With the ending of the Mid Season Invitational and the arrival of the 2019 LCS Summer Split, we come back with few roster changes and we can largely expect similar rankings of the regular Spring Split standings, with some exceptions.
Team Liquid have come off with a respectable 2nd place finish from their MSI run, along with snagging the LCS Spring Split trophy, and now remains the question as to whether TL will fall from the top spot due to teams becoming stronger and more comfortable with their rosters.
Welcome to my power rankings, full of disrespect and praise.
10. Clutch Gaming
Call me old fashioned but I like having my dessert last, which means Clutch Gaming are a condiment, not even a main dish or an appetizer, but more akin to natto (I recommend never trying it) over rice. This team hasn’t changed their main problem, which is a disjointed team plan and not understanding how crossmap plays work. Huni has been often caught out while LirA either is making a play on the other side of the map or Huni simply being overly aggressive without proper ward coverage. There seems to be a disconnect with Huni and LirA, which is strange given that you think their communication would be top notch considering there is less ambiguity without the language barrier. Meanwhile, although Damonte has shown he has the potential to carry on occasion, it proves to be neither frequent nor impacting enough to keep CG afloat.
With the change of Cody Sun replacing Piglet, I don’t see this team changing much, given that their problem is fundamental macro and ADCs traditionally don’t affect team macro decisions, but who knows, maybe Piglet tried to overstep his boundaries? It should be said that Piglet wasn’t a particular burden for the lane phase, as his CSD10 is good (given the context of being a 9th place team) and his DPM is 4th overall in the league (counting only starting ADCs). Cody Sun isn’t a bad ADC by any means, but it’s the overall team identity that is sorely lacking. CG was a Walmart G2, trying to do flex picks without understanding the fundamentals of the game, and I don’t see this iteration being any different, especially without a managerial change to get these players on the right path.
9. Optic Gaming
OpTic Gaming are in shambles, from the players all the way up to the executives of the entire organization. The team has made no roster moves (as of this writing) and this can allude to the turmoil from the higher-ups refusing to spend any more money on roster moves, as they may be in a limbo state of changing ownership.
OPT will still suffer from the same problems as before, a gaping chasm in the top lane and a bot lane which will not win them the game (that’s not to say they will always lose you the game either). Along with these two problems, this team looks lost when mid-to-late game comes around, and it’s through the saving graces of Meteos and Crown that this team even manages to get wins on the board. The only hope I see in OPT is that Crown will be better acclimated to NA and maybe we’ll see the carry pants get put on by their substitute Dardoch.
8. Echo Fox
Echo Fox made an impressive last ditch effort to claim a playoffs spot in Spring Split, with large credit given to the upsurge of Rush and Solo performing well at the tail end of the FOX split. They learned to play around their pressure from jungle and top, along with traditionally giving a gank to the mid lane at least once which allowed FeniX to get even further ahead on the gains he already created for himself.
The main criticism to give Echo Fox is that while their jungler has shown small improvements to his champion pool with the addition of Jarvan, he’s always been a better bruiser and assassin jungler rather than a tank jungler. He hasn’t proven he’s flexible enough in this role, which alludes to his days in KT Rolster being incapable of replacing the mighty Score. Along with this, he only started to work better with his solo laners towards the end of the split, which isn’t enough to instill faith in how stable his game-play may have become. The same can be said about Solo showing his fangs towards the end of the split as well. With so many better lineups and firepower existing in the LCS, it’s difficult to rate this team any higher.
7. Golden Guardians
Golden Guardians were given the benefit of the doubt at the start of the Spring Split. On paper, this roster was meant to do great things and place around 4th (which they did, by getting 5th), but the potential ramp-up time given for these veterans to figure out things should have offered more towards the end of the season. With other rosters getting stronger, namely 100 Thieves and CLG, those seem more alluring for potential playoff teams.
The problems with Golden Guardians stems from their bot lane being incapable of playing properly during team fights and the jungler doing overly aggressive invades which sets the entire team back. Deftly is the lowest DPM starter ADC out of the entire league and Olleh hasn’t shown the synergy that well with his ADC nor his jungler. Contractz, while he has shown times where he can carry, his lows are far too rock bottom to be considered a high tier jungler, and with so many control style junglers in the LCS, he’s easily predictable and often punished heavily for his mistakes. The bright spots for this team are still Froggen and Hauntzer, but there are still concerns as to whether both of them can play the flex champions which have become meta necessities, as the MSI tournament has shown us. With GGS’ reluctance in playing Sylas, Irelia and Akali, therefore those champions often were must-bans, the question of if the GGS solo laners have mastered these champions still hangs in the air, and that is far too large of a gamble to rate this team higher with how many qualms can be had with the other members of the team.
6. Counter Logic Gaming
What can make Counter Logic Gaming instantaneously better? A top laner that doesn’t int. CLG have replaced Darshan with Ruin, a top laner that was formerly of Giants Gaming in the EU LCS back in 2018 (2017 if you count the Challenger Series) and 1907 Fenerbahçe in 2019 where he won the Winter TCL (Spring Split) against Supermassive. Ruin could be the old image of Darshan, otherwise known as ZionSpartan, playing split pushers and drawing tons of pressure. Ruin’s champion pool consists of aggressive champions like Jayce, Ryze and Irelia. CLG almost got into playoffs with a struggling top laner and with more pressure top side, it could free up Wiggly to counter-jungle more and get more objectives on the map, given that the current meta is all about solo laners.
