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LCS 2020 – Izento’s Spring Split Power Rankings

Izento 2020-01-22 05:35:44
  The League of Legends Championship Series is returning for the 2020 Spring Split. Although technically no new organizations are joining the LCS that haven’t already made an appearance in years past, we welcome back the old guard of Dignitas, Immortals and Evil Geniuses. This year might be the easiest to power rank the top and bottom teams of the league, but the fight for playoffs should be interesting. While this list has multiple considerations taken, such as raw name and historical play of players, individual mechanics and macro, all the way to team cohesion in terms of personality and vocality, this list is not meant to be an in-depth look at each team, nor is it an all encompassing description of my thoughts on each team. Rosters are listed in the following role order: Top/Jungle/Mid/ADC/Support - or top to bottom on the map.

10. Golden Guardians

Hauntzer / Closer / GoldenGlue / FBI / Keith
  This team should be no surprise to anyone as to why they’re placed at the bottom of the barrel. They lack significant firepower from the names, and there’s no clear carry on the team. Although Hauntzer could be considered for this role, that time is long past from his 2017 Spring Split monster performance.
Related: Top of the League: Making the Case for Hauntzer as Spring MVP
As for the sore thumbs of the team, Closer comes from the Turkish Championship League (TCL) and has played with several big names such as Freeze, Dumbledoge and Abbegagge (who was recently picked up by Schalke 04). The concern for Closer shouldn’t be as high for Western fans as a regular rookie would be, but it’s the support player which should drive fans up the wall. Keith never made it as a quality ADC; hell, he’s really only looked good at the beginning of a split, replacing a Korean who couldn’t get his visa in time. After that, Keith had been fairly mediocre and doesn’t stand up to other ADCs within the region. So what makes the GGS staff so convinced that Keith will do well in another role, when he’s shown very little propensity in his main role of ADC? Also, for the other players, scrim bux don’t count. We’ll just leave it at that.  

9. Immortals

sOAZ / Xmithie / Eika / Altec / Hakuho
  Once again we have a problem with brute strength. Which player has the raw ability to carry this Immortals roster? That type of player is completely absent. This roster feels like one entirely developed for brand name with some weight savings. sOAZ needs to be the player to be unlocked here. There’s no other player than can reliably carry this team, which makes this a sad affair as sOAZ is defined as a very selfless player, willing to give up counter-picks and general lane assistance in order for his team to win. There is no other lane in which IMT win through. Both IMT and sOAZ need to develop another identity in order to push into the higher ranks and make it into the playoffs. Their bot lane, one of which hasn’t played pro in about a year, appears to not be able to take control of winning situations, and pairing them together is only saved through other veteran players being able to make calls in the late game. This team is in a poor state of affairs, and just like GGS, they lack firepower, but are only slightly better in direction. The IMT mid laner Eika is a fresh new face, coming from Team LDLC, which plays in the French league over in Europe. This team was coached by YellOwStaR, and had such star names as Djoko and Steelback. While the French league isn’t at the caliber of LCS, Team LDLC did give Eika an abundance of knowledge to help him catch up to speed faster than if IMT selected a rookie from solo queue. While I don’t claim to know a lot about Eika as a player, if you bet on a rookie succeeding, picking one from a national league is among one of the better ideas. With that said, mid is the most important role in the game and Eika needs to immediately excel in order for IMT to climb up in the standings.  

8. FlyQuest

V1per / Santorin / PowerofEvil / WildTurtle / IgNar
  FlyQuest are the forgotten stepchild of the LCS when it comes to general presence, and FLY have put together a roster which is forgettable, but it’s clear year after year they keep slightly improving over previous iterations. The team has recognizable names and hypothetically enough strength on paper to make it into the top four if everything goes perfectly, but also things would need to go poorly for the stronger lineups. The major flaw of why this team is so far down on this list is because of incompatibility for flex picks and a lack of carry responsibility from mid. This may sound strange given that PowerofEvil is considered one of the most flexible mids, along with having a decent potential to carry, but all of that doesn’t rely on his own singular circumstance. V1per had a great Spring Split in 2019, but he started to trail off as time went on. FLY tried to make some flex picks work such as Karma top or Irelia flexing between mid and top, but FLY looked lost both times and V1per’s ability to lead through adaptation looked lacking. Combine this effect while playing with a mid laner such as PowerofEvil, most known for his ability to pick up champions at an almost unparalleled pace, and we can start to see the disconnect between a share of champion pools between top and mid. The largest concern for FLY should be PowerofEvil’s consistent refusal to both request resources in both draft phase and in-game resource attention. As a fan or analyst, many known how skilled PowerofEvil is as a player, yet he consistently covers up his teammates through playing mid champions which either aren’t meta, but he considers a decent counter-pick or minimal loss pick, while giving up the counter for his teammates. For this year, I’d like to see PoE hog more resources and prove that he deserves the attention from his teammates on a more consistent basis. If that does happen, we could see FLY reaching higher than this projected 8th place.  

