Within competitive League of Legends, the value of synergy between players is often undervalued. We often hear about synergy (or lack thereof) on the rift, but to consider the rift alone is to only look at part of the equation. Synergy often has nothing to do with talent or skill. Friendship and camaraderie is a powerful tool for teams to have.
Examples of this certainly include Cloud9 during the 2015 Summer Split, who saw both sides of the synergy issue. With William “Meteos” Hartman, the lineup was certainly stronger on paper than when Hai “Hai” Lam stepped in. However, despite a decidedly lower skill cap, the ability to work together as a team and trust one another on and off the rift was integral to the “Cinderella run” through the gauntlet to qualify for the World Championships. Another example of this from the same split would be Origen. Quite honestly, at the beginning they were the underdogs and playing with no expectations. They were not, on paper, the most proficient and talent-packed team in the EU LCS, but their teamwork was superb and carried them to much success.
In contrast, a team where personalities did not mesh very well in the 2016 Spring Split was Team SoloMid. Arguably, there were on the rift issues, but a lot of them seemed to stem from off the rift difficulties. Five incredibly talented people were put together and were unable to pull out expected victories time and time again. There was a lack of communication, as well as trust and camaraderie.
The point is, simply, getting along on and off the rift matters. Teamwork and trust can often trump talent and individual prowess. So, where do the teams rank in these particular subjects?
1 – Counter Logic Gaming
CLG has shown both ends of the spectrum when it comes to team synergy. Last year, the team made the controversial decision to remove Doublelift from the team and Pobelter from their starting lineup. The specific reasons for these decisions were vastly different but the goal was the same: CLG proved they valued loyalty, camaraderie and teamwork above all else. Just having one of those traits is not enough and they expect a higher standard of conduct.
2 – Immortals
Despite some flaws in their over confidence at times, Immortals has consistently shown the ability to work together. They trust one another, perhaps too much at times. They do not berate this member or that member for picking a champion that might have ended up putting them in a compromising position. At the end of the day, win or lose, the members of Immortals support each other. This is key to their success. Immortals has shown how dominant a team can be when you have both skill and teamwork.
3 – Cloud9
There was a time when C9 would have been at the top of this list. The removal of Hai and An “Balls” Le from the starting roster bring up a lot of question marks, not to mention trading out their star jungler for their past star jungler. Major roster changes have plagued this team’s synergy before. However, this roster swap has been done with far more time and some familiar faces. It appears that Meteos and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen have repaired the rift that had been between the two when Jensen first join the organization. Through their time in Korea, it seems the new roster has spent time building up their friendships and that bodes well if they can bring trust to the rift along with some of the best talent in North America.
4 – Team Envy
Despite being a new organization put together under rather tumultuous circumstances, the roster of Team Envy appears to be one that can work well together. Noh “Ninja” Geonwoo and Shin “Seraph” Wooyeong have proven on several occasions that they work together extremely well. The rest of the roster comes from previous teams who, if nothing else, had great camaraderie and trust in each other. Being on a team with strong carries, the trait of teamwork they learned in the past should transfer and bring this team plenty of success.
5 – NRG eSports
Many people have criticized NRG for picking up Alan “Kiwikid” Nguyen. However, Kiwikid brings quite a few things to this roster. Kiwikid is a solid veteran with vast experience in the LCS. He does not only bring experience, though. One of the most important things he brings is his personality. Kiwikid is a person that is able to be a moodmaker for the better. He is also better able to assist his team by being the aggressive playmaker when needed. Paired with an aggressive AD Carry like Oh “OHQ” Gyumin and a supportive jungler like Lucas “Santorin” Santorin, one could anticipate this team to have some explosive bot lane action. The rest of the team has the ability to carry as well, and all have shown previous dedication to teamwork and trusting their teammates.
6 – EchoFox
Echofox has a lot of similarities to NRG, however, I feel that with NRG the communication barrier with OHQ is not as much of a problem as the potential one with Park “kfo” Jeonghun. There is quite a bit more coordination needed with a top laner (teleports, flanking, etc.). Despite this, the team has shown to be working on friendship and trust within the team. They have a strong leader in Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and an energetic and positive mood maker in Terry “Big” Chuong. If the communication issue has been resolved then the way that this team works together could bring Froggen’s prediction of being a Summer Split team to pass.
7 – Phoenix1
Austin “Gate” Yu is primarily the reason that this team is ranked here instead of lower. Gate has proven to be an immense asset to a team. His flexibility and positive attitude seems to infiltrate to his teammates. He has the ability to bring people up and depending on how the new members work with previous Team Impulse members, it is quite possible this team can exceed expectations.
8 – Apex
There is potential for Apex to prove that they have the teamwork and synergy down pat. However, with the offseason changes, there are simply too many unknowns for how this team will work together. The members that we have seen a lot of that remain on Apex have very distinct and specific ways of playing. It is questionable if they can maintain synergy with their varying styles at the high level required to be successful in the LCS. Apex is also running a ten man roster, which has yet to be worked correctly within the LCS, but they were able to successful flex their junglers in the Challenger Series.
9 – Team Liquid
The issues with Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett are far from the first signs of trouble within the synergy of Team Liquid’s roster. Veteran AD Carry Chae “Piglet” Gwangjin has often been an instigator for strife within the team. Piglet is an extremely emotional player and if things start going wrong within the split, the team‘s stability is likely to crumble. Perhaps with Choi “Locodoco” Yoonsup at the helm again this split, we will see Team Liquid hold it together for the entire split. However, past experience does not make that seem feasible. The teamwork for Team Liquid consistently has been a point that falls off multiple times during splits.
10 – Team SoloMid
TSM is a team that has consistently not learned about the value of teamwork. They still seem to believe they can brute force their way to the top of the standings on mechanical prowess alone and continue to fall to teams with superior teamwork. There are plenty of things that should be going right for this roster and maybe they have roped in their egos and traded it in for trust and camaraderie, but only time will tell.