With the European LCS starting and the rosters locked, I asked myself, what the deciding factors for each teams rise of fall are.
Fnatic – A reckless adventure
The LCS winner had an amazing rookie season and a remarkable MSI, their success was made possible by dominant solo lanes and a roam heavy support. The marksman, Steeelback did usually fall behind in CS and experience due to Fnatics emphasis on the top half of summoners rift. Now Fnatic has acquired a “new“ ADC: Rekkles, who has thus far shown the expectation to be a true carry and has always had the mindset of accumulating as much resources as possible.
This leaves us with the question, if Fnatic can either successfully diverge from their former playstyle and funnel more resources into their ADC or if Rekkles is able to take a step back and fill the role of a submissive, less influential player.
UOL – Control the chaos
The LCS finalist has made itself a name as an unpredictable wildcard no team is prepared for, but it has to be questioned how much control and calculation the picks and invades were based on. As I suspect, very little. Chaos is a component you can add to your game, but it rarely works as the basis – whether the unicorns can establish themselves as a top team, hinges on their ability to control their chaos, use it as a tool, but not drown in it.
H2K – Who can carry?
H2K has played a season beyond most expectations: their parts seem to fit very well together, a well thought out gameplan and an emphasis on strategic play is visible. But where is the firepower? Odoamne has established himself as toplane force but Ryu is more a reliable rather then carry player and Hjarnen played a good, but not a spectacular split.
Wether H2K continues to rise and win titles is conditional upon their ability to establish a (second) star player. Maybe Ryu is able to return to his old Korean form or Hjarnencan pick up the slack, but in some ways H2K has the same battle that C9 had before Incarnations acquisition: A battle against their skill ceiling.
SK – What does the Fox say?
The previous SK relied heavily on winning and pushing lanes so Svenskeren could roam free in the enemy jungle. Now the star player Forgiven left and with him much of SKs early game prowess. Candypanda, his replacement, is a known quantity, he does his job, goes even, but has neither the capabilities, nor the intention to punish the enemy botlane and be the same deciding factor Forgiven was.
I think the only way SK can repeat their success, is, if a new star emerges and that star has to be Fox: Freddy is a very capable player and has the ability to carry, but not as the sole star, the bot lane has not the quality and Svenskeren relies on his lanes to perform well, otherwise his performance suffers. Fox on the other hand has had a very good split and has shown more than just moments of brilliance – still, Forgivens shadow was long and Fox seemed so far to lack the conviction a star player needs.
Gambit Gaming – Ex- or Implosion?
Gambit has had mediocre success, but was on an upswing in the late spring split: Their strategy revolved around pressuring the toplane or letting Diamond roam free. Betsy turned out to be a capable, but not extraordinary mid and the botlane was unreliable – some games carrying (especially with Kalista), some being punished for their overaggression.
With Forgiven joining, Gambit´s botlane has a mindset as aggressive as ever, but now also the star player to complement that mentality – Forgiven and Edward will either be the most punishing botlane or a pure desaster, I don´t think there is a middle ground. Both the Greek and the Russia have the mind to be the the best and are unforgiving (pun intended) towards failure.
The marksman has shown, that he wants to be the central part of each team he has joined. Wether Gambit emerges as a top team depends on their ability to integrate Forgiven and allocate resources away from the toplane.
Copenhagen Wolves – No claws, no teeth?
The Copenhagen Wolves are a well-oiled car, its parts fit wonderfully together, the engine runs smoothly – the problem is: the car is rather a Smart than a Lamborghini. CW has Freeze as a primary carry, but after him yawns a giant gap. The only way I see them placing better, is Soren becoming a second thread and performing on other champions named Cassiopea.
Still, CW seems to have found themselves and a system without distractions and that counts for much in Europe and can balance some of their individual weaknesses.
Elements – Leave Britney alone!
The spring split Elements was terrible, their strategy was uninspired and predictable and the players didn´t seem to fit together. The result was the seventh Place for a squad which was favored to win the split. Now Froggen assembled four new comrades to restore the glorious past. It´s very hard to predict the new Elements playstyle, but the pivotal question is, if they can learn from the past.
Nyph has to be the linchpin, Elements strategy can´t only evolve around Froggen, not only because it´s to predictable and midlane carry potential has faded a bit, but also, because Froggens strength is not accelerating a lead, but being self-sufficient and getting small advantages over time. Last split was truly hurtful to watch, not only because Elements lost, but because one of the greatest players of all time was (unintentionally) forced in a role where his biggest strength was nullified.
Roccat – Early birds
With the acquisition of promising players and the strong parts staying, Roccat seemed destined to do well this spring split, but failed to meet these expectations entirely: The past early game dominance with a ganking jungler disappeared and a team with no identity or plan remained. Roccat has the players to be a top team but has (same as Elements) to develop a (simple) strategic toolkit to manifest the promising success.
In my eyes Roccats strength should still be the early game – Jankos has shown a natural instinct for early ganks and has with Nukeduck a laner, who was in the past able to snowball heavily and who´s soloq success indicates that he can regain this ability. As a lategame team Roccat will have the problem of a mispositioned ADC.
Origin – The once and future kings?
Origin swept through the challenger scene and has found its way into the LCS. The solo lanes xPeke and Soaz were the pivotal parts of Fnatic, the wests most successful team since the LCSs inception. Origins success hinges on the ability to perform consistently. Soaz and xPeke were always very clutch players, but Fnatic was never the team to play a split on a steady high level: Players would have motivational issues and the brilliance and uniqueness of their play was in some cases as much a liability as gain.
Giants – No place to go
The arguably weakest line up of this split has a huge task – the EU-LCS has become better and I don´t see any team which Giants can challenge on in individual level. The all spanish squad has to go beyond any expectations to even avoid the direct disqualification.