With the recent signings by Dignitas and Evil Geniuses, the main LCS rosters are now filled. Three new teams have joined the LCS or rebranded, and along with them comes a lot of turnover. With a little over a month before the season starts, it is time to take a look at how these teams stack up.
10. Golden Guardians
After a solid 2019 outing, it seems as though Golden Guardians are going the budget route. Adding Closer and Goldenglue are not moves that inspire confidence but, they are players that have the potential to surprise. Closer in particular is coming over from Turkey after having a solid showing at Worlds. Goldenglue has performed well for the most part when given a chance. He will have to show what he can do or this may be his last chance at the LCS.
Hauntzer is the best player on this team hands down. Golden Guardians’ decision to keep him also seems to signify that they are not completely throwing in the towel. It will be interesting to see who they sign to their Academy team because there are options out there that could fill-in in case someone does not work out. As for the bot lane, FBI showed plenty of potential last season. He could be a cornerstone for this team going forward. The problem lies in their Support. With their decision to move Keith, when other options with exponentially more experience at the position were available, it sets Golden Guardians up to be the worst team in the LCS. With time and practice, it is possible that he could adapt well to the role. For now, it is hard to see him succeeding, especially early in the season.
A fan-favorite team makes its triumphant return, or maybe just more of a return. After winning the Xmithie sweepstakes, this team made some very questionable decisions with the rest of the roster. sOAZ and Hakuho are solid options. Hakuho, in particular, is one of the better Supports in the LCS but, he seems to have bad luck with the teams he plays for. As for sOAZ, he had a rough 2019 on Misfits and surely he will be looking to show he still has plenty left in the tank.
The problem comes with the signing of Eika and Altec. Eika is a relatively unknown player from Europe who will be going up against one of the strongest positional groups in the LCS. It will be interesting to see if he becomes a secret gem but, it is rather unlikely. As for Altec, this may be the second most confusing signing this season behind Eika. He has been out of the LCS for a full year and even when he was in it, he was not exactly lighting up the world. With many other options out there, this signing seems to be a place holder or just a bad decision. Immortals will have to lean on their big signing in Xmithie if they hope to have any success during the 2020 Spring Split.
8. 100 Thieves
This is where things start to get interesting. While 100 Thieves will most likely not be battling for a top spot in the LCS, they could absolutely be fighting for a playoff berth. Bringing back Meteos and Cody Sun after successful 2019 campaigns is a great move from PapaSmithy. Both players could be in the top five of their positions. Ssumday will finally be back to starting as well which should give this team a major boost that it was missing last season.
The issues start in the Mid Lane and at Support with ry0ma and Stunt respectively. Stunt had been the teams Academy support and clearly showed enough to warrant getting called up to the big stage. He could see success and have a great season of growing. The problem is that if the team wants to contend right away, he is still a question mark that could turn into a weak link. The biggest issue though is ry0ma. PapaSmithy clearly saw something in Australian Mid Laner that many others did not. He has been playing in the Oceanic League for a bit and while he saw success there, only time will tell if it translates. If not, Soligo could make a run back into the starting lineup. Until Mid Lane and Support can stabilize, it is hard seeing this team past eighth.
Well, Dignitas have a full roster and one with some interesting players to say the least. Huni will be leading his new/old team for the next two years after getting his major contract. Dignitas fans will hope that he can be what he was last year. Then there is Froggen and Aphromoo. Both of these players have a lot of experience but had very different seasons in 2019. Froggen showed that he was still one of the most dominate Mid Laners in terms of the laning phase specifically. Yet, he still struggled at times outside of it. Aphromoo looked, well he looked like he did not want to be playing at times. He seemed to be missing plays he normally would make and just like he was not enjoying playing anymore. The hope will be that these two veterans can come in and show what has kept them in the LCS for so long.
Adding to these long-time LCS vets will be two younger guns. Grig is known and should fit this team pretty well. Froggen will likely look to use Grig in the same way that TSM did but hopefully at least a little less as a ward. Also Grig will have a chance to prove that he can be a full-time jungler and not just a backup. Johnsun is possibly the most interesting signing of the offseason. There are many who are saying he could be NA’s last hope in terms of young talent. With Aphromoo there to guide him, he could live up to that expectation. Overall this team has talent. Whether they can come together will be the challenge and the reason why they could be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
This offseason was one of subtle moves for FlyQuest. Even still they were definite upgrades. PoE will provide a much more aggressive and flexible Mid Lane. While IgNar will finally fill a position that has been lackluster for FlyQuest for quite a while. These moves along with a young but up and coming Top Laner in V1per should allow for FlyQuest to play through just about whichever lane they chose in draft.
Their issues still stem from the inconsistent play of Santorin and WildTurtle though. Both players can be extremely good when on and then other times they can have woeful performances. This was seen in Spring and Summer of 2019. In the Spring, Santorin looked like the best jungler in the LCS and WildTurtle was back to his old form. Then in the Summer they both fell down to being one of the worst at their respective positions. For this team to succeed, they will have to be better. If they can be, FlyQuest could be a serious threat to the top teams in the LCS.
