With the 2018 Summer Split just a couple of days away, it’s almost time for the NA LCS to begin again. Just like last split, the league’s 10 teams will face off against one another in hopes of snagging one of the top six spots in the league and qualifying for the playoffs.
In most years, the NA LCS Summer Split is marked by the huge roster moves made by teams looking to add the missing pieces that will push them from a bottom of the league team to the top, or a top team that thinks it could be just a little strong ahead of the World Championships. But that’s not the case this year. Instead, we were treated with a fairly quiet off-season, thanks in part to the new franchise system which guarantees teams a spot in the league regardless of where they finish each split.
So, in honor of this upcoming split, the Rift Herald has gathered to spotlight a few of the 2018 Summer Split’s most underrated players and under the radar teams.
If the new changes to the league are leading to fewer roster changes that’s probably a good thing for the league as a whole. After all, not every player starts their career at the top of the world, most have to develop there, and that can take some time.
Take Clutch Gaming’s support Hakuho for example. When Renegades picked him up back in 2016 most fans were pretty skeptical of his early performance. Flash forward two years to the 2018 Spring Split playoffs and many people were claiming he was the best support in the LCS helping Clutch Gaming pull of a historic upset of TSM in the playoff’s quarterfinals. But it didn’t happen overnight.
The bottom three teams from this year’s Spring Split — FlyQuest, OpTic Gaming and Golden Guardians — made a grand total of four major rosters moves ahead of the Summer Split. That’s a lot of confidence that those organizations are showing in the players and staff that they hired at the begging of the season. For that reason, one of the most intersting things to watch over the course of the Summer Split is how exactly these team improve over their Spring Split iterations.
Sure, we should probably expect some good development from the players that are returning. After all, a whole six months of LCS level training will mean that they should have sharper skills and certainly won’t face the same nerves they did in their earlier split together. But more interestingly, fewer roster moves means that the ones that do get made are significantly more important. These players are, in large part, being brought in to be the difference between their team going from mediocre to good or even good to great. That’s a lot of pressure to put on the newest member of a team, and the Summer Split should tell us who exactly is up to the challenge of leading their new team to victory.
I’m cheating here, because nothing about 100 Thieves is “under the radar” at this point. They’re a good team. We’ve all seen them perform well. We know they have the ability to place at the top and now that they’ve had a split to test things out and feel what works versus what doesn’t, I think they can take the title this split.
I agree with Austen about Hakuho as well. Apollo and Hakuho make up a pretty underrated bot lane for Clutch Gaming, so I really think they can make top three this split. Not to mention that Febiven is ... a very good mid laner. I think Clutch really had a bunch of good players on the team, but they’re really going to come together this split.
I’m hoping that Golden Guardian’s roster changes makes the team shoot up the ranks, but I’m not expecting much.
I’m also going to cheat slightly and make a very specific prediction about one particular under-the-radar team — FlyQuest is going to start real hot. The meta as it stands in pro play is ... well ... Faker played Darius bot. I can think of no team more prepared for this kind of nonsense than FlyQuest, a team who has historically gotten off to better-than-expected starts with veteran rosters and has utilized unconventional picks and strategies to get surprise wins against more establish North American teams.
Flame’s a strong fighter player top, Keane’s known as a mid laner who can pull out surprise counters, and WildTurtle’s as equipped as any North American bot laner for the new “bruisers are bot now!” meta. I don’t think it’s going to last — the meta we see in the first week of play is probably going to be very different than the meta we see as we approach playoffs — but I’m wagering that the longer the current meta instability lasts, the better off FlyQuest will be.
That being said ... my TL lads are gonna win it all again though. But we all know that .