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NA Spring 2017 Power Rankings, with TSM taking the top spot

NA LCS has seen its biggest ever increase in talent, but TSM are still looking good

Riot Games

The start of the 2017 NA LCS is almost upon us, and that means it’s time for power rankings. This split may be the most interesting and the most volatile to predict of the last several years. On the one hand, the amount of top tier talent in North America has almost doubled, on the other, the best teams in the region have taken steps back. That means that the field is likely as open as it’s been in any of the last 3 years.

With the talent spread almost evenly throughout the NA rosters, this will likely be the split where the difference that exist between North American teams on a structural level make themselves more apparent.

With that in mind, here are my Spring Split 2017 NA LCS power rankings:

  1. Team SoloMid

Lineup (bolded are new): Hauntzer, Svenskeren, Bjergsen, Wildturtle, Biofrost

Team SoloMid took a step back in roster strength for the Spring Split. The version of TSM that had Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng was a well oiled machine. They made decisions instantly and and all followed through without ever wavering in them. Watching them fight was like watching Voltron assemble from five parts into one giant killer robot built exclusively to win LCS.

New TSM is going to be less Voltron and more Transformers. Sure they will still get the job done, but there are going to be struggles along the way and they will never look properly organized doing it. Jason “Wildturtle” Tran’s ability to get comfortable quickly — after all, he is already almost burned this house down once — combined with the quality of the rest of the TSM roster and organizational strength mean that, despite taking a step back, they still take the top spot in my ranking.

2. Cloud9

Lineup (bolded are new): Impact, Contractz, Jensen, Sneaky, Smoothie

All signs point to this Cloud9 team being better than the previous version. The off-season’s only move is likely an upgrade, taking out former-jungler William “Meteos” Hartman and adding new-jungler Juan “Contractz” Arturo is a move that has a lot of upsides. Supposing Contractz himself can perform on the LCS stage and continue to evolve and develop as a player in the long-term experience will be the only short term detractor.

The only real concern I have about the roster is how Eon-yeong “Impact” Jung will perform. During the tail end of 2016 Impact was surface-of-the-sun hot. There is no way he can continue to outperform expectations so thoroughly, but if he manages to be even half as good as he was in the Regional Qualifier he may be one of the few NA toplaners who can compete with the new slate of imported talent.

Counter Logic Gaming

Lineup (bolded are new): Darshan, Xmithie, Huhi, Stixxay, Aphromoo

When CLG have their act together they are pretty easily one of the best teams in North America and — as the only team that stayed together through the off-season — they should go into the split with a significant leg up on the competition in terms of coordination. But I can’t get the inconsistency of this team out of my head. It’s the gnawing issue that has plagued CLG constantly over the last year or two. Counter Logic Gaming swing back and forth between a top three and bottom seven team so fast it makes my head spin.

Even the players themselves seem to ebb and flow from the best in the region to struggling to get by, all over the course of one split. If CLG can get each of their players on the same page at the same time then they will be unstoppable. If they aren’t firing on all cylinders, however, they could quickly fall behind the new crop of NA talent. With this huge a difference in a good and bad CLG they end up here, in my rankings, at a respectable third place.

4. Phoenix1

Lineup (bolded are new): zig, Inori, Ryu, Arrow, Adrian

To fully understand this P1 team the first thing you have to look at is their jungler, Rami “Inori” Charagh. Inori Joined P1 in the middle of the 2016 Summer Split. Before he joined P1 won exactly zero series in the LCS. Since he joined, they won went 5-7 including a sweep of Echo Fox in the Spring Promotional series. This split Phoenix1 have a brand new group around Inori and toplaners Derek “Zig” Shao that include former Immortals support Adrian “Adrian” Ma, one of the LCK’s best AD Carry players in Dong-hyeon “Arrow” Noh and one of Europe’s best midlaners, Sang-wook “Ryu” Yoo.

This is actually a really solid roster. Zig may struggle somewhat against the new talent in the toplane, but with solid new players filling out the other roles, Inori is going to be the X-Factor here. But that’s where P1 gets interesting. We don’t really know how good Inori can be, but we do have good reason to think he can be a great jungler.

