Thomas Baker interview Jurassiq, ex-Golden Guardians Academy AD carry

Jurassiq on his experience with Golden Guardians Academy: “They make sure their players have a good environment to strive.”

Interview with Jurassiq

I sat down to talk with Jurassiq about the 2018 Spring Split. We spoke about his professional debut in the Academy League, the good and bad of working with Golden Guardians as an organization, how the Academy and LCS teams bonded and what his future holds. Jurassiq comes across as a hard-working, kind, intelligent teammate. Playing professional League of Legends is clearly his dream, and Jurassiq is trying to continue his growth this mid-season. The full interview is below.

Golden Guardians’ Roster Update

Recently, Golden Guardians stepped into the spotlight by announcing the first official roster changes of the NA LCS mid-season. On their Youtube channel and in a Blitz Esports interview, Hunter Leigh, Golden Guardians’ head of esports, explained all of their moves. They replaced Hai with Team Liquid Academy’s Mickey in the mid lane. Meanwhile, Lourlo, Contractz, Deftly and Matt remain starters for the organization, and Tyler Perron remains as head coach.

Before these LCS updates became available, Jurassiq and Jenkins announced their free agency, after being released from Golden Guardians’ Academy team. OpTic’s Zig and free agents Benji (formerly LOD) and Sheep join the roster for Summer Split. Xpecial is moving to an assistant coach position, while Potluck and Bobqin remain signed for Academy.

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Golden Guardians may need to replace Hai in the mid-season

Potential mid-season targets for NA LCS teams

Jacob Wolf of ESPN recently reported that FlyQuest has signed Santorin as a starting jungler for the 2018 Summer Split. This is the first mid-season roster report for the NA LCS so far. Since this is the first year of franchising, it is unclear how much each organization will shake up their teams after one split.

This time last year, North America saw several roster changes, including the Dardoch-Xmithie trade, Doublelift’s return to TSM and Ssong joining Immortals. This year is different, though, because teams are not under threat of relegation from the league. No one wants to finish towards the bottom of the standings, but the risk of losing is much lower.

The 2018 mid-season will probably be quieter than past years. However, with the Santorin report, it is clear that teams are looking to make changes. Here are some of the most likely updates for Summer Split.

FlyQuest: mid-jungle

FlyQuest may need to replace Anda and Fly in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Considering ESPN already reported Santorin to FlyQuest, jungler change is a given. In Wolf’s report, he also mentions FlyQuest possibly promoting Keane as starting mid laner. These changes make sense, considering FlyQuest’s issues visibly stemmed from mid-jungle synergy and pressure.

FlyQuest finished the Spring Split in eighth place with a 6-12 record, so they are not in desperate need for roster changes. Flame has proved himself an elite solo laner for the past three splits. Wildturtle put on several carry performances this spring, and rarely felt like FlyQuest’s loss factor. Stunt had a fine split, although JayJ got to start two games. Anda and Fly were the key starting members to FlyQuest’s losses.

Anda showed strong ganking and engage throughout the split, with picks like Zac and Sejuani. He did not seem to play well around the rest of the team, especially on Jax and Jarvan IV. Anda frequently invaded the enemy jungle without lane priority and initiated fights without back up. These issues were most prevalent regarding mid lane. Fly’s Galio pick helped cover up their lack of coordination, which is why most teams banned it. It remains unclear if this discord stems from playstyle differences, communication issues or lack of skill.

FlyQuest had the most roster experiments during the Spring Split. They started eight different players, including substitutes Shrimp, Keane, and JayJ. FlyQuest Academy also won the Academy League, which shows roster depth and organizational strength. Simply bringing in a decisive, experienced jungler like Santorin, and promoting Keane could help solve some of FlyQuest’s nuanced problems. As Wolf later mentions, a support like KonKwon could be valuable to organization, as “he is one of the few North American resident supports who speaks both English and Korean, and FlyQuest’s top laner and mid laner (even if it moves to Keane) would be Korean native speakers.” It is not surprising that FlyQuest may be scouting him.

OpTic Gaming: Top-Support-Coach

OpTic Gaming may need to replace Zig and LemonNation in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Finishing ninth place in the Spring Split with a 5-13 record, OpTic Gaming may look to make changes in the mid-season. Most analysts pegged OpTic as a low-tier team in the NA LCS, due to its patchwork roster and lop-sided map strength. These predictions turned out to be true, as the team rarely achieved leads in the early game or coordinated well in the mid-game.

Akaadian and PowerOfEvil held up well in their respective roles, generally going even or ahead individually. Arrow and LemonNation frequently fell behind in lane, but Arrow almost always showed up in team fights and skirmishes. OpTic’s glaring issues revolved around top lane. Zig had his worst split yet, and substitute Dhokla was not an answer. These two never got leads, even in winning match-ups, and opponents pigeonholed OpTic in the draft because of it.

OpTic need to upgrade top lane if they want to compete in Summer Split. With PowerOfEvil and Arrow filling import slots, OpTic is restricted to North American talent, though. V1PER and Allorim are the only players from Academy League worth trying on the big stage. So unless TSM, CLG or Cloud9 are interested in trading, this weakness may carry over into summer.

The support and coaching positions may need tinkering, as well. LemonNation felt outclassed by many other supports in the league this year, and OpTic’s team did not visibly improve much over the course of the split. Moving Lemon to an analyst or coaching to assist Zaboutine, while bringing in Winter or another North American Academy support, could be the best move. OpTic should try out players with Arrow and find one with the best laning synergy. Fans questioned whether Zaboutine would translate his casting background into proper coaching, and it is hard to tell how much of OpTic’s issues revolve around their coach. OPT may need to make some staff changes for next split.

