NALCS logo Doublelift Aphromoo

New homes for Doublelift and Aphromoo

The off-season saw Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black go from Counter Logic Gaming to 100 Thieves, and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng move from Team SoloMid to Team Liquid. Since then there has been much speculation: How would the former members of the once famous “Rush Hour” duo fare? After an exciting Week 1, and several wins since, fans of both players can breathe a little easier.

Week 1

Team Liquid

Team Liquid Logo Doublelift

Courtesy of Team Liquid

Rejoining the organization he spent two months with last spring, Doublelift took on his former team and recent replacement, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen in the first game of the season. Zven and his lane partner Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez have played together for several teams, starting with Origen in 2014. Since then they have been inseparable, moving first to G2 Esports and now to the NA LCS. The pair have produced consistently dominant performances, leading many to call them the “Best in the West.” This is a title that Doublelift referenced with a smirk in his post-game interview, after going 5/0/5 in Team Liquid’s 28 minute, 11-1 rout of the defending NA Champions.

After the typical early game spent farming and feeling each other out, Doublelift engaged aggressively onto the enemy bot lane. Timing Tristana’s Rocket Jump perfectly with Taric’s Dazzle, he stunned Zven’s Kalista long enough to get the kill and chunk mithy’s Alistar down to half of his health. Without hesitation, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung used Taric’s Cosmic Radiance. This protected the members of Team Liquid as they rushed past the enemy tower in pursuit. A flash/stun combo from Olleh secured the double kill for Doublelift, and sparked “Let’s go Liquid” chants from the traditionally pro-TSM crowd.  Team liquid took this early lead and ran with it to secure a resounding victory to start off 2018.

100 Thieves

100 Thieves Logo Doublelift

Courtesy of 100 Thieves

 

While Doublelift came into Week 1 ready to prove himself to TSM, Aphromoo went into Sunday’s game against CLG with as much to prove to himself as anyone else. He made it clear in preseason interviews that while leaving CLG was one of the toughest decisions of his life, it was ultimately his choice. He had spent nearly 5 years with CLG, becoming the main shotcaller and a fan favorite. “…I thought that would be my home forever.” he said in a preseason interview with LoL Esports, “…but here we are.” Not only was Aphromoo leaving his longtime friends and teammates, he was also transitioning from an established team to one that was brand new to the NA LCS. He seemed apprehensive about the change, and maybe a little homesick.

If Aphromoo had any lingering loyalty for CLG and former lane partner Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, it didn’t last long. By 4:30 into the game, he had already set up the perfect gank, flashing forward as Braum to get stacks of Concussive Blows onto both Stixxay and CLG’s new support, Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. The resulting stun secured a a kill on the latter for his ADC, Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. 100 Thieves steadily increased their lead as the game continued, and Aphromoo racked up eight more assists while only dying once by the time the CLG nexus fell. As he walked down the line, hugging old teammates, he looked perfectly content in his new home.

Continued success

Now, three weeks in, both Aphromoo and Doublelift are still going strong, and their new teams sit above their old in the NA LCS standings. Doublelift is playing as cleanly as ever with a league-best KDA of 19.3. This is more than double that of Altec, the ADC who is his closest competition with a 7.5 KDA. He is in good company, with a team of veterans and some former teammates that looks like they have been working together for years. They have dominated all but one of their opponents, racking up kills and objectives in a style that is simultaneously exciting and methodical. Now tied for first with five wins and one loss, Doublelift looks poised to lead Team Liquid to the postseason.

Sitting just behind them in the standings with a record of 4-2, 100 Thieves quickly made their mark. While they have faced criticism for barely securing victories in some close games, it may very well be this ability to close out tough contests that will carry them to success later in the season. Additionally, they are the only team to have defeated Team Liquid so far this split.

Arguably the biggest question mark on the team coming into the season was young ADC Cody Sun. He entered the NA LCS only last year, and seemed to struggle before finding his groove in the Summer Split. However, he has never looked better than he does with Aphromoo by his side. Currently boasting 742 Damage Per Minute and 39% of his team’s total damage, he is #1 in both among ADCs. Aphromoo’s team-high 38 assists is only a small part of his contribution to the success of both Cody Sun and 100 Thieves, as his shotcalling and positive energy are what have made him one of the top supports in the league.

As they head into Week 4, there is still a long way to go this split. Though it looks promising, it remains to be seen if these two veterans can lead their respective teams to the level of success they are each striving for. If they both continue to perform, it is possible that we will see them both at Worlds again in 2018.

 

 

If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @buttsy11.  For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

 

Other photos courtesy of  comicbook.com

Huhi – Scrims, team development and TSM

Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun on opposing mid-laners – “I’m not really that scared of any mid-laner right now.”


Congrats on the recent wins and turning it around. How do you feel about the team?

“It feels good that we are starting to prove it on stage. In scrims, we are always really confident and it was always really weird that it didn’t transfer to the real games. And now it feels like we are getting there.”

 

Obviously stage play is a lot different, but what was the issue in the transition? Lack of confidence? Or just the change in environment?

Image provided by Riot Games

“I wasn’t sure, and I’m still not actually. First of all, people are figuring out their normal daily routine on stage too. We were doing a lot of different things that the team asked us and I think that was too much at once. We slowly adapted finally and now we are there… We just had to get used to the different process.”

 

What are your plans on preparing next week for TSM? It’s an old rivalry, both teams were off to slow starts but are really ramping up now and are at 3-3, with a similar story this split and in the past. So are you looking forward to it? Is it still the same big match like it usually is?

“I think for sure. This time we have an ex-TSM member. We’ve never had that, that’s a new thing for us. But we kind of want to make sure that all of us treat the TSM match the same as other matches so that we can stay focused on our games. I don’t think we will do anything different to prepare versus them.”

 

Do you think they have any big weaknesses that you are going to try and exploit?

“Well, I think MikeYeung was having a pretty hard time in the early split just trying to get used to his team too. So I guess the mid-jung synergy could be a potential place to punish since me and Reignover are pretty comfortable with each other.”

 

There have been a lot of big mid lane plays, with our first pentakill on Febiven last week and others picking up steam, like Pobelter. But people have also been talking about you as well and how you lead the team differently this split than before. So where do you personally put yourself in this group of mid laners, and who is the strongest/scariest to go against in lane?

