We finally made it. The return of the LCK this season also means the return of the region’s prodigal talent. We spent two full seasons talking about the amazing abilities of Korean players in China who never quite seemed to measure up to our memories. Now those players are back in Korea and the region is overloaded with more talent than in any previous season.
The real question this split, though, will be about whether or not the teams who have invested in their top talent made the right choices, and whether or not those players can work together to compete in what is sure to be the LCK’s most competitive split yet.
Here are my power rankings for the 2017 Spring LCK Season:
- KT Rolster
Lineup (bolded are new): Smeb, Score, PawN, Deft, Mata
This is the kind of fantasy team that looks unreal even on paper. A roster full of experienced and talented players whose styles match each other almost perfectly, all joining a solid organization that’s been waiting in the wings of the world stage for years. There are a million ways this could shake out, but for the time being, I’m going to bask in the glory that is KT Rolster assembling the greatest on paper roster ever.
2. Samsung Galaxy
Lineup (bolded are new): CuVee, Ambition, Crown, Ruler, CoreJJ
We already know why they’re good. This is the number two team in the world -- yeah, that’s right, better than ROX was -- and they didn’t have a roster change. That means no period of adjustment for new players and no significant style changes. If it weren’t for the KT dream roster, this Samsung team would have perfect claim to the number one spot in the world.
Lineup (bolded are new): Huni, Peanut, Faker, Bang, Wolf
I know you’re surprised, but you probably shouldn’t be. SK Telecom likely has the highest potential ceiling of any roster move, simply because we don’t totally understand what Huni and Peanut might be able to become. But rosters like this often take months to gel, not weeks, especially when you are asking two young players to reinvent their identities as players. And they will have to, to one extent or another. Does that mean SKT won’t be better than the teams above them? No, what it means is that for the first time in two years, SKT has something to prove.
4. Afreeca Freecs
Lineup (bolded are new): Marin, Spirit, Kuro, Kramer, TusiN
Ranking Afreeca this high is a really good way to be wrong. I am well aware of this. But they have a really good roster, one that looks a lot like the 2016 ROX Tigers. Think about it: flashy top lane anchored by solid performers in the other lanes -- including ROX’s old mid laner -- they even have a more experienced jungler. The one thing that can’t be ignored is the lack of carries on the team, one of ROX’s defining features. So, while the silhouettes are similar, however, I doubt Afreeca Freecs will be able to hit the same heights as the 2016 ROX Tigers.
5. Longzhu Gaming
Lineup (bolded are new): Expression, Crash, BDD, PraY, GorillA
I like this roster, but I think it’s going to be evident right away whether it will sink or swim. If Longzhu is going to be competitive I would expect Expession to step up and PraY to be on a mission to prove himself. If that doesn’t happen, they’re probably going to get out pressured at almost every turn and get crushed more often than not.
6. ROX Tigers
Lineup (bolded are new): Shy, SeongHwan, Micky, Sangyoon, Key
The bones of this roster are last year’s Afreeca Freecs who, it’s easy to forget, finished fifth in the LCK last split. Add into that mixture the veteran experience of a player like Shy and this could be one of the more threatening teams when we look at the games the top teams could drop.
Lineup: ADD, Beyond, Ian, MaHa, Max
MVP is sticking to the same roster as last season, which is probably a good thing. They weren’t terrible last split, and the opportunity for them to grow is certainly there. That being said, LCK looks more competitive than ever and even making it to the playoffs for anyone other than the top three is going to be a difficult task.
8-10. Kongdoo Monster, Jin Air Greenwings, bbq Olivers
Kongdoo Lineup (bolded are new): Roach, Punch, Edge SSol, GuGer
Jin Air Greenwings Lineup (bolded are new): SoHwan, Umti, Kuzan, Teddy, Snowflower
bbq Olivers Lineup (bolded are new): Crazy, Bless, Tempt, Ghost, Totoro
These three rosters all have the same issue. They are incredibly inexperienced and fairly young in a league that is about to start its most competitive and talented split ever. These teams may not even be bad, but they probably aren’t going to win much either.