Golden Guardians: Top-Mid-Coach

Golden Guardians may need to replace Lourlo and Hai in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Golden Guardians finished last place this spring with a 4-14 record, but their highs felt much higher than FlyQuest or OpTic’s. GGS took games off of 100 Thieves, Team Liquid, CLG, and Echo Fox over the course of the split. However, it is clear that they need to make changes to be competitive this summer.

Hai and Lourlo account for most of the early game deficit. They both average significantly behind at 15 minutes, while Contractz and the bottom lane go even or ahead. Professional teams have a severely hindered chance of winning with weak solo laners, so Golden Guardians should prioritize those positions. Lourlo has five splits of LCS experience, but only really stood out in one. Hai has five and a half years of LCS experience, but feels underwhelming on stage.

Golden Guardians could make a case for keeping Lourlo and further developing him, but Hai seems forced at this point. Like LemonNation on OpTic, Hai would probably serve best as an analyst or coach outside of the game, while GGS brings in a new mid laner. Coach Tyler did seem to help the team when they released Locodoco, and Hai could supplement that development.

The bad news–Golden Guardians’ Academy team finished last place in the Academy League this spring. They cannot really look there for upgrades. The good news–their LCS roster still has both import slots open. Golden Guardians’ options are unlimited. Mickey, Damonte, V1PER, Goldenglue, and Allorim are available in Academy League, if GGS can buy them out. Europe and other regions have plenty of options to choose from, if GGS can import them. This organization seems to need the most change, from starters to subs, but Jurassiq and Jenkins are the only players released so far.

Everyone Else

CLG may not need any changes in the mid-season

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The rest of the teams will probably keep their LCS rosters for at least another split. CLG, TSM, Cloud9, Clutch Gaming, Echo Fox, 100 Thieves and Team Liquid all have strong players and staff. They each showed moments of brilliance and adapted throughout spring. CLG suffered most from individual shortcomings week-to-week and a lack of decisiveness since Aphromoo left. However, Darshan, Reignover, Huhi, Stixxay and Biofrost all had strong individual showings at different points.

TSM and Cloud9 showcased sheer dominance at certain points in the split, but could not maintain their highest levels of play every week. Clutch Gaming made it way farther than anyone anticipated, including themselves, and out-macro-played most of their opponents regularly. Echo Fox maintained first place most of the split. 100 Thieves finished second in their first ever split, and steadily improved week by week. Team Liquid won their first ever LCS title, never sinking below fifth place. The players and coaches on these teams are solid. They just need more time to develop synergy and consistency as units. They may change up some Academy rosters, but their starters will probably stay the same.

credits

Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Team Liquid win the regular season Academy League

Team Liquid finish first in Academy; Cloud9, FlyQuest and Echo Fox to playoffs

The inaugural North American Academy League finished its first split last night. Nine weeks of competition ended with Team Liquid in first place, followed by Cloud9, FlyQuest, and Echo Fox. These four teams move on to the playoff stage of the Spring Split to battle for bragging rights.

Week Nine

The final week of the Spring Split shook up the standings quite a bit. Coming out of week eight, Cloud9 and FlyQuest were tied for first. Team Liquid followed in third with Echo Fox fourth. CLG sat fifth, while 100 Thieves and TSM tied for sixth. Clutch and OpTic tied for eighth, and Golden Guardians rounded out the league in tenth.

Day One

Cloud9 finish the regular season Academy League in second place

Image from Leaguepedia

C9 and FLY faced off on day one of week nine, which would determine who would solely hold first place. C9’s “bouncy house” composition finally came through, despite FLY’s accrued gold lead. FLY’s 8,000 gold lead crumbled quickly after C9’s Baron call around 38 minutes. Two major team fights, and C9 took the Nexus, as well as first place. The rest of Thursday’s matches went to the expected victors (Liquid, Clutch, FOX, and CLG).

Day Two

Team Liquid took their shot at Cloud9 on Friday, hoping to challenge the top spot. V1PER’s snowballing top lane Olaf went berserk, finishing 9-3-4 with the most gold in the game. With the win, Team Liquid tied for first, which would later force a tiebreaker.

The following match, Clutch versus 100 Thieves, was another crucial head-to-head between tied teams. These two, along with TSM, sat tangled in sixth with a 7-10 record. The match remained relatively even through 23 minutes, but a big Baron take for Clutch blew it wide open. Piglet’s Twitch finished 8-1-3. Linsanity’s Ryze went 0-5-2. The loss bumped 100 Thieves out of sixth.

Echo Fox finish the regular season Academy League in fourth place

Image from Leaguepedia

Echo Fox defended their playoff spot by upsetting FlyQuest in Friday’s showdown. Three early kills to FOX’s carries set them up for an easy snowball. Damonte’s Anivia, OddOrange’s Sejuani, and Allorim’s Sion combined for an incredible amount of crowd control, which FLY was unable to overcome. Erry’s Jinx never came online, and FOX closed out the game with only a single tower lost. This victory solidified FOX’s fourth place finish, as well as FLY’s third place finish.

To finish out the day, Liquid and Cloud9 rematched to tiebreak first place. Risky Riven and Kog’Maw picks put a lot of pressure on TL throughout the mid-game. C9 racked up a 4,200 gold lead by 19 minutes, winning skirmishes around Goldenglue’s Ryze. However, like the rest of the matches, TL’s Baron capture and teamfight win put them back in the saddle. C9 looked shaken, as V1PER’s Riven and Mickey’s Swain broke the team up and pushed them back. Liquid ended just under 37 minutes with nearly 10,000 gold over Cloud9.

Playoffs

Unlike the LCS, only four teams enter playoffs in the Academy League. The semifinals consists of Team Liquid versus Echo Fox, and Cloud9 versus FlyQuest. These teams will play a best-of-five to see who moves onto the finals. Team Liquid beat Echo Fox in both of their regular season face-offs, while Cloud9 and FlyQuest went 1-1.

