The 2015 offseason was by far the craziest roster swap period in League of Legends history. But, unlike its European friend, the North American League Championship Series( LCS) saw something special: investment.
While NRG, Immortals, and Echo Fox were investing in a place and putting together a roster, Cloud9 and Team SoloMid were excavating heavily into their pocketbooks to acquire some of the regions( and Europes) best talent.
This quick signing of players left very little time for other teamslike Team Liquid and Team Impulseto decide on their own rosters and potential acquisitions. Impulse lost their entire squad, while Liquid lost their best player to a suspension after disputes and player depression. Both teams spontaneously fixed their issues, but how will those quick decisions affect their outcome this season?
Final season rankings are dependent on many variablessuch as coaching staff, player behaviour, and performancebut its possible to make a preseason calculated guess based off the teams rosters and players previous performances.
Heres how we suppose the North American LCS will stack up this year 😛 TAGEND
10) Team Impulse
Top: Feng – Jungle: Procxin/ beibei – Mid: Pirean – ADC: MashMe – Support: Gate
Team Impulse had a pretty rough objective to 2015. They lost four of their membersJung “Impact” Eon-yeong, Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae, Apollo Apollo Price, and Adrian Adrian Maafter failing to qualify for the 2015 World Championship. The organisation tried to sell its spot, but failed to do so and had to build a new roster.
Overall this lineup may simply be the worst team to ever play in the North American LCS.
Not much is known about their top laner Wang Feng Xiao Feng. He has been referred to as a Bard one trick pony by many professional playersmeaning he only excels on that champ, which mainly resides in the bottom lane. The same runs for their mid lane, Kim Pirean Seyoung, who is an unknown player from deep in the Korean Challenger ladder.
The rest of their rosterJungler Kim “Procxin” Se-Young, substitute jungler Meng beibei Zhang, marksman Brandon DontMashMe Phan, and subsistence Austin Gate Yuare known for being extremely mediocre. Yu and Phan both competed in the LCS last year, and were the worst players on their squads. Meanwhile Se-Young and Zhang scarcely played at all in 2015, with lackluster results whenever they did set foot on Summoners Rift.
With all of this in mind, it's easy to tell Team Impulse will be the worst team in the LCS this year.
9) Team Liquid
Top: Lourlo/ Zig – Jungle: IWillDominate/ Dardoch – Mid: Fenix/ Youngbin – ADC: Piglet/ Fabbbyyy Support: Smoothie/ Matt
Last season Team Liquid successfully broke its curse of placing fourth, but they face a harder problem this season: avoiding relegation.
With the sudden deviation of top laner Diego Quas Ruiz( arguably their best player ), and rumors of Christian IWillDominate Rivera and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin fighting in scrimmages, it's likely the team will have their roughest season yet.
Their starting top laner is former Counter Logic Gaming Black player Samson “Lourlo” Jackson. During his time with the CLG squad he proved to be an extremely strong Challenger top laner. But this year hell have to square up against some of Northern america best top lanersthe likes of Darshan Darshan Upadhyaya, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon. In this case, he might struggle against such stiff competition.
If Rivera and Gwang-jin actually have been underperforming Team Liquid will need to utilize their 10 -man squad effectively. Luckily for them, substitute jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is likely the best jungler to never have vied in the LCS beforealongside Echo Foxs Anthony Hard Barkhovtsev.
Substitute marksman Jovani “fabbbyyy” Guillen is mechanically strong, but just how well his strategy will play out in-lane and outside-of-lane is yet to be seen. Hopefully for Liquid we wont need to find out.
With all of these questions it is realistic that we will see Liquid struggle for the first time ever, bottom four is definitely not out of the question.
8) Echo Fox
Top: KFO – Jungle: Hard – Mid: Froggen/ SELFIE – ADC: KEITH – Support: Baby
Echo Fox first constructed headlines after former Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics basketball player Rick Fox acquired Gravity Gamings LCS spot in December. The squad recently finalized their roster, adding four familiar faces and one unknown Korean Challenger player.
