The LCS (formerly NALCS) will be officially launching two weeks from the time this article is published. After a Worlds where Cloud9 made it all the way to the semifinals, NA fans are hoping the next step is a finals appearance in 2019. With the many roster moves (not nearly as many as last year) made by the LCS squads, it is clear that some of these teams are ready to make some noise.
10. Clutch Gaming
To say this team has fallen far is an understatement. After finishing fourth in Spring Split they finished ninth in the Summer and then jettisoned their entire roster outside of LirA who like his team, had an awful Summer Split. Now they sit with a roster full of question marks. Can Huni and Piglet figure it out? Should the team have kept LirA? Are the youngsters, Damonte and Vulcan ready for the big stage? Lastly, can Cody Sun be the difference maker if Piglet isn’t?
If this team answers half of these questions they could be fun to watch. If not then expect them to sit near the bottom of the standings for most of the split.
9. Echo Fox
After finishing second in the Spring and fourth in the Summer, Echo Fox seemingly panicked. Huni and Damonte went to Clutch Gaming, Smoothie is with TSM and Dardoch is with OpTic on their Academy team. What did Echo Fox do to fill the holes? They signed Solo, Apollo and Hakuho from Clutch, Lourlo from Golden Guardians and brought back Rush and Fenix.
Unless the ol’ Clutch boys get back to their winning ways and Fenix and Rush carry, this team is going to be back to what they were before last season, finishing near or at the bottom.
8. OpTic Gaming
Crown and Meteos are really nice additions. Even if both players are technically past their prime they both can still be major factors with this team. The real problems stem from Dhokla and Big. Statistically, Dhokla was either at the bottom or near the bottom in most statistical categories. Big at best is maybe near the middle. While Arrow has his moments he is not enough to carry this team.
All said, this team may still sneak some major wins like they did last year but, if Crown doesn’t hard carry OpTic will be looking at another disappointing split.
FlyQuest was a surprising playoff team during the Summer Split. While they didn’t make much noise in them, it was still nice to see a team really start to come together. For this split they made the addition of Pobelter in mid lane and V1per in top lane. Pobelter should shore up a major need for this team as they were consistently outmatched in mid. V1per will need to fill the shoes of arguably the teams best player from last season in Flame. He had a good year in Academy and it looks like FlyQuest are comfortable giving him a chance considering Flame is still a free agent.
It is likely the FlyQuest will do what they normally do, stay in the hunt. That may be in though unless V1per is like Licorice and becomes a top lane revelation.
6. Counter Logic Gaming
The year of 2018 was underwhelming for CLG. It was clear some changes needed to be made. The brought in Stixxay’s evil brother PowerOfEvil and decided to let Reignover go in favor of Wiggily. POE should bring something new to mid lane and while the CLG faithful may disagree, mid lane got an upgrade. As for Wiggily it is still a little surprising that they did not try for someone else. There is no doubt that Wiggily looked good in his first two games with the team, but they were against Golden Guardians and Clutch who were the only two teams behind CLG in the Summer Split standings.
The CLG bot lane should rebound, Darshan may get a meta to his liking and POE should fit in well with his twin. If this all happens CLG should be able to at least make the playoffs.
5. Golden Guardians
This will likely be one of the most controversial placings on this list but, it is hard to argue that they have not made substantial upgrades at three major areas of need. Hauntzer, Froggen and Olleh will bring experience along with skill to a team that was very young last season. While it may have been his passive playstyle, people may be surprised to note that Deftly finished first in the Summer Split with a 7.5 KDA. That is evened out with Contractz struggles but the Guardians are hoping he can rebound this year.
With the three additions, a solid ADC and hopefully a Contractz that doesn’t lose them games, this team should be able to make a playoff run.
4. Team Solo Mid
There is no doubt that this TSM is not the dominant team of years past, at least they weren’t in 2018. Losing Hauntzer and Mithy may have worried a lot of TSM fans but signing Broken Blade and Smoothie should soften those loses. Smoothie has a history of success and playing with a top tier ADC like Zven should only help. Broken Blade is honestly a mystery at this point. There is no doubt he has talent, with that he is young and has not played against this level of talent consistently.
It may take this team a couple weeks to really mesh but, if they do then watch out.
3. Cloud 9
This team did amazing things at Worlds but they lost Jensen. Nisqy and Goldenglue should be able to hold down the fort but it is hard to deny that this team didn’t suffer a major blow. Licorice is clearly one of the best top laners in NA, the jungle should be fun to watch, Sneaky will continue to be consistent and Zeyzal is also near the top of his positional rankings.
It is likely this team will be battling it out for a top spot in the LCS and could even be the best team. But, until the mid lane is mostly figured out, it is hard to put Cloud 9 higher than thirrd.
2. 100 Thieves
Last year’s performance at the end of the season and at Worlds was frankly embarrassing for 100 Thieves. They had the talent to be better than they were but, internal struggles were detrimental to this teams performance. Instead of sticking with NA talent to fill the major need at ADC they went out and got the World Champion Bang. He may not have been himself last season but it will be surprising if he doesn’t shine in the LCS, especially with the Spring Split MVP at his side. Huhi is more or less a similar player to Ryu but he should bring some of the fantastic personality to a team that needs help outside
of the game.
100 Thieves should actually be better than last year and should be able to make it to Worlds for NA yet again. Hopefully this time there will be a lot less drama.
1. Team Liquid
Had you told LCS fans that this team would actually be better than their 2018 selves most of them would have laughed. Well, Steve brought out the money gun again and convinced Jensen to leave semifinalist Cloud9 and CoreJJ to leave Korea after three good years of development. Team Liquid is going to be scary good in 2019.
This team should be shooting for nothing less than a major run at Worlds this year. They should win the Spring Split outright and essentially cement themselves as the major contender from NA.
The LCS has had a lot of movement yet again this season. Most of the teams in it got better at multiple positions. This includes three of the top four teams in these power rankings. With teams like TL and 100 Thieves, NA may have another year where they make a deep run at Worlds.
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