Image provided by Riot Games

“It’s pretty hard to say one, because I haven’t thought about it yet. I would say the first and second split that I played, I had those tier lists in my heart, though I never really said it. But this time I’m not really paying attention that much on it because I’m just really confident with my team and I know that it doesn’t matter. We will beat every team as long as we play our game and we focus on ourselves. So I’m not really that scared of any mid-laner right now.”

 

So when are you most comfortable then? When do you go into a game feeling really confident? Is there a specific team comp or champ that you like more than others?

“I’d say when we play the champions that we practice in scrims, for sure. We have that muscle memory where we know what we are capable of and the power spikes and what we have to do to win the game and that makes the game much easier. Also, right now, I’m pretty comfortable in almost every game because my team helps me feel comfortable. Like yesterday, I felt like I was playing really bad, and even though I was, my team was making sure I was okay and helping me to stay in the game. They got my back and we won the game easily.”

Image provided by Riot Games

Do you have any big weaknesses that you’re working on?

“I think because of our strengths – playing as a team – I feel like our weakness is, if you die, everyone will try to save that guy and die together. So those are the points we want to improve on. Like when we have to do that and when we don’t and try to not bleed. And that’s a challenge we have to try to figure out.”

 


Thanks for reading! Find Huhi on Twitter @Huhi to send him your energy. Check back here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

NA LCS

The Champs of the NA LCS Week 2

With Week 2 of the NA LCS behind us, Riot has released an infographic detailing the stats for the week. The Infographic contains all sorts of information, ranging from the match results to the best players of the week. However, one thing that specifically jumps out are the champion presence and win rate stats. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Champion Presence

Over the last week of play, there were many champions who were either picked or banned for almost every match. However, in the case of three champions, they had presence for all 10 matches. The most prolific of these champions being Zoe, the aspect of Twilight. Zoe has an incredibly strong kit, ranging from CC to insane burst damage. To make matters that much worse, she has the ability to do half your health at level 1. With that in mind,  you can start to see why she was banned 9 times out of 10, slipping through the ban phase only once.

That time was during the Echo Fox vs TSM game, as soon as Zoe was on the table Echo Fox snapped it up for their mid-laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun. TSM choose not to ban it thinking they could counter it should the pick come out, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Fenix proceeded to absolutely demolish, going 8/1/13 in an almost hour-long match.

 

NA LCS

Source: Riot Games

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Ezreal. Ezreal was picked in 9 of the 10 NA LCS matches, being banned only a single time. Ezreal is a very popular pick, not only in the NA LCS but also in solo queue. According to Champion.gg, he is the 3rd most picked ADC with an 11.82% play rate, being surpassed only by Vayne and Tristana, both of which are late game powerhouses.

Ezreal rose to the top of the meta with the release of the reforged runes system, being one of the best abusers of the Kleptomancy keystone. Kleptomancy for those who don’t know grants gold for landing an auto attack after using an ability. It also gives the chance at a random consumable when this auto attack lands. You may now be asking why Ezreal is able to use the rune to greater effect than many other champions. The answer, his Q. Ezreal’s Q applies on-hit effects, meaning in the case of Klepto, his Q counts as both the spell and the auto attack. Combine this with his Q’s low cooldown time and you have a recipe for klepto spam.

Champion Winrate

Moving onto champion win rate, the infographic only included champions that had been played in more than 3 games. The infographic shows late game powerhouses such as Tristana and Azir, who if left to their own devices will completely demolish their enemies. However, what is interesting here is that the only 2 champions with a 100% win rate are champions who come online earlier in the game. Gangplank comes online mid game, and Taric is good during the lane phase.

The question here is why they exhibit higher win rates compared to the late game carries who are essentially a guaranteed win should the match last long enough. There are two reasons for this, average match length and champion kit. Let’s start with match length, the average match length during week 2of the NA LCS was around 42 minutes. At an average of 42 minutes champions like Tristana who aren’t as good early game don’t fully come online. This is especially true vs early game damage dealers who can continuously poke them out of lane and deny CS.

NA LCS

Source: Riot Games

Secondly, we need to take a look at champion kit. First up is Mr. Fabulous himself, Taric. Taric is a great laner, this is due to his stuns and passive armour increases. He is able to set up kills an keep his team safe with relative ease, making him a very well rounded pick. Not to mention the fact that he has one of the best ultimates in the game, potentially making his entire team invulnerable.

Gangplank, on the other hand, is rather weak during the early lane phase in terms of skirmishing potential. However, this remedied by the combination of his Q and Kleptomancy. That’s right Kleptomancy is back for a second round. Similarly to Ezreal’s Q, Gangplank’s Q applies on-hit effects, but to make it that much sweeter, his Q grants bonus gold if it kills a unit. This allows Gangplank to be ahead of the enemy laner by an entire item at about 20 mins. This happens even if they go even in lane.

To take a look at the rest of the infographic, which includes lots of interesting information about the week, click here.

CREDITS

Featured Image: LoLUniverse

Other Image(s): LoL Esports

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Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett on their victory over TSM, onstage intensity and words for MikeYeung

“I genuinely feel like I have a long term home here. I really love playing with my teammates.” – Dardoch on Echo Fox

Parqueso – What are the comms like when it gets into these really late game teamfights? How do you keep calm, how do you keep your composure? Especially as the only one who can get into the backline.

Dardoch – “Well I wouldn’t necessarily say I kept composure during the game. *laughs* I was screaming a lot, and I was really intense… Every time I would engage, I was screaming who I was going for. Like, “Kill Bjergsen! Please kill Malzahar, kill Ez!” That kind of stuff. But overall, when everything calms down and we need to talk about strategy, like after the teamfight disperses and we are clearing waves, everyone is really calmed down and we just get the concise plan out.”

Image provided by Riot Games

P – Everyone talks about 100 Thieves showing up and proving to not just be “pretenders,” but what about you guys on EchoFox? People talk about how you seem to have potential, but could easily fall apart. Any response to that?

D – “I wouldn’t say we have solidified ourselves as a top team yet but we are definitely on the right track. And I think if we have a couple more strong performances, we will definitely solidify ourselves as a top team.”

P – Does the memeing and flame from the community or whomever propel you forward or is it just something you want to die off?

D – “It is something I just wish would die off, but really I am numb to that banter already. It’s been going on for so long, but I know what is going on inside my organization and I know how my teammates feel about me, and I’m really happy about how they feel about me and our relationships. So I don’t really care about the public’s wrong perception of me.”

P – You present as a very emotional player, and I’d say a number of LCS pros are – you can just see the passion when they play. How do you use that emotion? And is it something you actually think about, or does it just exist?