Team Liquid v. Echo Fox

Team Liquid win the Academy League regular season

Image from Leaguepedia

Team Liquid seems the most explosive team in the league. They average .76 combined kills per minute, more than any other team, while Echo Fox averages .57, third lowest. Look for Joey and Hard to force plays, while Damonte and Lost do their best to carry. Mickey does some of the highest damage in the league, so FOX should do all they can to hold him down. According to Oracles Elixir, Echo Fox has the stronger early game, while Team Liquid have the superior mid-late game.

V1PER played 14 of 17 games on carries, such as Riven, Camille, and Yasuo, while Allorim played almost exclusively tanks, like Sion, Ornn, and Maokai. Mickey’s champion pool has been all over the place, while Damonte has mostly drafted Cassiopeia and Ryze over the second half of the split. TL and FOX’s AD carry position is probably the most unbalanced. Lost consistently outputs more damage, more kill participation, and higher KDAs than Shoryu. He is also unafraid to draft Ezreal or Kog’Maw, where Shoryu leans on Tristana and Xayah much more. This offset could be exploited over a series.

Cloud9 v. FlyQuest

Flyquest finish the regular season Academy League in third place

Image from Leaguepedia

FLY and C9 will be a much closer match-up, on paper. Their team-wide statistics generally line up, with FlyQuest looking slightly better overall. Baron and Elder Drake control are their widest gaps. C9 only takes 54 percent of Barons, while FLY takes 72 percent. On the flip-side, FLY takes 33 percent of Elder Drakes, while C9 has taken 100 percent. These trends could result in divisive games.

Keith topped the Academy League in virtually every stat. He has the highest KDA, kill participation and damage per minute, while also maintaining the lowest death share. Zeyzal and he will most likely win Cloud9 the series, matching up against Erry and JayJ. However, Keane and Shrimp will get things going early, maintaining some of the highest First Blood and kill participation rates of any jungle-mid duo. Shiro appears to be C9’s weakest member, and his reliance on Gnar could get exploited.

The rest of the league

The other teams enter the off-season for a much needed break. CLG finished fifth, only one win from fourth place. TSM and Clutch tied for sixth with 8-10 records. 100 Thieves kept eighth for themselves, while OpTic concluded their season ninth. Golden Guardians bottomed out the league at 2-16.

Without the immediate fear of relegation or promotion tournament, it is difficult to predict what this mid-season may be like. The Academy League is supposed to center around developing rising talent, so losing is not necessarily cause for change. Team pride will most likely win out, resulting in plenty of recruitment for fresh new talent. A few players may even get scouted for low-level LCS teams.

Golden Guardians and OpTic Gaming should probably make sweeping change with their rosters, as their Academy and LCS squads failed to really pull together. Xpecial, Hai, Contractz and PowerOfEvil are probably the most safe candidates for rebuilding around, but anyone is fair game at this point. Coaches and support staff may also be considered for replacement. These new organizations most likely learned a lot in their first Spring Split, which they will utilize in off-season decision-making.

credits

Featured Image: LoLesports.com

Other Images: Leaguepedia

Statistics: Oracles Elixir, Games of Legends

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Postseason

The NA LCS postseason takes shape

There is only one week remaining in the North American League Championship Series, and the postseason is taking shape. After Week 8, there are four teams that have secured a place in the playoffs, three teams that are officially eliminated and three that are still fighting for the chance to go to the finals. Each team only has two games left to solidify their final standing in the spring split.

Secured:

Echo Fox

Echo Fox took off running Week 1, and though they may have stumbled a few times, they hardly slowed down. Even with two losses last week, they are still tied for first place with 11 wins and 5 losses. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has returned from Korea to dominate the top lane, and the new roster has been dominating the rift.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett appears to have finally found a team that is a good fit. He has spent the last few years bouncing from team to team every few months, and many thought that this would just be another short stop for him before he moved on to another team, or left the pro scene altogether. Instead, he has been playing better than ever, and it seems that for the first time in his career he is connecting just as well with his team off the rift. They are in the position to secure first place as long as they win both of their Week 9 games.

Postseason

Echo Fox (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

Cloud9

Currently tied with Echo Fox for first place is Cloud9. Though they have not ever won an NA LCS split, they also have never failed to make it to Worlds. Additionally, they have been the only North American team to make it past the group stage in the last two World Championships. They have several experienced players, including Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi who most consider to be the best ADC in the league. However, their rookie Top Laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie has also been getting a lot of attention. He has held his own against some of the most experienced Top Laners in the West, and his lane control has been a key part of many of their victories.

Clutch Gaming & 100 Thieves

The other two teams to have secured a playoff spot this week are Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves, but they have a lot more in common than just that. Both new to the NA LCS this year, they each rebounded from a rough start to make it into the postseason. Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves are backed by the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. Additionally, both have relied on a mix of veteran LCS talent and fresh skill to succeed this season. Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black and the rest of 100 Thieves will take on Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and Clutch Gaming in the first game of Week 9 to decide their final rankings.

 

Eliminated:

 

On the other side, this week’s games also saw three teams eliminated from the possibility of extending their seasons.

FlyQuest

Last year, FlyQuest finished their first split in 4th place, exceeding the expectations of most. This year has been a different story, and the changes made by the rest of the league outpaced their own. Many people thought it was an improvement when they chose Jason “WildTurtle” Tran to replace Johnny “Altec” Ru last year. Now, Altec is on Echo Fox, tied for first, and FlyQuest is figuring out how to improve before the Summer Split arrives.

OpTic Gaming

The other two teams that are officially out of playoff contention are both brand new to the league. OpTic Gaming is an established esports brand that has just branched out into League of Legends. With a team full of veterans such as Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, and Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, expectations were high. There were some impressive individual performances that looked promising at times. However, they never really played up to their potential as a team, and it resulted in their current 4-12 record.