5. Immortals

Lineup (bolded are new): Flame, Dardoch, Pobelter, Cody Sun, Olleh

Immortals are one of the teams that was rebuilt from the ground up this off-season. The catch is, they did it for an entirely different reasons than any other team. Where every other team that made significant changes did so because they couldn’t make it to playoffs, Immortals made changes because they couldn’t win once they got there. With that goal in mind this roster starts to look a little more confusing. Sure, there is a healthy mix of young and new players and experienced players, but none of them are proven winners when it comes to the playoffs, with the lone exception of Eugene “Pobelter” Park.

The biggest unknown on the team is also its most likely saving grace. Cody Sun, new to the professional scene, is taking over for Wildturtle at AD Carry and has the potential to be the missing link that helps Immortals put together a meaningful run in the playoffs.

6. Team Dignitas

Lineup (bolded are new): Ssumday, Chaser, Keane, LOD, Xpecial

It’s very easy to look at this Dignitas roster and assume that it will be good. There are certainly reasons to be excited about Dignitas, but I think it’s a little overly optimistic not to acknowledge their faults. Chan-ho “Ssumday” Kim is likely one of the best players in the world and is definitely the best toplaner in North America, but I’m not convinced that’s enough for this team. The players surrounding him are a hodgepodge of good-not-great. It’s entirely possible that Dignitas turns out to be the sixth best team in the LCS that you still always expect to lose.

7. Team Liquid

Lineup (bolded are new): Samson, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet, Matt

Team Liquid is the most consistently fascinating team to try to understand. On the one hand, they seem to have a genuine desire to build a challenger team and maintain a healthy ten person roster that allows for talent development. On the other hand, they struggled to stick with players over the course of that development, and have a tendency to struggle getting team chemistry right. All that in mind, this Team Liquid roster is probably in the same boat. If they gel, they are going to slide comfortably into fifth place. If they can’t get on the same page, they could fall even lower.

8. Team Envy

Lineup (bolded are new): Seraph, LirA, Ninja, Apollo, Hakuho

Envy spent the off-season shoring up the core of their roster by adding Korean jungler Tae-yoo “LirA” Nam and North American AD Carry Apollo “Apollo” Price. Neither of these are bad additions, and in fact, fit Team Envy’s style very well. The only problem is that it’s adding middle of the road talent to a roster that was already at the middle of the table. With only nominal upgrades while the whole league around them took a fairly large jump in the off-season, Team Envy is likely going to struggle to stay relevant throughout the season.

9. FlyQuest

Lineup (bolded are new): Balls, Moon, Hai, Altec, LemonNation

There are a lot of negatives on this team. First and foremost, the roster has three members who left the LCS stage with Cloud9 under varying degrees of criticism. The other two members, Galen “Moon” Holgate and Johnny “Altec” Ru are also players who had rocky experiences in the LCS already. On paper this team doesn’t have a lot of upside. What they do have going for them, however, are the intangibles: shotcalling, and experience. Every player on the roster has some stage experience at the LCS and Hai “Hai” Lam is one of League of Legends’ greatest all time shot callers. However, when faced with the overwhelming talent of the NA this year, it’s unclear just how far shotcalling will be able to take FlyQuest.

10. Echo Fox

Lineup (bolded are new): Looper, Akaadian, Froggen, Keith, Gate

There are things to like with this Echo Fox roster, but at the moment it feels incomplete. For instance; it has long been assumed that Hyeong-seok “Looper” Jang -- 2014 world championship winning, and Echo Fox’s new toplaner -- is a Gundam that must be piloted by two time former teammate Se-hyeong “Mata” Cho in order to be successful. Unfortunately for Echo Fox, they only imported Looper and not Mata.

It’s unlikely that anyone on the team will be able to provide a steady voice to guide him — or the rest of the team for that matter — and it’s even more unlikely that his teammates will be able to consistently win lane in order to give Looper the support he would need to carry.