With the end season almost upon us, there are going to be several free agents available as contracts run out. We should see exciting shakeups to rosters as they rush to both import from other regions (let’s be real, this is still NA) and secure current talent within NA. Here are some of the most sought after talent that are still within NA. All of these talents have contracts scheduled to end in November 2018 unless stated otherwise.
Flame had a phenomenal ending to the season, dragging his team into playoffs along with Santorin. Flame’s English is incredibly good and with his veteran status within the game he’s able to command his team to a victory, but is often looking to carry from the top lane as a win condition. This player should be on everyone’s radar that has an import slot available.
Voted by some to be the MVP of Summer Split (myself included), Ssumday has shown that he can perform the role of tank to a high degree along with carries like Gangplank and Gnar. This is a player that is highly adaptable and since he’s been in NA for quite some time, there shouldn’t be qualms with molding into American culture or language. Although he wont be the primary leader of your team, he will be able to provide a threat on the other side of the map and that in itself is of incredible value with how weak the NA top lane role has been historically, although that narrative is slowly changing.
Did I say the top lane was weak in regards to NA talent? Sorry. FallenBandit is one of those bursting through the ranks just as Licorice did before him. This guy has completely crushed with Dr. Mundo and his Gangplank is something to be feared (and banned). This Academy player is thought to be one of the best within the entirety of rookies.
Akaadian is in this weird spot where you’re not sure whether you can give him a pass for his entire team’s performance or not. His ability to use Graves to proper effectiveness is duly noted but he hasn’t been fully accommodated to the tank jungle meta and it’s a question mark as to whether he will be able to do it in the coming year.
You could blame the TSM system for trying to corrupt him into a control-style jungler, permanent tank duty and made to serve his great master Bjergsen, but it does show his weakness to be able to adapt to a different style on-the-fly. MikeYeung could still be a jungler which would be a great pick-up to be a sub jungler if you’re looking to change up styles from game-to-game, but he’s such a rookie that I don’t believe he’s been given the chance to thrive in a proper environment.
Many have forgotten about this jungler but just like Contractz, he was forgotten after his initial season in the LCS. Known for his carry champions such as Kha’Zix, Rengar and Evelynn, he hasn’t particularly came into learning control style or tank junglers, which is the inherent risk within picking up a player like Moon, but it’s all whether you’re willing to gamble that you can teach this jungler to perform at a sufficient level at these other styles.
Meteos is one of the best junglers that has ever graced the NA LCS. It must be noted that his contract with Flyquest is until 2019, but since his pedigree is so high, I believe it incredibly worthwhile to buy him out and put him on a roster that has a necessity for control-style jungling *COUGH*TSM
*COUGH*. It’s clear that Meteos has his own ideas on how he wants to play the game, so a strong coaching staff must be utilized along with players which are willing to listen and heed his critiques. This player will, at the very least, get you to quarterfinals.
This player has shown that he can go against the best mid laners without faltering. He is a player which you can leave alone in the mid lane and he’ll do his job, but if given resources, he’s also able to carry. Damonte’s power picks are Syndra, Cassiopeia and Ryze, but that’s not to say he can’t play other picks as well. This is one of the more well-rounded rookies and should be highly considered as a future NA mid lane superstar.
Pobelter is a solid mid laner domestically. He’s been a mid laner that’s withstood the test of time and can play just about anything, although his assassin play is lacking for international competition. Pobelter will win you championships, make no mistake, but if you’re looking to win Worlds, you must invest in infrastructure for this player to be taken to the next level, because he’s been struggling to get past that next threshold of greatness. A great supportive addition to any lineup, but that must be counter-balanced with other aggressive players from your roster.
Mr. Money Bags himself, PoE didn’t have the greatest reception into the NA LCS, but his team was a complete wreck in the Spring Split and during the Summer Split, OpTic Gaming found their identity, but it was far too late. PoE relies heavily on resources to be directed towards him and in some ways you can see clues of legendary mid laner Froggen within his playstyle. PoE is a master of control, but there’s only room for another superstar on the team, as he demands adequate resources to function at his role.
