Who were the top 4 winners of the off season this year?
To say this off season has been the most chaotic and surprising off season we’ve had to date is an understatement at the very least. The moves we’ve seen have shocked almost everyone, from players to fans alike. And this offseason we still have more to go. But based off what we have so far I think we can call it. I think we can decide who “won” the off season. Well, at least for NA we can. Below I’m going to outline who I think are going to be the top four teams going into next year and who I think won the off season.
First up I think it’s important to discuss what exactly it means to win an off season. Winning an offseason is a bit awkward, especially if you don’t show up during the season. Many of us here will remember how last season FNC “lost” the off season while Roccat “won” it last year by Thoorin’s standards. In this post I am defining winning and losing in the offseason as how well you set yourself up for success and how great the difference is from your previous season, not how well they actually achieve that in the coming year. By no means do I think that the winner is guaranteed to be the best in NA, nor do I think that the loser of the off season will be the worst in NA.
Now, on to the teams. I am keeping these in no particular order so please don’t take this as a tier list of where I anticipate them to place. To start it off we have TSM, the NA legacy. TSM has shaken the scene to it’s core this season. They started off by losing three members and holding open tryouts for a 4th members slot. Regi made it very clear right off the get go that he was rebuilding a team around his star midlaner, and he would do whatever it took to give him the best support he could. He started it off with quite possibly the most jaw dropping signing LCS has ever seen. Doublelift led the NALCS in all relevant stats last year and is one of the longest lasting greats of the NA scene. However most of us know him as the face of TSM’s biggest rival. But of course he couldn’t have just one star player from a competing org, he needed FNC’s oldest member and the lone remaining player to attend every WC, Yellowstar. These two alone were extremely amazing pickups, but when you add in a jungler who boasted higher damage to champs per minute and kill participation that spirit in 2014’s WC (though this is a small sample size so take this with a grain of salt), and a top laner who’s shown he has an incredibly high ceiling with a very flexible playstyle, you get an incredibly well rounded team capable of extreme heights.
Next up C9 the All American boys who aren’t so all american anymore. Hai moved to support to learn yet another role marking 3 different positions in 3 different splits. Rush took over for Jungle and BunnyFuFu moved in as their sub support. The idea behind this seems to be having Hai train Bunny to shotcall while Bunny teaches Hai the intricacies of support in the interim. Now these moves most definitely have their strong upsides. Rush was without question the best NA jungler this past Summer split, and Bunny proved to be a strong capable support able to make great plays both offensively and defensively, enabling his ADC to lead the league in % of team damage. But these strengths are not without question. They kept their underperforming top laner for yet another split. Ultimately the question is how much of a liability will he be. Up against Huni, Zion, Impact, and a much more supported Hauntzer, Balls may find himself in a lot of trouble this upcoming spring split. Secondly we don’t know how well Hai will transition to support. He likely won’t be better mechanically than Bunny, but Bunny can not match up to Hai’s shotcalling. It leads to a trade off, does cloud9 provide direction for Incarnati0n and Rush, or do they provide peel and picks for sneaky. This team has the potential to succeed and to fail. Ultimately I believe the support position will hold the key in either direction for them.
Now we get into the new comers, NRG and Immortals. NRG is the new team picked up from coast and rebuilt to stand up to the top tier NA teams. With big carries in all 3 lanes they look to be a strong contender. Impact and Altec were both top 3 players at their position in NA last year and hope to continue their good form with a powerhouse in the Mid lane, GBM. GBM held the #2 KDA for Mid laners in LCK last year and had the lowest % of team deaths of all midlaners in LCK. He stormed onto the scene with highlight making Xerath plays and proved that he could stand toe to toe with some of the greatest players in the world. With these three forces of nature NRG look to be incredibly strong on paper and definitely have the potential to unseat some of the long standing NA staples we’ve come to expect. Their questions lie in their support and Jungler. Moon has been hyped up for his incredible performances in the Challenger scene, but he remains untested at the LCS level. Konkwon on the other hand has some experience playing in the LCS, between his few games for coast in the Spring and the summer promotion tournament. So far he has played admirably well on bottom of the table teams, but the question remains, can he hold up to expectations with a talented roster behind him. With rumors of dexter floating around as a substitute jungler I think that again this team’s success will hinge on their support, can konkwon match the level of his teammates. If so NRG may find themselves battling for #1 this year, if not I expect them to place no lower than 5th based of the caliber of their carries alone.
Finally we get to Immortals, another new team picked up from the ashes of a bottom table squad looking to call it quits. With no returning players this team is 100% rebuilt with the goal of unseating the top teams in NA. They managed to snag 3 players from the #1 seeds from NA and EU this past summer. Huni and Reignover will continue their bromance here in the states while Pobelter looks to continue to prove his skill with his 3rd new team in 3 splits. The biggest question will likely fall to the bottom lane. Adrian and WildTurtle make up the newly formed botlane for IMT. Adrian will again find himself playing babysitter to quite likely the weakest link of his team. On TIP Adrian lead the league in wards to help his team stay informed and allowing Rush to invade and punish the enemy while he protected Apollo from getting pushed around too hard. Meanwhile. WildTurtle has show high highs and low lows. Last summer was the lowest he;s ever been. Following MSI his entire team fell into a slump they couldn’t seem to shake. Even when they were winning they looked unsure of themselves and uncomfortable as a team. Ultimately we find ourselves wondering, can Turtle return to his season 3 and 4 performances? Can he bounce back from this slump in a new environment with a support who speaks the same language? If Adrian is able to keep Turtle safe, and turtle is able to return to his previous highs this team can challenge already established top teams going into Season 6.
So who among these 4 really won the offseason? Who has set themselves up for success the best? Who has grown the most? Examining the factors I mentioned earlier I believe NRG to be the winner of this off season. Again I don’t think this necessarily means that they will be the best in NA next year, but I do think they grew the most. NRG took a team that was doomed to their inevitable relegations and gave it a chance to battle out for first place. They replaced a team that had become a walking joke and disliked by many, and offered the opportunity to pick up a strong fanbase with already established personalities and solid players. I don’t think any of the other 3 teams benefitted quite as much from their roster changes as NRG did and for that I have to award them the off season victory.
Ultimately though this victory is hollow. The true test will come in the following year when these changes are set against each other. Soon enough we will see who really deserves the spot as #1 in NA.
NRG Wins the offseason by turning a team bound for relegations into a top contender for NA. Gets rid of org that many disliked and picks up players with previously established fanbases. Of the top 4 teams (on paper) next year NRG had the biggest gains in fan base potential and potential for success