NA LCS team announcements coming thick and fast

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By Jess Carruthers, Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru

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    The NA LCS is heating up. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

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    In the extra week since I last took a look at the changes coming to the North American League of Legends Championship Series, we have had so many announcements and rumours that it’s been hard to keep track!

    So let’s keep it simple this week. Here is a list of your ten LCS teams (as confirmed by Riot) and their confirmed and rumoured players. I’m basing contract info on Riot’s public contracts database, but only listing players as starters if teams’ media has confirmed as much. Let’s jump right in!

    100 Thieves (100)

    Top: Ssumday (contracted)
    Jungle: Meteos (contracted)
    Mid: Ryu (contracted)
    Bot: unknown
    Support: unknown
    Coach: Pr0lly

    The first of the four new teams to join the league has picked up some half of their roster, and so far it’s shaping up pretty well. Pr0lly has seen some solid successes over in the EU LCS as coach of H2k, and should make a good leader for the new organisation.

    The three players announced so far are not necessarily top in their roles (Ssumday may be to some people, but he didn’t shine last split), but they are well-established players.

    A lot is riding on the eventual bot duo. I’ve seen speculation that 100 will pick up Cody Sun and Aphromoo; their import slots are full, and these two are probably the best remaining players in free agency. I’ve got a feeling they’re waiting to see what comes out of this weekend’s Scouting Grounds event; I’d expect to see an announcement in the next week.

    Cloud9 (C9)

    Top: Ray and Licorice (contracted)
    Jungle: Svenskeren and Wiggily (contracted)
    Mid: Jensen and Selfie (contracted)
    Bot: Sneaky (contracted)
    Support: Smoothie (contracted)
    Coach: Reapered

    Beyond the active signing of the four new players, C9 are yet to make an announcement regarding who their starting players will be in the top half of the map. I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume Jensen will be the starting midlaner, but as he takes up an import slot, only one of Svenskeren and Ray can play at a time.

    C9 had a great run with Contractz, and I’m sad to see him move on, but their success with him speaks to the org’s ability to train up talented challenger players into strong LCS competitors. Licorice is a veteran of C9 Challenger, and since they’ve re-signed him you have to assume they see plenty of promise in him. I suspect the team will mostly run him and Svenskeren in the LCS, unless another signing comes up.

    Clutch Gaming (CG)

    Top: Solo (rumour)
    Jungle: LirA (rumour)
    Mid: Febiven (rumour)
    Bot: Apollo (rumour)
    Support: Hakuho (rumour)
    Coach: unknown

    CG’s roster is far from certain at this stage, which makes them a bit tough to talk about. The trio from the now-defunct Team EnvyUs is a longer-running rumour, that if true form an excellent base, with LirA performing consistently regardless of his teammates. NV never quite saw great achievements, though; their best performance came only after a midlaner shuffle last split, which still only resulted in a sixth placed finish.

    The Top and Mid pickups will be absolutely make-or-break for this team, and they do still have one import slot available. Febiven would make an excellent choice if they can close the deal with him, and Solo has performed well across C9 Challenger and recently GCU, along with brief stints on FOX and TL.

    CG may also pick up the rest of the NV roster; the experience they have as a team could be really useful in an otherwise shaken-up league.

    CounterLogic Gaming (CLG)

    Top: Darshan (starter)
    Jungle: Reignover (starter)
    Mid: huhi (starter)
    Bot: Stixxay (starter)
    Support: Biofrost (starter)
    Coach: Zikz

    Going from a team that is pure speculation to a fully announced line-up, CLG have retained most of their core players and made two excellent pickups. Although I have a lot of respect and admiration for Aphromoo, Biofrost is definitely an upgrade (not by a lot, but still noticeably so).

    Reignover, meanwhile, would be an upgrade for most players, but especially over OmarGod, who for all he improved in his time as a starter was still rather underdeveloped.

    I’ve never been a particular fan of CLG, but I’m very excited to see this line-up. It’s got the dual benefits of being one of the most stacked in the league, but with enough existing cohesion that adding the new players in is less of a risk. I’m particularly interested to see how Biofrost does; this is the first roster move of his career, and he is not going with any of his teammates.

    Echo Fox (FOX)

    Top: Brandini (contracted), Huni (rumoured)
    Jungle: Akaadian, Grigne and Damonte (contracted), Dardoch (rumoured)
    Mid: FeniX (starter)
    Bot: Mash (contracted), Altec (rumoured)
    Support: Gate (contracted), Adrian (rumoured)
    Coach: Inero

    There is a huge, huge discrepancy between the players currently contracted to FOX and the players they are rumoured to pick up. The only announcement we’ve seen from the org confirmed FeniX, who has a wealth of history going back to the days of Team Dragon Knights and Team Curse.

    Going from there, the rest of the rumours make sense; Huni would take up the second import slot, while Dardoch, Altec and Adrian are all NA residents and strong players.

