LCS Preseason Rankings
With the inaugural Lock-In tournament coming to a close last weekend, it’s finally time for the LCS Spring Split to begin.
The Lock-In tournament gave fans of the region a good glimpse of how this split should shake out. For starters, we’ve learned important lessons like ban Olaf, pick Udyr, and don’t let Impact play Renekton. We’ve learned that the first Herald is more important than the first dragon if you want map control, that you can still fast with Senna, that Taliyah isn’t an effective counter to Udyr, and, most importantly, that CoreJJ is a cheat code.
Below you’ll find my preseason rankings based on how each team performed in the Lock-In tournament. Note that it is hard to rate a lot of these teams since most of them either didn’t play that many games or didn’t play with their full rosters, but no judgment will be spared in these rankings.
#1 Team Liquid
As stated above, CoreJJ is just a cheat code. Doesn’t matter what champ he is playing or how bad he does in the first 15 minutes of the game, he always finds a way to get it done. The fact that teams will ban Thresh in first phase just to make sure he doesn’t get his signature champ says a lot about how good he is. Pair that with a lane kingdom top laner in Alphari, one of the most well-rounded unglers in Santorin, the low-resource, carry mid laner Jensen, and a bot laner that’s able to adapt to the way Core decides to play that game in Tactical, and you got the makings of an NA powerhouse.
My only problem with this team is the dependence on CoreJJ to bail them out. If one lane falls behind, the team puts the responsibility on Core to find a way to get them back in the game, rather than coordinated team play from all five communicating.
#2 Cloud 9
The comeback kids. For whatever reason, this team is so good in series play. However, that’s not how the regular season works. I really enjoy watching everyone on this team play except Fudge. He should only be allowed to play tank top laners, as he loses lane almost every game if he’s not on his Lulu or Ivern. Blaber should not have to play for him, he should have to play for Blaber. Perkz seems to found a nice role on this team as a dependable late-game carry who will impact the game in little ways at first, then completely open it up with one play. Zven is the real carry of this team though. And if he is allowed to kite around in the back (or in the enemy’s backline if he’s playing Kaisa) then this team will have no problems. But once Zven dies, Perkz and Blaber can only do so much, especially when Fudge is behind like he is in most games.
Ssumday finally has a team, and it shows. From Damonte in the mid lane to FBI and huhi in the bot lane, this team has it all. FBI is the best team fighting AD carry in the LCS this year. He leads the LCS in gold average for bot laners so far, and he uses every last piece of gold to kite around and jump in team fights at will. Do I think huhi sets him up well? No, actually. I believe his team is so good at picking fights on their terms that it allows FBI to do what he needs to do properly. Ssumday always seems to find the perfect flank that allows for FBI to worry about one target at a time, bursting them down, then moving to the next. Without the team, I don’t think FBI would shine as bright as he does. If 100T are able to fix a couple of mid-game macro issues they face, they can take the number one spot from TL very easily.
#4 Evil Geniuses
Even though they got absolutely clapped by TL, I still think this a good team. Jiizuke has finally re-earned the title of the “Italian Stallion” as he is back to dominating the mid lane. And as Impact continues to stomp people in the top lane, the flaw in this team has become clear; Deftly and IgNar hold this team back. Deftly is young, so he gets caught out of position too often. And to make matters worse, IgNar is his support. Not saying that IgNar is a bad support, but because he has a young bot laner, IgNar is forced to give him more attention than he usually would. IgNar shines when he is allowed to roam the map and make plays. But if he’s stuck bot side making sure his AD carry isn’t just dying for no reason, then the team loses an important playmaker. If Deftly can start to hold his own and position better, IgNar will be freed up. And if that happens, this team definitely has a fighting chance at a Spring title.
TSM is my number five team just because of their roster. Yes, I do believe that they deserve this spot. But when you look at the rosters of the team below them, it makes sense why they are rated above them. SwordArt just hasn’t found his rhythm in this team yet, unfortunately. Couple that with Huni’s weak play up in the top lane and Bjergsen’s all over the place drafts, this team has some serious issues to work out. Spica and PowerOfEvil hold this team together for the most part, but they can’t 2v5 every game. Once SwordArt figures out how to play the game the NA way, and Bjergsen figures out to pick a tank for Huni, this team should be able to at least put up a good fight in the playoffs.
On paper, this team looks really good. However, they just haven’t had the time to piece everything together yet. Johnsun and Diamond are definitely struggling against the strong bot duos in NA, and it really hinders how this team wants to play. This isn’t solo queue, so AD carries actually have a job in team fights. And unfortunately for Fly, Johnsun usually gets put so far behind in the early game that either he’s not allowed to do his job properly or the enemy AD carry can just do theirs better. But there is hope for this team, as Josedeodo and Palafox look clean and ready to make some plays to push this team up the ranks.
Yes, CLG didn’t make the knockout bracket during Lock-In. But with Finn coming back, I have to believe this team will do better. WildTurtle is still up to his old tricks like flashing into enemy teams to start fights as the AD carry, which is fine since he usually makes it work. Smoothie and fill-in jungler Griffin (formerly Wiggily) have a hard time playing with the other members of CLG and always seem just one beat off from the rest of the team. But with veterans like Pobelter and WildTurtle to guide them, I believe this team has a chance to be great, especially when Broxah finally gets his visa to play in the States.
#8 Golden Guardians
The youngsters of the LCS actually look really good when you consider that three out of five players had no pro experience before Lock-In. Niles and Iconic have some clear synergy and it really helps this team considering how resource-heavy Niles is. Stixxay does a good job at being the glue for this team as well. Like I’ve said before, Stixxay will never be the sole reason why you win a game, but he’ll never be the sole reason why you lose either. If Newbie can learn to make more plays around the map with Iconic rather than just Ablazeolive, then this team will feel more balanced throughout the map. In fact, Ablazeolive should look to farm more and make plays when they present themselves rather than sacrificing his own lane to help Iconic like how he has played so far. If coaches Inero and ChuChuZ can help this team draft some pretty easy comps that highlight Niles’s mechanical ability, then I think this team has a chance at a playoff run.
Even though I rank them at nine, I think Dignitas is the worst team in the LCS right now. It looks like everyone is just kinda playing solo queue, except FakeGod is the only solo, while Dardoch and Soligo are a duo and so are Neo and aphromoo. The lack of communication, mixed with a lack of well-put-together drafts makes it hard to believe this team will make playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of individual talent on this team, but if they can’t bring it all together, they will be nothing more than a clash team.
Despite making the knockout stage, I rate Immortals at number ten going into the season. Why? Because no one knows what this roster looks like. For the first three games, they played with three subs. Then they played with their academy team for Day 4 and Quarterfinals. So while on paper I would like to say this team is somewhere near the middle of the pack if they play their starters, I can’t rank them there when we haven’t seen them play. While I really like the roster IMT has built, they could turn out to be another team that looks like a bunch of solo queuers thrown together. Again, on paper, I full-heartedly believe this is a playoff team. But only time will tell whether this team will be able to play together or if they are just another clash team playing in the LCS.
The Spring Split starts on Feb. 5. This year, the LCS week will run from Friday to Sunday, with five games every day. So get ready for lots of exciting LCS action, as this year looks to be a good one for North American fans.