5. Evil Geniuses
After a very long absence Evil Geniuses are back and they are playing for keeps. Starting from scratch this team made the first move of the offseason bringing in Kumo, MVP Jungler Svenskeren and Zeyzal from Cloud9. Then they went out and signed Bang and topped it all off with Jiizuke. While these are all individually solid players, it is worth saying that there is a chance this team completely implodes. Kumo has impressed in his short time on stage but, it has been a short amount of time. Jiizuke will be a wild card coming off of a disappointing 2019 season and playing on a team that is not built around his aggressiveness. Then there is Bang who had an awful first year in the LCS.
Even with all of that, the potential this team has is extremely high if everything can come together. Svenskeren will finally be in a place where he isn’t being randomly subbed out and Zeyzal is still young but full of experience and one of the best Supports in the LCS. If these two can be the cornerstones and allow Kumo, Jiizuke and Bang to adjust, then there is no telling how high this team could go. If nothing else this team should be extremely competitive and fun to watch.
After back to back disappointing seasons, TSM were ready to make some changes. First, they had to bring back their superstar in Bjergsen. With his new contract, he now owns part of TSM and has seemingly committed to staying as long as he is a player. Then they made the move to bring back Biofrost in a trade with CLG for Smoothie. Biofrost was much more confident last season and that was reflected in his play as he helped CLG make a run at a Worlds birth. He should provide TSM with a slight upgrade at Support. Then to finalize the roster they brought in Kobbe and Dardoch. Both of these moves will be upgrades from 2019 but it will be interesting to see how they fit stylistically.
When looking at TSM, they seem to be this two-headed beast. On the bot side they have scaling and a strong veteran presence. Kobbe and Biofrost should work perfectly together and keep the laning phase even while providing incredible teamfighting through the mid and late game. Then the top side will be extremely aggressive with BB and DD providing something that TSM has lacked for many years. Add in Bjergsen, who can fit both styles and this team definitely has the potential to matchup with just about anyone. The only reason TSM is not higher on this list is that they still have some massive questions. First off, the mix of top and bottom stylistically could fall flat. The top part of the map could totally flop individually as well. While both have shown flashes, they have not been able to put together full seasons of solid performances. Also, Kobbe is generally a very average laner and while he is top tier in the mid to late game, if he gets punished early and often then TSM could be in trouble. TSM will have to work hard on team cohesion. If they can master this, then watch out. If not, then they could even be on the verge of missing playoffs come the end of the split.
This offseason saw CLG bringing in Crown and Smoothie respectively. While these are good moves, they are not exactly ones that improve the team. The thing is, they definitely don’t make the team worse in any way either. Crown will bring a similar impact to PoE if not a slightly better one and Smoothie will be similar to Biofrost if not slightly worse. These two moves even out and keep CLG just about in the same spot they were last season.
With the team staying about the same, there is no reason to think they cannot stay near the top of the LCS. Wiggily has proven he is an LCS jungler, Ruin has his ups and downs but proved many analysts wrong and Stixxay was seemingly back to being in top form. Their problem last year is that they were blitzkrieged, like almost everyone else, by Clutch Gaming, now Dignitas. Until then, they had shown that they were the third-best team in the league. Going into the season they will be back near the top but will have even more competition coming for their potential Worlds spot.
The old guard of Cloud9 are officially gone. After making a big trade with Evil Geniuses many people wondered what C9 would do next? Starting with the top they decided to keep Licorice and not get tempted by Kumo. This is likely the right move as Licorice only struggled due to a wrist injury. Then in an opposite decision to Licorice, they shipped off their MVP in Svenskeren and installed Blaber as the official starter. Out of every move they made, this is easily the most risky. That said, Blaber has two years of Worlds experience, some stage games and should be up to the task. Nisqy will simply look to show that 2019 was not a fluke.
The major changes come in their bot lane. Sneaky is gone and in comes Zven. After two underwhelming years with TSM, he will be looking for a fresh start. Then comes Vulcan. This is arguably their biggest move and possibly their best. In what is possibly the most money spent on one player by Cloud9, they bought out his contract from Dignitas. Vulcan was already showing plenty of promise and then he had an incredible performance at Worlds. While it is too early to say for sure, it is possible that Vulcan is the second-best Support in the LCS behind CoreJJ and could even present a challenge for him come next season. There is a chance that Cloud9 struggle early on. But, this organization has proven time and time again that doubting them only makes them stronger. With Licorice healthy, Blaber established, Nisqy staying consistent and a stronger bot lane, Cloud9 look poised to contend with TL for the top spot.
1. Team Liquid
In case the section above was skipped over, yes, Team Liquid are yet again the best team in the LCS. Domestically this team is as good as it gets. There was hope last year after a solid MSI performance that they would be able to translate it into Worlds. This was not the case as yet again they under-performed. Many felt, whether correctly or not, that Xmithie had been the TL weakness. Well with him back on Immortals, now the team will get to see if that feeling was in fact correct.
The addition of Broxah can not be understated. He has a ton of experience and at times he can be one of the best western junglers. Last year though, he struggled at some of the most important moments. This may be because of the tension Fnatic was feeling as a whole or maybe he just was not playing at his best. Either way he has a fresh start with what is already a championship-caliber team. Right now, this team is the best the LCS has to offer. They will need to not lose focus and push themselves hard in every game starting in January to make sure that come October, they are ready to make NA proud.
“From Our Haus to Yours”