Upcoming This Week: NA LCS

May 31, 2016 - Esports, News

In an effort to see which League format works better, the NA LCS will have BO3 matches, as opposed to BO2 over in Europe. While both regions are certainly interesting, I find the NA LCS more interesting, not because of the better skill displayed by the teams. It’s storylines and top franchises are just more interesting.

The NA LCS Summer Split will start on Saturday, with the rematch from Spring Split finals – TSM vs. CLG. If that matchup isn’t the El Classico of League of Legends, I don’t know what is. The finals of the Spring Split were amazing, this best of three series should be almost as exciting, keeping in mind the friendly rivalry between the teams, hyped beyond all reason by the fans. With the recent stomp delivered by CLG at the Mid-Season Invitational, where the team got to the finals only to be swept by the Juggernaut SKT lineup, Counter Logic Gaming is without a doubt one of the strongest teams in the region.

While TSM was thought to be one of the best teams in NA before the Spring Split, their performance didn’t meet the hype in reality. With Yell0wStaR leaving to go back to his wife, I mean Fnatic, his replacement Biofrost has big shoes to fill. The player is not very well known in the scene, which could be a good or a bad thing. First of all, he is more or less a blank slate when compared to a superstar of Yell0wStaR’s caliber. Doublelift and the rest of TSM should be able to mold him according to their needs. The fact that this player won his spot in tryouts, where many, presumably, more experienced players participated in, shows that he’s not without skill. Still, nobody wants the Gleeb situation to repeat.

With that said, we will have to beat our inner TSM fanboy with a rusty pipe and predict that CLG will come out on top 2-1. They played a whole split together, they did great at MSI. TSM, on the other hand, are adding a new player to their already struggling machine. Who knows, however, TSM might have managed to fix their problems during the break between splits. If they have, the series will be awesome. We can’t wait.

The second best of three series to take place will see Team Envy facing off against NRG Esports. For those who don’t know, Envy bought Renegades’ LCS spot after a scandal, where Riot Games banned the organization from competing in their leagues. Following the deal, the new organization signed Seraph, Ninja, and Hakuho from the old Renegades roster to take the Top, Mid, and Support positions. The remaining roster slots will be taken by Procxin in the Jungle, with AD Carry LOD rounding up the lineup. Bringing up the rear for this lineup will be Nien and AlexIch.

NRG Esports also revamped their roster, with ex-Liquid top laner quas, Santorin, who played  for TSM last year, GBM, Ohq, and ex-Dignitas Support KiWiKiD trying to help this team do better than his last team. Looking at the rosters, we expect NRG Esports to win the best of 3 series; however, it probably won’t be a clean 2-0.

After the match between Team Envy and NRG eSports is over, the NA LCS will stop broadcasting for approximately 13 hours, coming back with a face off between Echo Fox and Phoenix1. Phoenix1 entered the LCS after acquiring Team Impulse’s spot in the league. They will field a new lineup of Zig up top, Inori in the Jungle, Pirean as Mid, Mash ADC, and Gate Support. On star power alone, Echo Fox should come out on top with their roster of kfo, Hard, the Anivia himself Froggen, Keith, and Big. The matches should go either way, though.

Concurrently, a much more interesting Best of three series between Cloud9 and Immortals will be taking place. Cloud9 saw some big changes with their long-time top laner Balls stepping down in place of the former World Champion Impact, Meteos coming back into the roster to replace Rush to allow the team to utilize their new Korean top laner, and the long-time shotcaller Hai stepping down for Bunny FuFu, the Thresh God himself. With these changes in mind, Cloud9 roster is one of the strongest in the League. At least on paper. The loss of Hai, however, could spell a big void in the shot-calling department. This was the case in the beginning of the Spring Split, when the team tried to use Bunny FuFu as support. The shotcalling difficulties were so great at the time that the team made the decision to use the less skilled Hai as their Support, hoping to compensate with superior tactics. It worked out well for the team over the split, with their 3rd place finish after the regular season. With the considerable changes happening before this split, however, it will be extremely interesting to see how the new Cloud9 lineup stands up to the unchanged Immortals squad, which dominated the Spring Split in a commanding fashion, losing 1 game in the regular season.

While the Cloud9 lineup looks extremely strong, I have to predict that Immortals will win this series. Not because their roster is that much stronger, however. I’m banking on the fact that Immortals’ teamplay will overwhelm the considerably different C9 team. If this match was taking place at the end of the split, my predictions might be different.

Next up, Apex will try to put NRG Esports on their backs, while Team Envy goes up against Liquid at the same time. Apex Gaming is a new organization, with the lineup of veterans Xpecial, Apollo, and Keane, with two more Koreans– Ray and Shrimp. It’s hard to tell who is going to in, however, we believe that NRG should eek out a win in the series.

The Envy vs. Liquid match should be watched way more due to the recent news that Liquid suspended their promising jungler Dardoch for insubordinate behavior. With that in mind, the team should give a chance to their substitute jungler Moon, well-known from his stint on NRG Esports. Despite the recent upheaval, the Liquid squad looks to be a favorite in this matchup. Of course, it might only be my inner Piglet fanboy speaking. Excuse me if this doesn’t go as I expect it to, as it will all depend on how Liquid adapts to the suspension of their starting Jungler.

The last day of the first week of NA LCS will see four matches, where TSM will face Liquid, Apex will try to stand up to the CLG juggernaut, Echo Fox will attempt to win against Cloud9, and Immortals meet Phoenix1.

The first two concurrent matches will take place between TSM and Liquid, as well as Apex and CLG. I would bet on TSM getting one over Liquid even if they still had Dardoch. The introduction of Moon doesn’t really change anything. Liquid MIGHT take a game off of TSM, though. The CLG vs. Apex matchup… Frankly, I would be extremely surprised if Apex doesn’t get rolled over. CLG looks to be in top form, with spirits at their highest in recent memory. CLG wins, 2-0.

The second pair of matches will probably have Cloud9 making short work of Echo Fox and Immortals massacring Phoenix1. The Cloud9 roster is one of the well-known names in the NA scene, which only got stronger, assuming they don’t have shot-calling problems with Hai gone, while Immortals made their name as the almost undefeatable monster of NA LCS, which should quickly dispatch the new-comers Phoenix1.

With that said, we don’t really buy into the Immortals hype too much. The Spring Split playoffs showed that the team does have its weaknesses. Taking advantage of them, however, is probably above the heads of the Phoenix1 roster.