With another poor run at Worlds by the LCS, NA teams are on the hunt for changes.
Now that North America’s poor performance at the League of Legends World Championship has marinated for about two and a half weeks time — FlyQuest being the last League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) team to perform — it is time to look at what roles each LCS team should look at replacing come 2021 Spring Split.
The rundown will consist of going down the list of every LCS team, and pointing out what role could or should be replaced.
If you look at the current roster from top to bottom, this team could run it back if they wanted to. The problem is the ceiling for this team has been seen, same with the floor. They have a great bottom lane with young North American talent in Edward “Tactical” Ra who is paired up with the current LCS MVP, Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. Add Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen — who is rumoured to have signed a three-year extension, and that is probably one the best foundations one could ask for.
But, if you were to ask Team Liquid, they don’t want to run it back anymore, they already did so multiple times, and although it did net them a Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) finals visit, it did not translate well at Worlds. With the rumoured multi-year deal with former Origen top laner, Barney “Alphari” Morris on the horizon, that already answers one role that could be upgraded — the top lane. The final remaining role we see that could be upgraded is actually the jungle. Although Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen has plenty of international experience and had the unfortunate event that was the start of the Spring Split due with visa issues, his performance was not up to par with what one would expect from him. It may be enough for the LCS but it only having a Lee Sin won’t cut it for international play.
C9 already said they’d stick together, but once Riot absolved the Oceanic Pro League (OPL), they changed their minds. They let go of Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and promoted Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami from Academy. Apart from this change, C9 should keep this roster intact and go for another run. They had a near spotless Spring Split only to fall short in the summer — being one series away from Worlds. If we were forced to pick one role to replace or upgrade though, it’d have to be the mid-lane. Perhaps bringing in Cristian "Palafox" Palafox from Academy alongside Fudge could be the right fit as they’d have the synergy — C9 has proven they can cultivate young talent.
Can one just decide to blow up this roster and rebuild anew? Or would that be too far-fetched? This roster was clearly not cutting it, seeing how they landed themselves in the bottom three in the spring and dead last in the summer. Obviously, it’d be pretty unrealistic to drop every player on this team, but with the rumour of Immortals declining Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s second-year option, IMT should look for a solid jungler to fit with the pieces they want to keep and build around.
Counter Logic Gaming
Like Immortals, if we could blow this team up, we would. But, since we can’t, we can look at the pieces they currently have. CLG have a decent foundation to build off of with Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin in the jungle and add mid-laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park as the experienced glue to hold this team together. CLG should be looking to upgrade in the top and bottom positions. Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min’s performance was pretty lacklustre, and Andy “Smoothie” Ta left us with a sour taste in our mouths as we know what he is capable of. Although at the start of his carer, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes as the AD carry, was a strong performer, he seems to have fallen off as time’s gone on.
This team performed worse in the summer compared to the spring. Even though they have a former LCS MVP and former LCS Champion in Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, this team doesn’t seem to fit well with each other. Dignitas already has announced the re-signing of jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Harnett which is a volatile yet a decently solid player to build around. The roles we’d most look at upgrading is the mid lane and the top lane. Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun’s performance was subpar while Omran “V1per” Shoura’s Riven is pretty good, we just don’t see the rest of his champion pool stacking up versus the rest of the LCS. Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen is still young and can be helped to made flourish even more by keeping him alongside Aphromoo. If this team can get the solo lanes settled, it could be a good middle of the pack team.
- Read More - North America's Performance At Worlds
Prior to Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg retiring and moving to head coach we’d say to just get rid of some pieces and try to build around the North American great once again, but now that he’s retired and moved on to head coach that changes things. TSM should keep Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik, as even though he’s had some lows if he can find the consistency he needs, he could become one of the better top laners in the LCS. TSM should also keep Mingy “Spica” Lu — it’s a no-brainer. The best performing TSM player at Worlds and a vital part to their historic playoffs run, it’d be an erroneous decision to cut him.
That leaves us is the bottom lane and of course, the void that Bjergsen left. In the bottom lane, we know what both Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang are capable. Doublelift is one of the NA greats alongside Bjergsen, but this past year, he didn’t show that. The ball would be on TSM’s court if they want to keep him and hope he turns that poor performance around. As for Biofrost, this player was considered one of the better supports in the league not too long ago but had a solid drop off. The fact that he trades and has traded playtime with Erik “Treatz” Wessén is kind of concerning as you don’t want a revolving door of supports for your already established AD Carry.
The final remaining piece would obviously be the mid lane, the now vacant role would need to be filled by someone who would be able to handle the insane pressure that is being a mid laner for TSM. Not only that, they’d be the player who comes in to fill in Bjergsen’s shoes — although that’d be close to impossible — people will always compare that player to Bjergsen as he was such a huge figure in both TSM and the league.
100T has a terrific top and jungle duo they can build with, in Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Juan “Contractz” Garcia. That leaves us concerned is the mid lane and to some extent, their bottom lane. If Tommy “Ryoma” Le can’t get his Syndra or his Galio, he can’t seem to perform as well as 100T wanted him to once they brought him over from the OPL. When it comes to their bottom lane, it is known that Cody “Cody Sun” Sun can perform with the best of them and has. But it seems like his pairing with Phillippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere isn’t working; 100T should look into that.
With the rumour of EG hiring ex-Mad Lions coaching staff head, Peter Dun, as their head coach and wanting to build a roster that revolves around Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, that’s already a terrific start. Svenskeren is one of better junglers in the league, as shown by his MVP trophy that he won last year. Add the fact that they are also rumoured to keep Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who needs no further explanation — this would be a great fit. If there was a position to replace, it’d be their bottom lane. Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam didn’t gel well together. EG also could and should keep Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer as he’s a strong mid laner that doesn’t take up an import slot if EG wanted to go that route with their bottom lane.
Yet another strong middle of the pack team like EG, this team should, of course, keep their bottom lane. The pairing of special talent in Ian “FBI” Huang with a veteran of the game Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun was an unexpected no-brainer. By the end of the regular season and come playoffs, they were the consensus best bottom lane in the league, and it showed. They had great performance after great performance, and it’s going to be exciting to see them keep it going. Now for the rest of the team, GG should keep Tanner Time in Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, as like Goldenglue, he’s a solid NA resident mid-laner that allows you to go for imports. They could also keep Can “Closer” Çelik as he’s performed solidly for them — it’d be understandable if they tried to upgrade though.
The only gripe we have with this roster is the top lane. Although he strong player himself, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has performed better in the past but can’t seem to get back up to speed with the current good NA top laners in Licorice, Ssumday and Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong.
FLY, honestly had an amazing year. Getting second in bot the spring and summer finals is a feat within itself — they were one game away from tasting glory as they couldn’t quite finish the reverse sweep. Throughout the whole year, they performed exceptionally and seemed to just have it all well put together. Their performance at this year’s Worlds was pretty good all things considered — it was their first Worlds as an organisation. But, the one thing or one player that everyone can point at is their top lane. Although an NA staple, an sometimes pop off performer, Colin “Solo” Earnest will not cut it in international play. At Worlds, he had a constant target on his back, and that allowed for FLY’s opponents to exploit him and start an advantage through that.
This team should look to keep everyone but upgrade in that role. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage is a monster in the mid lane, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen is in the top two for junglers, maybe even the best and their bottom lane has levelled up substantially.
Images via Riot Games