With the NA LCS starting up tomorrow, let’s peek at the teams and make some predictions!
#1 – Cloud9
How dominant is Cloud9 of the North American scene? They went 25-3 in the NA LCS, going 4-0 vs every team except CLG (3-1) and Vulcun (2-2). And while few North American teams have beaten Fnatic in a series over the past 2 years, Cloud9 went 2-0 against them at the Battle of the Atlantic, bringing their total record against them to 3-2.
Meteos’ jungling is so strong that he’s got a whole style named after him, and ran a record-breaking 12.7 KDA, in addition to a KDA of 49 on Zac, and a KDA of 45 throughout the Summer Promotion tournament vs TSM.
Balls has a rather unique style, playing almost no Zac or Renekton, two dominant S3 top laners. Instead, he specialized in AP Carries like Rumble and Ryze, champions almost nobody else played.
Cloud9’s bot lane was equally unique, cycling between two relatively unplayed AD Carries: Ashe and Draven. Their Ashe Zyra and Thresh Draven lanes were extremely dominant.
Finally, Hai, while not the only mid who specialized in single-target assassins, his focus was definitely on bursty, single-target champions, with almost no games on the AoE mages like Gragas or Orianna who dominated Season 3. The one AoE mage he played consistently was Kennen, a mage who saw very little play.
Their style has evolved, with Meteos playing a new fast-farming, counter-ganking Vi, and Sneaky/LemonNation playing Draven/Leona. But it has also expanded to include new styles, with Balls playing Shyvana and Meteos on Fiddlesticks. It’s hard to imagine their dominance not continuing.
#2 – XDGG
Everybody remembers TSM coming in second place in the last split, because few teams have the fan base TSM does. But what fewer people remember is Vulcun’s impressive Season showing. They went 20-8 in the NA LCS summer split, with no losing records vs any team (2-2 vs CLG/TSM/C9). Vulcun has never suffered from a lack of skill, but from spotty playcalling under pressure. The team has evolved since then.
They have had tournament experience now, and hopefully have learned to deal better with pressure.
But there are a few worries:
- SychoSid (now Benny) specialized in Zac/Shen, with no games on Renekton. He loves to split-push, so Renekton/Mundo/Shyvana shouldn’t be that hard for him to adapt to. As well, the nerfs to Sunfire and Spirit Visage should make Mundo/Renekton/Shyvana less dominant, so that problem may solve itself.
- Bloodwater specialized in Sona and Zyra, both underplayed supports in Season 4. He was also known for blanketing the map in wards, something which is no longer possible. This could hurt some of his strengths.
- Zuna — their playcaller — is no longer the ADC, having moved to jungle. If he and Xmithie adapt well to their roles, XDGG could be a terrifying force to reckon with.
- Nobody should be worried about ManCloud’s ability to adapt; his champion pool is simply too diverse. But Xmithie and ManCloud’s synergy was excellent, and changing their roles up could hurt the strength of their mid lane, given the importance of ManCloud to their team.
Despite all of that, XDGG should do great during the season. But will they have learned from their throwing ways in the important games?
#3 – TSM
TSM is as old as the American scene, and has remained consistently strong, having played in every championship. And while their roster has had some changes, Xpecial, Reginald, and The OddOne have been Season 1, and Dyrus since Season 2. The only major change to their roster since has been Wild Turtle stepping in as ADC.
But something seemed to hold the team back. They made a few bad calls a bit too consistently, and their team never seemed to grow from their mistakes. After a dominant spree of first and second place showings in Season 2, they managed almost nothing outside of the 1st place showing in the spring split, going 14-14 in the summer split. And so for this season, they’ve brought on Bjergsen, a European mid with incredible amounts of talent.
The entirety of TSM has a wide champion pool due to their history: Dyrus with Singed and Yorick, TheOddOne with Cho and Nocturne and Maokai, Bjergsen with Syndra. Their versatility can only help them. Wild Turtle is one of the top solo queue players of Season 3, and Xpecial has outlaned Dyrus and Reginald on notable occasions.
With the ego of Reginald out of the way, TSM is poised to finally break through the barriers of their past, and re-establish themselves as a dominant team on the international scene.
#4 – EG
The jungle and bot lane from CLG.EU — Krepo, Yellowpete, and Snoopeh — plus Pobelter and Innox? Sounds like a bit of a dream team. The other “dream team” made up from EG players, Alliance, has underperformed. But it’s really Froggen and Wickd who exemplified the slow and steady style that made that team. After all, it was their Irelia and Karthus who first got destroyed by the Shyvana/Mordekaiser push comp of Gambit Gaming. This team is Krepo’s chance to prove himself after his claims about the NA scene during the World Championship. And besides, how can you not root for such an adorable face?
#5 – CLG
Doublelift is a supremely talented ADC, and pairing him with the hyper-aggressive Aphromoo yielded the entertaining, chaotic lane “Rush Hour”. Aphromoo is one of my favorite streamers, and I’d love to see him do well. The whole squad is quite talented, but Doublelift is one of the last of the old North American players to remain relevant, between retirements (Reginald) or dying teams (Dignitas). It’ll be on him to keep the team going, because the team has always been built around him, even if unintentionally.
#6 – Coast
Coast is barely changed from last season, with WizFujiin replacing DontMashMe. But the change that really excites me is their change in Coaching. I have nothing against Elementz, having even worked for him in the past. But Alex Penn was partly responsible for Cloud9’s success, and it would be nice to see him work some magic on Coast.
# 7 – Curse
The name Curse is synonymous with missing: missed chances, missed smite, and missed potential. Their new roster, with Zekent, Quas, and IWillDominate looks stronger than ever. With Saintvicious out of the game and into the coaching role, will Curse’s performance issues fall by the wayside?
#8 – Dignitas
Dignitas has been a team I’ve loved for a long time. Scarra is one of the most educational streamers on the scene. But after their loss to Alliance (0-4 thus far in EU LCS) at the Battle of the Atlantic, it’s hard to see them doing anything but following in Alliance’s footsteps.
Mattias “Gentleman Gustaf” Lehman is a big time nerd-gamer who has been involved in both SC2 and LoL. He has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
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