At the beginning of the NA LCS season, I did a power ranking to predict how well the NA teams would fare this season. Having come almost half way through Season 4, I want to re-visit those predictions and see how accurate or inaccurate those assumptions were and explain reasons for the placing.
Ranking – initial projected ranking
1) Team Solomid – projected rank # 1
I originally placed TSM at the top spot of NA LCS. The biggest reason why I thought that TSM would be a dominant force this season was because of the recruitment of Bjergsen and the fact that Reginald would act as the team coach. I assumed that Dyrus would steadily improve and that Wildturtle and Xpecial would remain a solid NA bot lane. These assumptions held true, but the biggest surprise came from the jungle. I believe TheOddOne has made sweeping improvements to his mechanics and overall game impact and is a big reason for why TSM is standing at the #1 spot in NA. If TSM wishes to hold their top spot, I think they need to stick to meta compositions and try not to dwell too far out of the norm in terms of picks and bans because they can best all of the NA teams playing completely standard.
2) Cloud 9 – projected rank # 2
I predicted that Cloud 9 would be in the #2 spot, but held reservations whether or not they would actually do worse than TSM. My placing was originally based on the fact that the top side of C9 would always perform consistently well and help carry the lagging bottom side of the map. The kicker to C9 being placed in spot #2 would have to be their drafting phase. C9 lost a decisive game to TSM fielding a double AD/split push comp with Fiddlesticks, and another game to CLG recently by placing Hai on Orianna. Hai excels at playing assassins, and should stick to his comfortable champions (2 out of 3 losses on Riven and Orianna is no surprise). Weaker mid lane champions hurt the pressure C9 usually runs with.
3) Counter Logic Gaming – projected rank # 4
I originally placed CLG at rank 4. This ranking was based on the fact that Dexter would not be given ample time to practice with the roster, and that CLG would not have had enough time to fix their underlying problems. I also believed that CLG’s laners were not very dominant, and could potentially show weaknesses when faced against other LCS teams. Most of these assumptions are true, what stands out is that Aphromoo has shown marked improvement in his support play since his last season playing in the NA LCS. He has made a consistent number of clutch plays that showcase the amount of practice he has put in with Doublelift, and they are quickly growing into the strongest bot lane in NA. The “potential” is here with CLG as they now have a solid roster for all roles, but whether or not they can pull it together in the next few weeks is the question.
4) Dignitas – projected rank # 6
Dignitas is ranked significantly higher than I thought they would be coming into the middle of the season. The reason for most people underrating Dignitas was their performance at Battle of the Atlantic into what seemed like a weak team in Alliance during the first few weeks of EU LCS. Roster wise, Scarra and Crumbz should be able to hold their own against most LCS teams. The uncertainties come from Dignitas’ top and bottom lanes that hold new players to their respective roles in Cruzer and Kiwikid. While inexperienced, both lanes have done surprisingly well so far in the season despite being inconsistent. In fact, Dignitas is just a very inconsistent team in general. If Dignitas want to pick up the slack and hope for a top 3 placing this season, they need to strengthen their late game shot calling as well as making their laning phase more consistent so games do not get out of hand/get thrown.
5) Curse – projected rank # 7
Surprisingly, Curse has managed to climb out of the bottom 3 NA LCS team position. The biggest surprise that I see is that Curse has managed to improve their understanding of the game. Curse can now have decent lane rotations as well as construct some team compositions that make a lot of sense as a whole. The problem with the team now is their strength in the laning phase. Saintvicious has replaced Zekent in the support role, but this change does pretty much nothing to improve their bottom lane overall. Curse’s bottom lane remains a problem, and isn’t helped much by their lack of a certain play style. Voyboy does not specialize in any type of mid lane champion, and middle lane generally sets the trend for team compositions. Without a certain type of style to play in, Curse’s execution is lacking and is thus another hurdle to overcome.
6) Coast – projected rank # 8
As a bottom 3 NA LCS team, Coast has had a rocky season coming from relegations. Their problems are the same. Drafting and mid-game decision making still plague Coast. If Coast finds themselves behind by a decent gold deficit at the 15 minute mark, chances are that they will not be able to stage a comeback as their play making potential is not as high as other NA teams. Shiphtur came into the season as a top performer in the amateur circuit as well as in solo queue, but he hasn’t stood out so far in the season. His current champion pool seems to be made up of lower impact mids unable to snowball games. As a result, most games do tend to get drawn out and that is where Coast fails at.
7) Evil Geniuses – projected rank # 5
I originally placed EG at rank 5 mainly because I thought their bottom lane had improved tremendously from watching them play at relegations. My assumptions were wrong that results from relegations would easily carry over to actual NA LCS play. EG bottom lane does not stand out when compared to the other NA bottom lanes. This added with the fact that Snoopeh’s map pressure seems to be remarkably low compared to other junglers result in suboptimal play all around. If EG want to turn this season around, they have to stick to comfort junglers with Snoopeh and play stronger laning champions so that they can survive until the mid game where their veterans’ experience can come in handy.
8) XD.GG (Ex Duris Gloria) – projected rank # 3
The biggest surprise to the NA scene, XDG’s dead last placing was one that I did not expect. Mancloud was arguably the best NA midlaner coming into this season. My assumptions were wrong that the role switch between Zuna and Xmithie would result in a fairly strong middle lane duo. As it turns out, either Xmithie was a crucial component to Mancloud’s success or Mancloud has regressed in recent weeks. Either way, XDG’s middle lane control has fallen off the map. The small improvement to their bottom lane did not offset the huge loss in the middle side of the map. Zuna’s jungling is not weak, but pales in comparison to the amount of pressure that Xmithie put out last season. Mancloud has played increasingly worse in the past few weeks, and for a team without a star player to carry, XDG now has a huge problem winning games. Benny has been an anchor in the top lane, but just going even in top lane isn’t going to win you any games.
These are my mid-season opinions/reviews/thoughts of the NA LCS season so far. Let me know why you think the current LCS teams are ranked where they are or why they aren’t ranked where you thought they’d be, I’d like to hear your thoughts.