North American League of Legends academy rosters confirmed

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By Jess Carruthers, Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru


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    We have just a week until the 2018 League of Legends season begins. I’m not going to lie to you all, I have been missing my games something ridiculous – I’ve resorted to watching PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds streams.

    Nothing against PUBG of course – it’s a great game – but it’s definitely not League!

    In this lead up to the competitive season I want to take a hot minute to look at something I’ve neglected a little over the past couple of months. There have been a number of notable players missing from the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) roster announcements, and in recent weeks we’ve finally started to see where some of them have gone: the North America (NA) LCS Academy League.

    In rejigging the North American LCS Riot have replaced the Challenger Series with the Academy League, where LCS teams can develop their promising players. Most teams will also have an ex-pro player or two in leadership positions.

    The league will run similarly to the LCS. Games will be best of one double round robins on the Thursday and Friday (US time), with the Friday matches broadcast online. The schedule hasn’t yet been made available, but let’s take a quick look at each of those teams.

    100 Thieves Academy
    Top: Kaizen
    Jungle: Levi
    Mid: Linsanity
    AD carry: Rikara
    Support: Whyin

    While some of these names might be recognised by Challenger Series devotees, this is a pretty unknown roster. Kaizen has no professional experience and was picked up from December’s Scouting Grounds tournament, while Linsanity was a sub for CounterLogic Gaming Academy. Rikara and Whyin did get some game time in the Challenger Series, but they each played only a handful of games on Gold Coin United before also becoming subs.

    It almost feels like a crime for Levi, the ex-Gigabyte Marines jungler, to be placed on this academy squad, but it’s truly exciting to see him moving into the NA league. I agree with the general community hypothesis that the org is doing this so he can build up confidence communicating in English, but I’m feeling very impatient to see some more of his play. I guess that’s an incentive to catch this team!

    (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

    Cloud9 Academy
    Top: League
    Jungle: Wiggily
    Mid: Goldenglue
    AD carry: Keith
    Support: Zeyzal

    This roster is considerably less unknown than that of 100 Thieves Academy. League is new to the competitive scene but was the first-picked player out of Scouting Grounds, so Cloud9 clearly sees a lot of potential in him. Wiggily and Zeyzal both played in the Challenger Series last year on reasonably strong teams, and they have been around long enough now to be somewhat recognisable.

    The two big names here, however, are Goldenglue and Keith. These are players plagued by their reputation – despite both having strong showings in their early careers, their performances in 2017 were mediocre at best. Cloud9 are taking a chance on these two. The org clearly sees their strengths, but they will need a lot of work to overcome their weaknesses.

    Clutch Gaming Academy
    Top: Maxtrobo
    Jungle: Moon
    Mid: Sun
    AD carry: Piglet
    Support: Vulcan

    Clutch Gaming have an interesting roster. In looking the players up, I couldn’t find a whole lot on Sun. It seems that he used to be a well-known Zed one-trick but disappeared for a while until recently. Vulcan was picked up at the Scouting Grounds and Maxtrobo was a sub for ex-Challenger team Tempo Storm. Moon, on the other hand, was a relatively successful jungler in the LCS. It’s a bit of a shame to me that he’s only going to be playing Academy for the time being.

    Of course the biggest news here is Piglet. Piglet is probably the most significant of the players who were missing from the initial roster announcements. There’s a big question here – it will probably never get answered in public – around how he came to be in this position. Did he get offered a great contract in exchange for being an in-team coach and expert for the team? Or was this just the best offer he could get after Team Liquid declined to renew his contract?

    (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

    CounterLogic Gaming Academy
    Top: Fallenbandit
    Jungle: OmarGod
    Mid: Tuesday
    AD carry: Zag
    Support: Fill

    I’m really impressed with CounterLogic Gaming’s approach to the Academy League. They’ve always indicated that their teams are based on team development and cohesion rather than just buying the best players that they can, and it’s so strongly reflected in this roster.

    Every single one of these players has come out of one of the previous CounterLogic Gaming teams. All of them spent some time on the challenger team, all of them spent some time as an official substitute for the LCS team and OmarGod played as the main jungler through the back end of Summer Split. I’m stoked to see this crew kept together, and I look forward to seeing how the team works against the others in the tournament.

    Echo Fox Academy
    Top: Allorim
    Jungle: TheOddOrange
    Mid: Damonte
    AD carry: Lost
    Support: Papa Chau

    Echo Fox’s team has a pretty varied history across all players. Allorim and TheOddOrange have both been around for quite a while, hopping from one Challenger team to another. Papa Chau has similarly spent a lot of time in the Challenger series, although only a sub for the past year or so.