D – “It’s 100% natural onstage. My adrenaline pumps so much in these really high intensity games, when it’s almost entirely on me to get the engage – especially in that game when legitimately no one else on the team could engage the fight – every time it goes correctly, my heart is just racing. It’s so fun! It’s really an awesome experience playing onstage.”

Image provided by Riot Games

P – What changes do you expect to happen in the jungle in competitive play going into patch 8.2?

D – “I mean, we are going to see a lot of Nunu bans. That is probably one of the dumbest balance changes I have ever seen come out of Riot games and it is just actually baffling that they haven’t reverted it yet. And I hope that is the quote of this interview, because it is absolutely ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous for them to buff Nunu that absurdly. The champion needs a rework. He is just boring. He needs a rework he doesn’t need a buff. I just needed to say my 2 cents on Nunu. But I think most changes are just from lane matchups. Targons gone from adcs, spellthief’s gone from other laners and junglers. We’ll see the most change in [lanes] due to the change in targeted spells changing minion aggro.”

P – Lastly, I’m starting up a segment called Everyone Else is Trash, where I encourage players to engage in some friendly banter with their opponents. Do you have anything fun you’d like to add?

D – “I actually don’t really want to bm, but I could give some words of encouragement to MikeYeung. Just directly to Mike, ‘Mike I think you’re a really good player and I think you have a lot of potential. You’re going to get a lot of hate because you are on TSM and you’re losing. But just keep your head down and keep working. You have really good players around you, and I think you guys will be fine.’”

Wholesome Dardoch provided by Riot Games

 



Thanks for reading! Shoutout to @Dardochlol for being an amazing interviewee. Stay tuned here for more interviews and content! If you’d like to contact me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Everyone else is trash

As the esport industry has been growing over the past few years, so has the debate about whether or not esports are even sports. And, while I am of the opinion that it doesn’t even matter, what actually makes a sport a sport? Athleticism? Mental fortitude? Competition? Trash talk!

 

Whether you are watching fancy celebrations or post game banter, trash talk is an integral part of the game. Hell, it’s sometimes hard to make it through a hockey match without players socking each other in the face. But all of that makes it fun! It adds to the drama of a big match; it gives players life and personality. Talking smack makes us more interested in the outcome of the game, regardless of what is being played – the same goes for League.


When Doublelift trash talked TSM this whole offseason, it made the TL – TSM season opener all the more interesting. Would he be able to back it all up, or would he make a fool of himself? The match was no longer just a player competing against his old team, there was pride on the line. You could feel tangible emotion in his quest for revenge. He did not want to win, he wanted to “absolutely demolish TSM’s legacy.” THAT is something worth watching.

 

So who cares if esports are sports or not, they are here to stay! And as long as they’re here, we might as well talk some smack. It’s not a game without some flame! Here are all the things our beloved pros are telling me about their Wood 5 opponents…


Week 2

  • Adrian – “TSM seems really passive as a team… MikeYeung is just another ward for them.”

 

  • Doublelift – “Febiven literally ints in every one of my solo queue games, so it’s funny that he went on stage and shit talked, but every game I’ve ever seen him he is just hard trolling my game… So I think he just got lucky vs CLG.”

 

  • Aphromoo – “C9? Who is on that team?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 


If you’d like to flame me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

NA LCS Week 1 overreactions

Week 1 of NA LCS is in the books and as always, teams don’t always seem too coordinated at the beginning of the split. The new meta has brought a lot of long games that has tested the shot calling and synergy of many of these newly formed rosters. Franchising seems to have upped the competition for sure as every team looked competitive in the first week. Here are some of the overreactions after week 1:

TSM will crash and burn

It’s no secret that Team SoloMid’s new roster debuted with a dud of a week. After being criticized heavily at last years world’s for the lack of early play making ability, the team went for a new look. They imported European duo laners Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez. They also brought in promising all star rookie jungler, Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung, to round out the roster.

TSM looked like a mirror image of their Worlds team during week 1. They were lacking in early game play making and reacting to the enemy team’s moves. Former coach of the split, Kim “Ssong” Sangso was supposed to help fix their issues, but the team looked unchanged.

Star mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg faced heavy criticism from Riot analysts for his passive play. Many players were quick to defend him. They came in ranked near the top for most of the preseason power rankings. Going 0-2 is a major disappointment for this new roster and they’ll need to fix their drafts and early game play making if they don’t want to fall too far behind.

Echo Fox can actually win na lcs

Huni

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Echo Fox came being ranked as one of the lower tier teams in the league. Many argued that the egos on the roster would not be able to mesh well together and the team would ultimately fail once they lost a few games. In their first two games, the team looked very good going 2-0. Echo Fox’s early game has been the best in the league. They averaged a gold difference @15 of 4,233 over the two games they played.

Top lane star Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon showed off his top Lucian pick as a counter to Gangplank. He would end the game with a 4-0-6 KDA and flame horizon the originator of the saying, Lee “Flame” Ho-jong.

Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett showed out well with two good Zac games and finishing with a 9.5 KDA. Echo Fox looked really strong, but we’ll need to see them stay consistent heading into week 2. They’ll be facing off against a struggling TSM and Cloud 9 this week. If they can pull out another 2-0, this team could be the real deal. This could possibly be the roster that finally gets Echo Fox to playoffs.

100 Thieves Might be the Strongest of all the New teams

With the NA LCS introducing four new teams into franchising, 100 Thieves looked to be the best of all the teams. Built with solid veterans in just about every role this team could be a sleeper team to look out for. They have two strong Korean solo laners in Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho.

They have a strong core of North American players as well in veterans Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black and William “Meteos” Hartman. Along with rising young stud Cody “Cody Sun” Sun, their roster looks solid. They were able to pull off a really close win against Optic Gaming and dominated Counter Logic Gaming.

Lead by passionate owner, Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, 100 Thieves could start gaining fans quickly if they keep their success up.

Licorice is the Next Great NA Talent

When Cloud 9 announced that rookie Eric “Licorice” Ritchie would be replacing Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, many were quick to write them off as contenders. Licorice in particular had no LCS experience and hadn’t looked particularly strong against LCS competition. In their first match against CLG Licorice was a victim to camping by the enemy jungler, but was still able to deal the most damage in the game on Gangplank.

In his second game against Golden Guardians, he had an excellent Kled game going 7-0-6. Licorice has been a longtime solo queue stud, so if he can develop into a carry top lane he could be the next star from North America. Cloud 9 is known to be open to letting their players play what they think is strong so he’ll have a lot of freedom for champion choice.