7. Dignitas

Huni / Grig / Froggen / Johnsun / Aphromoo
  While we could meme about paying $2.3 million for a player, this Dignitas lineup is decent enough while taking some risks, but it’s very clear that they took the approach of getting iconic names with large fan bases, while sprinkling in cheaper players to round out the roster. This lineup isn’t without its concerns, as one could think of this team as inflexible and consisting of players with only one playstyle. Huni came into the Spring Split of 2019 playing his usual playstyle, which would often come back to bite him. He had the 2nd most team death share out of any top laner in the league, and it was due to his stubbornness in playing forward when it was clear his team was making a play on the other side of the map or that the enemy jungler would be nearby to stop his top lane antics. Huni saw a marked improvement in the Summer Split, playing much better with his jungler and getting his signature Rumble pick to incentivize strong team play. While Huni is still the aggressive monster he always was, he has shown the ability to repress his fiery emotion to better help the team later on. Huni is one of the more ideal players for this lineup...but not $2.3M ideal mind you. How this entire team will come together is through Aphromoo teaching yet another ADC how to fish with Johnsun. We saw the worst year out of Aphromoo’s career in 2019, and that certainly puts some doubt into him being able to reach the top again. The exciting prospect of this roster is that he is paired with Froggen, a player which has always been forced into a leadership role, but one in which I would consider not prime in leading a team to a strategic victory. If both of these players can mesh together their greatest attributes and also mold the rest of the team into how they want to play the game, we could see Dignitas reach playoffs, but the predicted playstyle of Huni, the lack of aggression and presence from their jungler Grig, along with a new rookie ADC means that Dignitas have a lot of roadblocks to overcome.  

6. 100 Thieves

Ssumday / Meteos / Ry0ma / Cody Sun / Stunt
  Coming in to steal the last playoff spot is 100 Thieves. Their roster, while sporting some new(ish) names to the league, comes in with incredible talent, yet one can’t help but be disappointed that the roster could be so much more. The greatest risk that was taken is of course their Oceanic mid lane import Ry0ma, and although I truly don’t believe it to be nepotism, I don’t believe the pickup was a smart decision. Ry0ma comes from the Oceanic Professional League, having been on teams such as Chiefs Esports Club and the Bombers. His primary champion pool consists of Azir, Syndra and Lissandra, the latter of which he is undefeated on (11-0). The dilemma players like Ry0ma will never be able to escape from is playing in a wildcard region with weaker competition. Although this player doesn’t have the language barrier issue to overcome which is so common among the traditional Korean imports, he will be playing against some of the greatest mid laners in the world, with the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen and even the now known mechanically gifted Crown. The introduction into the LCS will be like a college hazing for Ry0ma; humiliation will be his first experience and I put little faith in him being able to overcome the initial shock to the league. The rest of the 100 Thieves roster is fantastic. As we know, Ssumday was never suited for Academy and his return to LCS will be a test of those who still respect him, and those who will regret it for not doing so. Meteos—one of the best pathing junglers to ever touch LoL in the West—is making a return, which should shore up some weaknesses around mid lane.
Related:  OPT Meteos: “Jungle is inherently one of those roles where it’s hard to have perfect relationships with all your teammates because with every given action that the jungler performs, it’s going to help one person but hurt someone else on the team”
Cody Sun and Stunt round out the bot lane, and with Stunt being a player underrated in the past, looks to prove that he’s worthy of being considered one of the better supports in the LCS. Overall this lineup is good, but skimping on the mid lane position, either because of monetary reasons or because 100T truly believe in Ry0ma, it still puts them in question to reach into higher ranks.  

5. Counter Logic Gaming

Ruin / Wiggily / Crown / Stixxay / Smoothie
  Counter Logic Gaming have done subtle changes coming into the 2020 Spring Split. After a report from ESPN about Biofrost being traded to TSM for Smoothie, many speculated whether this was actually an upgrade. Along with that, CLG have replaced PowerofEvil with Crown, a player who is currently on a hot streak in terms of clear expression of high-level play. By no means does this roster not have holes, but it’s readily apparent that this team can fight for a top spot if other teams above them don’t have their shit together. Smoothie coming to CLG is the most exciting thing about this roster. Previously in an interview with Blitz Esports, CLG cited problems with having a dedicated shotcaller and leader in 2018. In 2019 the team was considerably better, but with Stixxay previously taking more of a role in leading comms in-game along with Biofrost, now we have Smoothie joining, which should take a majority of the macro calls. Smoothie traded for Biofrost is a trade that CLG should make every single time, as they are giving away established synergy for theoretically better macro, which is primarily why CLG couldn’t get more wins. The one spot that is holding this team from peeking into the top 4 is their top laner Ruin. Leading top laners in death share in the Summer Split of 2019 by a significant margin—over 5% higher than the 2nd most death share—this is a top laner who dropped off a cliff in performance. Ruin has shown that he’s capable of putting out good numbers when his team is willing to play towards him, as was the case in Spring Split, but once the squad felt he was comfortable alone in the top lane, that’s when we saw this player crumble. This CLG roster has a potentially strong bot lane, but there have been mentions that both Stixxay and Wiggily are vocal in deciding the direction of how the game should be played out. Adding another voice to that might prove disastrous. Along with that, you have a player who is subpar in the top lane and is a constant hole to patch. That aside, as long as CLG solves their potential communication issues, they are certainly strong enough to hold the middle spot of the LCS firmly.  