The teams strong point are their mid laners, former Elements player Henrik Froggen Hansen and Marcin SELFIE Wolski from MeetYourMakers. These two are among the best talent to play in Europes mid lane over the years, particularly Hansen who is a legend in his own rightproving to be one of the most consistent and strong mid laners throughout his time in Counter Logic Gaming Europe, Evil Geniuses, and Alliance. Those strengths built him one of the most known mid laners in the world.
Now that Hansen and Wolski are in the North American LCS with Echo Fox theyll have their work cut off for them due to playing with a large amount of rookies in a brand new team.
Depending on jungler synergy, they could present deadly combos with their jungler, former Cloud9 Tempest player Anthony Hard Barkhovtsev.
AD carry Yuri KEITH Jew should be fine this season. Hes one of the most consistent substitutes to ever have a chance at LCS glory, during his time with Team SoloMid and Team Liquid.
That likely wont be enough to save Echo Fox from relegation. Like Liquid they could fight for a place between sixth and ninth, and maybe attain playoffs. But at face value, the lack of results from their members in the past does question how strong the team is likely to be this season.
7) Team Dignitas
Top: Smittyj – Jungle: Kirei – Mid: Shiphtur – ADC: Apollo – Support: KiWiKiD
Like many of the other rosters this offseason, Team Dignitas built significant changes to their roster.
They lost all three of their Korean playersNoh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin, Shin “Helios” Dong-jin, and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. As replacings they acquired two Europeans, Lennart “Smittyj” Warkus and Thomas “Kirei” Yuen, and an American AD carry Apollo Apollo Price.
The highlight of the new Dignitas roster is Yuen, who was the best jungler in the European Challenger Series last season. His first performance with the team at the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne depicted he can compete well against international talent, despite his squad failing to make it past the first round.
At IEM Cologne Warkus showed that he has nerves, which may be a big issue for the team going into this season. During his time in Europe he was an adequate top laner, but nothing specialhell further improve if he wants to fight with the best.
Dignitas bottom lane will also need to step it up this split. AD carry Price looked at the top of his game while on Team Impulsebut how much of that was due to a strong subsistence in Adrian Adrian Ma? Unlike Ma, Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen has been known to struggle in the LCS, so Price will need to hold his own more often.
Mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le is also known to be mediocre, but on his high notes hes proven some strength, especially when his jungler is performing. When Le joined the team in Summer 2014, former jungler Alberto Crumbz Rengifo was favored in the meta and jungling playstyle, resulting in Le performing tremendously.
Theoretically Yuen should be able to replicate the results in his own right this split. That should be enough to keep Dignitas out of relegations. But it wont be enough in order to be allowed to attain playoffs.
Top: RF Legendary – Jungle: Crumbz – Mid: Alex Ich – ADC: Freeze – Support: Remilia
Renegades is the only squad who stimulated it to the LCS last summer via the Promotion Tournament, which is still around. This season Christopher MonteCristo Mykles Renegades will look to prove that they can make it against some of the best squads in the world.
Shortly after qualification, the team parted styles with their AD carry Ainslie “maplestreet” Wyllie. In return they upgraded significantly this offseason, acquiring the talent of former Copenhagen Wolves player Ale “Freeze” Knnek, one of the best European marksmen of last season.
And while Knnek and support Maria “Remilia” Creveling should be one of the best bottom lanes in the league, the real weight for Renegades success lies with their top laner Oleksii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta. They will depend heavily on his performance, as the rest of the squad have proven consistency or proficiency at what they do.
That told, if he improved in Korea, the team should theoretically be a middle-of-the-pack team. Knnek and Creveling are incredible, and mid laner Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin is one of Europes biggest legendsdue in part to his time with Moscow 5/ Gambit. And as long as jungler Alberto Crumbz Rengifo can perform adequately, the team should be just fine this season.