Although not technically in the contract database, I think this player is incredibly underrated. Throw him in with a couple of veterans that don’t need to be told what to do and you’ll have yourself a player which can take over the game when mid-game rolls around. As proven with Origen during the European Masters, Froggen can function with another resource hog like Forg1ven and completely round-out a team. If you have the spare cash to create a veteran team, and you already have a shotcaller so this player can focus on his individual role, Froggen should be on your list.
Currently the only ADC worth spending a check on during this free agency; Auto has proven he’s worth an LCS slot with his play on CLG Academy. This ADC best functions on lane bullies such as Varus and Ashe, which also shows that he’s not afraid to pull the trigger with an ultimate to dictate the flowstate of the game.
You might actually want to take Auto and Fill as a duo as they are on another level considering the rest of the competition within NA Academy. While they don’t necessarily win the lane phase all the time, Fill performs during team fights and his notable champion Tahm Kench allowed for his top laner Fallen Bandit to get extra pressure splitting up the map.
Can you believe it took a team until Summer Split to sign Saintvicious? This is a coach which will whip your team into shape with no frills. Saintvicious is a person that is straight to the point and will immediately shut you down if he’s able to prove your idea is flawed. While his style may be viewed as aggressive, it is ultimately effective, but it's best suited to a team that is both passive and on the greener side. Place Saintvicious in a team that is full of rookies and you’ll watch them grow faster than a garden with Miracle Grow.
Ssong wasn’t given a fair chance. TSM is an organization which gives little power to their coach and with such a strong team of veterans, they already have an idea of how they want to play the game, it was simply a matter of resolving conflict within the team. I’d like to see how Ssong functions on another team before making harsh judgements.
The prodigy of Reapered, Cain has proven that he’s able to hold the helm and steer his ship where it’s supposed to go. Cain took a team full of veterans and was able to dictate what playstyle he wanted them to play, which is commendable in all regards.
You may be questioning why I have this name on here. I don’t think Loco was given a proper chance to mold a team into his imagination. With Loco’s personality, he would be able to take command of a new squad and instill good habits within them, but I would not acknowledge Loco capable of dictating a veteran lineup due to his time with TSM. You may also consider Loco to command a team with newer Koreans as he would be the ideal person to acclimate them into the NA scene.
I made this section especially for Dodo because he is one of the best translators in the entire scene (I’m even willing to say within esports). He transfers emotions incredibly well, which is not something that any translator can do. It’s not enough to just translate the words in which someone is saying, but to make someone else feel the original force (especially from a commanding position such as coach). If Dodo is available and you have a Korean coach, secure this man. If Dodo isn’t available, offer a large sum regardless; Dodo is worth his weight in gold.
With free agency coming up and most players locked within a longer contract, teams will either have to decide to buyout players or work with these couple of free agents in order to complete their roster. Remember, the key is not only the player's skill or their ability within the meta, but also how cohesive they are to the personalities and playstyles of their teammates. Make wise choices without thinking about these names in solidarity.
Other notable free agents in 2018 from EU (bold names are my top priority on mix of expected salary, level of play and necessity of role in NA):
Alphari (Top Misfits)
Maxlore (Jungle Misfits)
SoaZ (Top Fnatic)
Bwipo (Top Fnatic)
Expect (Top Fnatic)
Caps (Mid Fnatic)
Cabochard (Top Vitality)
Vizicsacsi (Top Schalke)
Nukeduck (Mid Schalke)
Dylan Falco (Coach Fnatic)
Yamato Cannon (Coach Vitality)
Peter Dun (Coach Splyce)
If the rumors are true about EU franchise teams:
Odoamne (Top Splyce)
Xerxe (Jungle Splyce)
Arrow (ADC OpTic)
MrRallez (ADC TSM)
Stunt (Support 100 Thieves)
Keane (Mid Flyquest)
Reignover (Jungle Counter Logic Gaming)
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
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