Postseason

OpTic Gaming (Courtesy of LoL Esports)

The Golden Guardians

The Golden Guardians are a new team backed by the Golden State Warriors, and unfortunately for them, they did about as well this season as people expected them to. Hai “Hai” Du Lam’s experience was not enough to outweigh the rest of the team, and they were outplayed in nearly all of their performances this split. They have the skill to improve as a team in the future, but they have a long way to go.

 

Still fighting:

In the final week of the Spring Split, there are 3 teams that are technically still fighting for playoff spots. To make things more interesting, many predicted Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, and Counter Logic Gaming  to be at the top of the table. TSM and TL each only need to win one of their Week 9 games to move on. If either team does this, it will dash the hopes of CLG.

Team SoloMid

TSM made big roster changes that included the addition of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez. Coming from G2 Esports, they were widely regarded as the best Bot Lane duo in the West. Unexpectedly, these two were one of the weak points for the team for most of the season. Most of the weight was left on the shoulders of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg to carry them even this far. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell was not a liability in the top lane, but wasn’t as consistently strong as he has been in the past, and Jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung was less explosive than they had hoped he would be.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid acquired an entirely new roster full of experience at the end of 2017. They started off the season strong, dominating the first 3 weeks to earn a 5-1 record. Two losses to top teams in Week 4 seemed to shake their confidence, and since then they have failed to have another 2-0 week. One of the most “hit or miss” teams in the NA LCS, they will need to be in top form to ensure a playoff spot. If Bot Lane duo Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung play as well as they did in Week 1, this should be a breeze.

Postseason

Team Liquid (Courtesy of LoL esports)

Counter Logic Gaming

Last, there is Counger Logic Gaming. While technically still in the running, everything possible must go their way to have a chance at playoffs. If they don’t, it will be the first time ever that CLG did not advance past the regular season. Going 3-3 in the first three weeks, they then went on a six-game losing streak. However, something changed in Week 7, and they have won four straight games. Led by incredible performances in the Bottom Lane by Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, they have looked strong enough to have people hopeful for a last minute comeback to force a tiebreaker.

 

Regardless of the outcomes of this week’s games, you can bet that they will be some of the best of the season. As some teams fight for a spot in the playoffs, others jostle for a better ranking and playoff berth. Even the eliminated teams will be fighting to win some respect and finish with the best record possible. With so much on the line, the NA LCS games in Week 9 are not ones to miss.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @buttsy11.  For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

Graphing the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over six weeks

Like Europe, the NA LCS has been much different than preseason expectations, so far. The Spring Split has seen new teams succeed and have rough starts, while old teams push forward and falter. The renewed best-of-one format creates a different paradigm for teams to rise and fall. Each week comes down to two games. The teams only have three outcomes–a 100 percent win rate, a 50 percent win rate, or a zero percent win rate. These three outcomes basically boil down to climbing, stagnating or sinking.

GRAPHING THE STANDINGS

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

Graph of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split standings over time.

The first week of the Spring Split illustrates these three outcomes. Four teams began tied for first, because they won both games. Two teams tied for fifth with 1-1 records, and four teams took the week 0-2, tying them at seventh.

Echo Fox (orange) and Golden Guardians (yellow) were the only teams to maintain their places over several weeks, framing the league in first and last. Cloud9 (sky blue) and Team Liquid (light grey) followed similar trajectories, dipping and rising around the top, until Liquid’s 0-2 in week four. Optic (light green) has trended similarly around the bottom three spots.

All the rest of the North American teams have varied quite a bit in the standings. Clutch (red), TSM (black), CLG (cyan), FlyQuest (dark green) and 100 Thieves (dark grey) average 3.4 places between their highest and lowest placement over the first six weeks. FlyQuest, the least variable, has been hovering between seventh and fifth. Meanwhile, 100 Thieves started in first, dropped to fifth, and are currently back upward. CLG, on the other hand, started in seventh, rose to fifth, and have tanked down to ninth going into week seven.

Clutch Gaming and TSM have varied in a more positive way. TSM were stuck in seventh for two weeks, before climbing to fourth, and solidifying themselves in sixth with two wins above seventh place. Clutch dipped into seventh place with an 0-2 third week, but have since risen to a third place tie after winning five of their past six matches.

INTO WEEK SEVEN

Coming out of week six, there seems to be a clear separation between the top five teams and the bottom five. However, simply graphing the standings can be misleading, as TSM is only one win off of Clutch, Liquid, and 100 Thieves. Instead, the true separation lies between the top six and bottom four, as FlyQuest and Optic are two wins behind TSM.

If TSM and the other top six teams continue to maintain their current forms, then the bottom four do not really have much chance in catching up. There are only eight games left for each team, and the lower teams are going to have to take wins from the higher teams to reach playoffs. Instead, it looks like Golden Guardians and Optic are climbing at FlyQuest and CLG’s expense, and 100 Thieves and TSM are clawing their way upwards by beating teams above them. For example, TSM beat Echo Fox and 100 Thieves beat Cloud9 in week six, but TSM lost to Cloud9 and 100 Thieves lost to Echo Fox in week five.

These could be the standings if week six repeats.

These could be the standings if week six repeats.

If the momentum of week six carries over and repeats in week seven, the standings get even more divided. Clutch, Liquid, and TSM would collide at fourth place with 8-6 records, while Optic would stick to seventh at 5-9. The top of the standings would spread out, as Echo Fox, Cloud9, and 100 Thieves finished first, second, and third, respectively. Golden Guardians would reach its highest place in the standings since week one, while CLG would reach its lowest, tenth.

Of course, the schedule will play a major factor in the rest of the Spring Split standings. TSM still needs to rematch FlyQuest, 100 Thieves, Cloud9, CLG, Golden Guardians, and Team Liquid, only three of which they beat. Meanwhile, Optic only plays one opponent currently ranked below them in the standings for the next three weeks. Essentially, if any teams want to continue their movement up the ranks, they will need to win against opponents that previously bested them.

