This is part 1 of a mini-series of articles that will take a look at some teams with a shot to represent their region at Worlds this year for the 4 major regions (NA, EU, China, Korea).
After a disappointing Rift Rivals from the representatives of North America, their ability to compete is the lowest it has ever been. For NA to have a solid showing at Worlds, the region representatives need to be on top of their game. But who are the likely NA representatives? Unlike some regions, the contenders are still quite open due to how close every team is in the standing. But here are four possible candidates to look out for.
It should be no surprise that the Spring Split champions are likely representatives for NA at Worlds. So far this Summer Split, Team Liquid has looked like one of the best teams. Along with the most championship points at the moment, the second NA seed is almost a guarantee (if not the first).
Performance-wise, the team can always rely on world-class performances by ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and solid jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. While those two players serve as a solid duo that sets up the team’s usual win conditions, the performance of the rest of the team has always been shaky.
Mid laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park has proven unable to be a consistent primary carry despite being put into that role at times and the Korean duo of Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung have been fairly inconsistent throughout the year.
On top of that, their drafts have become a notable issue as well, notably with their decision to not ban Heimerdinger in multiple games at Rift Rivals. Despite all this, Team Liquid will likely be the best chance NA has at a solid showing at Worlds. This will heavily rely on the presence of Impact and Olleh. Moreover, Pobelter must prove himself as a threatening carry, something he has done many times throughout his career.
Despite a tough loss in the semifinal that led to a 3rd place finish in the spring, some people considered Echo Fox the second best team in NA. If not, everyone can agree that Echo Fox is at least the most exciting team to watch.
It’s not hard to see why. World-class top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has been a great leader in the game, working perfectly with the team’s aggressive playstyle. With Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett enabling his laners with his aggressive jungle play the team has been able to build solid early leads that usually lead to their victory.
With this aggressive playstyle, however, Echo Fox has proven to be inconsistent at times, as seen by mid laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun and the bot lane tandem of Johnny “Altec” Ru and Adrian “Adrian” Ma. So while they can look like the best team on any given day, they can just as easily lose to a lesser team.
While the subbing in of Academy mid laner Tanner “Damonte”‘ Damonte fixed some issues, Echo Fox decided to go further. This was done with the recent acquisition of support Andy “Smoothie” Ta from Cloud9 to upgrade the position. Echo Fox then dropped Altec while promoting academy ADC Lawrence “Lost” Hui to the main roster. While these are drastic changes for this point in the season, Echo Fox will look to move forward and remain competitive for at the top of NA.
100 Thieves have a solid chance to make it to Worlds thanks to a 2nd place finish during spring split. However, with recent the roster change of trading jungler William “Meteos” Hartman to FlyQuest, it is hard to say if this team will be able to make the run needed this Summer Split to ensure a Worlds qualification.
For them to qualify, all-star Korean top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho will continue to be a capable carry threat, Cody “Cody Sun” Sun has proven his ability to be a solid second carry for the team, and support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black will be able to contribute great shotcalling and another source of solid, consistent play, the rest of the team is lacking. Mid laner Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook is very inconsistent and new jungler Andy “AnDa” Hoanghas yet to prove his ability to keep up with other LCS junglers.
While the team will likely have to rely on Ssumday even more, the team will still have a good chance to make Worlds thanks to their 2nd place finish. But with the roster changes they’ve made, the real question is if they’ll be able to make any possible run at Worlds. If Rift Rivals was any indication, they’ll likely struggle, even with their core roster. For now, though, the team needs to look at the increasing challenges ahead of them.
Counter Logic Gaming
Despite an abysmal Spring Split that saw CLG barely miss playoffs, the team has figured it out and are now tied for first place half way through the split. There’s quite a few factors that led to this, but the biggest has to be the bot lane tandem of Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. While their first split together was mediocre at best, the duo has found a good amount of synergy coming into the summer split and have asserted themselves as one of the best bot lanes in the league.
On top of that, jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin has returned to a level of play similar to his time on Fnatic and Immortals. Along with the solid play of top lane Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya and mid lane Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, the team has surprised the NA fanbase with their performance thus far.
However, out of the four teams here, CLG will have the hardest time if they want to qualify for Worlds. With no championship points from the spring, their best chance to make Worlds is to win the split. Otherwise, a long route through the gauntlet will be their likely destiny. This makes them somewhat of a dark horse to make Worlds in this region.
The problems aren’t over at that point, they’ll have problems when facing international competition. While Stixxay and Biofrost may be some of the better bot lanes in NA, internationally, they’ll likely have a lot of trouble keeping up against the likes of Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming . There will likely be some mismatches in the other lanes too and their smart play will only take them so far.
There are still a lot of matches left, but the seedings have become somewhat clear. Taking the first seed will likely be Team Liquid. While the team can look shaky at times, they’re still clearly the best the North American region has to offer.
Taking the second seed will likely be Echo Fox. While the roster changes are huge, the core of the team stays the same. Huni and Dardoch will dictate the flow of the game, and more often than not, the result will rely on them. With some luck in playoff seedings, Echo Fox will have an easy road to the finals.
Lastly, taking the third seed will be the dark horse of the region, CLG. While they looked precarious for a majority of the Spring Split, the team has come into the summer split looking like everything has been figured out. The team has been playing amazing together, and they’ve been rewarded with victories.
While these may not be the best three teams that NA can send to Worlds, they are the most likely to play on the international stage this year. No matter the results, the NA LCS will prove to be an interesting region to follow until Worlds.
To watch the NA LCS, visit watch.na.lolesports.com. For more information on the split, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Recaps of former weeks and other LoL content can be found at https://thegamehaus.com/league-of-legends/.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.
Follow Rui on Twitter @ruixu38.
From Our Haus to Yours.