With the split set to take off this weekend lets take a look at the teams and where they are likely to end up.
10 – Team Impulse
The team put together by management is nothing short of a group of players looking for LCS experience and the ownership wanting to break even. Three rookie players, and the mediocre bottom lane of Gate and DontMashMe are going to have to battle hard to win any games this split or face a tough season like Coast last spring split hoping they don’t go 0-18.
9 – Team Dignitas
Retaining Shiphtur was a good idea in order to maintain hope of not finishing bottom two, but with only one experienced player picked up in Apollo they don’t seem to have what it takes to achieve that goal. Kiwikid is still supporting the team but has looked barely average at best the last year. He is more likely to trade a death for a ward than bring something good to the team. Their rookie players are also nothing to talk about other than them having some CS experience behind them. They will most likely fight for their LCS spot come the end of spring.
8 – Echo Fox
The rebranded team has a decent roster with Froggen headlining the cast of players coming in. He showed some good signs of not having lost his mid lane prowess while at the All Star event this fall. He is accompanied by KEITH, as well as a couple CS players and a Korean solo queue player. There is plenty of room for them to do well with Froggen in the team, and KEITH cleaning up after him. kfo is very unknown so he could be better than we expect as well. If they mesh well in the first few weeks they could possibly end up in a playoff spot.
7 – Team Liquid
Piglet and Fenix should be seen as the hard carries since they haven’t really brought in any talent of interest although I am very interested to see how Liquid uses their ten man roster this split. I am all for pushing your players to play at their highest level, and competitive team atmospheres. Being a former college athlete is helps hungry players in the starting line up, and on the bench thrive and improve. If we see internal team struggles though it’ll just pull them apart. Finishing seventh will give them an ease of mind to work on what’s not right with their strategy.
6 – Renegades
When they introduced Freeze as their starting ADC I wasn’t surprised since their was rumors of him in talks with them since September. He automatically brings a new threat to the team to help accompany Alex Ich in the mid lane. They already have a good team synergy between he existing members and have been practicing with Freeze in Korea since before the announcement. Expect this team to preform above expectations and show up well prepared for the first few weeks.
5 – NRG
The newly formed team is going to be led to a top five finish by the Korean duo of GBM and Impact. They bring a lot of experience to this newly created team. GBM may not have had the best form when he left Jin Air, but if he finds it in NA he will be feared. Impact will carry his weight with the top lane in NA still lookin space of high level talent. Altec was brought in as ADC and still has promise to be a high level threat. Moon and Konkwon will take up supportive roles in the team to make sure that one of their three carries can put them in a winning form each and every game.
4 – CLG
With the exile of Pobleter and DoubleLift CLG brought Huhi and Stixxay to the starting line up. Neither of these changes look like an improvement, but they looked good so far in the pre season having both practiced with the team over the last year. They will face a tough test with the top five teams all having a great players in most roles. Darshan really has to step up and not be as inconsistent as before to carry them to a top half finish or else they may have bigger issues.
3 – Immortals
With their recent acclamation of Team 8 they brought in a team worthy of their rebrand. Prying Huni and Reignover from Fnatic gave them an instant message of meaning business. They also acquired the young Pobelter, Wildturtle, and the best support in NA from 2015 in Adrian. This team, if able to get their macro game in order will be one the strongest in NA in the same fashion Origen did last split. Huni will be a hard carry top, and give his other team carries room to breathe and pick up kills without spotlights on them. Seeing their first few games will be fun for everyone.
2 – Cloud 9
I may be over reaching with this one but bringing in Rush, the best jungle in NA most of last year, gives them a huge boost. They retained the roster again while moving Hai to support in order to ease Bunnyfufu’s transition to team shot caller. Jensen will be able to play his games much easier with Rush threatening the other teams mid lane, as well as giving Sneaky more room to show his talent in bottom lane. The only thing this team needs now is a top laner who can hold up under duress and isolation unlike Balls.
1 – Team SoloMid
Something lined up for TSM this off season because they struck gold when rehauling their team around their star Bjergsen. Bringing in Doublelift makes it so the team will have a much stronger bottom lane carry. They also brought in strong leadership to keep the ego checks in place for each player on the roster. Hauntzer is a good player, but does not have too much top level opposition in NA. He is a flexible player and can play different play styles in order to suit the team. Svenskaren is a player who use to take a lot of resources to carry his old struggling teams, but now he can give his lanes a large advantage to win the laning phase. Yellowstar is exactly what they needed as well. His experience and shot calling gives Bjergsen room to focus on farming and his play.
NA is going to be fun to watch. The top five teams are going to battle all season and whoever drops the least amount of games will prevail. Even on the lower end of the ladder we will see good games of strategy and flash from Renegades and Liquid. Be prepared for the best split yet.