    I’m pretty excited to see Lost here. He’s played in the Oceanic tournament for quite a long time, and on Legacy Esports last year he attended Rift Rivals. Damonte also has some premier tournament experience, having played as the starting Mid for Echo Fox for a handful of games last split.

    (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

    FlyQuest Academy
    Top: iMysterious
    Jungle: Shrimp
    Mid: Keane
    AD carry: Erry
    Support: JayJ

    This is a team with so much potential that it almost makes me miss the Challenger series. Though Team Dignitas wasn’t the strongest performer last year, they had a pretty good showing overall, and picking up Shrimp and Keane together is a great move. Mid and jungle are such complimentary roles; this should be a real boost to the team.

    The other trio is also a great pick-up. All three of them came from the highly successful University of Toronto team, which went all the way through to the finals of Tencent’s Global Collegiate Cup. I’m really excited to see what iMysterious, Erry and JayJ can do under professional guidance and with the support of a large organisation.

    Golden Guardians Academy
    Top: Jenkins
    Jungle: Potluck
    Mid: Bobqin
    AD carry: Jurassiq
    Support: Xpecial

    Most of this team is interesting though not necessarily impressive. Potluck and Bobqin have experience together from playing on eUnited, which – like Shrimp and Keane – should be a boost to the pair. Jurassiq does have some competitive experience on minor teams, mostly aiming to enter into the challenger series in the first place. I can’t find a lot on Jenkins – it seems that he’s not really done anything to build followers beyond being the best Kennen in the region. Fingers crossed it comes out in the games.

    Despite not being super interested in most of this team, Xpecial’s presence definitely catches my attention. Though I wouldn’t call him a top-tier support anymore, he’s got so much experience behind him. On a team that’s otherwise very green his voice should provide a lot of guidance and clarity.

    (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

    OpTic Gaming Academy
    Top: Dhokla
    Jungle: Kadir
    Mid: Palafox
    AD carry: Andy
    Support: Winter

    This is another quite varied team, and I’m excited to see two more Scouting Grounds players in Palafox and Winter. It’s interesting that in the original round of pick-ups Winter wasn’t actually chosen by any team, and likewise certainly not OpTic, who sold their pick slot to Cloud9, but I’m glad that OpTic did end up picking up some of the players. Andy is also quite green; he’s played in Challenger qualifiers before but not in a regular league.

    The players in top and jungle are where it gets really interesting. Although Dhokla is an NA resident, he’s spent a lot of time playing in Oceania. Most recently this was with Sin Gaming – he even went to Rift Rivals with them. Kadir is an EU resident but has mostly played in the Turkish Championship League with reasonable success. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this team meshes given their different backgrounds.

    Team Liquid
    Top: repiV
    Jungle: Hard
    Mid: Mickey
    AD carry: Shoryu
    Support: Joey

    Team Liquid have a relatively experienced roster for an Academy team. The least practised would by Shoryu, who was supposed to compete in the Scouting Grounds event but ended up sacrificing his position. Team Liquid have also kept two of their LCS subs on as starters in repiV (previously Viper) and Mickey, who you may remember being subbed in for a few games late last season.

    Joey and Hard have both been LCS-tier subs in the past too, for CounterLogic Gaming and Echo Fox/Cloud9 respectively. Across the team, then, there is a reasonable amount of experience playing at a professional level. It’s quite a promising crew, and a lot of the players certainly have the potential to move up to the LCS.

    Team SoloMid Academy
    Top: Brandini – P1 and FOX
    Jungle: Grig – FOX
    Mid: Ablazeolive – SG
    AD carry: MrRalleZ – lots of EU
    Support: Shady – P1

    The last team we’re looking takes the idea of an experienced team to a new level. Of all of the Academy rosters, this far and away has the most major league experience spread across the team, with only Ablazeolive coming up through the Scouting Grounds. The big announcement here of course came last year when Team SoloMid announced that they had signed on MrRalleZ and were bringing him across from Europe.

    Shady, Grig and Brandini all played in the last couple of years as started on Phoenix1, Echo Fox and both teams in that order. That is a whole lot of starting time across the team. At this stage it’s hard to tell if Team SoloMid is setting Ablazeolive up to develop and succeed or if his development will be overwhelmed by the talent around him. I guess we will find out over the coming weeks!

    Now that you know what’s going on with the Academy rosters you’re fully prepared for when the teams start playing in a week. Starting with my next article I will be back to our regular scheduled programming with NA LCS game previews for the upcoming weekend, but it’s been a lot of fun following the offseason movements.

    What are you looking forward to most from the 2018 season?

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