry’s hand through the laning phase and through every team fight it’s going to stop them from being able to make the plays necessary to carrying the game. This also works on the other end of the spectrum. A support that’s struggling with ward coverage and protection as well as trading, can completely destroy an carry’s ability to…well carry.
Third is how well the bot lane works within the team. Is this lane a detriment to the rest of the team? Is this lane receiving a lot of attention and help from the team and then coming out of lane lack luster and unable to carry? If yes, then be prepared to get knocked down a rung on the metaphorical ladder or rankings.
Fourth is growth and potential. I make some weird choices in this as far as rankings go, but a good portion of it goes for how well I believe the duo is going to grow throughout their time playing in the LCS or any sort of pro play.
Fifth is behind the scenes action. Team Liquid as well as Team Coast are the biggest examples I can think of in NA this season that have been directly affected in their performance through roster swaps and internal issues. While this is a small role in the big picture, there is a role for how management affects player abilities.
After the rankings list will come a short explanation of why I decided to put these bot lanes where they are.
- TSM’s WildTurtle and Lustboy (WildBoys)
Well, anyone who didn’t expect this probably expected CLG’s bot lane duo to take the number one spot, but all I ever think about when I think best is constantly at the top. Not only has WildTurtle been a play maker since his entrance to TSM in early Season 3. The only time I can’t remember WildTurtle being not only consistently carrying or just strong in general was TSM’s dip in rankings prior to Xpecial’s leave and Gleebs entrance.
Lustboy was one of the original “Korean Imports” a term I don’t especially enjoy, but will use for the sake of clarity. My thought when he came to the LCS was that he’d come in as a Helios, as a Seraph, as an EG. An over hyped player that ended up being underwhelming or unable to meet the hype. (Helios has actually earned a lot of that hype. He’s been a very solid player since his entrance last season.)
The way they fit into the roster is by being one of the only bot lanes that I can think of that really don’t receive a massive amount of resources. They don’t usually lose 2v2’s and in most circumstances neither Turtle nor LustBoy have ever been a reason for the team getting beat.
The growth of this duo is where my praise continues. I believe this duo has peaked. Yes, I mean it, they are the best in NA for a reason, there’s no bot lane I believe that really gives these guys a run for their money as far as the game’s big picture is concerned. This is coming from a non-TSM fan, but praise is due. This bot lane is the best because they’ve reached the highest plateau for growth in the NA LCS.
Team management is also very strong on the TSM side. Locodoco and Lustboy having been friends prior to his arrival into the TSM roster was a huge upside to grabbing him up. TSM has really impressed me as of late with their professionalism and attitudes toward the big picture. That’s why TSM’s “WildBoys” get the number one spot.
- Gravity’s Cop and BunnyFufu (LCSPD)
Well, if you expect the second place spot to go to CLG’s Rush Hour, you’d be wrong again, but I promise you they’re coming. This is the first shock that my list has to offer simply because Gravity is considered a middle of the pack team trying to get some LCS experience.
No. This is a bot lane that have given every single matchup they’ve had a run for their money. This is a bot lane that got the leftovers of their sister team. This is a bot lane that is given the chance to carry their team to victory in every single game, and continuously does so. This is a bot lane that has revived the career of an AD Carry that was considered passive and boring.
Don’t agree? I can understand. It’s a risky pick, but give me a chance to explain. The first thing on my list of criteria is performance. Yes, and this bot lane has always performed. The team may not win, but the bot lane is never the reason for their losses. I want you, the reader to think, imagine this bot lane on a team with just a bit more experience in LCS play (aside from Saintvicious).
These guys would just be unstoppable. Which is what leads to my next point, taking this bot lane and putting them on Impulse, Cloud 9, even back over to Liquid just wouldn’t work because of how well Gravity meshes as a team.
This of course leads into my point about growth. More LCS experience is fantastic, but it’s not what makes this bot lane mesh with the team so well. What makes Gravity work is their ability to learn, this bot lane is growing as time goes on and this team as a whole will grow passed the point of just expecting the bot lane to carry.
As for management they just brought in a new coach as well as the fact that all of these guys seem to be friends.
The potential is there and that’s the reason this bot lane takes the number two spot.
- CLG’s Doublelift and Aphromoo (Rush Hour)
Finally here they are, the most over hyped bottom lane duo in LCS history. Pretty harsh first sentence since these guys actually deliver most of the time. The only reason they’ve dropped this low is simply, because of Doublelift’s need to carry.
People who’ve climbed the solo queue ladder consistently over the last few seasons can all agree on the same thing. They had to learn not only how to carry, but how to let themselves BE CARRIED. The Rush Hour bot lane gives no fucks about letting themselves be carried to a win. Doublelift will dive the back line for that triple kill, Aphromoo will throw an amazing binding on a carry that no one will go in on, and Doublelift will feel terrible about the whole binding incident and wait for it to happen again so he can be the guy that follows up on it.