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Cover Photo by lolesports

 

 

The 2018 North American Academy League starts soon.

Introducing the 2018 North American Academy League rules and rosters

Along with the franchising of the North American LCS, Riot is introducing an Academy League for the 2018 season. This league is replacing the North American Challenger Series of previous years. Each LCS organization is required to support an Academy roster alongside their primary team, which will compete in the “minor league.”

While this move is not a huge change for North American League of Legends, Riot has stated slightly different goals for this Academy League compared to the Challenger Series:

“At its core, Academy League is a service for organizations to develop in-house talent–unlike its high-stakes predecessor, the Challenger Series, whose focus was to promote new teams to the NA LCS.”

The Academy League is not necessarily designed to be competitive in the same way Challenger Series was. It is a space for organizations to focus on bringing in players and coaches to season them into LCS talents.

STRUCTURE and RULES

The 2018 Academy League Spring Split schedule is available online

Image from lolesports.com

The Academy League will run parallel to the NA LCS. For every Saturday and Sunday LCS match-up there will be a Thursday or Friday Academy match. For example, since TSM and Team Liquid’s LCS teams face off in week one, their Academy teams also face off in week one. Academy League is a best-of-one double round robin, just like the LCS. Riot will broadcast Friday’s Academy series, but Thursday’s will only be available as VODs. The entire schedule is published on their website.

In order to keep the Academy League true to its goals, Riot has implemented a few roster restrictions. Every organization has to lock in their active roster each Wednesday, then set starters by 1:00pm for Academy, and 12:00pm for LCS, each game day. Riot kept roster changes relatively flexible, because they “felt it would be detrimental for player development if it was difficult for players to move between the starting Academy and LCS rosters.”

In addition, Academy teams have veteran and import player limits. For the 2018 Spring Split, Academy teams can only start up to three veterans and one non-resident. Riot was torn between expanding North America’s rising stars and continuing to support established talents through the chaos of the franchising off-season. Moving forward, Academy teams will be restricted to two veterans.

They define a veteran as “if the player has started over 50% of eligible regular season games over the course of the last two splits of professional, Worlds-eligible League of Legends competition (i.e. NA LCS, EU LCS, etc).” Riot believes veterans bring several benefits to Academy teams. They allow LCS organizations to field a couple of solid substitutes for their bench. Veterans on Academy teams can also help influence young players in and out of the game. Import players can use the Academy to “get acclimated to NA esports, as well as learn English and deal with the transition of living in a new country.”

Academy Team Rosters (previous team-recent achievement)

OpTic Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

OpTic Academy (OPTA)

Dhokla – Sin Gaming – 4th place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Kadir – ÇİLEKLER – 8th place 2017 Turkish Championship League Summer

Palafox – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Andy – Zenith eSports – 2nd place 2016 Carbon Winter Invitational

Winter – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

OpTic’s roster-building strategy did not carry over as much from their LCS roster. While Dhokla most recently competed in Australia, he is North American, along with Palafox, Andy and Winter. Kadir, from the Netherlands, is the only technical non-resident.

This Academy squad seems to truly be about developing young talent, as these players have hardly anything on their resume coming into 2018. Hopefully the OpTic LCS team gels better than predicted, because none of these players appear ready to take the main stage just yet.

Team Liquid joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TL Academy (TLA)

RepiV – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Hard – Echo Fox – 10th place 2016 NA LCS Summer

Mickey – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shoryu – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Joey – CLG sub- 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Liquid’s Academy team centers around Korean mid laner Mickey, who TL brought on towards the end of Summer Split. Hard has some LCS experience as a starter and substitute, while Joey was a substitute for CLG under Aphromoo. He did get to start a couple of times during the Spring Split.

RepiV (previously Viper) and Shoryu are essentially solo queue talents, although RepiV was Liquid’s top lane substitute for most of last year. This Academy roster provides Mickey, Hard and Joey as substitutes if Xmithie, Pobelter or Olleh do not pan out. However, it is mostly a testing ground for RepiV and Shoryu.

FlyQuest joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

FlyQuest Academy (FQA)

Ngo – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

Shrimp – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keane – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Erry – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

JayJ – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

FlyQuest is the only Academy roster to bring on collegiate talent for Spring Split. Ngo (aka iMysterious or Gaow Gaiy), Erry and JayJ played together on the University of Toronto uLoL team last year. The team took second place in North America, but this will be their first test in the minor league.

Keane and Shrimp join FQA from a disbanded Team Dignitas, which took fourth place in the LCS last summer. They are, arguably, the strongest duo out of any Academy line-up. Their mid-jungle synergy should provide FlyQuest with a sturdy anchor to develop the Toronto trio.

TSM joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TSM Academy (TSMA)

Brandini – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Grig – Echo Fox sub- 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Ablazeolive – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

MrRalleZ – TSM sub – 1st place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shady – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TSM’s Academy roster is not nearly as threatening as their LCS line-up. MrRalleZ carries over from last year as a tenured substitute AD Carry. Playing under Zven should expand the veteran’s repertoire even further, after training with Doublelift last year.

Brandini, Grig and Shady have each gotten a small share of LCS experience, but mostly acted as substitutes for their respective teams. Ablazeolive has played in the Challenger Series, but is mostly known as a versatile solo queue mid laner. These individuals should be able to go toe-to-toe with most in the Academy League, but synergy may take time to develop.

CLG joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

CLG Academy (CLGA)

Fallenbandit – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Omargod – CLG – 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Tuesday – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Zag – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fill – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

CLG is the only team that already had a reasonable sister team playing in the Challenger Series. They simply carried over their entire roster from Summer Split and re-added Omargod.

It is hard to say whether this line-up’s synergy will overcome the raw talent of some of these other rosters. Omargod is the closest to a veteran on the team, due to his LCS experience last split. Maybe he will be the leader to elevate the rest of CLGA into a threat.

100 Thieves joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

100 Academy (100A)

Kaizen – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Levi – GIGABYTE Marines – 1st place 2017 Garena Premier League Summer

Linsanity – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Rikara – Gold Coin United – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Whyin – Gold Coin United sub – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

100 Thieves put together a creative Academy roster for 2018. Everyone will focus on Levi, the aggressive GPL superstar jungler, but there is more to 100A. Rikara and Whyin played together last summer on Gold Coin United. Linsanity has been a touted solo queue mid laner for years now.

