Now that we’re done with rerun week, I can start actually predicting things instead of regurgitating last weeks results. Which would be more fun in a different SPL climate. But this split’s North American teams are so even that it seems practically impossible to make clear power rankings.
EUnited beat Counter Logic Gaming, Counter Logic beat Spacestation, Spacestation beat Luminosity, Luminosity beat EUnited… All of these teams are in the same tier. It’s great for watching games, but stressful for predicting them.
At least the European side is a little easier. There seem to be two distinct echelons of EU teams, with Rival, NRG and Dignitas being top teams and Obey, SK and Mousesports being lower. But if teams from the same tier face off in EU, it can be just as hard as an NA game to predict.
Oh well, you’ve gotta pick someone. Let’s get into the picks for week 5.
Team Rival VS Team Dignitas
Rival and Dignitas are both great teams, and both could easily take this. But for my money, Dignitas comes out on top. Dignitas are still the standout team of the European Pro League, even if they’ve recently lost some sets.
Obey Alliance VS Mousesports
Two of the weaker teams square off in this set. But Mousesports is too inconsistent, and their drafts can get a little too crazy. And while I like experimental drafts as much as the next guy, they don’t translate cleanly into wins.
eUnited VS Trifecta
It’s hard to vote against eUnited in these match-ups after their Week Three comeback. Last week they looked as strong as they did in the World Championship. And while I don’t doubt that Trifecta could take this, the same could be said for the team I vote against in practically any North American match-up. They’re just too even.
Spacestation VS Counter Logic Gaming
On the opposite end of the spectrum, before eUnited’s comeback CLG was looking like the best team in the world. But after taking a loss from not only eUnited, but from Luminosity, they don’t look so tough anymore. Spacestation, on the other hand, is a consistently great team.
Team Dignitas VS SK Gaming
This is the day where that short tier list I made starts coming in handy. Dignitas is in the top three, and SK is in the bottom, which makes this prediction easy.
NRG Esports VS Obey Alliance
Thursdays in the EU SPL seem to be the designated strong team versus weak team days. NRG is good, Obey isn’t. Easy FP.
NRG Esports VS SK Gaming
I like the low stress environment Thursday is creating here. I don’t have to think very hard. But there’s also not much to write about. That tier list is pretty real; so far none of the lower echelon teams have managed to take even a game off of the top three, let alone a whole match. It would be exciting to be wrong about these matches. But it also wouldn’t be responsible of me to predict SK.
Trifecta VS Splyce
This is the battle of teams I’m not quite sure what to think of yet. Splyce has a number of talented veteran players that we haven’t seen in action for a while, and I’d love to see them find their footing in this match. But for right now, they’re not great. Trifecta in the short term is a pretty lukewarm team. They never seem to look that strong or that weak. But in the short term, I have to give this one to Trifecta.
Luminosity VS Spacestation
This is the match that I’m most unsure of. Spacestation is still a consistently strong team, but Luminosity had a strong showing last week. But when in doubt, vote for Spacestation. That way at least John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter fans won’t get mad at me.
Luminosity VS Splyce
I’m still reluctant to give Splyce my vote, and to repeat myself Luminosity has been looking incredibly strong lately. This is probably about as easy to predict as North American matches can get. And even here, I have no doubt that Splyce could take the game. It’s really anyone’s league in North America.
Team Rival < Team Dignitas
Obey Alliance > Mousesports
EUnited > Trifecta
Spacestation > Counter Logic Gaming
Team Dignitas > SK Gaming
NRG Esports > Obey Alliance
NRG Esports > SK Gaming
Trifecta > Splyce
Luminosity < Spacestation
Luminosity > Splyce
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers bought Team Dignitas and became the first North American sports franchise to buy an esports team. Earlier this year they became one of 17 teams that’ll participate in the NBA 2K League, the first esports league of its kind. Now, almost a week ago, the 76ers announced a partnership with HyperX, a gaming accessories company. The 76ers are incorporating esports into their company in efforts to further grow the industry.
Sixers Training Complex. Courtesy of NBA.
