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The 2018 NA LCS Teams, Ranked

January 19, 2018 - Esports
The 2018 NA LCS Teams, Ranked

In the Western Hemisphere of League of Legends, North American League of Legends Championship Series is where the money is. With franchising and big money NBA clubs coming to get a piece of the NA LCS pie, this past offseason was more active than most.

We would like to look at the NA LCS teams’ rosters and rank them according to their strength. The problem is that the teams at the top and bottom are quite close together in strength. Even though the overall level of the NA LCS might be higher than ever before, the divide between the top teams and the rest is still significant. Without further ado, here are our rankings.

OpTic Gaming will debut in the NA LCS with a roster of Derek “zig” Shao, Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, Noh “Arrow” Ding-hyeon and Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, with Thomas “Zaboutine” Si-Hassen coaching.

While the roster might seem strong with four experienced players, it is just an illusion. The truth is that the roster is unlikely to work well together without some considerable adaptations implemented by the coach and embraced by the players.

The most glaring weakness on the team, weirdly enough, is in the bot lane, where Arrow and LemonNation are two well-known players with opposing playstyles. Where Arrow likes to win lane, LemonNation doesn’t stick around in the bot lane too long, preferring to be a team’s support, roaming all over the place. This could be a big problem for the team, especially when you take into consideration the fact that Lemon isn’t very gifted mechanically. Also, the team doesn’t really have an exceptional shot-caller.

The Clutch Gaming roster will consist of Colin “Solo” Earnest, Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo, Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, Apollo “Apollo” Price and Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent, with David “DLim” Lim coaching.

The Clutch Gaming roster has its roots in last year’s Team EnVyUs lineup which struggled in the beginning but started playing respectably in the beginning. Its bright star is Febiven, one of the best mid laners in Europe. He’s surrounded by decent but not particularly star-level players.

With this roster, Clutch Gaming can rise higher than the 9th place in the standings if the players work well together; however, the top 4 is strictly out of their reach barring unforeseen developments.

Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, Andy “AnDa” Hoang, Song “Fly” Yong-jun, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and William “Stunt” Chen is the roster with which FlyQuest will try to return to the status of one of the better teams in the NA LCS, a status they had in the beginning of their debut split before their opponents figured out how to play against them.

The roster has a couple of crowd favorites in the form of Flame and WildTurtle but that’s about it, unfortunately. It’s unlikely that the time will manage to get above the bottom 4 with such an apparent lack of oomph in star power. If they did manage to do it, it would be a great story, however.

We might still root for FlyQuest anyways because WildTurtle is an adorable goofball and a good player when he’s not solely concerned with getting footage for his Vaynespotting montage.

Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, Matthew “Deftly” Chen and Matthew “Matt” Elento with Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-seop coaching are the Golden Guardians.

This roster has a lot of things going for it. Admittedly, its relatively low place in these rankings could be attributed to the stink of the last year’s Team Liquid failure trailing behind Lourlo and Matt.

Still, with Hai’s leadership and shot-calling, Contractz’s C9-borne talent and skill, Locodoco’s coaching skill, which is better than many people believe (he took Challenger players and brought them to unexpected heights despite getting signed on to make content for Liquid instead of coach and only fell into the role after the coach at the time failed hard), Golden Guardians can definitely win some games. They will not challenge for the top, but the Playoffs aren’t out of the question.

This year, Rick Fox will deploy Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun, Johnny “Altec” Ru, Adrian “Adrian” Ma and Nick “Inero” Smith coaching.

This team will live and die by the interaction between Huni and Dardoch. If Huni can find a way to work with Dardoch like he did with Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin on Immortals and Fnatic, this team might actually become dangerous. Still, Huni must take his experience on SK Telecom T1 and grow from it in the way he plays in NA.

If Huni insists on only playing carry top laners, the team will be in huge trouble because putting an aggressive jungler like Dardoch on jungle tanks is asking for trouble, especially when the team’s supports isn’t known for his wide champion pool full of tanky supports.

