After a long off-season competitive League of Legends finally returns this week, as each region’s premier league returns from break. While every off-season is filled with changes this may be the busiest of the last several years. A huge influx of foreign talent has entered both the EU and NA LCS, while Korea and China are back to mostly homegrown players.
One of the great joys of the season’s first few weeks is seeing how new rosters work together and just how good new teams might be. This year is no different and many of the best matches in the first week of competition reflect that. You can view the week’s full schedule here, but here are the games I’m most looking forward to:
1. ROX Tigers vs. KT Rolster
When: Tuesday, January 17 at 3 a.m. Eastern.
How: LCK 1
Why: While the ROX Tigers are likely to be interesting, the real reason to watch this is going to be the new KT Rolster. The roster is a mixture of all the best parts of three different teams could be one of League of Legends’ best ever teams. Watching them play for the first time should be the perfect way to kick off the competitive season.
2. Royal Never Give Up vs. I May
When: Thursday January 19 at 3 a.m. Eastern
How: LPL 1
Why: China is a very different region in 2017 compared to the last two years. The loss of many of the top Korean players from the region could mean a drop in quality, or it could mean a renaissance of amazing Chinese play. If that’s to be the case, it’s likely that one of these two teams will be leading the charge.
3. G2 Esports vs. Fnatic
When: Thursday January 19 at 1 p.m. Eastern
How: EU LCS 1
Why: For the first time in almost five years Fnatic is coming off a very poor split. In reaction to that we get a new roster that will be eager to prove itself against EU’s seemingly immovable obstacle: G2 Esports. This will also be a chance for G2 to start their season off on the right foot in this season’s quest to finally perform well internationally.
4. Team SoloMid vs. Cloud9
When: Friday January 20 at 6 p.m. Eastern
How: NA LCS 1
Why: Over the last three years this has been one of North America’s best matchups and friendliest rivalries. While neither roster has changed much, this will be the perfect setting to see if Cloud9’s new jungler really is a step up from former jungler Meteos, and whether or not Wildturtle can fill the Doublelift shaped void in TSM.
5. Dignitas vs. Phoenix1
When: Saturday January 21 at 6 p.m. Eastern
How: NA LCS 2
Why: There has been a flood of new Korean talent into North America this off-season and this match should be the perfect microcosm of that. Phoenix1 took the talent of jungler Inori and gave him two new talents to play around, while Dignitas rebuilt NRG from the ground up around one of last year’s three best toplaners.