Rumors were swirling. We waited and waited. We were anxious to know which teams would make it into the franchised 2018 NA LCS. Finally, our wait is over. Riot has released an official announcement and we can start talking about how the league is going to shape up in years to come.
Of course, it’s not like we know everything, the teams’ rosters are yet to be announced. Aside from that, however, these are the teams accepted into the franchised NA LCS.
Out of the 10 teams which finished the 2017 NA LCS season, six are coming back in 2018.
Notably missing from the list is Immortals. Instead, we get Echo Fox, Team Liquid, and FlyQuest eSports, three teams which have had a terrible 2017 season but have some influential people behind them.
FlyQuest is owned by Wes Edens. He’s involved in the ownership of another team you might have heard of, Milwaukee Bucks. The failures of the year past might be behind the FlyQuest brand, however. They are getting a new management team and have lofty plans for future infrastructure.
Echo Fox is owned by former LA Lakers player, Rick Fox. While their competitive strength has been a bit of joke ever since the team made it to the LCS, the owner is a very outspoken advocate for esports. He also seems like a great guy. Echo Fox is most notable for their meme team in the 2017 NA Challenger Series, which featured five popular Twitch.tv streamers/former pros.
Team Liquid is an extremely rich organization with a very long history in League of Legends. They started off as Team Curse and were known as the team which took fourth every split. Once under the Team Liquid brand, they started struggling and the year 2017 was especially difficult. They were consistently at the bottom of the standings. While they won’t win any tournaments anytime soon unless something drastic happens, the Team Liquid brand is a valuable asset for the NA LCS.
Counter Logic Gaming has been in the NA LCS since the league began. In that time, there were periods when the team flirted with relegation, there were times when they were at the top. Owned by the Madison Square Garden Group, CLG brings a lot of value to the LCS, both in historic, competitive, and business aspects.
Team SoloMid is the best NA League of Legends team ever. There is no doubt about that. They haven’t missed a Finals ever and won the majority of the Finals they played in. TSM is plagued by their failures in international events, however. There are rumors that Team SoloMid in 2018 will be radically different from what we saw last season with a different coach, bot lane, and, possibly, jungler.
The only one of the new teams coming into the NA LCS with esports experience is OpTic Gaming. The org rose to fame in the Call of Duty scene and then moved to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where they are known to have a mostly solid NA org. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to the different culture in League of Legends and go about continuing to grow their brand.
Next up, we have 100 Thieves, owned by Cleveland Cavaliers and run by Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, 100 Thieves was introduced as a team “ready to steal some wins.” If that is what their name means, we should go and make our memes. You only have to steal wins if you’re not good enough to win straight up. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with 100 Thieves.
Next, there’s Clutch Gaming, owned by Houston Rockets. It seems like this team is supposed to put a lot of emphasis on scouting an analytics in their approach to building a League of Legends roster. It will be interesting to see if it works. After all, Moneyball was a great movie.
The lineup is finalized with the inclusion of Golden Guardians. Can you guess who owns this team? If your guess is that small NBA team called Golden State Warriors, congrats. You are correct. While there’s no Steph Curry in League of Legends, the team should have enough money to sign the best players they want, just like the rest of the new NA LCS teams.
Honestly, while we do know the teams that will play, rosters are still a mystery. Until we have that all-important piece of data, it’s hard to say which teams will be the strongest next year.
What we would predict, however, is that the endemic orgs will have a bit of an advantage in the beginning, unless the newcomers simply outspend them by several orders of magnitude in the off-season, both when signing staff and players.