While such uncertainty in the standings probably causes anxiety for the NA LCS teams, players, and organizations, it has made for an exciting, engaging fan experience. Watching Echo Fox rise to the top of the ranks and maintain their first place goes against all of the preseason story-lines. Seeing CLG struggle harder than ever before, while Clutch and 100 Thieves probably make playoffs, represents a kind of success with franchising.

The best-of-one format makes every game do-or-die, which is probably boosting some teams. Best-of-threes in the playoffs will test teams in new ways, which should allow well-rounded rosters to shine. However, these teams need to win their single games first, before they can even think about series.

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Cloud9 and Smoothie are doing very well with Alistar

The winningest player-champion combos in the NA LCS

*Presence of champion with specific team – Pick rate of champion with specific team – Win rate of champion with specific team (Presence of champion within the NA LCS – Win rate of champion within the NA LCS)

FOX Dardoch – Zac

Dardoch and Echo Fox have been very successful with Zac

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

80% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 100% WIN (54% PRESENCE – 77% WIN)*

Since Echo Fox has a 90 percent overall win rate, it is easy to point out strong player-champion combos that exist on this team, but not others. Altec’s Kalista and Fenix’s Cassiopeia are good examples. However, it is clear that Dardoch’s Zac has been the most successful. FOX picked the blob in five of ten games, and teams banned him another three. Dardoch carries a 100 percent win rate, while the LCS holds 77 percent.

Echo Fox generally utilizes Zac to gank the mid and top lanes from fog-of-war, then engage and disrupt teamfights in the mid-late game. Dardoch clearly understands the limits of the champion, often peeling with a sliver of health, only to regenerate using Warmog’s. Even if the power picks of the jungle move away from tanky initiators (Sejuani, Jarvan IV, etc.), Echo Fox and Dardoch will probably keep Zac as a pocket pick.

C9 Smoothie – Alistar

Cloud9 and Smoothie have been very successful with Alistar

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

90% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 60% WIN (66% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

Smoothie has been showing the power of the current support role. Constant engages and peeling, surprise roams and ganks, protecting and enabling carries–these are all characteristics of Cloud9’s support. Alistar seems like the perfect champion for Smoothie, which is why he is virtually pick or ban in Cloud9’s games. Most teams are able to snag Braum or Taric, the highest presence supports, but Smoothie sometimes prioritizes Alistar over them.

Alistar is a popular pick in most metas, because of his repertoire of crowd control and tankiness. In the hands of a team shot-caller, the minotaur can realize its true potential. GorillA, Mata, and Ming are also currently prioritizing Alistar in other regions. Smoothie’s mastery of this champion put Cloud9’s opponents in the difficult position of choosing whether or not to ban him out and give Jensen or Sneaky a power pick. Even if the meta shifts, Alistar will remain a pocket pick, and Smoothie has a diverse pool.

CG Lira – Skarner 

Clutch Gaming and Lira have been very successful with Skarner

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

40% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 100% WIN (30% PRESENCE – 80% WIN)*

Skarner has spiked in priority in the NA LCS, since Riot introduced patch 8.3. Lira and Clutch Gaming are benefiting more from the champion, with a 100 percent win rate. Skarner’s versatility and powerful displacement potential allow the jungler to hard engage like no other. Globally, Skarner only has a 40 percent presence in professional play, but he has 100 percent presence for North America’s teams.

Clutch has had the most success with multi-initiation compositions, and Lira’s Skarner fits right in. Just like others on this list, Lira is a crucial shot-caller for his team. They rely on him to pull the trigger on plays, which makes Skarner even better than Sejuani, Zac, or Jarvan IV. Clutch has picked up three of its six wins with the pick, so they may suffer if Skarner gets nerfed.

TL Doublelift – Tristana 

Team Liquid and Doublelift have been very successful with Tristana

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

90% PRESENCE – 50% PICK – 60% WIN (66% PRESENCE – 55% WIN)*

While Tristana has been a top three priority AD carry, and rising, Team Liquid prioritizes her for Doublelift even more. They have only had one game in ten without Tristana picked or banned. She allows Doublelift to never truly have a weak point in the game. He can push waves easily, chip away turrets, and utilize Rocket Jump to get closer or farther from his opponents. When paired with Olleh’s top pick, Taric, Doublelift becomes an engage mechanism. He and Olleh work together to threaten stuns and kill pressure in lane.

Doublelift has shown mastery of nearly every marksman. He obviously enjoys high-skill options, like Lucian, but Tristana gives him versatility for his team. Doublelift has the fewest deaths per game and the highest CS per minute, due, in part, to his comfort with Tristana.

100 Cody Sun – Kog’Maw 

100 Thieves and Cody Sun have been very successful with Kog'Maw

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

70% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (60% PRESENCE – 47% WIN)*

Kog’Maw is another marksman champion that has been popular this split. His Rageblade power spike, combined with the safety of the Relic Shield-Fleet Footwork bottom lane strategy, made him a prime option. While other North American AD Carries selected Kog’Maw for one game while he was meta, 100 Thieves locked him in three times. The team coordinated well with Cody Sun on an immobile, squishy champion, as they won two of those three games.

Cody Sun currently has the highest damage per minute and the highest damage share in the NA LCS. Kog’Maw, when played correctly, unlocks this potential. 100 Thieves scored wins against TSM and Team Liquid using this pick, which has allowed them to remain in the top five. With the meta shifting away from Kog’Maw, 100 Thieves have started a downward trend, even locking in a Jinx pick. Hopefully, they can click with other champions.

