The League Championship Series (LCS) restarts this weekend, with re-shuffled rosters looking to make their mark in 2019. Many familiar faces stuck with their 2018 organizations, but several exciting off-season acquisitions could change the game. With so many differences since last year, here is a primer for each LCS team heading into the 2019 Spring Split.
2019 Roster: Broken Blade (Top), Grig/Akaadian (Jun), Bjergsen (Mid), Zven (Bot), Smoothie (Sup).
2018 Roster: Hauntzer (Top), Mike Yeung/Grig(Jun), Bjergsen (Mid), Zven (Bot), Mithy (Sup).
TSM kept its central core of Grig-Bjergsen-Zven, while changing out top and support. Broken Blade is a Turkish top laner, playing for Royal Bandits in the TCL last year. He is a mechanically gifted player, but 2019 will be his first go at a major region. Smoothie was an MVP candidate while on Cloud9, but has lost some name value since getting moved to C9 Academy then Echo Fox last year. With the long-time bottom lane pair Zven and Mithy broken, who knows how this roster will do. They should have been a top North American contender last year, but fell short. This year could be the same.
2019 Roster: Impact (Top), Xmithie (Jun), Jensen (Mid), Doublelift (Bot), CoreJJ (Sup).
2018 Roster: Impact (Top), Xmithie (Jun), Pobelter (Mid), Doublelift (Bot), Olleh (Sup).
Team Liquid made some of the biggest roster moves again in the 2018-2019 off-season. Jensen and CoreJJ are hard upgrades from Pobelter and Olleh, individually. Jensen continued to prove himself a top western mid laner throughout Summer Split and the World Championship last year. GEN.G had an unfortunately low performance at Worlds, but CoreJJ’s skill is unquestionable. It is hard to imagine this roster doing any worse than last year, and last year TL won two domestic titles 3-0. Hopefully these changes translate into stronger international competition without sacrificing NA LCS accomplishments.
2019 Roster: Dhokla (Top), Meteos/Dardoch (Jun), Crown (Mid), Arrow (Bot), Big (Sup).
2018 Roster: Dhokla/Allorim (Top), Akaadian/Gate (Jun), PowerOfEvil (Mid), Arrow (Bot), Big/LemonNation (Sup).
OpTic had some of the most changes and experimentation of all North American teams last year. Top, jungle, and support players rotated at various points of 2018, ending with Dhokla, Akaadian, and Big as starters. Other than PowerOfEvil, the teams struggled to get much going, but some off-season pickups may help. Meteos is the new starting jungler, but Dardoch is also on the Academy team. Both of these guys had strong moments in 2018 on 100 Thieves and Echo Fox. Crown is one of the more surprising imports, as he had a down year with GEN.G, culminating in a disappointing finish at Worlds. Overall, this version of OpTic most likely will not do much better than last year.
2019 Roster: Hauntzer (Top), Contractz (Jun), Froggen (Mid), Deftly (Bot), Olleh (Sup).
2018 Roster: Lourlo (Top), Contractz (Jun), Mickey/Hai (Mid), Deftly (Bot), Matt (Sup).
Golden Guardians made big moves this off-season, following their awful double tenth place finishes last year. Hai left on a sour note, and Mickey’s departure was no better. Froggen steps in from his year off to hopefully redeem the organization. Golden Guardians also picked up Hauntzer and Olleh after TSM and TL dropped them for shiny new imports. Contractz and Deftly represent the better bones of GGS last year, so if they can successfully incorporate the new members, then they should be much tougher in 2019. Several player redemption storylines, solid individual talent, and a losing organization could be the right recipe for improvement.
Roster 2019: V1per (Top), Santorin (Jun), Pobelter (Mid), Wildturtle (Bot), JayJ (Sup).
Roster 2018: Flame (Top), Santorin/AnDa/Shrimp (Jun), Keane/Fly (Mid), Wildturtle (Bot), JayJ/Kwon (Sup).
FlyQuest spent most of 2018 figuring out its best roster, but once they settled on Santorin, Keane and JayJ, they actually made it to playoffs. Going into 2019, FLY lost Flame and Keane, gaining Pobelter and promoting V1per to fill the gaps. Time will tell if these changes actually produce noticeable gains, but most likely FlyQuest will bring a similar power level to last split. Wildturtle, Santorin and JayJ definitely provide a reliable core. Top lane is the biggest question mark, as Flame was solid.