    Even considering his strengths, I have to say I’m still not at all a Dardoch fan; until he proves otherwise, he is much too volatile of a player. And for FOX as a whole, if some of these signings fall through, the team could drop down the rankings extremely quickly.

    FlyQuest (FLY)

    Top: Flame (starter)
    Jungle: AnDa (contracted)
    Mid: Fly (rumoured)
    Bot: WildTurtle (starter)
    Support: Stunt (starter)
    Coach: unknown

    After a reasonable but not great pair of opening splits, FLY are rebuilding their entire roster around the aggressive playstyle of WildTurtle. AnDa, Stunt and Flame were all previously signed to Immortals, although the former two were in sub roles.

    As well as I can remember, none of this team have played with each other before now, and WildTurtle tends to be either incredible or a liability; it will be very interesting to see how they all come together.

    Although Fly was most recently on Gold Coin United, in the past he has played on Jin Air, KT Rolster and Longzhu Gaming. He didn’t have particularly stellar performances in the LCK, but GCU had some excellent performances with him. The question around Fly – assuming he is finalised into the roster – is going to be how well he transitions back into a primary league.

    Golden Guardians (GGS)

    Top: Lourlo (rumoured)
    Jungle: Contractz (rumoured)
    Mid: Hai (rumoured)
    Bot: Deftly (rumoured)
    Support: Matt (rumoured)
    Coach: Locodoco (rumoured)

    The prospective players on GGS have a fair amount of pedigree behind them. Hai is probably one of the most recognised players in Western League of Legends, and several of his teammates have gone to Worlds. The exception here is Deftly; by comparison, he is fresh out of eUnited’s challenger team. They had solid performances during 2017, but were still only in the Challenger Series; again, the question is going to be how Deftly transitions from one league to another.

    For this team, that question broadens to how they’re all going to come together. Contractz and Deftly are somewhere between new and totally fresh; the others are all widely considered somewhat past their prime. Nearly all fans will be looking to Hai to lead this team to their victory. Whether he will succeed or not is another question entirely.

    OpTic Gaming (OPT)

    Top: unknown
    Jungle: Akaadian (rumoured)
    Mid: PowerOfEvil (rumoured)
    Bot: Arrow (rumoured)
    Support: LemonNation (rumoured)
    Coach: Zaboutine (rumoured)

    OPT is the last new team on our list, and I’m not entirely sure what I think about them. The organisation has been hugely successful in other esports, so I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’m really not convinced on a couple of things; to me LemonNation has too small a champion pool to be fielded as a starter, and I have doubts about Arrow, especially with his new support.

    There’s also the outstanding question of who OPT will pick up in the top lane. It seems likely they will at least try to pick up Zig, who, combined with Akaadian and POE, would make a pretty scary top half, but that is far from confirmed.

    I’m not sure they have a whole lot of other choices. There are a few other Top laners they could try to buy a contract for, but otherwise they would need to pick up and train an unknown.

    Liquid (TL)

    Top: Impact (starter)
    Jungle: Xmithie (starter)
    Mid: Pobelter (starter)
    Bot: Doublelift (starter)
    Support: Olleh (starter)
    Coach: Cain

    I will be the first to admit I don’t like TL as an organisation, but I really do love this roster. I’m so happy to see the pickups from the old IMT line-up; all three of them had outstanding performances all through the LCS split and into Worlds.

    Regardless of my opinions on Doublelift as a person, I can’t deny that he has consistently been a top-tier carry, and Impact has played a huge part on C9 in the past.

    The only worry for this team will be how it all comes together. While not a superteam, it’s really not far off one, and we’ve seen such teams struggle in the past. Pobelter and Xmithie have both played with Doublelift and Olleh before, which points to them all coming together quite well, but we don’t know how Impact will slot in with any certainty.

    If everything comes together, this team could challenge for the title at the end of the split.

    Team SoloMid (TSM)

    Top: Hauntzer (starter)
    Jungle: MikeYeung (starter)
    Mid: Bjergsen (starter)
    Bot: Zven (starter)
    Support: Mithy (starter)
    Coach: Ssong (rumour)

    Along with TL and CLG, this iteration of TSM rounds out my pick for top three finishers in the first split of 2018. Although there will be plenty of work needed to bring these players together, if the rumours about Ssong coming on as head coach are true, I fully expect this roster to be highly successful.

    Bringing the hugely talented duo of Zven and Mithy across as a package is an excellent move, and I’m really excited to see them play with Bjergsen. I’m a little worried about MikeYeung joining, but I’m hoping the issues he had after the meta change early in split two can be worked out with the incredible coaching staff.

    This next split is going to be so good. It’s still nearly two months before we get to see these teams play, and I am going to be taking every bit of info about scrims I can get in the meantime! Who do you think will stand or fall? Who will you cheer for in 2018?

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