4. Evil Geniuses

Kumo / Svenskeren / Jiizuke / Bang / Zeyzal
  Coming out in 4th place is quite commendable when considering this is the first split (of their new era) in the LCS. Evil Geniuses have put together a roster with a high ceiling and a high floor, which should give them a decent boost to take over games at the beginning of the split. Although we already know what the best jungler in the league is capable of, along with a stoic ADC and an engage-style support, the top and mid of this team are lesser known elements to newer LCS fans. Kumo comes from Cloud9 Academy; although he does have some games in the LCS, he is considered a newer player. With excellent games shown on Aatrox and Poppy, it’s clear that he doesn’t have any fear carrying games or coordinating with his team. This is a good rookie pickup and we might even get another Licorice-type player on our hands. We’ll have to see when the master faces off against student. Jiizuke has been known to be a coinflip player. He has incredibly high-highs, but very low-lows — Overly aggressive, easily punished, but has the gall to make mechanical outplays. He certainly can fit well into this lineup, but it would be far better if he toned down the aggression and approach the game in a more logical manner. Svenskeren might be able to cover up Jiizuke’s flaws and with Zeyzal leading comms and the insurance of Bang, EG are looking mighty scary.  

3. Cloud9

Licorice / Blaber / Nisqy / Zven / Vulcan
  Cloud9 have revamped their roster, but with that, are making a whole bunch of money selling off their former players, although probably using that to buy another support. This roster has taken a downgrade in their jungle role, but with a new support that had made waves in the 2019 season, we could see an entirely new dynamic in how C9 prioritize resources to the laners. Blaber is a concern for this team, as in times past he has proven to be an overly aggressive player, often either extending past the river when his lanes are on the defensive, or blatantly going for plays in a bloodthirsty manner. What should be mentioned is that, for all outsiders know, Blaber might have been told to play this way to differentiate strategies and playstyles between Svenskeren and Blaber; it will be interesting to see if Blaber can tone down his offensive style. The level that Vulcan was playing last year on Clutch Gaming with Cody Sun was impressive. Flawless follow-up engages and having a great ability to control the vision throughout the game has lead his team to multiple victories, and with the experience he’s gained on the defunct CG team, he should be able to transfer that wisdom onto his new team and importantly, his new jungler. Paired with Zven in the bot lane, this is a recipe for both a comeback for the ADC and a forced statement to include Vulcan’s name in the top 3 conversation for supports in NA.  

2. TSM

Brokenblade / Dardoch / Bjergsen / Kobbe / Biofrost
  Like the TSM of old, they’ve finally climbed back up into a deserved top two spot. Sporting a new jungler in Dardoch, someone that no one thought would ever be in this organization, along with Kobbe from EU and a return of Biofrost. All of these names have enough grunt on paper to easily make top three for Spring Split. There is still the burning question of if Dardoch can integrate himself into the TSM culture, something which he’s had difficulty even being comfortable in the most forgiving environments. Additionally, we’ll truly see if TSM ruins junglers by this test, as Dardoch is stylistically one of the more aggressive and outspoken junglers in the league, routinely solo carrying games in order to get wins. With a stable bot lane through Kobbe, most noted for his defensive play and waiting for teamfight phase, along with Biofrost being somewhere in the middle between playmaker and passive, this might be the most stable bot lane in the entire league, which will then give free reign for Dardoch and Bjergsen to play whatever style they choose.  

1. Team Liquid

Impact / Broxah / Jensen / Doublelift / CoreJJ
  There’s not much to say about this roster from what we’ve seen in 2019. Impact can play carries, Doublelift has a support that is better than himself— something which we would struggle to have said before—and a new jungler which is mechanically an upgrade, but might lack the mastermind pathing of Xmithie. As some might speculate during this point in time, Team Liquid could be off to a slow start as their jungler is having visa issues and won't be able to start for the first week, having a makeshift jungler in Pobelter subbing in. This certainly puts TL behind in synergy and cohesion, but with such a ridiculous roster on paper, they should have no trouble holding number one. There is something to be said about a new jungler into a preexisting team and system, which leads me to believe TL will start missing what they had in Xmithie. I see this version of TL weaker than previously, which could allow them to be toppled by top tier teams, but still not very likely. The LCS 2020 Spring Split season starts Saturday, January 25th, opening with Cloud9 vs Team Liquid. ___ 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. Special thanks to Gamepedia and Oracles Elixir For more LoL content, check out our LoL section

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