HyperX became the first endemic esports/gaming brand to partner with an NBA team. They will become the official headset partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and also sponsor Team Dignitas as well. HyperX also hasn’t shied away from sponsoring NBA players such as Gordon Hayward and De’Aaron Fox. The Business Wire reports, “During the 2017-2018 NBA season, HyperX will participate with the 76ers in a range of in-game activation elements, including courtside and in-arena LED ring signage and branding, exposure on scoreboard, concourse activations and HyperX giveaway nights.”
If you’ve been to an NBA game before, imagine a HyperX commercial during timeout breaks or ads during broadcasts. The HyperX partnership can potentially lead other gaming companies to develop their own partnerships with other teams as well. For example what if, Fremont-based, Corsair Components partner with the Golden State Warriors and their upcoming 2K League team? The HyperX and 76ers partnership will become a catalyst for more opportunities to come to the NBA.
HyperX has untapped options to gain more exposure and normalize esports to the public. Scott O’Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, spoke with SportTechie about their efforts to innovate fan engagement. O’Neil said, “Some of the improvements they made to the game and the way they’re engaging their fan base, I think it’s a great way to tie fans back and forth through esports and the real game.” Another example is Nike’s NBA Connected Jersey where you gain exclusive content by simply tapping your smartphone on the tag of the jersey.
Every year technology continues to improve and reaches its way to innovate marketing. The 76ers can deliver creative fan engagement with their own fans and introduce them to esports with their own 2K League team. The idea can go both ways as you can also introduce esports viewers to the NBA. By increasing viewership, they create more streams of revenue and opportunities to expand between the two industries.
Getting other teams involved
Chad Biggs, Senior VP of Marketing Partnerships of the Philadelphia 76ers, believes more teams will take interest. “I don’t believe it undermines the league. We have some very strong teams. It will make a very competitive league and more teams will follow,” Biggs said in response to teams not participating froman interview from SportBusiness. Many teams want to view the success of the NBA 2K League’s first season before they want to jump in. After all the NBA and its teams are a business and, for some, esports is still considered a risk.
NBA teams know their business and can utilize their resources to translate into esports. O’Neil also commented, “You started to see a lot of my peers enter the space thinking, ‘OK, we understand how to sell tickets, we understand broadcast deals, we understand sponsorship.’” The Philadelphia 76ers has shown their admiration and potential for esports to create a connection between esports and traditional sports.
Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.
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With the gauntlet stretched before them, Dignitas have their eyes set firmly on FlyQuest. Knowing that Fly will have a number of VODs to comb through Ssumday is expecting a different team than the one they faced already.
Ssumday talks about how he believes Dignitas can win the gauntlet tournament and be the North American third seed for Worlds. Once they make it through the gauntlet he mentions that he would like to meet Longzhu at worlds to hang out and play on stage.
Keep it here for more interviews, pieces and photos from NALCS!
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“From Our Haus to Yours”
Photo and video by ‘The Game Haus’ Patrick Mcdonald
Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas was the last set of the Spring Split. Both teams fought their way through Smite Masters and proved themselves to be the best two teams in Smite for the Spring Split. So, it seems rather fitting that they will end the online stage of the Summer Split for EU. It is also great to have the EU online portion end with such a great set, as well as being the game of the week
Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/obeyysmite
Things have changed though since the Smite Masters Grand Finals; it seems as if these teams have switched fortunes. The Spring Split was the Obey Alliance show, no doubt. They dominated the online stages and carried that form through to the offline stage. However, this Split their results have been a bit disappointing. I want to stress that they have only been disappointing when compared to the incredibly high bar they set last Split. Also I think it is hard to say that Obey are still not playing great Smite, but maybe the other teams have taken a step forward.
NRG are performing closer to the standard we have come to expect. Let’s not forget either that Dignitas now has a Split under their belt and will obviously have improved as a team. Everyone in Europe has improved though, seeds one through five are probably expected to split with each other now. As well as this Split some dead-weight from the EU has been shed and the new blood of The Papis and Burrito Esports have shown they are more than capable of an upset.