10 – Elements
After failing to sell their roster like Impulse they also put a team of CS players and mediocre LCS players together. MrRallez is the only player with some note and not a bad carry, but he is not going to get the chance to show any talent with the lack of team strength. Steve, and Gilius may have LCS experience, and some idea of how to use macro game strategies bit neither are even as good as the average player in LCS. I wouldn’t hold my breathe for them to place in a LCS retainer spot.
9 – Giants Gaming
Peperino is the whole driving force behind this team getting wins last season, and when he couldn’t they let Werlyb use Jax. Now they have two new, and untested players. With the top and jungle being far from top tier their bottom lane will have no room to mess up. Pep will have to play much better than he did last split or else they will struggle to hold a chance of winning any games.
8 – Roccat
With all of the team being brand new we can’t say that they have a lot of time playing together or good teamwork. There is a good amount of LCS experience between most of them but no one is a stand out star. Most of them, like Gosu Pepper are older and. don’t have the same skill as before. Betsy is the highest level of talent and couldn’t save Gambits season last year. If they can manage to put a few wins together they may place higher but they will mainly be fighting the less experienced teams for an LCS spot.
7 – Gamers2
After winning themselves a LCS spot they brought in both Emperor and Trick, both Korean imports with mid-high level talent. Emperor was a good player on TDK when they played with free expression and the end of last split, and with some good teamwork could be a top tier carry. Trick is a much better jungler than Kikis, but moving Kikis to the top lane seems a bit of an odd move. If G2 can get Emperor in a good spot in most games he will carry them to some good wins each week.
6 – Splyce
After winning the CS and being bought out by FollowEsports Splyce is ready to play at the LCS level. Sencux is going to give a lot of mids trouble if they underestimate him, and get his team easy leads. They have played together for some time now and will have a good partnership between each lane and the jungle. Even with the addition of Trashy from NME they should take a playoff spot.
5 – Unicorns of Love
With last year nearly making it to worlds just a memory now UOL looks to improve after their dismal summer split. They lost a few players but brought in some good replacements. Fox isn’t as good as POE but he can bring out some flash when asked to. Steeelback will be hoping he can bring out the form he had in spring, and Diamond will be channeling his former self to carry his team to a playoff run. Vizicsacsi will also have to make sure he handles himself appropriately due to the higher level of top players in EU, but he should do fine.
4 – Team Vitality
Another team being overhauled turned into a group of highly skilled, talented players coming together. Nukeduck is going to asked to carry the team from mid lane. He has the ability to do so, and is in probably the best team he’s ever been on. Their bottom lane has nearly a year of experience together from being on H2K together. They showed that they can play at a high level during the time they were together. Cabochard will be able to play a supportive role due to resources being funneled into mid and bot, but his impact should be seen in his safe play. The only question is if Shook can play well since every team he has been on recently was struggling extremely hard. He hasn’t had the best luck but this is his chance to show he is good enough.
3 – H2K
Even with them losing their all star bottom lane they came out pretty good. Picking up Forgiven will help them immensely with the meta shifting into an ADC focus. His flashy plays, and sometimes selfish antics might hurt occasionally but he is worth it when he is a consistent threat when given the gold to do so. They also picked up Jankos, the first blood king, along with Vander. Neither may be too impressive when you realize Roccat struggled last year, but they are still very good players. Jankos is a much better jungler than Loulex, who I’m surprised wasn’t replaced in the summer split last year. We should see this team do well and consistent all season.
2 – Fnatic
Seems like a repeat of last year for Fnatic having to rebuild their team , but they kept both Febiven and Rekkles. We are also getting a new Korean talent introduced to the west with Spirit making his LCS debut. He is a highly experienced player and has the skill you’d expect of him. He will keep the lanes in check to give them an advantage. Gamsu, formerly of Dignatas, will be a wildcard with us seeing hints of his skill cap last year. He could thrive in EU and on Fnatic. The weak point for them though is the support of Noxiak. He was on H2K last year and was replaced once they struggled. Rekkles better hope they don’t repeat this struggle.
1 – Origen
Coming as no surprise to anyone is Origen being the EU top contender. They had a great summer split, followed up by an impressive worlds showing. XPeke has even stepped down to improve the team with the addition of Power of Evil from UoL.. They showed up at IEM San Jose and won very handily. I expect them to make very short work of most teams in EU and win both spring and summer splits.
EU has a good margin for give and take in most teams but we should see the rankings settle out about week four. The top teams should ease past the ones struggling, and the bottom will fight for wins. For many teams there will be a big learning curve of they ins and outs of their teammates.
Louis “MajesticEra” DePonceau
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