With the European games out of the way, it’s time to turn our attention to the North American scene! I’ve already discussed the Power Rankings, but what am I expecting from the upcoming games?
Cloud9 vs TSM
Cloud9 hasn’t lost to TSM in any important games ever, and with how consistent they were last season, I’m not looking to see that anytime soon. They’re obviously not going to be as dominant this Season, but I’d be surprised to see them lose more than one game to any team but TSM, XDG, or EG. Bjergsen may be a very talented mid, but without Reginald, it’s hard to imagine that TSM will have the same playcalling and pizzazz they have had in the past.
The difference will really be in the jungle. TSM has a slight advantage mid if Bjergsen lives up to his hype (but not huge; Hai held his own against xPeke vs Fnatic), while Balls should continue his dominance top, and bot will depend a lot of picks. If TheOddOne can snowball top or bot with ganks, it will be hard for Meteos to control the game, but if Cloud9 gets to control objectives like they normally do, it’s hard to imagine TSM out rotating and teamfighting them.
EG vs XDGG
Krepo had a lot of trash to talk about NA teams as an analyst at World Championships, but he warmed to Vulcun during the group stages. So can his hype live up to reality? Will XDGG retain their calm? Or will team Throwbargains be back?
This game also comes down to Zuna and Xmithie. It’s hard to say how Xmithie will synergize with Bloodwater, while Krepo and Yellowpete have history together. ManCloud is a great player, but he won’t outclass Pobelter the way he has other North American mids. If Zuna is able to exert Xmithie levels of jungle pressure on mid and get ManCloud rolling, it could be curtains for EG regardless of the other lanes.
Curse vs Team Coast
This should be an important game for both teams. If all goes as expected, they’ll both be fighting to avoid relegation, probably against each other. And if either team is going to rebrand themselves with a strong season, they’ll certainly need to be able to outplay the other to start. Curse may have a new roster, but Coast has a new analyst in Alex Penn, ex-Cloud9 analyst. If Coast is to win this game, it will be in planning, not in talent. I’m looking to see how champ select plays out for them, and if they have any surprises up their sleeves.
XDG vs Cloud9
Cloud9 is definitely the better team, but their success hasn’t been against XD.GG (2-2). I call this game close to a toss-up between my two favorite North American teams. I give it to Cloud9 just because I think they’ve improved more during the offseason, and XD.GG will take time to build synergy with their new roles.
Sneaky and LemonNation are used to outplaying bot lanes in NA, so I foresee a victory bot against the untested XD.GG bot lane. As for jungling, I can’t imagine the fresh Zuna taking on the legendary Meteos. That means it’ll be down to XD.GG’s solo laners, especially ManCloud, to earn early advantages and snowball the game.
TSM vs EG
The best of the old vanguard of North American LoL teams vs the brand new European-American team. If EG is going to be a top 3 team this season, it will have to be at the expense of either TSM or XD.GG, so they’d better get started. The smart bet is probably for TSM, but I can’t root against those adorable cheeks of Krepo.
CLG vs Dignitas
Dignitas was largely disappointing last split. If they are going to avoid relegation this round, they’re going to have to take some games off of the middle teams: Curse, Coast, and CLG. This is a good time for them to set the tone for their season. But it’s hard to imagine a business-as-usual Dignitas beating a new-and-improved CLG.