Dignitas have taken Obey’s spot on top of the perch. They are starting to show that for once, the tag ‘Super-team’ is not a curse, nor irrelevant. They are currently 5/1/0 in the standings, setting themselves apart from the pack, four points in front of their nearest contenders. This guarantees them first seed going into DreamHack Valencia, something which must feel great. Especially for the European players, it will be the first time in a long time they will be competing on home soil at a LAN. However, don’t expect them to take it easy on Obey because of this, they will want to maintain not having lost a set this split. As well as the fact that beating what is going to be one of your biggest rivals at DreamHack is a huge momentum boost.
Obey will be fighting tooth and nail for the set victory this weekend. The momentum boost of taking down one of your biggest rivals is huge. What is more important though is that they are still in a scrap for seeding. By the end of this weekend, Obey could end up anywhere from second to fourth. Do not underestimate the value of seeding, as any Esports fan can tell you many tournaments have been won through favourable brackets. For more information on all the permutations of the EU standings, look no further, TGH has you covered http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/20/going-dreamhack-valencia-eu-standings-end/
Predictions and contested picks
The mid lane is going to be hotly contested for picks. For Dignitas, Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren Sol is a very important pick. Sol has taken the mid lane by storm and become an important pick in any draft, but Zyrhoes was one of the people who pioneered the Sol pick. If this gets through the banning phase, look for Dignitas to pick it up at the first opportunity. However, I would not expect to get through the banning phase. If this happens, things get more interesting for the mid lane.
Image courtesy of pcgamesn.com
They get more interesting because all of a sudden The Morrigan comes into focus. This has been a fall back for Zyrhoes in recent times, something Dig prioritises highly. To show how much they prioritise it, in their last set against Burrito Esports when the Sol got banned, they first picked The Morrigan. Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom also prioritises it, as their last set he played The Morrigan both games, as well as numerous times before this Split.
Ne Zha has come back into the meta, with a lot of SPL junglers picking him up. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight has always played the Ne Zha and has taken full advantage of his return to the meta. He does not just play the Ne Zha a lot, he plays it very well. Obey Alliance as a whole play around the Ne Zha well though, as he is one of those picks that requires coordination with your teammates. He also recently picked up Sun Wu Kong in the jungle, so that is a possible pick out of left field.
Another potentially interesting pick when these two teams meet comes from the Hunter role. Jing Wei is creeping back into meta and is a God that both Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska and Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark have been picking occasionally. This is not going to be as contested as The Morrigan in mid as both these hunters have played a lot of God’s recently and there are probably more top tier ADC’s at the moment. It is something we could potentially see though.
These are two incredibly evenly matched teams, with a ton of skill and experience on both sides. If I were to call it, I’d say it’s probably a split with perhaps Dignitas on recent form just edging it out.
This week on the European side of the SPL we have two games which could be very important for Dreamhack Valencia qualification. The four teams mentioned in this article are along with Rival the most likely to be going to Dreamhack. While it is still early in the Split and not many games have been played, all these teams are close at the top. Obey VS NRG and Eanix VS Dignitas would be great games just for the spectacle. However, with the added pressure of such a short split and such a competitive field, things are likely to get spicy.
NRG VS Obey
NRG vs Obey should be a very close set. We have the best team in the world for the past two years, pitted against the best team in the world from last split. This split could very well define how the EU side of the SPL turns out.
NRG have not been the dominating team of past seasons so far in Season 4. There have been multiple reasons given for this decline. The most prevalent to hear last split was they had taken their foot off the pedal. This theory came from the team admitting to having done so at the start of the split, in an attempt to avoid burnout. If you want evidence of potential burnout, you only have to look at Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone’s recent reddit post. In it he claims he does not enjoy Smite anymore and at the moment plays it purely for ‘business’ not for pleasure. While he puts this down to game-state, in particular Sunder, part of the evident frustration shown here may be due to burnout.
Image Courtesy of esportsedition.com
NRG are still a top-tier team though. They are still the mechanical monsters they have always been and have nearly three full seasons of an unchanged roster behind them. When you win two World titles in a row, that sort of stability is most definitely a plus. In Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, they still have, for my money, the best jungler in the world. A player also at least still in the conversation for best player in the world.