TSM Bjergsen – Taliyah

TSM and Bjergsen are doing very well with Taliyah

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

60% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (42% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

TSM have three of their four wins with Bjergsen on semi-global champions, which is why Taliyah is a preferential choice. Her Weaver’s Wall allows Bjergsen to influence every phase of the game, from early roams to mid-game picks and late-game zoning. Champions like Taliyah put TSM’s steering wheel in Bjergsen’s hands, allowing him to directly control momentum. While TSM is having issues with coordination, it makes sense that they would pick Taliyah in three games, and other teams would ban her in another three.

Most professional mid laners have wide champion pools, rarely locking in the same one several times. With Zoe, Ryze, and Azir being nearly pick or ban for most of the split, NA mid laners go for Galio or a pocket pick if those three are banned out. Expect to see more mid laners picking or banning Taliyah, especially against TSM.

GG Hai – Orianna

Golden Guardians and Hai are doing very well with Orianna

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

40% PRESENCE – 30% PICK – 66.7% WIN (32% PRESENCE – 40% WIN)*

Orianna is to Hai what Taliyah is to Bjergsen. Zoning, shielding, slowing, hasting, stunning, and damaging–Orianna is the whole package. Hai is the central leader for Golden Guardians, so putting so much versatility and control into his hands makes sense. In their only two wins, Golden Guardians drafted Orianna for Hai, after Zoe, Azir, Ryze, and Galio were banned out.

With Lourlo and Contractz taking on initiation duty, and Matt playing more defensive options, Hai’s Orianna brings the necessary damage to stay relevant, while also boosting his teammates’ utility. He can put the ball onto Contractz’s Skarner or Camille for speedier engages. Lourlo’s Gnar or Illaoi can wombo combo with the Shockwave. Deftly can receive a large shield, if it comes to that. No one else in the NA LCS has played Orianna as often, or to as much success. Teams may start to let Hai have the power picks, instead.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Champion and Player Statistics: Games of Legends

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Locodoco

Golden Guardians Fire Locodoco After Innapropriate Comment

On Friday, the Golden Guardians fired their Head Coach, Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-Seop after only two weeks of play. Following on from this, ESPN has reported today that his early termination came about after he made an inappropriate remark directed at a female member of Riot’s Esports staff.

According to ESPN’s report, Locodoco took part in an interview with Riot that was to be broadcast during an NA LCS live stream. Before the interview, he made a comment off camera which, both Riot and The Golden Guardians deemed unacceptable. This was in violation of The Golden Guardians parent company, The Golden State Warriors, strict zero-tolerance policy. The Warriors went onto fire Locodoco on Friday.

In his stead, the Guardians have promoted assistant coach Tyler Perron to Interim head coach. They are now actively looking for a replacement head coach. When found, Perron will return to his original position as assistant coach.

Golden Guardians are currently sitting at the bottom of the NA LCS standings at 0-5. They are the only team that has yet to win a game. The question now is will a change of coach help the Guardians position, or will they continue on their downward spiral.

CREDITS

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Lourlo

Lourlo: ‘I think the community definitely underestimates us a little bit’

The Golden Guardians’ season debut wasn’t a pretty one. The Golden State Warriors-owned League of Legends franchise failed to mirror the greatness of their NBA affiliate, dropping both of their opening weekend games and carving out a spot at the bottom of the standings.

This isn’t too far-fetched from community expectations, however. With a mixture of players that didn’t win enough in 2017, a rookie AD carry and being the only team to not fortify their roster with an overseas player, GGS weren’t expected to clean anyone’s clock early in the season. In fact, without relegation in place, the team is comfortable building up their own players for long-term success.

Following the weekend, GGS top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson sat down with The Game Haus and talked about the Guardians’ open weekend, the leadership of Hai “Hai” Du Lam and the expectations the community laid on GGS.

Talk to me about this weekend’s games, your struggles and how you hope to remedy some of the issues plaguing Golden Guardians?
lourlo

GGS will take on FlyQuest (1-1) and Counter Logic Gaming (0-2) this weekend. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

“This weekend I think the first game was a lot of nerves. The second game was a lot of coming down to just late-game and mid-game decision-making and fight selection. I think just ironing out our team cohesion in the later half of the game will definitely change how we play.

I think our lane phase, specifically against Cloud9 today, was fine. It’s just like fights we took were not the ideal fights.”

Now you’ve played on what some would say were dysfunctional teams with Liquid. What’s it like to have a proven leader like Hai to lean on when things get tough?

“Yeah, Hai is definitely a big voice in the team. His just general voice overall guides us in a good direction and I think he’ll keep getting us together as long as he stays on top of it. Everyone finds it easy to follow him because his voice is so veteran-shipped and also so loud. You’re just bound to follow him. 

Overall, he’s a really good leader. And I think I myself will learn from him over time and we’ll see how that goes.”

Speaking of leaders, you’ve reunited with Locodoco, your head coach from your rookie season. Have you noticed any growth in him as a coach, and what does he bring to the table?

“Yeah, in my first year as a rookie, Loco was definitely more confrontational. He still has some of that, but it’s in a better way. He does it more appropriately and tries to get the best out of the situation while in the past, he did it just to argue. Now he’s more mature than he was two years ago when he coached me. I think he’s grown as a person, and also a coach, and I think he’ll keep growing throughout this whole year.”

Does it feel like the stakes are higher with franchising being implemented and plenty of big backers settling into LCS?

“LCS does feel different this year, I don’t know if it’s because of franchising or if I’m on a new team. I definitely have a different feeling playing this year, and I can’t tell if it’s a good or bad thing, I’m just excited to be here overall. And I’m just looking forward to the upcoming weeks because there is always a lot on the line, regardless of franchising or not. I’ve always been in this situation the past three years now so I’m kind of used to it. I think just making sure I keep my level of play to where I want it then I’ll be satisfied.”

Lourlo GGS

Lourlo has reunited with his former head coach, Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-seop. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Now you guys have made it clear that you’re invested to build for the long-term, but plenty have already written you guys off as non-contenders for this season. What’s your take on that? Do you think you have what it takes to win now? And what would it take to compete?

