When I released my projected standings for the 2015 North American LCS Spring Split, I took into account all of the strengths and weaknesses from each team. However, nothing is ever set in stone, especially before the season begins. Therefore, I decided to re-analyze the two teams that qualified through the LCS Expansion Tournament: Team Coast and Curse Academy. Both teams have several players with tournament experience, and I certainly believe both have the ability to take games off the top teams in North America.
Due to their strong showing in both the LCS Expansion Tournament and LCS Relegation Tournament, I placed Curse Academy in 5th place for the next split. Although they zoomed to an early lead in the best of five series against Counter Logic Gaming in the LCS Relegation Tournament, they ended up dropping the final three games and ended up qualifying later through the Expansion Tournament. Many readers felt that I gave Curse Academy too much credit by placing them in 5th. On a good day, this roster has the strength to take games off Team Solomid, Team Liquid (formerly Team Curse), and Counter Logic Gaming, leaving off the bottom tier teams.
Top Lane: Hauntzer
Hauntzer is the most unproven weapon in Curse Academy’s arsenal. He spent a year in the Challenger Series with Team LoLPro and was a solid contributor during the LCS Expansion Tournament with Curse Academy. The elephant in the room regarding Hauntzer is whether he can compete in lane with the longtime North American top laners, such as Balls, Dyrus, and Quas. Hauntzer played a solid Maokai and stronger Kassadin against both Team Coast and Fusion Gaming. If he can keep up with the top lane meta, he will certainly be a force in the top lane.
Saintvicious is an old veteran of the jungle, so his experience is certainly not in question. When on his game, Saintvicious is a playmaker and seemingly creates pressure everywhere on the map in perfect fashion. He also showed that his champion pool continues to grow, bringing Karthus into the jungle during the Expansion Tournament, an Azingy-esque move. He also brings decisive shot calling to the team. There are very few cons regarding Saintvicious’ return to the LCS. As long as he remains consistent and keeps his motivation strong, he will be a solid contributor to this Curse Academy roster.
Keane, formerly of MiG Wicked in Korea and Team Curse OCE in the Oceanic region, is the hungry playmaker that Curse Academy needs in their mid lane. With every tournament, Keane seems to improve his gameplay, and his champion pool continues to get larger and larger. During the Expansion Tournament, he showed mastery over assassin champion Zed but in past tournaments, proved his viability on mages such as Orianna. Let us not forget his extremely scary mid lane Hecarim that he pulls out in certain matchups. If he continues to improve at the rate he has over the past several months, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the North American LCS.
AD Carry: Cop
The always-improving AD carry Cop, formerly a stalwart of the Team Curse roster, brings more veteran experience to this Curse Academy roster. Cop very rarely has a bad game, but he also rarely stands out. He has received unwarranted criticism far too long for his conservative playstyle. However, with several playmakers around him, Cop will be relied on to do his job and nothing more. If he continues to remain a consistent force in the bottom lane, Cop will once again be a top 5 AD carry in North America. In games where the outcome looks bleak, you can always rely on Cop to be in the right position.
Some viewers seem to forget that BunnyFuFuu laned with Cop during the homestretch of the 2014 LCS Spring Split on Team Curse’s main roster. His play on the champion Thresh is so dominating that he draws bans regularly. His Morgana and Janna play during the Expansion Tournament was viable, but there are still questions to the depth of his champion pool. If he proves he can master several other champions in the support role, BunnyFuFuu has the potential to be one of the top supports in North America.
The current Team Coast roster certainly does not lack in professional experience, but they do currently lack playmaking ability. After they imported jungler Impaler and mid laner Jesiz from the European professional scene, it seems that their play is strong enough to contend in the North American LCS Spring Split. However, they will need to improve synergy and play at the top of their game every week if they want to reach the pinnacle.
Top Lane: Cris
Cris is arguably the weakest player in the current Team Coast lineup. There are certain games where Cris plays like one of the strongest top laners in North America, but there are also several times when you wonder where his head went. Cris has LCS experience with Season 3 team Velocity eSports, and he continues to show he is a top tier player most of the time. However, he needs to work on his consistency before he can compete with the best top laners in North America. It speaks wonders that he was replaced on Curse Academy for Hauntzer before the Expansion Tournament.
Formerly of the Supa Hot Crew during the 2014 Season in the European LCS, Impaler is a proven jungler that brings some of the playmaking ability that Team Coast needs to make it in the North American LCS this season. During the Expansion Tournament, Impaler showed his ability to put the team on his back during several games against Curse Academy and Fusion Gaming. If Impaler can make consistent plays throughout the split, Team Coast will be a much stronger team for it. May I add that he is one of the best Rengar junglers in the west?
After a lackluster performance at the 2014 World Championships with SK Gaming, mid laner Jesiz was imported by Team Coast. He is known for being a safe laner, who goes even or wins lane every time when he has a good game. Unfortunately, the story of Team Coast is inconsistency, and Jesiz is no exception. If Jesiz can return to his pre-Summer Split form, then Team Coast may have found their diamond in the rough. However, if his slump continues, it will certainly be a long season. To be fair to Jesiz, his Expansion Tournament performance was quite good, especially when he played Xerath and Ahri.
AD Carry: DontMashMe
When Mash wins his lane, Coast wins the game. The pressure will be on AD carry veteran DontMashMe and support Sheep to carry the team during tough games. Mash played very well throughout the Expansion Tournament and was probably the most consistent in the bunch. He seems to excel at all AD carry champs, playing Lucian, Sivir, Ezreal, Corki, and Caitlyn during the Expansion Tournament. He and Sheep have been playing together in the bot lane for a long time, and there is certainly synergy there. However, it is still to be determined whether their synergy is enough to carry Team Coast.
Besides having a really awesome summoner name (Hi I’m A Sheep), there is a lot to like about Sheep. He has some LCS experience playing on XDG Gaming almost a year ago, and he has a pretty large champion pool that he can play viably. He has a long history of experience in the support role, but there is one problem. Sheep has never played a full split of LCS; he was subbed in midseason into a struggling XDG lineup. Compared to the rest of that team, Sheep looked like the second coming. With a slightly upgraded roster from that of XDG, can Sheep step up to that level of play for an entire split?