A Summary of the 2016 NA Spring Split
The recent split for the North American LCS was a split of extremes for the most part. There was an undefeated team for the first seven weeks, and there were a few teams with only one or two wins for the first five weeks.
Immortals, a new team in the LCS, was formed right after the Season 5 World Championships. They were formed from a lot of players from other teams. Reignover and Huni were signed from European powerhouse team Fnatic. WildTurtle was signed from Team SoloMid. Pobelter from Counter Logic Gaming and Adrian from Team Impulse. This team finished the split with a 17-1 record. This included winning the first 12 games of the split and a perfect game against Team Impulse. They won the fastest game in LCS history in 18 minutes 16 seconds, and generally destroyed people. They were the Golden State Warriors of the Rift.
On the other end of the spectrum, for most of the split, the role of the Philadelphia 76ers was played by Renegades. They qualified for the LCS through Challenger, and were known for having the first female player in LCS history. Remi, Maria Creveling, was their support and was known for her great Thresh play. She left the team early on in the season. After that, the team hit a very rough patch. At one point, the team was 1-11. Freeze also had issues and could not play early on in the split, and when he returned, Hakuho stepped in as support. It really took them a while to get their footing. Toward the end, they really stepped it up, however. They ended the split 4-2, and had a huge lead against Immortals before losing. They won the tiebreaker against Team Impulse finishing the split with a 6-13 record and a lot of momentum.
Team SoloMid was a team with a lot of interest coming into the split. They were the resident NA All-Star team, with Bjergsen already a star in the midlane. They went and signed Hauntzer, Svenskeren, Yellowstar, and NA’s greatest trash talker Doublelift. Practically anything other than an undefeated split would be underachieving with the hype they garnered. However, no one could have expected as low as a 9-9 split. While WildTurtle performed exceedingly well with Immortals, his replacement on TSM, Doublelift, never really got his footing. They still made the playoffs, however so they can still make up for the lackluster split.
Counter Logic Gaming, despite none of the hype of some of the other teams in the LCS, quietly had a very impressive split. With a 13-5 record, they locked up the 2nd seed in the playoffs. They also were the only team to defeat Immortals. With no Doublelift or Pobelter, people were nervous to see how CLG could do. Stixxay, Doublelift’s replacement, did a fine job all split. Huhi, Pobelter’s replacement, also did very well. With Aphromoo, Darshan and Xmithee still there, they just did their job without any of the hype. While everyone was paying attention to Immortals and TSM, CLG just took care of business all split.
Echo Fox was another team that was new to the LCS. Formerly Gravity Gaming, the team was purchased by former NBA Champion Rick Fox. This was a team whose split was filled with runs. At full strength, they won their first game of the split and finished the week 1-1. After some Visa issues, they had to make forced roster changes. Their midlaner Froggen and their top laner kfo had to sit out for four weeks. In those four weeks, Echo Fox did not win a single game. Their stars came back week 5, and they immediately went on a 4 game win streak. This was the longest such streak in the split at that point for any team that wasn’t Immortals. They were right back in the fight with all of the best teams. They also had a 67-minute win against Team Dignitas in which Froggen broke the world wide Creep Score record for a single game. He killed 764 CS as Gangplank. In that same game, Echo Fox’s ADC Keith also broke the former record with 738 CS in that game.
This split also saw a very different pool of champions played than in splits past. Marksmen were everywhere. Graves, Kalista, Quinn, Varus, Corki, Lucian, Miss Fortune, the debuting Jihn, Kog’Maw, Ezreal, Caitlyn, Vayne and another new champion, Kindred, are all marksmen who saw time in an LCS game. Many of these were played in roles other than ADC. Corki, Quinn and Varus were all played, mostly in midlane. Graves and Quinn were both played top. Graves and Kindred were both played as junglers. The meta saw little tank play outside of top lane. The top lane, however, saw some serious tank play. With the preferred Malphite build being Zz’Rot Portal and Banner of Command for several weeks, the top lane became almost exclusively tank v. tank matches.
It was a very unique split. Teams rose to the top that were unexpected, and different teams underwhelmed. The meta was full of damage whereas before this split it was a tank heavy game. It is still unseen how the playoffs will end, and how this meta will shift going forward. But I, as do most fans, look forward to how the game will evolve going forward.