“I think the community definitely underestimates us a little bit. Obviously, if you look at us on paper, we’re five North American players, and most of us came from losing teams other than Contractz. It kind of makes sense that the general approach would be, ‘Yeah these guys are from losing teams, they haven’t done well for the past year, so let’s rate them low.’

It does make sense, and it’s on us to prove them wrong and work to the best of our abilities. People will still have that opinion until we prove them wrong. It’s on us to win.”

Featured image: Riot Games

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The 2018 North American Academy League starts soon.

Introducing the 2018 North American Academy League rules and rosters

Along with the franchising of the North American LCS, Riot is introducing an Academy League for the 2018 season. This league is replacing the North American Challenger Series of previous years. Each LCS organization is required to support an Academy roster alongside their primary team, which will compete in the “minor league.”

While this move is not a huge change for North American League of Legends, Riot has stated slightly different goals for this Academy League compared to the Challenger Series:

“At its core, Academy League is a service for organizations to develop in-house talent–unlike its high-stakes predecessor, the Challenger Series, whose focus was to promote new teams to the NA LCS.”

The Academy League is not necessarily designed to be competitive in the same way Challenger Series was. It is a space for organizations to focus on bringing in players and coaches to season them into LCS talents.

STRUCTURE and RULES

The 2018 Academy League Spring Split schedule is available online

Image from lolesports.com

The Academy League will run parallel to the NA LCS. For every Saturday and Sunday LCS match-up there will be a Thursday or Friday Academy match. For example, since TSM and Team Liquid’s LCS teams face off in week one, their Academy teams also face off in week one. Academy League is a best-of-one double round robin, just like the LCS. Riot will broadcast Friday’s Academy series, but Thursday’s will only be available as VODs. The entire schedule is published on their website.

In order to keep the Academy League true to its goals, Riot has implemented a few roster restrictions. Every organization has to lock in their active roster each Wednesday, then set starters by 1:00pm for Academy, and 12:00pm for LCS, each game day. Riot kept roster changes relatively flexible, because they “felt it would be detrimental for player development if it was difficult for players to move between the starting Academy and LCS rosters.”

In addition, Academy teams have veteran and import player limits. For the 2018 Spring Split, Academy teams can only start up to three veterans and one non-resident. Riot was torn between expanding North America’s rising stars and continuing to support established talents through the chaos of the franchising off-season. Moving forward, Academy teams will be restricted to two veterans.

They define a veteran as “if the player has started over 50% of eligible regular season games over the course of the last two splits of professional, Worlds-eligible League of Legends competition (i.e. NA LCS, EU LCS, etc).” Riot believes veterans bring several benefits to Academy teams. They allow LCS organizations to field a couple of solid substitutes for their bench. Veterans on Academy teams can also help influence young players in and out of the game. Import players can use the Academy to “get acclimated to NA esports, as well as learn English and deal with the transition of living in a new country.”

Academy Team Rosters (previous team-recent achievement)

OpTic Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

OpTic Academy (OPTA)

Dhokla – Sin Gaming – 4th place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Kadir – ÇİLEKLER – 8th place 2017 Turkish Championship League Summer

Palafox – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Andy – Zenith eSports – 2nd place 2016 Carbon Winter Invitational

Winter – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

OpTic’s roster-building strategy did not carry over as much from their LCS roster. While Dhokla most recently competed in Australia, he is North American, along with Palafox, Andy and Winter. Kadir, from the Netherlands, is the only technical non-resident.

This Academy squad seems to truly be about developing young talent, as these players have hardly anything on their resume coming into 2018. Hopefully the OpTic LCS team gels better than predicted, because none of these players appear ready to take the main stage just yet.

Team Liquid joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TL Academy (TLA)

RepiV – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Hard – Echo Fox – 10th place 2016 NA LCS Summer

Mickey – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shoryu – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Joey – CLG sub- 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Liquid’s Academy team centers around Korean mid laner Mickey, who TL brought on towards the end of Summer Split. Hard has some LCS experience as a starter and substitute, while Joey was a substitute for CLG under Aphromoo. He did get to start a couple of times during the Spring Split.

RepiV (previously Viper) and Shoryu are essentially solo queue talents, although RepiV was Liquid’s top lane substitute for most of last year. This Academy roster provides Mickey, Hard and Joey as substitutes if Xmithie, Pobelter or Olleh do not pan out. However, it is mostly a testing ground for RepiV and Shoryu.

FlyQuest joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

FlyQuest Academy (FQA)

Ngo – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

Shrimp – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keane – Team Dignitas – 4th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Erry – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

JayJ – University of Toronto – 2nd place 2017 uLoL Collegiate Series

FlyQuest is the only Academy roster to bring on collegiate talent for Spring Split. Ngo (aka iMysterious or Gaow Gaiy), Erry and JayJ played together on the University of Toronto uLoL team last year. The team took second place in North America, but this will be their first test in the minor league.

Keane and Shrimp join FQA from a disbanded Team Dignitas, which took fourth place in the LCS last summer. They are, arguably, the strongest duo out of any Academy line-up. Their mid-jungle synergy should provide FlyQuest with a sturdy anchor to develop the Toronto trio.

TSM joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

TSM Academy (TSMA)

Brandini – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Grig – Echo Fox sub- 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Ablazeolive – Team Mountain – 3rd place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

MrRalleZ – TSM sub – 1st place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Shady – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TSM’s Academy roster is not nearly as threatening as their LCS line-up. MrRalleZ carries over from last year as a tenured substitute AD Carry. Playing under Zven should expand the veteran’s repertoire even further, after training with Doublelift last year.

Brandini, Grig and Shady have each gotten a small share of LCS experience, but mostly acted as substitutes for their respective teams. Ablazeolive has played in the Challenger Series, but is mostly known as a versatile solo queue mid laner. These individuals should be able to go toe-to-toe with most in the Academy League, but synergy may take time to develop.

