The 2018 North American League Championship Series starts this Saturday, and with a relatively quiet off season from the teams and huge patch changes, a pre-split power ranking seemed necessary for what will be a chaotic first week of NA LCS.
1. Team Liquid
Liquid is still the favorite after its Spring Split championship, but their below-average performance at MSI has definitely raised concerns over their strength as a team. But in the uncertainty of how teams will adapt and change to a fundamentally different meta, TL still remains king. They’ll be tested, however, in their season opener vs 100 Thieves on June 16, 4 PM CT.
2. Echo Fox
In the beginning of the spring split, Echo Fox was known for its dominance in a stagnant bottom lane meta. Their focus on utilizing jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun to create jungle/mid pressure and open up the map for top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon was key to their successful top lane style play. Given this meta’s potential in mid lane and top side, Echo Fox is an intimidating threat.
3. 100 Thieves
Towards the end of the last split, 100 Thieves really got the ball rolling, but were ultimately not enough to beat Liquid’s cross-map aggression in the final. However, this is a team full of determined veterans, and they’ll adjust and adapt to remain at the top of the standings.
4. Team SoloMid
Though TSM was debatedly the better team against Clutch Gaming in the 2018 NA LCS, their inconsistency in pressuring from jungle and controlling side lane allowed Clutch to win in the quarterfinals. And while TSM took a long time to develop cohesiveness, once they did, they were undoubtedly one of the strongest teams in NA at the end of the split. All eyes are now on how TSM responds to the significant meta shift, as they’ve been known in the past to be slow to adapt.
5. Clutch Gaming
Overcoming a rocky start, Clutch Gaming hit its stride, beating lower standing teams and even earning a play off victory over TSM. But for the majority of all other matches against higher ranked teams, Clutch faltered. Yet, we should note that while the team lacks in experience, they make it up with a strong player and support staff willing to learn from mistakes. Their preparation paid off, as evident in the win over TSM.
6. Cloud 9
Cloud 9 definitely has the potential to win it all, but when the meta shifted, creating a more volatile bottom lane, C9 was unable to adapt. Subsequently, they were overwhelmed by TL in the spring quarterfinals. All the spotlight currently centers on C9’s shocking announcement that 3 of the team’s starters (mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, ADC Zachary “Sneaky“ Scuderi and support Andy “Smoothie“ Ta) have been benched. They’ll be subbed by three C9 academy players: Yuri “Keith” Jew, Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam, and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer.
7. Counter Logic Gaming
Another potential-filled team, CLG could make a legitimate run for the title if they resolve their issues as a team. This new meta provides a great opportunity for them to start strong — Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha will fit right in as a split pusher.
8. OpTic Gaming
Between splits, OpTic made some major changes, replacing Derek “Zig” Shao and “LemmonNation” Hart with top laner Niship “Dhokla” Doshi and support Terry “Big” Chuong. OpTic’s problems last spring split were highlighted by their lack of coordination and failure to create side lane pressure. Some staffing additions were made to hopefully remedy this, with David “Cop” Roberson joining the coaching staff.
Song “Fly” Yong-jun’s addition to the team last split was supposed to improve their overall performance, but it didn’t seem to make any real difference. FlyQuest enters this season with a new lineup, featuring mid laner Jang “Keane” Lae-young, jungler Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, support Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon, and top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong.
10. Golden Guardians
Last on the rankings, Golden Guardians also made huge roster changes mid-season. They dropped Hai “Hai” Du Lam for Son “Mickey” Young-min. Mickey offers a crazy, volatile playstyle, which the team hopes can perform better than Hai’s inconsistent mid-lane performances.