The NA LCS returns this Saturday. Fans have a lot to get excited for this Spring Split. Riot has abolished the best of one format in favor of the superior best of three. On a weekly basis we can now see how teams handle pick/ban and team compositions over a series. Team Liquid was a famous example of the BO1 mentality failing to achieve first place finishes in the Spring or Summer Playoffs despite having one of the most talented rosters in North America last year. Along with this conjuncture comes the radical roster changes that shook up the NA teams. This split of league play should be a refreshing new season to what had become a rather stale event. Being so close to the debut, let’s take a look at some topics of interests for the beginning weeks.
1) How Good Is TSM?
Team Solo-Mid spared no expense in acquiring its new roster. TSM lived up to its namesake when the only remaining player on the team after Worlds was their star mid laner Bjergsen. They acquired new Talent in the names of Hauntzer for top lane, Svenskeren in the jungle, and Doublelift in the marksman position. The question of such a talented roster is not if they will finish first in North America but how they will hold up against international comptetion. Their two best of three matches against Counter Logic Gaming and Liquid should give us an idea of how the team is progressing along. A huge boon for TSM has to be the addition of Yellowstar. The veteran shotcaller of Fnatic fame should help improve their rotations and mid to late game shotcalling. Also keep an eye on Bjergsen in the midlane. Freed from the burden of shotcalling we should expect to see some flashy plays from him.
The problem of this team might come from an overabundance of carry focused talent. Both Bjergsen and Doublelift are use to getting priority farming positions from their teams. Svenskeren is a skilled mechanical jungler focusing on invades and early pressure, but famous for his lackluster warding. Yellowstar is more known for his rotations then superb warding or laning phase. This could turn ugly with either Bjergsen, Doublelift or Svenskeren refusing to sacrifice gold in favor of playing their carry orientated style.
2) The Fight Over Seconds
If anyone can threaten TSM’s potential dominance it has to be either Cloud9 or Immortals. Riot has scheduled this match after the El Classico of TSM vs CLG to see which team can become a potential rival. A big change for Cloud9 was the addition of Rush in the jungle and Hai moving to support to keep the teams micro play alive with his amazing shotcalling. The Korean powerhouse is famous for having accounts at the top of solo que in Korea and is touted as the best jungler in North America. Jensen, coming off a name change from Incarnation has been showing more promise in his lane with excellent performances at the end of the Summer Split and during Worlds. Cloud9’s mid laner is beginning to grow into his role. Yet, I have three main concerns with the team. Balls has been underperforming in the top lane and with opponents like Hauntzer and Huni this could be a serious problem for a team trying to finish top four. Along with that, can Cloud9 mold the solo que talents of Rush and Jensen into a competent unit. Finally, how long will Cloud9 revolve around the genius of Hai. Will things fall apart when Bunny steps in to fulfill the role? Will Hai have to be the in leader of C9 until the end of times?
Immortals is full of aggressive players. Huni and Wildturtle are well known for their mad dog play style. Huni has cooled off since his rookie debut in the Spring Split and has a tendency to tilt. Wildturtle is also famous for the fact that he often uses his summoner spells at inopportune times. This is Huni without the brains of Yellowstar and Wildturtle without the brains of Lustboy. It will be up to Reignover and Adrian to dictate the pace of the early and late game. I expect Cloud9 to take this game off the decision making from Hai but few teams will be able to stop the mechanical ability of Immortals.
3) Elo Prison For Froggen
One of the most talented western players to ever touch the game is coming to North America. The problem is that his vessel is Echo Fox the brainchild of former NBL athlete Rick Fox. The problem is that Froggen will be playing with players that have either zero or little completive LCS experience. His teammates have not been on a team that have had good results in the long term. The pain of seeing one of the best Western midlaners stuck in this team is going to be equivalent of watching Dandy play Top lane in Vici Gaming or watching Flame ride the bench on and off in LGD. Their debut matches will reveal whether Echo Fox have a chance of qualifying for Playoffs or serving as the benchmark for the amateur circuit. Crazy changes like this means that we can now watch Bjergsen vs Froggen, Ganked By MoM and Alex Ich.
4) The Debut of Renegades and NRG
The first professional showing of Renegades has to be an exciting time for the fans. The team has garnered a lot of support due to their excellent marketing, association with league analyst Montecristo and the pickup of fan favorites such as Alex Ich, Crumbz and Freeze. The team has become stronger with the picking up of Freeze who served as the spearhead of the Cophenhagen Wolves team. It will also be interesting to see if Alex Ich still has the same fire that made him a feared mid laner. Crumbz has to rally the team with smart decision making and warding. Of concern will be the debut of the newcomers RF Legendary and Remilia both who sometimes falter under pressure. A direct result of not skill deficiency but susceptibility to social media. I expect this team to either become a dark wolf with a chance of making a run at Playoffs.
NRG is a contender for one the top teams. Fans are looking forward to the North American debut of Ganked By Mom. The skilled Korean mid laner could be one of the first serious opponents that Bjergsen has to face in the North American circuit. We can’t yet predict how good this team will be but considering they now have the considerable talents of Altec and Impact they should be a threat. NRG verses Renegades should be a firework show to test the limits of both players.
5) El Classico Itself
What better way to start the split with the classic match of TSM vs CLG. Even though the only player around from that original rivalry, Doublelift, is now playing for the opposite team. I expect the new CLG team to lose this match. The loss of Pobelter for Huhhi and Stixxay for Doublelift are not upgrades. CLG will most likely focus on their famous micro rotations.
They lack the spear that was Doublelift to carry teamfights and Pobelter to set up fights with control mages. It is insane that CLG changed their LCS winning team in such a drastic fashion. They discarded their star adc, replaced their coach and swapped out Pobelter. They will have a hard time against TSM. Their upgraded bottom lane and the freeing of Bjergsen should be too much to handle.
ALL IMAGES COURTESTY OF LOL ESPORTS