Roster 2019: Solo (Top), Rush (Jun), Fenix (Mid), Apollo (Bot), Hakuho (Sup).
Roster 2018: Huni (Top), Dardoch (Jun), Damonte/Fenix (Mid), Lost/Altec (Bot), Smoothie/Feng/Adrian/Papa Chau (Sup).
Despite best efforts, Echo Fox could not remain stable enough to get to Worlds last year. At various points in 2018 their roster looked like the best in North America or middle of the pack. Luckily, they never fully tanked and missed playoffs. Most of this instability stemmed from Huni in top lane, wavering between best and worst top laner in the league. The bottom lane also fluctuated, depending on which AD carry and support, and depending on the meta. For 2019, Echo Fox traded Clutch Gaming Huni and Damonte for Solo, Apollo, and Hakuho. Fenix rejoined the team, and Rush will come back to North America. This roster looks overall more stable, but less talented. Hopefully, the jungle-mid duo of Rush and Fenix will allow Solo, Apollo, and Hakuho to perform better than last summer with LiRa-Febiven.
Counter Logic Gaming
Roster 2019: Darshan (Top), Wiggily (Jun), PowerOfEvil (Mid), Stixxay (Bot), Biofrost (Sup).
Roster 2018: Darshan (Top), Wiggily/Reignover (Jun), Huhi (Mid), Stixxay (Bot), Biofrost (Sup).
CLG did not change much for 2019. Bringing on PowerOfEvil and dropping Reignover are probably net positives, but Wiggily was already starting last year and Huhi is not much worse than PoE. Compared to themselves at the end of summer 2018, 2019 CLG is roughly the same. They will likely finish middle of the pack, possibly gate-keepers for playoffs. The top side duo of Darshan-Wiggily will make or break their chances.
Roster 2019: Huni (Top), LiRa (Jun), Damonte (Mid), Piglet (Bot), Vulcan (Sup).
Roster 2018: Solo (Top), LiRa/Moon (Jun), Febiven (Mid), Apollo/Piglet (Bot), Hakuho/Vulcan (Sup).
Clutch had an up-and-down season last year, finishing fourth in Spring Split and ninth in Summer split. Most of their success was tied to Febiven and LiRa’s performances, which declined as the year progressed. Huni and Damonte join for 2019, while Piglet and Vulcan upgrade to starters. Unfortunately, Huni’s progress last year followed a similar path as Clutch, so hitching their wagons may not fix much. Damonte had a solid year on Echo Fox, but Piglet and Vulcan did not necessarily stand out when they played LCS or Academy League. Overall, these roster changes should leave fans worried that 2018 will repeat itself.
Roster 2019: Licorice (Top), Svenskeren/Blaber (Jun), Nisqy/Goldenglue (Mid), Sneaky (Bot), Zeyzal (Sup).
Roster 2018: Licorice (Top), Svenskeren/Blaber (Jun), Jensen/Goldenglue (Mid), Sneaky/Keith (Bot), Zeyzal/Smoothie (Sup).
Cloud9 return most of their roster from 2018, with only Nisqy joining to replace Jensen. Following their deep World Championship run, it makes sense C9 would maintain their members as much as possible. Nisqy feels like a downgrade from Jensen, but not substantially. Blaber and Goldenglue still serve as substitutes to try rotating as the meta changes throughout 2019. Cloud9 should continue to hold a top spot within North America.
Roster 2019: Ssumday (Top), Anda (Jun), Huhi (Mid), Bang (Bot), Aphromoo (Sup).
Roster 2018: Ssumday (Top), Anda/Meteos (Jun), Ryu (Mid), Rikara/Cody Sun (Bot), Aphromoo (Sup).
100 Thieves managed to keep most of its players for 2019, on-boarding Huhi and Bang to the starting roster, while moving Ryu to assistant coach. The strongest members of 2018 – Ssumday, Anda and Aphromoo – stayed with the organization for 2019. 100 Thieves looks to stay a top contender with upgrades in the two main carry positions. As long as the team works better with Bang than they did with Cody and Rikara, then they should have no problem competing with the best in North America.
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