The North American Challenger Series will feature all new teams this split, but some of the faces will look familiar. From new organizations making their way into competitive League of Legends, to NA LCS organizations making sister teams and popular streamers purchasing teams, this split of NA CS is shaping up to be very exciting. Almost half of the players involved in the challenger series this split have experience competing at the top level. The teams are listed below in order of how I believe they will finish by the end of the split.
Gold Coin United:
- Top – Colin “Solo” Earnest
- Jungle – Lucas “Santorin” Larsen
- Mid – Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun
- ADC – Richard “Rikara” Oh
- Support – Hong “MadLife” Min-gi
Gold Coin United bought the challenger series spot of NRG and worked to form a highly competitive team for the CS. The organization has put together a team that features four players on the starting roster that have previously competed at the top level of LoL esports. Solo played for Echo Fox in the past year, Santorin with NRG, and FeniX with Team Liquid. These three players are no stranger to the North American scene and have years of experience playing in the NA LCS. The player to watch out for is Korean import MadLife.
MadLife is one of the most well-known players in the history of competitive LoL, famed for his fantastic and flashy support play. MadLife joins the team after his previous team, CJ Entus, was relegated from the LCK. The organization has also signed Mash as a substitute, a veteran North American player, and has brought on Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-seop as their head coach. With the amount of experience and talent on this roster, the team should rocket to the top of the challenger series and most likely earn a spot in the promotion tournament.
- Top – Diego “Quas” Ruiz
- Jungle – Kevin “Zentinel” Pires
- Mid – Jørgen “Hatrixx” Elgåen
- ADC – Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek
- Support – Jamie “Sheep” Gallagher
Tempo Storm acquired their spot from Dream Team and the multi-esport organization begins its foray into LoL. The team sports a roster that features many different nationalities and four players who have competed at the LCS level. Quas most recently played for the NRG team that got relegated last split and is still looking to restart his career. Zenteniel played for new organization Phoenix1 in the summer split, but was not given the starting role consistently and has now left the team.
European ADC Freeze has been touted as a top talent but a recent wrist injury kept him from showcasing that talent and he looks to prove he is still a top player. Sheep has played for multiple big organizations but did not play last year and hopes to make it back into the LCS. Just like Gold Coin United, the experience and talent on this roster should help the team earn wins in the challenger series and potentially make it to the promotion tournament.
Big God Jackals:
- Top – Oleskii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta
- Jungle – Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin
- Mid – Isaac “Pekin Woof” Marconis
- ADC – Jovani “fabbbyyy” Guillen
- Support – Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon
Big God Jackals bought their spot from Eanix and beat Team Secret in the spring qualifier to make it into the challenger series. Like the teams above, the Jackals sport three players with LCS experience and one player who is a challenger series veteran. RF Legendary earned his start in the LCS with the Renegades organization, but after the team was forced to sell their spot, RF has played for various challenger teams.
Pekin Woof began his career with Team Coast in the 2015 Challenger Series Summer Split. He then played for the team that eventually became Dream Team and competed in last split’s competition. Fabbbyyy was featured on the Team Liquid 10-man roster from last year and eventually took over for Piglet as the starter. He was then replaced by a new ADC and left the organization and has joined the new challenger team. KonKwon has competed in North America for two years with different teams, most recently playing for the Apex organization. With that organization disbanding, KonKwon joined this new team to continue playing.
- Top – Eric “Licorice” Ritchie
- Jungle – Berk “Gilius” Demir
- Mid – Hampus “Fox” Myhre
- ADC – Matthew “Deftly” Chen
- Support – Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam
eUnited is another organization that has multiple teams in different esports titles and is now making their way into LoL. The team bought their CS spot from Team Liquid Academy. The team has brought in two European players and has surrounded them with young NA talent. Gilius has traveled around the European scene, with his most recent stint coming with FC Schalke. On Schalke, Gilius hyped the team but they were unable to deliver the necessary results and were relegated from the EU LCS.
Fox was a part of the SK Gaming team that rampaged through the spring split in 2015 and then he later played with Gilius on Schalke last split. This team will find it tough to compete with the teams above them, due to the amount of experience on those rosters. However, the young NA talent could prove themselves on this roster with the help of the two European veterans.
- Top – Brandon “Brandini” Chen
- Jungle – Jonathan “Gringe” Armao
- Mid – Tanner “Damonte” Damonte
- ADC – Vincent “Shynon” Vu
- Support – Terry “baby” Chuong
Delta Fox is the academy team of the NA LCS team Echo Fox. Rick Fox bought into esports last year and has figured that now is the time to create a sister team to compete in the challenger series. The team competed in open qualifier and the main qualifier to make it into the NA CS. The top laner and jungler, Brandini and Gringe, each have a few games of experience in the LCS, but did not play much on their respective teams. Mid laner Damonte has played in the challenger series before, but has not had a long career as of yet.
Baby has the most experience on the team, having played in the North American scene since 2013. He will look to lead the team to success and help the players around him grow. The team is more built to help cultivate talent for the Echo Fox team, rather than compete and make it into the LCS. With that goal in mind, the current NA CS will provide a good environment for young players to grow and compete against some experienced, talented players.
- Top – Kieran “Allorim” Logue
- Jungle – Dat “Kitzuo” Nguyen
- Mid – Lee “Strompest” Seung-min
- ADC – Bradley “KingVex” Miller
- Support – Vincent “Vincent” Nguyen
Popular streamer Trick2g has been around the LoL scene for a long time, becoming popular among fans and featuring the Sub Wars, which pits his subscribers against each other. He has cultivated a very competitive fan base and some players have risen to the top as great LoL talents. Trick2g has finally taken some of those players and created a team to compete in the NA CS. Team Gates took the spot of Nova Esports and has formed a team with little experience competing professionally.
The team features Strompest, who has been a long-time player in Trick2g’s Sub Wars and has played with the streamer in high ELO. The team also features another popular streamer in Rohammers, but he is listed as a substitute player. The team may find success early, as they are an unknown quantity and could pull out unique strategies and catch teams off guard. But the team will need to continue innovating strategies before they get figured out by the other teams and beaten by the skill and experience of those other teams.
The North American Challenger Series kicks off the action on Jan. 25, with all six teams playing a game. During the split, the teams will play a round robin that features a best-of-two series, with the top-four teams advancing to the playoffs. From those four teams, two will move on to compete in the promotion tournament for the summer split.
Who do you think will qualify for the promotion tournament this summer? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.