While this might just sound like a lot of CLG hate, it’s not. I think that the Rush Hour bot lane is one of the greatest bottom lanes of all time. A lot of their games in season 4 were thrown onto their backs and when they couldn’t deliver simply because everyone else was so far behind, they got the hate.
It’s the reason they’ve dropped down on my list. Doublelift can’t seem to drop the mindset of “I must carry” he’s got a sort of Stockholm syndrome where he was trapped in a room with a bunch of people he didn’t like and forced to carry, and after a certain point he just attempted to carry games that didn’t call for him to.
Aphromoo is much less detrimental to the duo, because a lot of the time he’s the one keeping up with Doublelift. I think the best way to put it is, Doublelift is a kid in the grocery store, his passed few supports have taken the role of the mother trying to make sure he doesn’t make stupid decisions or ruin anything. While Aphromoo takes the role of the sibling, he keeps up with the kid running around doing crazy stuff, he stops Doublelift from doing anything that’ll get himself killed, but also encourages him to do stuff that may or may not get him hurt.
The way these two fit into the new CLG roster is actually much better than before. As opposed to being looked at as the sole hope for a win, they’re now more of a “Damn we have a really good bot lane, glad we don’t have to worry about them down there.”
As for growth. I’d say these two mechanically are at their peaks, while Aphromoo is also at that peak level I was talking about with LustBoy and WildTurtle. Doublelift needs to improve on three things.
– Losing the “I must carry every game, and if I’m not carrying I have to do some dumb shit to at least make it look like I am” mentality.
– Making strong decisions
– And following the shot caller’s instructions.
All very basic fixes that I think would shoot Rush Hour to the number 1 or 2 spot they deserve.
- Winterfox’s Altec and Imagine/Gleeb (Awkward Talks)
Okay, I made up the name myself, but I thought it kind of worked. Anyway, why do these guys take spot number 4? Well, for the same reasons Gravity’s duo got number 2. Growth potential.
Mechanically these guys are great. We’ve only seen 1 game from Imagine the final support Altec will be matched with, but he was a significant upgrade.
Going back to when Altec first joined the LCS as the replacement for Yellowpete and duoing with Krepo down bot, he was a solo queue star turned team player. I think the reason Altec is such a great carry in my eyes is because he was trained by one of the best support players in the game, he was trained by a veteran who knew what it was like to be new.
I truly believe that without Krepo, Altec had a lot of potential to crash and burn upon arriving in the LCS. Luckily it’s actually come around as the complete opposite, he is one of the most promising up and comers the LCS has to offer and I can’t wait to see what he does.
Now let’s really get down to the duo itself and why another mid level team has taken a top spot. The way the bot lane fits into the big picture at this point in time is that it is going to be taking a lot of pressure off of Pobelter.
As someone who doesn’t really buy into the Pobelter hype I’d just like to say, he’s not going to be able to carry every single game ladies and gentlemen. I think the few loses that Winterfox have suffered due to Pobelter’s odd mid lane choices really humbled him, because a lot more of the carrying has been spread between Helios and Altec and you can see that Pobelter is allowing himself to let these guys do the grunt work while he sits back and works on the outsides.
It’s something that I respect a lot about Winterfox as a whole, because they all give eachother chances to carry. If someone is carrying, the rest of the team seems to really support that person which is another reason this bot lane is going to be a huge upgrade and is already much stronger than other bot lanes.
I don’t know enough about their management to really say much about the behind the scenes, but from what I can tell through interviews and streams. All the players seem to have a good attitude toward their progress within the standings thus far.
This bot lane’s potential as well as relieved pressure from the backs of their team mates is the reason they take the #4 spot.
- Cloud 9’s Sneaky and LemonNation (Cold War)
These guys are good. Sneaky has earned the title of most overrated underrated player. By this I of course mean all of the praise he gets over reddit for being the secret carry of Cloud 9, the heart and soul, the rock, the guy in the back that does all the work, but gets no attention.
Sorry to break it to you boys, but Cloud 9 is a team that wins games with strategy or like Season 3 TSM with Chaox, and Sneaky is Chaox.
Yeah he’s good, yeah he can carry, sure he makes plays, but without the strategy Cloud 9 has made itself famous for, Sneaky is not the guy to step up, put the team on his back, and carry the fuck out of a game. That would be Balls or LemonNation.
If anything, LemonNation should be the support that deserves the reddit train of “He’s so underrated and really does carry the team” because I can’t remember a time when LemonNation has not stepped up to the plate.
This is by no means me saying that Sneaky is bad or that Cloud 9’s bot lane is carried by LemonNation. This is me saying that Cloud 9 needs to start looking passed their strategic play style and their players need to start individually focusing on mechanics. I’m looking at you Hai.
Cloud 9’s Cold War beats all the ones below because they’re established and solid.
Consistency and Reliability help Cold War take the #5 spot.
- Dignitas’ CoreJJ and Kiwikid (Roam and Bone)
CoreJJ is a great AD Carry.
Kiwikid is a good player, not a very great support, but a good player.