NRG play things pretty meta, so in regards to their picks, that’s what you should be looking for in the draft. More specifically though look for Athena to be picked up by iRaffer. Athena has been creeping back into the meta ever since the start of the Spring Split offline events. This is something we have seen iRaffer on a lot recently, but also something NRG clearly value quite highly. As when they opted for the Khepri over the Athena in Game 2 vs Rival, they made sure to ban Athena out.
Camasotz, a God who has burst, instead of crept, into the meta is also a priority pick for NRG. Noticeably in their set against Rival picking it 2nd both games.
Obey Alliance were incredible last split. The addition of Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen was always going to make them stronger. Emilzy has always been a good player on mid-tier teams. Since he got his opportunity at Obey, he has shown he is a truly great player. Probably the best support in the world as it stands currently. At least that’s what the stats and his performances from the Spring Split suggest.
The big question after the way he ended season 3 was, how much was the loss of Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming going to effect Obey? They brought in João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira and he has more than capably filled the big space left behind by Variety. Like the rest of the Obey squad, he had a dominating split in Spring. Seeing as they went from 2nd at Worlds to 1st at Master’s, beating NRG to get there; a team worth noting who dominated them in the SWC finals 3-1. I think Obey are more than happy with the results of roster changes.
Image courtesy of Smite.esportswikis.com
Again, Obey play things pretty meta, but like NRG there are some particular things to look out for. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark has always been a fan of Jing Wei. With the recent buffs she has seen and her gradual re-entry into the meta, look for Ataraxia to play her. Cernunnos is also a pick to look out for from Ataraxia. We have heard a lot about how strong Cernunnos is, and Ataraxia is probably one of the SPL players who is best at showing that. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight may again pull out his Ne Zha, a God he favours more than most in the SPL. When it comes to Emil ‘PrettyPriMe’ Edstrom, you always have to look out for his burst mages, in particular the Vulcan. What he has recently been running with much success, more than a lot of the league’s other mid-laners, is Morrigan. This is something he has been running to devastating effect recently and will most likely, if possible, be picked up in this set.
MY Fantasy Points will be going on the split in this set. However, both teams are so closely matched there is the potential for it to go either way over a two game series.
Eanix VS Team Dignitas
Last split, Eanix was at the top end of the mid-tier teams. However, in between the Spring and Summer Split, they have cherry picked some of the better players from the lower ranked teams and look to be a genuinely top tier team this split. Dispatching The Papis, which was expected, but also splitting with Obey which is no mean feat.
The new jungler Daniel ‘Faeles’ Evans looked very strong through the Spring Split and has taken that form into the Summer Split. The best example of this is in Eanix’s split with Obey. In the game they won, Faeles went 3/1/13, having 100 percent kill participation. Nemesis is seeing a lot of love at the moment, and that is what Faeles played in that win over Obey. He has already picked the Serqet twice this split, so look for him to pick one of those two in this set.
Image courtesy of Eanix.gg
James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine took over for Jeroen ‘Klaver’ Xaliea in the solo-lane. For those of us who have been watching since pre-season days, it is sad to see one of the old greats leave. However, Xaliea has not been the same solo-laner who used to embarrass solo’s and teams as a whole for a long time. He was the original Bakasura solo, instantly changing the scene with his realisation that Baka countered Chaac. Duckey has storied shoes to fill, it looks like he is up to the task. While not having the same level of innovation, his game play when compared to Xaliea’s of recent times definitely seems stronger.
Emil ‘Lawbster’ Evinsen and Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar have been teaming together for a long time now. They have also both been in the competitive scene since its beginning, both featuring in the Smite Launch Tournament. Lawbster doing far more than feature, actually winning the event with the original TSM. These two veterans should be a great base for this team to build from and power on through this split thanks to their vast experience. This is not to take away from their own personal skill, which both have in spades.
Pick wise there is nothing that should really surprise anyone. At least Eanix haven’t shown it yet. Picks you should be looking for in the Mid are Sol and Lawbster’s almost signature Poseidon. These have been Lawbster’s go-to picks so far this Split. With the recent play that Agni has been seeing, that is another very real possibility, as Agni most definitely is a signature Lawbster God. From Funballer, look for any of the following three: Hou-Yi, Cernunnos and Rama. He is dangerous on all of these Gods. Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker has played a different God every game this season, however he does have a proclivity for aggressive supports, so a Ymir and Ares may see some more play from him. Duck3y will be following meta and picking an early pressure Warrior most likely. However, if he is on Hercules, something special may happen, as he wrecks on Hercules.