Most importantly, Levi and Linsanity could be 100 Thieves’ answer to Meteos and Ryu’s retirement. With a split or two of experience together, Levi and Linsanity could fill Meteos and Ryu’s roles without needing to change out Ssumday, Cody Sun or Aphromoo.

Golden Guardians joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

GGS Academy (GGA)

Jenkins – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Potluck – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Bobqin – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Jurassiq – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Xpecial – Phoenix1 – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Golden Guardians used the same mentality to construct their Academy team as their LCS team. Xpecial acts as the long-term veteran shot-caller who will develop four young North American talents. Hai assumes that role on GG’s main line-up.

Jenkins, Potluck, Bobqin and Jurassiq are relatively unknown quantities. No one can really comment on how effective they may be. However, if Xpecial proves to be better than Matt, then he just may get the starting spot. It also might not be out of the question for Jenkins or Jurassiq to see some starts, depending on Lourlo and Deftly’s performances.

 

Cloud9 joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

C9 Academy (C9A)

League – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Wiggily – Tempo Storm – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Goldenglue – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keith – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Zeyzal – eUnited – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fans should be pleased with Cloud9’s Academy off-season, despite questionable LCS pick-ups. Goldenglue and Keith have previously had starting LCS roles, even if they were weak points for those teams. Wiggily and Zeyzal showed promise in last year’s Challenger Series.

League is the most questionable addition, but C9 worked with him at Scouting Grounds and obviously see something in him worth developing. As long as these personalities mix, C9 Academy should be fairly competitive. All of these players need a bit of development before promoting into the LCS.

Echo Fox joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

EF Academy (FOXA)

Allorim – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TheOddOrange – Team Gates – 6th place 2017 NA Challenger Spring

Damonte – Echo Fox sub – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Lost – Legacy Esports – 3rd place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Papa Chau – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Echo Fox brings together five players with limited professional experience. Allorim and Damonte were substitutes for LCS teams, while Papa Chau subbed for eUnited. TheOddOrange has played in the NA Challenger Series, and Lost started in the OPL.

EF Academy is probably the weakest-looking out of the bunch. None of these players have much prior history or synergy together. Damonte previously played for Echo Fox, but he did not see many starting opportunities. Even parts of last year’s Delta Fox/Stream Dream Team might have been valuable for developing raw talent.

Clutch Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

Clutch Academy (CGA)

Maxtrobo – Tempo Storm sub – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Moon – FlyQuest – 7th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Sun – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Piglet – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Vulcan – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Piglet returns to the minor league as part of Clutch Gaming Academy. He is joined by Moon and three rookies. Vulcan had a decent showcase at Scouting Grounds, and Maxtrobo and Sun have consistently maintained high Challenger solo queue rankings.

Clutch Gaming is smart to bring on Moon and Piglet as substitutes for LiRa and Apollo. These two duos would be interchangeable while still starting two or fewer non-residents. LiRa and Apollo were more consistent in Summer Split, but Moon and Piglet showed high ceilings in Spring Split. Hopefully, they are also able to lead this squad in the Academy League.

Expectations for 2018

Based on the rosters that these organizations have fielded, the 2018 Academy League should be much better for developing new North American players. Less than 10 percent of these players are imports. Close to 30 percent of these players have started in a major competitive league (LCS, LCK, etc.). Many of these players will have their professional debut in the Academy League, and others will finally get a chance to have a starting position in the minor league.

There are still a few players, such as Levi, Xpecial, Piglet and Keane, who have opportunities to rotate into the NA LCS this year. If they are able to prove themselves as leaders, and the rosters can conform to import limits, then they could be promoted. For now, though, they will need to focus on growth and development.

Academy League may not be as competitive as the Challenger Series was previously. It may be more of a training ground for players and coaches to condition and mature. Teams are going to have difficulty synergizing immediately. Some players may find they are unable to work well in a team environment. Nonetheless, 2018 will be full of growth, and the Academy League will be a huge part in continuing that growth for years to come.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports

Other Images: LoL Esports

Team and Player History and Achievements: LeaguepediaOP.GGuLoL

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Is Cloud 9’s new roster underrated?

Heading into the new split, one of the biggest organizations in NA LCS, Cloud 9, made some questionable moves this off season. They lost top laner, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, to Team Liquid and also let rising jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia leave. With the acquisitions of rookie top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and former TSM jungler, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, most people are considering these moves downgrades. Licorice is a huge question mark as someone who has never seen the LCS stage outside of challenger series. He showed carry potential at times, but when faced against LCS-level competition, he floundered. Svenskeren comes in after a shaky year with TSM in which he took the blunt of the criticism for their failures. Cloud 9 have always been a top organization in NA LCS, but are people downplaying how good this roster can actually be?

is Licorice the next Hauntzer?

Photo by: Riot Esports

Licorice is seen as the biggest question mark heading into the new split. He hasn’t had any LCS experience outside of the challenger series, but has shown flashes of his carry potential. He’s often been high on the solo queue ladder so the mechanics are definitely there. In a region with weaker top lane talent, Licorice has the chance to have the similar path of TSM’s Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell.

Licorice has the chance to learn from many of the LCS veterans on his team. Many people doubted TSM’s signing of Hauntzer after seeing him do decent with Gravity. Nobody thought that he would be as good as he is today. Being surrounded with some of the best players in the league gives him a chance to learn from the best. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Andy “Smoothie” Ta are all at least top two players within the region. While Svenskeren may have had an off year this past split, the new runes may favor his type of playstyle.

Licorice seems hungry to learn and brings in a new young player that Cloud 9 can mold. This is the second straight season that they’ll be bringing on a rookie NA player.

Keeping the Core

If there’s one move Cloud 9 can be praised for, it’s keeping the core of their success. Jensen and Sneaky are two of the best carries in North America at their positions. Sneaky, being underrated for most of his career, finally began to receive recognition last year after good Worlds and Gauntlet performances. He attended his first All star event this past year. Smoothie has also shined since joining Cloud 9 as a shot caller and play making support. Smoothie continues to grow every year and is arguably one of the best supports in the league now.

While there were rumors that head coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu could bolt after last season, he has stayed with the team. Since coming onto the team in May 2016, he’s given the team the leadership to succeed and shot call in game without former star, Hai “Hai” Lam. Being able to keep a coaching talent like Reapered is huge for staying successful.

Which Svenskeren Will We see?