5. 100 Thieves
There’s no way Aphromoo can play that badly twice in a row...right? Aphromoo had bad laning phases and encompassing game-play that seemed uncanny for the veteran support player. Not only has Aphromoo had to work with a under performing mid laner, but he’s also never played with a foreign ADC, especially one who has just been imported to NA. Korean ADCs are prone to playing a traditional style of scaling and waiting for team fight phase in order to take advantage of enemy team mistakes, which is why Aphromoo may have been desynced from Bang, given that Doublelift, Cody Sun and Stixxay were all more aggressive ADCs than Bang when it comes to the laning phase. The playmaker should have figured out by now that he has to change his style to accommodate the slower pace of Bang.
The addition of Amazing to the jungle is a welcome addition to the 100T roster, as this is a veteran who previously played for Schalke04 back in 2018 Summer Split, boosting them to a finals match where they would lose against Fnatic. Amazing’s primary strength is the ability to call the shots and vocalize what he wants done in the early game, and while that would seemingly not be what 100T needs...they desperately need that. If Amazing can string together a plan for their early and mid game, along with giving a strong second opinion for the late game, this should improve the team drastically. The only concern is that S04 mostly operated on a split push style, with Nuckduck getting priority mid lane and Amazing hovering Vizicsacsi in the top lane to get him ahead. With a significantly weaker mid laner, Amazing will have to transfer more pressure mid lane. Not to mention, Amazing’s champion pool hasn’t looked good since 2016 with Nidalee and Elise being meta. In 2018 he was limited to Sejuani, Trundle and Skarner, given that S04 relied on a tanky frontline to extend into late game while Nukeduck used his champion ocean to meet any needs that S04 needed to enable split pushing. 100T have a better jungler now for sure, but to break into the top 4 in this meta means that you need to have strong players in all roles, and they are have an unproven hole in the mid lane.
Wholesomeness can only get you so far, and for FlyQuest that happens to stop at 4th place, just outside the big three. While they did incredibly well for Spring Split, this team is something that can be considered a sum greater than their parts. V1per is enabled to carry the team on occasion, Santorin has proven he’s one of the league’s best junglers, Pobelter is still a strong domestic force and WildTurtle can function as the team’s wildcard. With the addition of Wadid replacing JayJ at the support position, this is the only changing factor for FlyQuest to improve from the magic they had in the Spring Split
Wadid comes from the LEC team Rogue, which placed last place in Spring. That’s not entirely indicative to individual performance, but Wadid has to effectively perform better than a rookie support player who was middle of the pack and only has room to improve. The smallest of hurdles will be creating synergy with WildTurtle that rivals that of his previous support, but the veteran ADC has gone through so many different supports that he’s one of the best ADCs to have in a situation of building synergy as a bot lane duo.
The uncertainty of BrokenBlade has been answered in the Spring Split. A player that was renown for his mechanics, he lived up to the hype. BrokenBlade was one of the best performing players on TSM during the finals. Add to that, Bjergsen is a player that doesn’t have a low floor for performance, which gives him a high level of consistency that isn’t matched by any other mid laner in the entire league. Couple that with Zven and Smoothie building advanced synergy, something which had been viewed as a potential boon for the team, this team skyrocketed to the top of the standings once they got their footing at the end of the Spring Split.
The jungle position is the only spot that will be changing coming into the Summer Split, with Akaadian being swapped out for Grig. The positive of Akaadian is that he could play an accelerated playstyle which matches the aggression of this current meta, but the last time we saw Grig, he was mostly restricted to champions like Sejuani, Gragas or Trundle. Grig will have to come in proving that he has learned to play more early game champions and dictate the pace of the early game. While TSM do have the roster to outplay most teams with their star power, the amounts to less and less when fighting teams at higher rankings. Incorporating Grig once again to the starting roster and instilling early game shot calling will prove difficult to topple both number 1 and 2 on a consistent basis.
C9 already have one of the best supports in the entire league, the best top laner in the league, and a jungler which is 2nd best in the league. In terms of raw skill, this team certainly has an enormous amount. With their ability to be flexible (sometimes too flexible) in draft, this team is a danger even on a conceptual level.
Nisqy hasn't proven to show the dominance he had during his Summer Split of 2018 in EU, but he hasn't been a massive letdown either. His freshman split in NA is over and now he should be fully integrated into the C9 playstyle.
Reasons for putting C9 above TSM would be having a stronger jungler, backed up by a new jungle coach in ReignOver, one of the best early game junglers NA had in recent times, and a top laner that really has no downsides. C9’s top side of the map, combined with jungle are a stronger combination than TSM’s.
1. Team Liquid
Team Liquid shocked the world with their MSI run, with no small feat of eliminating Invictus Gaming on their way to the finals. This team has flaws, but each member covers the other quite well.
The biggest fault of TL is their top laner Impact, or one would first assume. His performance at MSI showed that he's more versatile than fans thought, often carrying TL to a victory and proving he's functional on carry champions, with or without resources.
Xmithie is the league’s best jungler, voted to the All-pro team for Spring Split and also putting on an exceptional showing for MSI. TL’s focus on objective control rather than kills or tower dives seems a little out of place for this meta and the early aggression of other teams, but within NA, it's a well-suited strategy.
TL will stay on top for the foreseeable future for this upcoming Summer Split, staying ahead of their competition C9 and TSM on the basis that their jungler controls the game state better than any other in his role, along with a top laner that is rarely broken and a support which knows how to shape the mid and late game to his liking. TL can improve on giving their mid laner more carry potential and also playing through top domestically, but they have plenty of time to translate their lessons from MSI to the LCS against lesser opponents. The most likely guarantee is that this team wont be beaten by anyone outside the top 3.
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.
Images courtesy of LoL Esports
For more LoL content, check out our LoL section