We are just a few days away from the opening of another NA LCS season and that means it’s once again time to see where teams stack up before the first day of games.
Before we get into the rankings themselves, it’s worth remembering that this is the first ever split that teams won’t have to worry about relegation. Rather than being forced to come out of the gate swinging, teams should feel comfortable taking their time this split and developing their rosters into some great down the road. This results in a few rosters that may not seem like much right now, but have the potential to turn into something stronger late in the season.
Another factor to take into consideration this year was the addition of the Academy League, which should allow teams to freely move newer players into their starting roster and help develop less experienced players away from the pressures of the NA LCS main stage.
With all that in mind, let’s see how each team stacks up ahead of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split.
1. Team SoloMid
If you have watched the NA LCS at all over the past five years this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Sure, TSM has undergone more changes than ever before but the reigning NA LCS champions still look as strong as anyone in the league. The addition of EU’s superstar bot lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Rodriguez and the talented, but unproven, jungler Mike Yeung are upgrades that may take a while to pan out as the team gets used to playing together, but by the end of the season don’t be surprised if we see yet another TSM championship.
2. Team Liquid
It’s hard not to call this roster Immortals 2.0. After a difficult 2017 TL performed a complete overhaul of their roster in the offseason and came back with the backbone of the roster that helped Immortals make it to Worlds last year. With Eugene “Pobelter” Park in mid, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero in jungle, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung at support, the new addition of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on AD Carry and Impact up top, this roster is an improvement over last year’s second place. The only question marks that still remain revolve around coaching and whether or not their solo lanes can carry. Other than that, this is the best Team Liquid has ever looked.
3. Counter Logic Gaming
During last year’s Summer Split, CLG always seemed to be just one jungler away from a top team. It wasn’t that Omar “OmarGod” Amin was bad, necessarily, but he certainly wasn’t ready to step up into the NA LCS part way through the split. Now, with Kim “Reignover” YeuJin taking his place in the jungle, it looks like CLG have found the perfect replacement. Perhaps the team’s biggest question comes from replacing former support and shot caller, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. While former TSM support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang will step into the support role, it’s still unclear who will take over the shotcaller duties and help direct CLG’s talent to their potential place among the league’s best teams.
Cloud9 might be the first team on this ranking to have taken a downgrade in the offseason. After the strongest North American finish at the World Championship, Cloud9 replaced their young jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia with Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, a player who didn’t exactly have his best year ever in 2017. Meanwhile, Cloud9 brought in some fresh talent to the top lane with Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, a player who stood out in the Challenger Series but never managed to be truly dominant. Despite these issues, the coaching of Bok “Repeared” Han-gyu and the carry talent of both Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Nicolaj Jensen, mean Cloud9 should still sit comfortably in the top half of NA LCS teams.
5. 100 Thieves
100 Thieves have all the makings of a great team. At least, on paper. While most of these players had a down year in 2017, each one has had outstanding splits and at one point or another been considered one of the top players in their role. But when so many of the league’s other teams have at least some experience playing together as a team, it’s hard to ignore the fact that 100 Thieves is bringing together a totally new group of players. That being said, if each of their players manages to live up to their potential, 100 Thieves could easily break into the top three.
6. Clutch Gaming
Made up of the bones of last year’s Team Envy roster, Clutch Gaming are about as safely middle of the road as a team can get. On the one hand, they have two proven talents that could easily be at the top of their role in North America with Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten in mid and Nam “Lira” Taeyou in the jungle. Their other roles, however, have a lot to prove with a bottom lane that couldn’t quite manage to carry in 2017 and a top laner that hasn’t played in the LCS before.
7. Echo Fox
Seventh feels a little optimistic for this roster. In terms of raw talent, it’s hard to ignore just how strong they are, but in terms of asking players to work together, this group raises a lot of questions. Biggest of all perhaps, is whether or not Joshua ”Dardoch” Hartnett will be able to gel with the team after his addition not quite working out with all of his previous teams. Add onto that star top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon making his return from a crushing defeat in the World Finals, and it seems like there are more ways this roster could go wrong than right.
8. OpTic Gaming
Along with a lot of the rosters in the bottom half of this list, OpTic Gaming’s just seems to be missing a few key pieces. While top laner Derek “Zig” Shao and jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham have had moments of bright potential, they haven’t quite broken through to the top of their roles in North American. The principle strength of this roster, and what keeps it from the bottom two spots, is that it knows where it’s carries are. Both mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and AD Carry Noh “Arrow” Dong Hyeon have shown over and over again that they can be entrusted with a game.
9. Golden Guardians
In a lot of ways, this roster makes up the worst parts of these players’ former teams. The team lacks a consistent late game carry threat, unless AD Carry Matthew “Deftly” Chen develops into one. That being said, with players like Juan “Contractz” Garcia in the jungle and Hai Lam in mid, their early game should be one of the most effective in the league, but it’s difficult to believe just a strong early game will be enough to carry them very far in this particular NA LCS Split.
FlyQuest are in a difficult position. Across their starting roster, they have put together five players that are all fairly good at supportive play styles. The problem with that is that they don’t really have anyone to support. Unfortunately for FlyQuest, that means that they don’t exactly have a player to turn to in a must win game, and they certainly don’t have a play style they can fall back on when facing a tough opponent. In this particular NA LCS split, it seems that the jack of all trades, master of none style won’t be enough to help them overcome their competition.