It’s no secret Svenskeren is coming off one of the weakest years of his career. He received much of the criticism for TSM’s lackluster performances at international events. Joining a new team gives him a fresh start to rebuild himself. This will likely be his last chance to prove that he can be a world class jungler. With the new runes leaning towards more aggressive junglers, Svenskeren might be able to reinvigorate his career.

He matches much of the aggression of star mid laner, Jensen, so it will be interesting to see how the two work together. They could form one of the most aggressive mid/jungle duos if things work out correctly. Former TSM owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh noted his lack of synergy with former support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. Jungle and support synergy is especially important in the early game play making. With Smoothie being a very vocal member of the team, I could see him and Svenskeren working really well together.

Cloud 9 will have some big questions to answer in the new season. With franchising shaking up rosters, there will be some new teams on the rise for sure. Cloud 9 will need to be on top of their game if they want to stay contenders in a growing NA LCS scene.

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Cover Photo by Riot Games

Burning 5: LCS questions following roster mania

If you blinked, you may have been lapped by the quickest roster shuffle since the inception of the North American LCS.

It all unfolded quickly. Big names swapping teams, European stars plucked from over the Atlantic and near-blank checks were passed around to the region’s most talented players. With charter membership finally kicking off, roster building became an arms race that could have been missed in the blink of an eye.

Anyways, despite the snappy moves and high-prized free agents, questions remain.

What does Meteos have left in the tank?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

On one hand, adding a popular two-time LCS champion to an organization in its infancy seems like a no-brainer.

On the other, it’s been a long minute since former Cloud9 star William “Meteos” Hartman has shown the willingness to be a long-term LCS starter.

Recently, he’s been more of a flash in the pan for teams in transition. Cloud9 penciled him back in mid-season for a run that culminated with a berth to the 2016 World Championship before he resurfaced the following spring jungling for Phoenix1. His time on P1 was flashy, brief and he made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t willing to commit long-term to professional play. And after a few forgetful performances, he was supplanted by then-rookie Mike Yeung.

While there is little question he is capable of being a rock for this star-studded 100 Thieves lineup, the comfortable life of a Twitch streamer and Gunnars spokesman will always loom around the corner for a jungler who hasn’t competed for an entire season since 2014.

What can we expect out of MikeYeung?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

In a perfect world, Mike Yeung isn’t the one to take the mantle of Team SoloMid’s jungler; but absorbing the proven bottom lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Rodríguez was too good of an opportunity to pass on.

The young jungle main is quickly moving onto the biggest stage in Western League of Legends with little experience and heavy expectations. His four teammates have enough hardware to share and have all come together to perform on the international stage.

While he’s put together some nice highlights on the rift, the expectations to perform at the highest level with one of the best Western teams ever assembled won’t be easy. It’s international success or bust and plenty of that pressure rests on the shoulders of a flashy, but largely-unproven player.

How will CLG carry on without aphromoo?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

The parting of Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black from Counter Logic Gaming is the biggest loss of the off-season no matter how you slice it.

The anchor for an organization plagued by years of instability, failures and 17-page manifestos, aphromoo not only became synonymous with CLG’s branding, but became their in-game leader as they won back-to-back LCS titles, twice qualified for Worlds and clawed their way to a runner-up finish at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. With a resume rivaled by few, his cool vibe and team-oriented approach were instrumental for CLG’s renaissance.

The move to former TSM support and three-time LCS champion Vincent “Biofrost” Wang isn’t necessarily a downgrade on the surface, but as we’ve seen from plenty of teams, you can never put a price on leadership.

Life without aphro will be a big transition. It’ll be interesting to see if Biofrost, new jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and incumbent CLG members can fill that void.

Does Dardoch finally get it?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

Rick Fox and company put together quite the boom-or-bust roster with the most boom-or-bust personality at jungle.

Joshua “Dardoch” Harnett has never been short of raw talent or passion, which we’ve known since his promotion to Team Liquid’s starting jungle position in 2016. Overshadowing his will, however, has always been the path of destruction his attitude has left along the way.

A year after Team Liquid’s infamous Breaking Point, the documentary that centered around the season-long stare down between Dardoch and then-coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-seop, the 19-year-old jungler is coming off a season where his attitude bounced him between three different organizations. And like his previous stops, he’s once again acknowledged his attitude problems weighed down his teams and seems determined to fix them.

“It has to get to a point where there’s a common denominator in all these teams,” he stated in his exit video with Team Liquid posted just over a month ago.

The acquisition of Dardoch is a risky move for a risky lineup, but if he can finally get it together, this team will be ready to compete for a title. If problems persist, it’ll be interesting to see what doors remain open for the controversial star.

Can we trust the Golden Guardians’ process?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

Yeah, we know. The “trust the process” slogan is latched onto the LCS-exiled Philadelphia 76ers, but the Golden Stare Warriors-owned esports franchise is putting faith in the future.

Behind mid laner Hai “Hai” Lam are four players young, talented and local to North America. In fact, they’re the only team to recruit zero imports, while the rest of the league is carrying the maximum of two, regulated by the Interregional Movement Policy.

Known for his in-game leadership, the 25-year-old has tasked himself to help build a team organically for the long-term, akin to their NBA-counterpart. The Warriors have been perennial title contenders after stockpiling and developing talent over years. It’ll be fun to watch their esports division attempt to emulate their long and successful plan of action.

Featured image: Riot Games

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Four new organizations enter the NA LCS in 2018

NA LCS team identities following off-season roster upheavals

This year’s off-season has been extremely disruptive to the identity of each NA LCS team. Iconic, long-term and founding members of several rosters have switched to another team for 2018. Aphromoo is no longer playing for Counter Logic Gaming. Echo Fox is without Froggen. Hai has moved on from FlyQuest. TSM does not have Svenskeren.

Four brand new organizations are entering the LCS, while four previous organizations are no more. Immortals, Team Envy, Phoenix1 and Dignitas are out. Optic Gaming, Golden Guardians, 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming are in. All of the narratives surrounding the dissolved teams no longer matter. Immortals’ fumbles domestically, and then their tragic World Championship; Dignitas’ return to the LCS and Summer Split run in the playoffs; Phoenix1’s roller-coaster ups and downs from Rift Rivals, MikeYeung and roster shuffles. All down the drain.

The incoming teams will create new narratives for fans to enjoy. Endemic organizations made big roster moves in the off-season, which will bring their own storylines. The other teams in the middle, like Echo Fox and FlyQuest, will continue to mold into their own identities. 2018 is a watershed year for creating new drama, rivalries and narratives within the NA LCS.

