NALCS Offseason Storylines To Follow
(Unfortunately) With all the NA boys back at home, it's fair to wonder what surprises North American teams have in store for us in the months leading up to the 2016 season. We've already witnessed a few (some expected and others surprising). Let's go ahead and list what we know:
New(?) NA LCS teams
Team Coast is back in the LCS. They'll be joining the LA Renegades as the teams that made the leap from the Challenger Series. Unfortunately, that meant we had to say bye to the emotional Innox-led NME E-sports and Team Dragon Knights (now rebranded as Team Arena Online), a team whose potential we only had a glimpse of. It'll be interesting to see how TAO and NME will fair in a potentially competitive Challenger Series (looking at you, Cloud 9 Tempest). We'll also get to see a completely revamped Team 8, now rebranded as Immortals. Immortals has a solid core of Goldenglue (though there have been rumors of him joining C9T) at mid, Porpoise in the jungle, and Nien at ADC. With the retirement of Dodo and Cali, it'll be interesting to see what Immortals' management can pull out to fill up the empty spots.
It's always exciting to see new LCS teams but where exactly will they stand among the North American elite? Team Coast, in their previous LCS run, had a season to forget and RNG has shown a lot of promise with their dominance in the Challenger Series (though they have lost Maplestreet at ADC). Personally, I'd like to see Team Coast make it in the middle of the pack at the very least. The team seems renewed under the instruction of SaintVicious and hopefully their challenger scene success can translate into LCS success as well. As for RNG, I think it really depends on who they can find to fill the ADC role; Crumbz is still a decent player but he's in his twilight years and Alex Ich can't be relied upon to carry his team when faced against NA's top mid laners, unlike in the Challenger Series. Lastly, the Immortals have a budding star in Goldenglue but not much to show anywhere else. The team needs to focus on developing Goldenglue and bringing in the right pieces around him if they want to avoid relegations.
Also, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO TEAM IMPULSE??
Gone Are the Kings of Old
As most probably know by now, Dyrus has played his last games competitively and is now spending relaxing in the TSM retirement home next to TheOddOne. Hai and LemonNation are also gone, but not forgotten. Hai will continue to use his genius to spur on Cloud 9's success as the chief gaming officer and Lemon will (hopefully) make the leap to Cloud 9's coach to ensure the team's on stage success. A surprise to most, TSM also had two other players that decided to hang up their mice: Lustboy and Santorin. Lustboy was a crucial part of TSM's success despite having an off year but will nonetheless be remembered for his memes and the way he carried TSM when asked. Santorin.. well, it's difficult to gauge his significance on the team but he did focus most of his attention on the midlane (they are called Team SOLOmid), regardless of his success or not. Last but not least, Team 8's former support player Dodo8 retired but took on a position in Immortals' management. Dodo8 had a long career as a professional gamer so it's nice to see him get a chance at trading in his gear for a tie in an industry he loves.
Who Will Take the Crown?
Now that TSM and Cloud 9, two of NA's longstanding powerhouses, are both going through rebuilding processes, we have to wonder who will be the King of NA. It's certainly possible that both teams pick up great players and start where they left off but it's unlikely. Most would probably bet their money on CLG but after an extremely unconvincing group stage experience, I think it's fair to say other teams, like Gravity or Team Liquid, can make their runs at the top spot. We also haven't seen what will happen to Team Impulse. If TIP can retain the core of Impact and Rush, they will definitely be a force to reckon with regardless of who fills up the rest of the roster. For me, I'd put my money on Gravity. The team made huge strides in the Summer Split before unraveling in the playoffs but I think it's fair to say that the players have grown individually and as a team from the experience to build upon their success. They already have a potential star in Hauntzer, Move is turning out to be a solid carry-type jungler (though communication seems to be the main issue), Keane is an innovative and smart midlaner who can hold his own, and the bot lane duo of Altec and BunnyFuFu boasts one of the best ADC/support chemistry in the league.
- Fans got turned around with Piglet's contract extension after many believed he would not return.
- Smoothie was introduced as the new support for the team but where does that leave Xpecial?
- Apparently the team has already found a new coach but who is he (she?)????
- How will Team Liquid Academy fair in potentially the most competitive Challenger Series we've seen in a while?
- Who are the candidates for Cloud 9's jungle and support roles? Will we see C9 Rush (probably not, sadly)?
- Will Balls continue to patrol the top lane? We've definitely seen some good plays from Balls throughout worlds. Sure, you can argue that he only played mechanically easy champions but he still held his own for the most part against the world's best top laners.
- We heard from Pobelter and Doublelift that some players were toying with the idea of retiring. Honestly, I can see Aphromoo and Xmithie retiring but only time will tell. Zionspartan has shown that he still has the mechanics and potential to carry (most of the time) his team and he still has the passion to compete on the big stage.
If you have anything else to add, use the comment section below!