5) Counter Logic Gaming
Top: Darshan – Jungle: Xmithie – Mid: Huhi – ADC: Stixxay – Support: Aphromoo
The defending North American LCS champ will suffer from the same thing as Team Liquid, the old guard is break. There was once a day when you could expect Curse( now Liquid ), Cloud9, Team SoloMid, and Counter Logic Gaming to be the top 4( or damn near close to it) but that time is over.
Luckily for Counter Logic Gaming, they wont suffer as badly as Liquid. The team made two roster changes this offseason, removing mid laner Eugene Pobelter Park and AD carry Yiliang Doublelift Pengwith both receiving arguably better teams in the end.
In their place, the team promoted two of their substitute rookies: Korean talent Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and North American talent Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes. Both were signed to the main Counter Logic squad in May of 2015, so theyve had plenty of time to train with the roster, despite never setting foot on the LCS stage.
Hayes is poised to be one of the best marksmen to ever come out of Northern america on a mechanical level, he consistently outplayed adversaries in solo queue. When paired with Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black, the duo could demonstrate very strong as they both have a lot of raw talent. Top laner Darshan Darshan Upadhyaya( formerly known as ZionSpartan) is also one of the best top laners in the league, and has been since season three.
The true question lies with Choi Jae-hyun and jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. The former proved promise during his time with Bigfile Miracle and Team Fusion in Korea and Northern america respectively, with the latter indicating some strength three years ago with Team Vulcun, but his performance has fallen off harshly ever since.
Overall Counter Logic Gaming appears to be a high/ middle-of-the-pack team. But if Choi Jae-hyun and Hayes present something unbelievable, they could easily fight for the four largest like they always have.
Top: Huni – Jungle: Reignover – Mid: Pobelter – ADC: WildTurtle – Support: Adrian
Immortals is undoubtedly going to be one of the top LCS sides this split. However, there are factors that stimulate them weaker than the remaining three on this list, and those need to be addressed.
Heo Seung-hoons performance at Worlds left much to be desired( despite his team taking third-fourth ), and overall rumors of position problems shroud the superstar. That said, he was one of Europes best top laners last divide, and it would be nice to see him replicate his regular season performance in Northern america.
As for Tran, theres not much to say. He was one of the weakest links in last seasons version of Team SoloMid, despite being a veteran and vying with some unbelievably notable squads in his long career. Its hard to forget the multiple times hes jumped into fights against five people as Tristanaa deed which scarred most SoloMid fans for life.
But that could be a mesh issue, as hes consistently one of the highest ranked solo queue players on the ladder during the season. Now hell be paired with one of North Americas newcomers, Adrian Adrian Ma, who proved to be one ofif not the bestsupports in the region last summer. Hes used to carrying mediocre AD carries as well, as he spent his entire season five with Apollo Apollo Price on Team Impulse.
Despite the health risks downfalls of this squad, Ma and mid laner Eugene Pobelter Park have demonstrated that they consistency when it matters. As long as jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin performs like he did in Fnatic, and Heo Seung-hoon and Tran swallow their issues, the team should prove to be the bottom of the top four.
Top: Balls – Jungle: Rushed – Mid: Jensen – ADC: Sneaky – Support: Hai/ Bunny FuFuu
Cloud9 is historically one of the best LCS teams, but last spring and summer( mostly summertime) watched an extremely bumpy road for the team. They brought in a new mid lane talent, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen( formerly known as Incarnati0n ), whos forbid had been lifted just days before being picked up by the team.
The result without their shotcallerformer mid laner Hai Hai Du Lamwas brutal. Their jungler William Meteos Hartman stepped down mid-split and Lam returned, but in the jungle. The squad placed seventh and then made a miraculous Cinderella run through the regional gauntlet to qualify for Worlds.
Now Lam will once again switch roles to the bottom lane, to be the replacing for retired support Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, who now serves as the teams head coach-and-four. In Lams old spot Cloud9 picked up former Impulse jungler Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae, as well as former Gravity support Michael “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo, to substitute for Lam in the bot lane.
The three players Cloud9 didnt change are very different from one another. Top laner An “BalIs” Van Le is often blamed as the weakest connect in the team, but had his ups( particularly on Rumble ). But their two carries, Jensen and marksman Zachary Sneaky Scuderi, are some of the best in their positions in the region.