This makes for a middle of the pack bot lane that has enough potential to grow, but not really enough to be the best in the region.
To be brutally honest I think Kiwikid is one of the supports that pioneered the whole, roaming support meta, and Cloud 9 copied it. Then because Cloud 9 did it while lane swapping, it was a legitimate strategy.
People need to remember, Kiwikid started it all, and don’t misunderstand this as praise, I actually think Kiwikid got bored being a support and just decided to go make some plays while imaqtpie just played safe and farmed.
It’s actually the reason I think Kiwi and CoreJJ work so well together, CoreJJ is mechanically stronger than imaqtpie was so I think some of the stupid stuff Kiwi pulls turns out in Dignitas’ favor.
Think of it as Kiwi being the little kid reaching for the cookie jar every single night.
Somenights CoreJJ can catch the cookie jar and everyone gets cookies. Some nights CoreJJ isn’t around to catch it or just isn’t able to and the jar breaks so everyone’s fucked.
I think moving Kiwi to a different role, or even to the coaching position he could really shine, but in my opinion Dignitas moved him to support because they believed he wouldn’t do as much damage.
- Team Liquid’s Piglet/KeithMcBrief and Xpecial (#KEEP)
Inconsistency and management plagues Liquid.
It’s all I can say, this team has so much upward potential with this world class support, carry top laner, and MONEY. But you can’t buy team synergy.
These guys are just so out of sync, and I can’t even focus on the bot lane because I have no fucking clue who’s starting.
Keith did well so they put him back in for Piglet, but they’re keeping Piglet to put in when Keith does bad? Or is Keith just in for this week so #KEEPKEITH will die out?
It’s just a huge issue and you can tell that it’s really hurting the team. I’d attempt to put these guys lower, but I’m not sure Impulse, Team 8, or Coast will let me.
Let’s give a real, no bullshit analysis. Xpecial has switched ADC’s 4 times since Summer split Season 4. That’s 4 supports in 2 splits. WildTurtle, Cop, Keith, Piglet, then back to Keith with the possible switch back to Piglet. How in the world does Liquid expect Xpecial, one of the hardest to get along with supports in the game to bond and synergize with an ADC if he hasn’t kept one for more than a split.
There’s just so much more to say, the bot lane can’t carry. Either Xpecial has to carry teamfights while Quas is the main damage threat, or they need to have slow mythotical victories that are really boring to sit through for such a long time.
- Team Impulse’s Apollo and Adrian (A Cups)
These guys are a couple of boobs, that’s why they’re known as A Cups.
Apollo who I still completely refer to as Wiz Fujin because it’s a much cooler name than some generic Bond bad guy, is a carry with conditions. Those conditions include protection, farm, and an unorganized enemy team. He’s pretty much just like every other AD Carry, but lacks the mechanics that most of the people above him have.
He’s been on the LCS stage before with a team full of up and comers just like himself. All of which seemed to find their way into a better team than he did.
Apollo is solid, and as much as I like him I just see him as what Altec could’ve have turned out to be. Without a really good support, I don’t see Apollo in a spot where he’s going to shine unless he’s under the perfect conditions.
I expect the Impulse roster to get much better because of the raw talent, but I don’t see the change happening this split.
- Team Coast’s Mash and Sheep (Baaaaaash)
Let’s be real here. DontMashMe was one of the founding Good Game University players and hasn’t seem to ever be good enough to get passed it. Mash is a good player no doubt, but just like Wiz Fujin I don’t think he’s good enough to really carry a game. It shows in his performances on the big stage. He places well, he does damage, if he does more damage than someone else he’ll win a 1v1, but he just doesn’t shout “Hey! I deserve to be on a better team, and if I was I’d be a big deal!”
The same goes for Sheep, yeah he’s an okay support, but is he really LCS caliber? I just don’t buy it.
This bot lane is always given the chance to carry when Jesiz can’t and they just don’t have the raw mechanical power to throw strategy out the window.
That’s why this bot lane is second to last on my list.
- Team 8’s Maplestreet and Dodo (Dodo Street)
I don’t know what it is, but Maplestreet somehow finds a way every god damn year to find his way into the spring split. It’s not that I don’t think he belongs in the LCS. He does belong in the LCS, but he’s just not good enough to be high up in the LCS.
If anyone catches what I mean. He’s definitely LCS caliber unlike the Coast bot lane above him, he’s just not anywhere over 6th place caliber.
So why did Coast’s botlane beat out Team 8’s? Simple, Coast’s bot lane has been forced to carry almost every single game and they come close a lot of the time, they just don’t have the strategy. Whereas every time T8’s bot lane is given the opportunity to carry, they just can’t.
Dodo misses crucial spells and completely ignores the peel for Maplestreet. While Maplestreet just kind of sits there. No matter how fed he is, for some reason Maplestreet just doesn’t do any damage.
It’s not a matter of his team’s team fighting strength, it’s a matter of his team being good at team fighting because it masks a lot of their bot lane’s weaknesses.