CLG joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

CLG Academy (CLGA)

Fallenbandit – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Omargod – CLG – 3rd place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Tuesday – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Zag – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fill – CLG Academy – 5th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

CLG is the only team that already had a reasonable sister team playing in the Challenger Series. They simply carried over their entire roster from Summer Split and re-added Omargod.

It is hard to say whether this line-up’s synergy will overcome the raw talent of some of these other rosters. Omargod is the closest to a veteran on the team, due to his LCS experience last split. Maybe he will be the leader to elevate the rest of CLGA into a threat.

100 Thieves joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

100 Academy (100A)

Kaizen – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Levi – GIGABYTE Marines – 1st place 2017 Garena Premier League Summer

Linsanity – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Rikara – Gold Coin United – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Whyin – Gold Coin United sub – 1st place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

100 Thieves put together a creative Academy roster for 2018. Everyone will focus on Levi, the aggressive GPL superstar jungler, but there is more to 100A. Rikara and Whyin played together last summer on Gold Coin United. Linsanity has been a touted solo queue mid laner for years now.

Most importantly, Levi and Linsanity could be 100 Thieves’ answer to Meteos and Ryu’s retirement. With a split or two of experience together, Levi and Linsanity could fill Meteos and Ryu’s roles without needing to change out Ssumday, Cody Sun or Aphromoo.

Golden Guardians joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

GGS Academy (GGA)

Jenkins – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Potluck – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Bobqin – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Jurassiq – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Xpecial – Phoenix1 – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Golden Guardians used the same mentality to construct their Academy team as their LCS team. Xpecial acts as the long-term veteran shot-caller who will develop four young North American talents. Hai assumes that role on GG’s main line-up.

Jenkins, Potluck, Bobqin and Jurassiq are relatively unknown quantities. No one can really comment on how effective they may be. However, if Xpecial proves to be better than Matt, then he just may get the starting spot. It also might not be out of the question for Jenkins or Jurassiq to see some starts, depending on Lourlo and Deftly’s performances.

 

Cloud9 joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

C9 Academy (C9A)

League – Team Cloud – 4th place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Wiggily – Tempo Storm – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Goldenglue – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Keith – Echo Fox – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Zeyzal – eUnited – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Fans should be pleased with Cloud9’s Academy off-season, despite questionable LCS pick-ups. Goldenglue and Keith have previously had starting LCS roles, even if they were weak points for those teams. Wiggily and Zeyzal showed promise in last year’s Challenger Series.

League is the most questionable addition, but C9 worked with him at Scouting Grounds and obviously see something in him worth developing. As long as these personalities mix, C9 Academy should be fairly competitive. All of these players need a bit of development before promoting into the LCS.

Echo Fox joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

EF Academy (FOXA)

Allorim – Phoenix1 sub – 10th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

TheOddOrange – Team Gates – 6th place 2017 NA Challenger Spring

Damonte – Echo Fox sub – 8th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Lost – Legacy Esports – 3rd place 2017 Oceanic Pro League Summer

Papa Chau – eUnited sub – 2nd place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Echo Fox brings together five players with limited professional experience. Allorim and Damonte were substitutes for LCS teams, while Papa Chau subbed for eUnited. TheOddOrange has played in the NA Challenger Series, and Lost started in the OPL.

EF Academy is probably the weakest-looking out of the bunch. None of these players have much prior history or synergy together. Damonte previously played for Echo Fox, but he did not see many starting opportunities. Even parts of last year’s Delta Fox/Stream Dream Team might have been valuable for developing raw talent.

Clutch Gaming joins the 2018 Academy League

Image from lolesports.com

Clutch Academy (CGA)

Maxtrobo – Tempo Storm sub – 3rd/4th place 2017 NA Challenger Summer

Moon – FlyQuest – 7th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Sun – NA Solo Queue – Challenger

Piglet – Team Liquid – 9th place 2017 NA LCS Summer

Vulcan – Team Ocean – 1st place 2017 NA Scouting Grounds

Piglet returns to the minor league as part of Clutch Gaming Academy. He is joined by Moon and three rookies. Vulcan had a decent showcase at Scouting Grounds, and Maxtrobo and Sun have consistently maintained high Challenger solo queue rankings.

Clutch Gaming is smart to bring on Moon and Piglet as substitutes for LiRa and Apollo. These two duos would be interchangeable while still starting two or fewer non-residents. LiRa and Apollo were more consistent in Summer Split, but Moon and Piglet showed high ceilings in Spring Split. Hopefully, they are also able to lead this squad in the Academy League.

Expectations for 2018

Based on the rosters that these organizations have fielded, the 2018 Academy League should be much better for developing new North American players. Less than 10 percent of these players are imports. Close to 30 percent of these players have started in a major competitive league (LCS, LCK, etc.). Many of these players will have their professional debut in the Academy League, and others will finally get a chance to have a starting position in the minor league.

There are still a few players, such as Levi, Xpecial, Piglet and Keane, who have opportunities to rotate into the NA LCS this year. If they are able to prove themselves as leaders, and the rosters can conform to import limits, then they could be promoted. For now, though, they will need to focus on growth and development.

Academy League may not be as competitive as the Challenger Series was previously. It may be more of a training ground for players and coaches to condition and mature. Teams are going to have difficulty synergizing immediately. Some players may find they are unable to work well in a team environment. Nonetheless, 2018 will be full of growth, and the Academy League will be a huge part in continuing that growth for years to come.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports

Other Images: LoL Esports

Team and Player History and Achievements: LeaguepediaOP.GGuLoL

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Burning 5: LCS questions following roster mania

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?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

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?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

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?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

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?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

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?

LCS roster

Photo courtesy of Riot Games

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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