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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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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