100 Thieves: Old Guard, Modern Marketing

Aphromoo joined 100 Thieves for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The roster and coach announced for 100 Thieves consists of Ssumday, Meteos, Ryu, Aphromoo and Pr0lly. Each of these members could easily help anchor a team with their veteran experience and knowledge. However, they find themselves together on a roster that could very well have the most combined professional League of Legends experience on any announced NA LCS team in 2018. The coaching role, every lane, and the jungle position is covered by an established personality.

The organization itself is rather novel, though. Matthew Haag, aka “Nadeshot,” is well-known in the Call of Duty world as a retired player and team owner. He is partnered with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers to build a brand and a League of Legends roster under the 100 Thieves moniker. With a standout logo and a merch store full of casual-wear, 100 Thieves will most likely bring a different marketing flavor to the LCS.

100 Thieves should bring a mixture of results on and off the Rift. Meteos, Pr0lly and Aphromoo are some of the most recognized personalities in North America, while Ssumday and Ryu rally their own sets of fans. Nadeshot and the Cavaliers may contribute new styles and promotions than League of Legends is used to. Combine the charisma of the players and staff with the creativity and flashiness of the brand, and 100 Thieves could pull a nice set of followers. Not to mention, if the team actually has synergy, then there is no doubt they can be contenders regardless of which AD carry they sign.

Cloud9: question marks

Svenskeren joins Cloud9 for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fans are filled with confusion and concern towards Cloud9’s off-season. With Impact and Contractz leaving, Cloud9 brought on Svenskeren and Licorice to join Jensen, Sneaky and Smoothie on the starting roster. Factions of the fan-base believe these members to be side-grades at least, downgrades at worst. Licorice has not been tested above the Challenger Series, while Svenskeren was not viewed as a key factor for TSM in 2017. While Impact and Ray had their low moments this year on Cloud9, there is no question that Impact’s high points were on another level.

Cloud9 still remains as one of the goofier, nonchalant organizations. Sneaky will still be the central personality, as the longest tenured member of the organization. Jensen, Smoothie, Svenskeren and even Coach Reapered and team owner Jack have had their fair share of memes and fun. Licorice will probably fall right in line with this theme.

However, the lightheartedness of the players only works if they are winning. Jokes and humor fall flat if the roster has issues clicking, or if results do not show. Despite standing out as an amusing team, Cloud9 actually has a strong League of Legends legacy. They have won two NA LCS championships, and finished runner-up four times. In 2018 Cloud9 will look to continue building on this success, while still playing the jester role off stage.

Counter Logic Gaming: the Nice Guys

Biofrost joins CLG for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

CLG took their first step away from their “Team Friendship” theme when they traded Xmithie for Dardoch in the 2017 mid-season. They took a step further this off-season by bringing on Reignover to start over OmarGod. Add Aphromoo’s departure, and CLG’s identity is reeling.

But look at the starting roster: Darshan, Reignover, Huhi, Stixxay, Biofrost. These are the nice guys of the NA LCS. This squad has charisma. None of these members have any baggage following them from a previous team, or lacks personality. When Stixxay is the most arrogant player on the roster, it is probably a healthy work environment.

CLG should have some concerns, though. Who will be the leader and shotcaller to fill the void left by Aphromoo? Is there enough fire in the team? And is the talent strong enough to pass the test of 2018? Stixxay has never played in the LCS without Aphromoo. Biofrost only played one split without Doublelift, and it was not nearly as impactful. Reignover has not shown a level of play akin to his days with Huni on Fnatic and Immortals. 2018 will be a huge test for these players’ improvement together.

Clutch Gaming: upgraded envy

Febiven joins Clutch Gaming for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Lira, Apollo and Hakuho made up three fifths of Team Envy in 2017, and they will make up three fifths of Clutch Gaming in 2018. Instead of Nisqy and Seraph, though, Clutch opted for Febiven and Solo. Unlike Cloud9’s, these acquisitions should definitely be upgrades. Nisqy brought a level of consistency to the mid lane, which Envy did not have prior to starting him. Seraph was a starter for the team over a longer period of time, but played much less consistently. Febiven earned first team All-Pro in the 2017 European LCS Summer Split, and Solo was a top performer in the North American Challenger Series.

Envy’s jungler and bottom lane were huge contributors to the team’s Summer Split success. They were able to secure a playoff spot, and took CLG to five games in the quarterfinals. With stronger top and mid laners, Clutch Gaming may be able to reach the next level and push even farther. They also brought on David Lim, who led Team Liquid Academy during their promotion into the LCS and Team Liquid during the 2017 Spring Split.

Beyond a possibly underrated roster, the Houston Rockets’ Clutch Gaming identity within the LCS remains unclear. Sebastian Park, their Head of Esports, seems confident in the team’s potential, and the organization has teased analytical tools for optimizing talent scouting, including a “pathfinding engine.” If these types of developments pan out, then Clutch Gaming could become the Moneyball team in the NA LCS.

Echo Fox: The Aggressors

Dardoch and Fenix join Echo Fox for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

List the most aggressive players in the NA LCS over the past two years, and several of Echo Fox’s reported members are likely to pop up. Huni, Dardoch and Fenix are well-known hawkish competitors. Altec and Adrian began building a similar reputation in the 2017 Summer Split, as well. Echo Fox has combined these aggressors into one squad to completely revamp into 2018.

Drama and tension are the other side of this aggression coin. Dardoch and Fenix had their fair share of issues while on Team Liquid in 2016, as showcased in Breaking PointAdrian had his own problems on Phoenix1 in the 2017 Spring Split. These types of off-stage obstacles could bubble up once again without the proper infrastructure.

FOX’s new look is also a departure from the previous Froggen-centric 10-man roster and the Stream Dream Team (Delta Fox). Echo Fox could never develop any synergy on their LCS roster during Summer Split, due to constantly rotating starters. Froggen’s status is still unknown (although Jacob Wolf reported that FOX plans to drop him), but even if he stays, he will no longer be the only voice on the team. This new Echo Fox will have the highest performance variance, as most of the members rely on emotional momentum to succeed. If this roster is able to mesh and remain problem-free, then Echo Fox could reap huge rewards from this huge risk.