Dignitas are a team of veteran bonafide superstars of the European Smite scene. The Spring Split was their first Split in the SPL as a team. It was nearly the perfect entry into the SPL, but it ended up being a case of always a bridesmaid never a bride for Team Dignitas. Coming second to Obey in the regular season and then getting rather handled in the finals of Smite Masters by Obey again. In all seriousness though, coming second is not a bad start to your team’s Pro League career. This is the Split to really look for Dignitas to kick on. Going from being a very good and promising team to a powerhouse of the scene. They have had time to gel and gain synergy between all the players, and there will be no doubt that this team has the potential to contend at the sharp end of World’s.
In Mid Lane we have Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren. Zyrhoes has been in the competitive scene for a very long time. The man is a born mid-laner. If you need evidence of this, he started off as a jungler, but would bring Vulcan to the role. He also has incredible game knowledge as shown by NRG picking him up as their coach on their last World Championship run. Zyrhoes has been playing a lot of Sol in recent history and was doing it before she became a top-tier pick again. He has already played Sol twice this Split. As well as having also played Morrigan twice, look for those two to be his focus in this set.
Image courtesy of play.esea.net
Kenny ‘Arkyll’ Kuska was the biggest question mark in this roster when it was formed. Out of all the players on this roster he definitely had the least pedigree in the scene. However, he has more than justified his inclusion in this ‘super-team.’ Arkyll killed it last season and has been performing just as impressively this season. His slash lines this season have been 4/0/7, 5/2/8, 8/2/4 and 6/1/2, showing his stellar performances. Look for Rama and Hou-Yi, although he has been one of the hunters testing Jing-Wei in the SPL this season, making it a possibility.
Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo had a great season last season. There was talk of him being the world’s best player and dethroning Adapting. Unfortunately for him and Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling, the off-season went incredibly poorly. However, Qvofred is another veteran of the scene who has shown his class numerous times. Qvo’s God pool is extensive, so with Qvo expect anything. So far he has stuck to the very meta Camasotz and Ravana; but his favourite has been the Nemesis, so expect to see at least one game of Nemesis this set.
Variety had an incredible end of Season 3 and has looked just as strong at the start of this Split. He has been dominating laners and is an intimidating match-up for most solo-laners in the league. Look for Variety to try and secure Osiris, something he has played three times already this season.
Trixtank is desperate to win big again. It is something which comes across in every interview he does. He won the Smite Launch Tournament, but the teams he has been on have struggled at LAN’s for the most since then. Trixtank made his name back in the day of warrior supports. For a while he was the most feared player in the world, especially on his signature Sun-Wukong. Things have changed since then. He is still a great support, but recently he has been playing far more defensive supports. This split he has only played the Geb and Khepri, look for more of the same.
This could be another one which easily goes to a split. I reckon if it is going either way, it is going Dignitas’ way, they are probably the stronger team. However, Lawbster and Funballer would love to get one over Trix and Qvo as they were long standing teammates. Only splitting after the disappointment of the end of Season 3.
These are going to be close sets most likely. All of these teams will be going into these weeks sets knowing the importance of them, but also being reasonably confident of a win. This week will teach us a lot about EU. Are Obey going to be the powerhouses they were last split? How much has Team Dignitas improved? Something their toughest opposition of the split will give us an idea on. Are NRG getting closer to their old form? Or is it another lacklustre perfomance this split, by their incredibly high standards? All important questions that these important sets should give us a better understanding of.
The break between spring and summer has been relatively quiet in North America. Very few big name players were traded, acquired, or released from teams. Most of the biggest changes are at the coaching position, whose impact is difficult to gauge without watching drafts and getting feedback from the players themselves. Here is a summary of every mid-season roster update so far in the NA LCS:
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
After a single split with Immortals, Dardoch has been bounced to another roster. Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) traded their jungler to Immortals for Dardoch. He brings a higher carry potential and early proactivity. He also brings an out-of-game personality that has been cited as the source of team-wide issues. CLG’s support staff will need to rein Dardoch in and properly channel his aggressive playstyle to find success.
