This week I will discuss my opinion on the current LCS teams and how well they will fare against each other in the LCS for this upcoming season. Keep in mind that the teams have not played against each other publicly for quite awhile and that their will some discrepancies between my opinions and the actual results of the season. The order will be in order of rankings.
1) Team Solo Mid
With TSM’s latest roster change, TSM future seems to be quite bright. Following their arguments and dispute in Gamecribs, it became apparent that Reginald was in a weird place as he was both a team member as well as the owner/boss of the team. With Reginald stepping down and being replaced by Bjergsen, Reginald can now an easier time calling the shots from outside of the team. Dyrus, Wildturtle, and TheOddOne have recently stepped up their game and are contenders for being the best as each of their respective. Equipped with a new mid laner and backed by an actual coach this time around, TSM is looking very capable to becoming the best team in NA.
2) Cloud 9
Cloud 9 was easily the strongest team in NA last season. They dominated teams every week with their superior team compositions and well placed map pressure. Coupled with impeccable decision making mid game and great execution overall, I believe that Cloud 9 will be an easy contender with TSM for top 2 in NA.However, I have always felt that Cloud 9′s laning phase was always a bit lacking if you properly pick and ban against them. I have seen some mixed performances from each lane in the games that they lose but with Meteos backing the team they alway seem to hold on and make it into the mid game.
3) XD.GG (Ex Duris Gloria)
I felt a bit off placing XD.GG formerly known as Vulcun gaming so far up into the ranking for this upcoming season. They were really hit or miss during World’s and had a disappointing performance at Battle of the Atlantic. Even with these unsatisfying losses, XD.GG usually always performs great early game. Benny is great at playing the 2v1 top lane. Mancloud and Xmithie also work very well together mid lane, easily a world class duo. They generally tend to fall off late game when they have trouble closing out, which is generally apparent in XDGG’s games. With the opponents they will face in LCS, Mancloud and Xmithie will hold a great advantage with their early game play. Zuna has been underwhelming as of late, and needs to pick up the slack in order for XD.GG to stay one of the stronger teams in the LCS.
4) Counter Logic Gaming
CLG is one of the teams with promise coming into this season. Despite the terrible performance at Battle of the Atlantic, I believe that CLG has the chance to bring it all together. On paper, CLG should be contenders for the top spot in NA as they have acquired a world class jungler into a team already equipped with top tier bottom lane and middle lane. However, they have not yet seemed to iron out the problems that have plagued them for years: team compositions and shot calling. This was very apparent at Battle of the Atlantic during the games against Alternate. Among other problems, Dexter has had trouble returning to the US after the holidays and CLG may now be in a crisis with their line-up. If CLG can solve some of their problems, they will be looking to upset everyone in the LCS. With their track record, that will be a big challenge. Only time will tell, and I believe CLG will have another season where they will pull some upsets and also lose some games they were not supposed to, staying true to their namesake and leaving them placing in the middle of the pack.
5) Evil Geniuses
I thought EG would be incredibly underwhelming during the NA relegations based on what I heard about their scrims. I was proven wrong as they showcased dominating play against TBD to make it back into the LCS. Krepo showed very convincingly that he is a force on the team, and is also able to work incredibly well with Yellowpete in the bottom lane. Pobelter is also an underrated mid laner in the competitive scene and will probably surprise a lot of people coming into the season. From what I have seen, the map pressure during EG’s early game is not very strong. They will most likely suffer during the laning phase against superior lane counterparts. If the many years of competitive experience in Snoopeh, Krepo, and Yellowpete can make a difference, we will find out.
Dignitas has had a huge roster change in recent weeks. After a very disappointing performance at Battle of the Atlantic, I think most people will be surprised that I placed Dignitas in what seems like a very generous placing. Dignitas has always been a very inconsistent team. They will win for weeks at a time and then lose for weeks at a time. I attribute this to the nerf disease that most teams fall under. Most teams have great success running certain champions until the eventual patch changes. Generally the patch notes do not change the champions by that much, they just somewhat balance them to not be as OP. If Dignitas stuck with what made them good in previous seasons, they would probably be placing ahead of the middle of the pack. Dignitas dominance happened when they ran a lot of Singed, Kayle, and Scarra stuck with his bread and butter in Gragas and Diana. I believe that Dignitas will stick with their traditional methods of picking what is currently considered good versus what they are actually good at, which will hurt them during the season. Qtpie always performs well, and Scarra generally goes even. With Kiwikid and Cruzer coming into LCS for new roles, Dignitas will need to practice hard to stay on top of the game.
CRS has had some interesting roster changes coming into this season. If you were to ask me which team was better pre-relegation or post relegation, I would probably be stumped. Previous strengths of CRS would be Voyboy’s ability to play off the wall champions and confuse many opponents. With Voy moving to the mid lane, this x-factor is missing as middle lane play has become increasingly stagnant in terms of champion picks. The weakness CRS bot lane is still there. Cop and Zekent should not be able to match well against the other NA LCS bottom lane duos. Their saving grace will be if the decision making goes well in the early-mid game, which will be a daunting task as there does not seem to be a fitting leading voice on the team with Saintvicious gone. Someone will need to fill his shoes, and I don’t know if anyone on CRS has the fitting mentality.
CST roster is relatively the same with the departure of Mashme. This changes nothing, as Coast has always had problems playing solid in the mid game. This is a huge problem as most NA teams play very strong in the early game and can snowball that effectively against Coast. Zionspartan is very hit or miss in top lane both in his picks and his play. This is also consistent with Coast’s drafting. Outside of general poke compositions, Coast’s standard picks and bans process is not strong ata ll.Coast’s saving grace is in Shipthur who is constantly proving himself as a star player in the NA LCS. If Shipthur is able to play more champions on the same level as his Zed and Ahri from last season, Coast can upset some opponents through snowballing the laning phase. Otherwise their poor team compositions and execution mid game will catch up to them.
These are my power rankings for the NA LCS. I feel that the top two spots can be interchanged between TSM and C9, and that the bottom 3 positions are completely volatile between Dig, CRS, and CST-there is no definitive superior. I place CST last based on the fact that they had the hardest time re-qualifying into the LCS against an amateur team. Let me know if my opinions differ from yours, and why you think otherwise.