Dardoch warrants his own paragraph. The player is very talented but his personality issues are, simply put, notorious. Where Liquid’s Steve Arhancet struggled to deal with Dardoch, Rick Fox might find a way because of his experience dealing with Kobe Bryant. Now, we’re not saying that Kobe = Dardoch, not at all. It’s just that both want to win more than anything.

We’re getting into the good stuff now. The 100 Thieves roster features Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, William “Meteos” Hartman, Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook, Cody Sun and Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, with Neil “pr0lly” Hammad coaching.

We admit, it may be a bit optimistic to place 100 Thieves fifth overall. Our reasoning is that the team has an overall solid base in Ssumday, Ryu, Cody Sun and aphromoo and a great coach pr0lly, formerly of H2k-Gaming.

The weak point of the team is honestly Meteos. The player isn’t the strongest mechanically, has his own way to play and seems to be suffering motivation issues, teetering on the edge of retiring several times.

With so many veterans, it’s motivation could be a huge problem for the whole team.

Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya, Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang with Tony “Zikz” Gray coaching is what Counter Logic Gaming has for the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split.

The team remains largely unchanged with only Reignover coming from Liquid and Biofrost from TSM. Reignover should be a solid tanky threat from the jungle, often supporting the team and allowing Darshan to pick more carry-oriented champions.

The botlane is likely to work pretty well for a convoluted reason. Stixxay started his pro career with aphromoo while Biofrost started with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. The two veterans were known as the Rush Hour botlane. Their playstyle adapted to be quite similar. The rookies learned the game at the feet of their respective lane partner. In theory, Stixxay and Biofrost should be more or less on the same page.

The new Cloud9 features Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu as the coach.

Cloud9 has been one of the best teams in the NA LCS last year and this new roster is likely to continue where the former roster left off. The roster did change, with a rookie top laner taking over from a rookie jungler in favor of a veteran where one played in that role last year.

While it remains to be seen how Licorice does at the professional level, the rest of the roster is a known quantity. If Svenskeren and Jensen can work together better than Svenskeren and Bjergsen did, the team will be heading in a good direction. After all, top lane is an island.

Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, Mike Yeung, Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez with Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo is the lineup Team SoloMid is bringing to try and continue their triumphant stomp of the region.

The weakest point in the new TSM roster is their jungler. While the player is mechanically gifted, his pro play experience is a bit lacking, which will put stress on the team to micromanage him unless they, with the help of their famous coach, SSONG, can train the jungler sufficiently quickly.

Hauntzer was and still is one of the best top laners in the NA LCS, Bjergsen is still a unique player who’s managed to stay on top for several years, constantly improving and finding a way to win. The new TSM bot lane, despite being new to the team, is not a downgrade from Doublelift and Biofrost. Zven and mithy are legendary in Europe and considered the best botlane in the West. Get both of these players was a steal for TSM.

While the reigning NA LCS champions will have growing pains in the beginning, but once the three new players find their place in the TSM strategy, there won’t be many teams who can stand up against them.

What was paid by Steve for Team Liquid in 2018? Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Eugene “Pobelter” Park, Doublelift and “Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, plus Jang “Cain” Nu-ri coaching.

While it might look like a roster that is not guaranteed to work at all, that is not really totally true because Xmithie, Pobelter and Doublelift have all played together on CLG. Essentially, this is what the Golden CLG team would have been like if George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis decided to get rid of aphromoo and Darshan instead of Doublelift.

Impact and Olleh would have been great replacements in that case. We’re not trying to say that this new Team Liquid won’t be having any problems. The roster is full of established players who have strong ideas about the way League of Legends is supposed to be played.

With tank-oriented Impact, Xmithie, dependable but not flashy mid in Pob and Doublelift, the carry responsibility will fall to Doublelift. While the player is no stranger to that responsibility, there’s bound to be friction before the new and vastly improved Team Liquid can figure out their shit.

One thing is for sure—this version of Team Liquid has the best chance to win the NA LCS that it’s ever had.

Our rankings could definitely be argued with, both at the top and the rest. Due to the number of changes in this preseason, there’s simply no way to know which teams are going to perform above their threshold, which will fail to mesh, and which will do as expected of them.