FlyQuest: A chemistry experiment

Flame joins FlyQuest for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

One of the few fully announced rosters, FlyQuest is completely revamped for 2018. Following the trend of keystone figures switching teams, Hai is no longer FlyQuest’s mid laner. Balls, Moon and Lemonnation are gone, as well. Instead, FlyQuest acquired Flame, Anda, Fly and Stunt as starters. They also signed Keane and Shrimp, as well as Ngo, Erry and Jayj from the University of Toronto’s collegiate team. Wildturtle is the only remaining member from the 2017 roster.

Other than Flame, these players feel middle of the pack individually. Anda and Fly are untested in the LCS, but have played in the NA Challenger Series with varying success. Wildturtle can spike fairly high, but generally relies on his teammates to play around his style. Stunt was the on-and-off starter during his time on Phoenix1.

Unlocking these players’ ceilings will be FlyQuest’s greatest challenge in 2018. With the proper synergy, FlyQuest could certainly rise higher than their 2017 Summer Split. Communication problems are more likely, though. Wildturtle has veteran experience, but he may not be a loud voice to build a team around. The rookies, Anda and Stunt, will rely on Wildturtle to be a leader and gel together with the Korean imports, Flame and Fly. Keane and Shrimp are smart pick-ups, since they worked fairly well with Ssumday on Dignitas, and could bring that experience into FlyQuest.

Golden Guardians: Hai and Company

Hai joins Golden Guardians for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Hai kick-starts a new organization in 2018, Golden Guardians, and he is basically their only hope. The Golden State Warriors-owned organization has reportedly acquired Lourlo, Contractz, Deftly and Matt. This roster would be the only one in the NA LCS without any imported players. Golden Guardians also seem to have the least combined LCS experience. These two factors will leave many fans wondering what reasoning was used to construct this team.

Golden Guardians will live or die by Hai in 2018. He is surrounded by relatively young players who have never played for more than one previous organization. LCS fans were impressed with Moon’s performance on FlyQuest with Hai as a shotcaller, but that success was short-lived. If Hai is able to unlock Lourlo, Contractz, Deftly and Matt the same way, then Golden Guardians could surprise.

ESPN also reported Locodoco as the Golden Guardians’ head coach, which could be helpful. He has experience coaching younger players on Team Liquid and Gold Coin United, including Lourlo and Matt. It would be surprising if Golden Guardians kept these same five members as their starters throughout 2018. Without the pressure of relegation, this organization could be taking the opportunity to develop younger native talents with Hai’s proven leadership.

Optic Gaming: The HodgePodge

PowerOfEvil joins Optic Gaming for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

A true concoction, Optic Gaming enters the NA LCS pulling together a wide variety of talents. The “Green Wall” is an expansive organization spanning Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Overwatch and other esports. They have announced their acquisition of Romain Bigeard, ex-manager of Unicorns of Love, and Zaboutine, former caster, as manager and coach. ESPN has reported the starting roster as Zig, Akaadian, PowerOfEvil, Arrow and LemonNation.

If all of this is true, then Optic is combining rising stars in top and jungle with an experimental European mid laner, an up-and-down Korean AD carry and an analytical, veteran support. The roster will be led by an eccentric manager-mascot and a French caster-turned-coach, and they will have the full support of an esports powerhouse brand. There are some strong pieces to this puzzle, but they are not necessarily a clean fit.

The Optic LCS team seems like it may sit somewhere between 100 Thieves and FlyQuest. Optic is definitely a well-known esports organization, and they should draw a fan-base. The first-person shooter edge and player recognition of 100 Thieves combines with the questionable roster synergy of FlyQuest. Romain is a promotional personality with a knack for creating content and winning hearts, so expect Optic to use him to full effect. There is certainly plenty of talent on this roster, but it may take a while for them to actually produce favorable results.

Team Liquid: Vengeful Spirits

Doublelift joins Team Liquid for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The hoarders of the off-season, Team Liquid emerges with a complete roster overhaul. After acquiring contracts for several different players, Liquid has most likely settled on Impact, Xmithie, Pobelter, Doublelift and Olleh. This five-man group feels much stronger and intuitive than Liquid’s team from 2017 Summer Split. Xmithie, Pobelter and Olleh are proven talents who made up three fifths of Immortals’ World Championship-qualifying roster. Impact had a mostly off year, but still solid during the high points. Doublelift comes to Liquid after being replaced by TSM.

Revenge is the overarching theme for Team Liquid going into 2018. Owner Steve Arhancet wants revenge for his last two years of roster troubles. The ex-Immortals players want revenge for losing to TSM in the Summer Split finals, then being denied from the franchised LCS. Most importantly, Doublelift wants revenge for getting nudged out of TSM.

With Cain remaining as head coach, Team Liquid should trend towards the top of the league. If this roster is unable to perform, then it will be a complete disgrace. All of these players have been victorious in the past. Each of these players have attended the World Championship, many of them as teammates. 2018 serves as a fresh start for Team Liquid and Steve, and they need to use their past frustrations as fuel. Dardoch is not an excuse. Piglet is not an excuse. Goldenglue is not an excuse. It is time for Liquid to put up or shut up.

TSM: the final boss

Zven and mithy join TSM for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Citing international shortcomings and issues with shotcalling and communication, TSM’s owner, Reginald, decided to replace Svenskeren, Doublelift and Biofrost with MikeYeung, Zven and Mithy. He also picked up Coach Ssong from Immortals’ dissolved team. The six-time NA LCS champions continue to adapt and reinvigorate their roster, and TSM will remain as the final boss in 2018. Every individual player on this team should be top three in their role at the beginning of the season.

MikeYeung is the only player worth questioning. He showcased an explosive Rift Rivals in 2017, but Phoenix1 fell off as a team afterwards. Fans will find out how meta-dependent MikeYeung is in 2018.

Hauntzer was the standout player at Worlds, and he had an all-around stellar 2017. Bjergsen continues to be an anchor in the mid lane, ever-present, ever-consistent. Zven and Mithy’s reputation precedes them, as they have been a package deal since their time on Origen starting in 2014.

TSM’s performance floor is higher than several LCS teams’ ceilings, because the consistency and experience on this team should be solid. Ssong obviously factored into Immortals’ Summer Split success. If he can produce even a portion of that improvement with TSM, then they have a fruitful road ahead. With so much volatility in the off-season, TSM is one of the only teams to maintain the same identity as the villain of the league. They are the team that assumes North American dominance, and shoots for greatness abroad. Franchising has opened doors for some others to compete financially and strategically, but will they actually have what it takes to dethrone the kings?

credits

Featured Image: Akshon Esports Twitter

Other Images: LoL Esports’ Flickr

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