The regular Spring Split of the NALCS has come to a close and the standings are a lock. In the off season, we saw some big names enter the scene with huge investments made by NBA teams. Some teams came in with some high expectations, while others may not have looked as promising. I’ll be reviewing how well I did in my preseason power rankings compared to how things played out. There were definitely some surprises on both sides of the standings so let’s take a look at some of the surprises this split:
Projected Ranking: 2nd
Final Ranking: 1st
Team SoloMid came into this split projected as low as fourth on some preseason power rankings. Many, including myself, saw ADC Jason “Wildturtle” Tran as a definite downgrade to Doublelift. It was evident in the first few weeks, and many doubted how well they’d adapt.
Top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell began to take over heavier shot calling duties. It was rough at first, but TSM finally figured things out mid way through the split. Hauntzer has looked like an MVP candidate, while support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang has proved to be a star support without Doublelift. Star mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg had a few rough first games but has steadily returned to MVP form.
The only worrying trend I could see is how inconsistent jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen can be. Svenskeren did appear to be the weak link of the team throughout the split. He’ll need to become more of a consistent threat for this team to reclaim their NALCS title.
Projected Ranking: 1st
Final Ranking: 2nd
Unlike most teams, Cloud 9 stormed out of the gate to a phenomenal 8-0 start. Teams around them struggled to find synergy in the early parts of the split, but lingering issues have since plagued Cloud9. They’ve struggled to make early game plays and often get wins off their mid game team fighting. Against worse teams, this may work, but to be a top team in the world, this is something they’ll need to improve.
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has had an MVP-like season. His Orianna plays in the last week were carrying many of their games during the final week. Rookie Juan ”
Rookie Juan “Contactz” Garcia has seen his share fair of criticism throughout the split. It’s easy to forget that this is only his first season. He’ll need to find a better way to make early game plays for this team to succeed.
Projected Ranking: 6th
Final Ranking: 3rd
I actually pegged Phoenix1 as one of my dark horse favorites heading into the split. They didn’t disappoint, as they sky rocketed from relegations to a 3rd place finish this split. Even with the hiatus of star jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh, Phoenix1 was still able to show that they can be top contenders in this league.
They imported a hidden gem in ADC No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon. Arrow has looked superb aside from the last week of the split. Despite changing supports around the mid way point Arrow has looked like the best import this split. He currently leads the league in KDA and is 4th in CSDiff@10.
Phoenix1 honestly looked like strong contenders heading into the final week before being blown out by the top two teams in the league. Phoenix1 will need to bounce back heading into their series against a surging Dignitas.
Counter Logic Gaming
Projected Ranking: 4th
Final Ranking: 4th
CLG had a season similar to last Summer Split. They struggled to adapt to the meta and lost a lot due to this. Another issue is playing to the level of their competition. Against the best teams, CLG looked like they could contend with the top teams. When facing bottom tier teams, they’d sometimes get upset or may it a closer series than expected.
Around the mid-season, we saw the usual CLG return to their expected form of title contenders. With the meta shifted back to ADC’s being more than just ult bots, we may see CLG look to play around their bot lane more. Mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun has looked much improved this split after being heavily criticized last year.
CLG have Flyquest as their first opponents heading into playoffs. They should be favorites considering how much Flyquest struggled during the second half of the split. CLG look to be improving week by week, so barring another emergency medical emergency, they should face rival TSM in the next round.
Projected Ranking: 8th
Final Ranking: 5th
Most had Flyquest pegged as a bottom tier team during pre-season. Flyquest stormed onto the scene as a top three team for the first half of the split. Under the shotcalling of Hai “Hai” Lam, they were able to easily out maneuver many of the newer rosters. Hai’s shotcalling and leadership poised Flyquest to be top contenders heading into the split.
As we entered the second half of the split, Flyquest’s magic fizzled out. As teams around them improved, Flyquest attempted to “cheese” opponents bringing out unique picks such as Shaco, Mordekaiser, and Blitzcrank. Teams seem to have figured out their strategies and Flyquest have struggled to adapt.
Despite their late season fall from the top three, they still played well enough to earn the fifth seed in the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see how much they decide to rely on cheese picks going into playoffs. Their drafts have been some of the most interesting, to say the least. CLG is a tough first opponent, but they definitely have the experience to take the series.
Projected Ranking: 3rd
Final Ranking: 6th
Dignitas, on paper, looked like a top three team. Bringing in two of the best in their roles from Korean in Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, many thought they’d contend for top two. That wasn’t the case, as the language barrier and synergy issues were quite evident in the first half of the split.
The team wasn’t very proactive. After a coaching change in bringing back former Apex coach David “Cop” Roberson, the team finally look to be reaching their potential. During the second half of the split, Dignitas looked like the team many had hoped for in preseason.
They have a tall task in facing Phoenix1 in the first round of playoffs, but if they prepare well enough I could see them getting the upset. Chaser has been playing extremely well lately and will play a huge role in deciding whether this team goes far in playoffs.
Projected Ranking: 7th
Final Ranking: 7th
Immortals came in, like many, struggling with synergy issues. Uncharacteristically Eugene “Pobelter” Park looked like the worst mid laner during the first few weeks of the spring, but during the mid-season, Immortals looked to be improved and maybe deserved a playoff spot with how they were playing near the end.
The team still heavily relies on jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to either carry them or lose them games. Their bot lane looked much improved from the start of the split though. I could see Immortals sticking it out with this roster and improving a bunch for Summer split.
Barely just missing playoffs hurts, but they’re headed in the right direction.
Projected Ranking: 9th
Final Ranking: 8th
Echo Fox didn’t have too many expectations heading into the split. Specifically, nobody knew how good jungler Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham was going to be. Akaadian has come out as the next upcoming NA jungle talent in the scene. His early game aggression netted Echo Fox some enormous early game leads.
Echo Fox struggled in transitioning their early game leads to victories. ADC Yuri “Keith” Jew received much of the criticism in Echo Fox’s losses for his performances this split. Top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok was supposed to be an upgrade in his role, but looked to lack synergy with his team. He was often teleporting late or engaging teamfights without his team behind him.
Look for Echo Fox to make some roster changes if they want to be real contenders for next split.
Projected Ranking: 5th
Final Ranking: 9th
Team Liquid was actually another one of my dark horse favorites heading into this split. Jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin was thought to be a top tier jungler in North America. Mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer was finally getting his shot to prove himself.
I don’t think anybody expected Team Liquid to have such a bad season. Nobody would’ve predicted the role swap for Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin from ADC to mid either. In an more even shocking turn of events, Team Liquid brought in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to take over at ADC. Team Liquid has done everything to try to climb out of relegations, but still struggled to finish out the games needed towards the end of the split.
Team Liquid will need to play their way through relegations now to find their way back into LCS, but with the roster they’re sporting now, I don’t see this team losing their LCS spot.
This was still one of the most disappointing seasons in Team Liquid’s history. It’ll be interesting what off season changes they’ll make to claim their rightful spot in fourth place.
Projected Ranking: 10th
Final Ranking: 10th
Not much to say here. EnVyUs’ big need is in the mid lane where they’re wasting an import slot on Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo at the moment. Their bot lane is underrated, and jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo has looked like the best jungler in NA at times. I don’t see them losing their spot in relegations, but we’ll need to see if Lira sticks with them.
If Lira doesn’t get any offers from other teams, and EnVy replaces Ninja, I could see them improve to at least a playoff team in Summer.