Jake “Xmithie” Puchero
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Xmithie was traded to Immortals in exchange for Dardoch. This is a surprising trade, considering CLG decided to keep their entire roster intact in the off-season leading into Spring Split. Immortals will be receiving a seasoned, veteran, shot-calling jungler to compliment their remaining teammates, particularly the younger players in the bottom lane. Hopefully, Xmithie will ameliorate any out-of-game issue and provide stability within the team.
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran
Unsurprisingly, WildTurtle has decided to leave TSM to find a starting role elsewhere, and he has. FlyQuest is bringing him on as the primary AD Carry. WildTurtle helped TSM win the NA LCS Spring Split, but had a rocky performance at Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational. FlyQuest finished fifth this spring, and with this acquisition they will look to move up in the standings this summer.
Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Nisqy enters North America from the EU Challenger Series. His spring split team, Fnatic Academy, qualified for promotion into the EU LCS Summer Split. Their slot was bought by Ninjas in Pyjamas, who signed an entirely new roster. Nisqy joins Team Envy after his strong showing within EU CS. Envy finished last split in tenth, and fought their way through the promotion tournament to defend their spot in the NA LCS. Changes in the mid lane may stabilize their gameplay for better overall performance.
Choi “Pirean” Jun-Sik
Team Envy is also signing Pirean to their roster as a mid laner. Pirean most recently started for Phoenix1 in Summer 2016, and helped keep the team in the LCS after finishing eighth and fighting through the promotion tournament. This past split he was benched as a substitute mid laner behind Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook. Pirean looks to share mid lane duties with Nisqy. However, Pirean does seem to be the starter on the LCS website.
William “Stunt” Chen
Stunt is switching teams for the second time in six months. From substitute support on Dignitas to starting support on Phoenix1 to sharing the support role on Phoenix1, Stunt is now signed to Immortals as a substitute. While Stunt had some of the highest first blood rates, kill participation, and average KDA, he sacrificed high death shares and lower overall damage than his counterpart, Jordan “Shady” Robison. The Immortals infrastructure may be able to develop his talent in a stable team environment.
Terry “Big” Chuong
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Big is listed as a player for Team Dignitas in Riot’s Global Contract Database, and may be starting over Alex “Xpecial” Chu in Week 1. Xpecial was benched in favor of Stunt a few times throughout the Spring Split. Big most recently played for Echo Fox’s sister team, Delta Fox, in the NA CS. It would be surprising if his starting role on Dignitas is permanent this summer.
Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon
Team Dignitas also signed Shrimp, a jungler substitution. DIG’s early split woes, and late split streak, rested mostly in the jungle position, as Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun built synergy with the rest of the team. Signing Shrimp on as back-up could be a response. Shrimp split jungle duties for Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe this spring, helping them finish first in the regular season and second in playoffs.
Brandon “Mash” Phan
The last NA LCS substitute worth mentioning is Mash, who has signed to Echo Fox as AD Carry. Echo Fox started the Spring Split strong, but faltered in the second half, finishing eighth in the regular season. The bottom lane was much to blame. Mash comes onto the roster after finishing first in the NA CS with Gold Coin United. While Yuri “Keith” Jew is still listed as the starter for Week 1, it would not be surprising to see Mash splitting time in this role.
Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo
Ssong is another newcomer to Immortals this summer. Stepping in as coach, Ssong has been the head of LCK teams such as Longzhu Gaming and ROX Tigers. Most notably, he was coach when ROX Tigers finished top four in the 2016 World Championships. Signing Ssong shows Immortals’ dedication to improving as a team, and building the proper environment for growing talent. It will be interesting to see how much he elevates the team compared to last split.
Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
One of the longest serving veterans of the NA LCS, Saintvicious returns to Team Dignitas this summer. After Apex Gaming chose him as coach, and they qualified into the LCS, Saintvicious was kept on as staff when Apex and Dignitas were acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers. Coming into Spring 2017, Saintvicious joined Team Liquid as a strategic coach. However, after Liquid’s nasty Spring Split, Dignitas has welcomed him back to assist David “Cop” Roberson.
Nick “Inero” Smith
Formerly of OPL’s Tainted Minds, Inero will be head coach for Echo Fox this summer. Prior to Tainted Minds, Inero coached Dream Team and Mousesports in the EU and NA Challenger Series. Tainted Minds was caught up in scandalous reports of mismanagement from players within the team, which eventually led to a competitive ruling from Riot. The staff and players were released, which has allowed Echo Fox to sign Inero on as head coach.
Dong Hwan “Violet” Kim
Team Envy has signed Violet, a reputable Starcraft II player, as head coach for the summer. Violet has been signed to Envy as a Starcraft player since the beginning of 2016. His crossover into coaching League of Legends seems risky considering Envy just missed relegation this past spring. Maybe Violet’s strategic gaming background will allow Team Envy to develop new tactics or playstyles.
Changes to Starting Rosters
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Unsurprisingly, Doublelift returns to play the Summer Split as starting AD Carry. Although the star AD Carry had taken a temporary hiatus from professional play, Doublelift was temporarily loaned to Team Liquid by TSM for the last few weeks of the Spring Split to help prevent their relegation. Although TSM won the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, the team aspires to improve for international competition. Based on their underwhelming performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, Doublelift could be crucial for attaining their higher goals.
Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer
Starting Goldenglue as Team Liquid’s mid laner is one of the most controversial roster appointments going into the Summer Split. Leading into the Spring Split, Team Liquid signed Goldenglue and Austin “Link” Shin for mid lane duties. Later in the split, Team Liquid overhauled the roster, moving their AD Carry into mid lane and starting the substitute AD Carry in bottom lane. The team was also almost relegated, even though they had Doublelift on loan from TSM.
In the meantime, Goldenglue bootcamped in South Korea to play against the best in the world and elevate his gameplay. Only time will tell if his Korean solo queue experience has paid off. Goldenglue may be the player with the most pressure on him, coming into this split.
Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin
Piglet is also being reset into his normal role, AD Carry. Team Liquid announced their roster on Twitter as the same roster they signed coming into 2017 Spring Split. While “Midlet” exceeded expectations on a few occasions, it was not a long-term solution for Team Liquid’s problems. Hopefully, the bottom lane meta is more suitable for Piglet to carry, as he has done historically.
Leaving NA LCS
Team Envy’s Spring Split coach, Dylan Falco, is leaving North America to coach Fnatic in the EU LCS. His replacement will be Violet, as mentioned above. For more information on Coach Falco’s relocation, and the rest of the roster updates for the EU LCS, check out EU LCS Mid-Season Roster Updates.
Adrian “Adrian” Ma
Image from LoL Esports Flickr
Adrian was last mentioned signing to Team Liquid while their support, Matt “Matt” Elento, needed to step down due to personal issues. Last playing on March 18, Adrian has not been mentioned in any team announcements for Summer Split. Team Liquid did part ways with Adrian, and Matt came back to assume the starting role, but nothing has been reported since then. Adrian left Phoenix1 due to disagreements with teammates, so it is possible that teams are hesitant to bring him into the mix.
Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo
After a disappointing Spring Split, Ninja has been replaced by two mid laners. There have been no announcements about his status since. He could be in contact with other NA LCS teams. He could be considered for a Challenger team. Ninja could also transfer to another region. The Summer Splits will be starting soon, so it is possible he remains unsigned altogether.
David “Hermes” Tu
Hermes joined Immortals coming into the 2017 Spring Split. He had an almost completely new roster of players, and together they finished seventh in the regular season and missed playoffs. Since the announcement of Ssong entering this position, nothing has been heard from Hermes. Judging by his Twitter, Hermes seems to be a free agent.
Simon “heavenTime” Jeon
HeavenTime is another unaccounted coach. Echo Fox brought on Inero as a replacement, but nothing has been seen from HeavenTime. With the season restarting soon, it is possible that he remains unsigned, as well.