Cloud9 should be a top four contendermost likely in third place. If Le can perform and Lam can still shotcall proficiently from the bottom lane, they may place higher. But theres something to be said about role swaps and how theyll affect the team. Either style Cloud9 looks to stimulate top three, and that means a lot for one of the LCS most glorified franchises.
2) NRG Esports
Top: Impact – Jungle: Moon – Mid: GBM – ADC: Altec – Support: KonKwon
NRG Esports is one of the newest squads to join the LCS, and likely the best of the three newcomers. The organisation bought Team Coasts LCS spot this offseason, and with the help of former OGN freelancer Barry Edelweiss Lee, assembled what looks to be a top four squad.
They have three stars on the squadtop laner and 2013 World Champion, former SK Telecom T1 K and Team Impulses Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, former Jin Air mid laner Lee “GBM” Chang-seok, and former Gravity Gaming AD carry Johnny “Altec” Ru. All three have shown to have tremendously high skill ceilings throughout their years in professional play.
NRGs other two members, jungler Galen Moon Holgate and Kevin KonKwon Kwon, are two of the better up-and-comers in their positions. In 2015 Holgate showed himself to be one of the best Challenger junglers in Northern america, and will now get his big break. Kwon also demonstrated promiseboth in the LCS and in Challenger with Team Coast.
With this setup, NRG should be a top three squad. It comes down to synergy and support staff, but with one of the best western minds in the gameTadayoshi Hermit Littletonas their head coach-and-four, that should be enough to make a difference.
1) Team SoloMid
Top: Hauntzer – Jungle: Svenskeren – Mid: Bjergsen – ADC: Doublelift – Support: YellOwStaR
Team SoloMid won the offseason in North America without a doubt. The team replaced four of their members( top lane, jungle, AD carry, and supporting) with significant upgrades across the board. In those positions, the team picked up some murderer veterans both locally and internationally.
The highlight of the new Team SoloMid is their bot lane, mixing former Counter Logic Gaming AD carry Yiliang Doublelift Peng and former Fnatic support Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim. These two is likely to be the best bottom lane in the league, with mid laner Sren “Bjergsen” Bjerg likely one of the best in his position as well.
Top laner Kevin Hauntzer Yarnell indicates a lot of promise, performing adequately at Intel Extreme Masters San Jose with the SoloMid squad, and being a consistent player during his time on Gravity Gaming. And jungler Dennis Svenskeren Johnsen has finally determined a good team after serving his time on SK Gaming.
Team SoloMid is the best in overall raw talent, and if their new support staff comes through, as they should, the team will easily take out number one.
Team to Watch: Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming is the wildcard for this years LCS. Their success is dependent on individual performance from rookies, mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and AD carry Trevor Stixxay Hayes.
Mixing veterans with young talent is always arousing, and Counter Logic Gaming is doing just that. Hopefully that pays off, and given the mechanical skill of their rookies, it should.
The team will be fun to watch regardless, and will likely give the better teams a run for their fund.
A Challenger Approaches: Team Dragon Knights
Top: Seraph – Jungle: Kez – Mid: Ninja/ do it – ADC: Ohq – Support: Bischu
If any organization was done a disservice by the United States State Department last year, it was Team Dragon Knights. The team had visa issues( related to a technical flaw) in attempts to import mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo and AD carry Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyunwho is now a member of European squad G2 Esports. The outcome was auto-relegation from the LCS in August.
The team has retooled with a new bot laneincluding former NaJin e-mFire marksman Oh “Ohq” Gyu-min and local mid-laner-turned-support Aaron Bischu Kimand they appear very strong.
Given the overall talent on their roster, Dragon Knights are the best in Challenger Series on an individual level. Theyre even better than Team Impulse, who are actually in the LCS. Now the team lookings to make it back in the LCS, and its likely well ensure them in the summer.
Special thanks to LoLEsportspedia for being a resource of League of Legends competitive facts for this article .
Photo via Riot Games / Flickr