Let's give it a runback for all the teams, no changes - a new split.
As free agency begins this weekend, with some players becoming free agents tonight and others in the following days — giving the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) teams a chance to change up their roster. One begins to think: what would happen if LCS teams decided to make no roster changes? What if there was no free agency period? Or maybe even, what if there was just a mysterious third split or a repeat of the spring or summer splits?
In this article, we’ll be speculating on how a runback of the LCS teams with their same rosters would fare in a new split. Going into details of how the regular season would go, seeding playoffs, and even crowning an eventual LCS champion. Assume that all rosters remained the same for some reason and that Team Liquid, FlyQuest, and Team SoloMid come back from Worlds looking to utilise their experience.
All of these speculations will be based upon the LCS’ teams performances in both the spring and the summer split — including playoffs. The summer split will be weighed more heavily, as it was the last time all LCS teams got to play, and it was the most recent split. World Championship performances will also be taken into account.
We don’t see a staggering change in the regular season standings going into playoffs, apart from a few teams that would be on the cusp of barely not being in the upper echelon of the standings. Due to this, our regular season standings will be closely similar to the summer split’s, apart from a few changes in the in-between of the top two to three teams.
It is safe to assume that the bottom two to three teams would be Dignitas, Immortals, and Counter Logic Gaming — rearrange the order however you’d like — as all three of these teams finished towards the bottom of both of the splits regular-season standings. Of course, one cannot forget Team Liquid’s horrible outlier of a ninth-place finish in the spring, but that was quickly rectified with their first-place finish in the summer.
With the bottom three teams decided, that puts us at the middle of the pack teams, the fourth through seventh teams, with fourth, fifth, and sixth being the most contested. The most likely contenders for these spots would be Team SoloMid, Golden Guardians, Evil Geniuses, and 100 Thieves. In the summer split, 100 Thieves finished seventh going into playoffs, but you could notice a bit of an upswing. The thieves’ Juan “Contractz” Garcia seemed to finally start finding his groove alongside the rest of his squad. But even with that increased pep in their step, we’d still keep them at that same spot in the standings as we believe that the other teams above them have several things that keep them ahead.
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This now puts us at figuring out who’d finish at sixth place. Although Evil Geniuses had a strong performance in a contested best of five series versus FlyQuest — LCS finals runners-up, twice — in the first round of the playoffs in the summer split, we’d still think they’d finish in sixth place going into playoffs. The fifth spot will also remain unchanged; if you look at the regular season standings for the summer split the disparity between fourth and fifth was a pretty big difference — a three-game difference to be more precise. Golden Guardians would take this fifth spot. They managed to surprise Team SoloMid in the first round of the playoffs with a sweep but got swept themselves in the second round by Team Liquid, later getting reverse swept by Team SoloMid in the lower bracket. Golden Guardians bottom lane is consisting of Ian “FBI” Huang Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun is promising and would do their best to carry
This leads us to the fourth spot; this is where things get dicey. For a bit of context, throughout the whole summer split, both Cloud9 and Team SoloMid seemed to have struggled to find an identity. Although Cloud9 started the split with nine consecutive wins only to have the win streak snapped by 100 Thieves at the start of the second round robin. They later lost the essence that made them so good in the spring. When it comes to Team SoloMid, they were just not really set in stone until the end of the season. Both of these teams performances set them on a possible collision course in a history-filled tiebreaker for the last playoff bye.
Towards the end of the split, Team SoloMid were red hot with one of the biggest win streaks in all of the LCS. Having topped the standings in Week 8, they were going into Week 9 with just having to defeat Team Liquid to force a tiebreaker with Cloud9 for the final playoff bye. Team Liquid having secured a bye for themselves after achieving the most winningest split in the organisation’s history didn’t care and snatched it from right under their feet. A late-season surge of power by FlyQuest and a fall from grace, landed Team SoloMid in fourth place — FlyQuest finished third, Cloud9 finished second, and Team Liquid finished first.
With all of that out of the way, we still see Team SoloMid once again finishing at fourth place. Although they made Worlds this year, they didn’t win a single match. Team SoloMid would do more than fine domestically as they had one of the best playoffs runs in LCS history which got them the first seed going into Worlds. You can also add the scrim and on-stage experience they gained from Worlds. Cloud9 has better individual players outside of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and better team coordination. Cloud9 will eventually find their groove once again.
Now for the third and second place, this would be the only swap we’d have from the summer split. FlyQuest finished in third place while Cloud9 finished in second. For this imaginary third split, we’d have Cloud9 finish in third and FlyQuest finish in second. FlyQuest towards the end of the summer split were quietly surging giving themselves a five-game winning streak, add their decent 3-3 performance at the Worlds group stage — defeating what were one of the tournament favourites at the time in Top Esports once — we’d have a really hard time seeing them below the top two in this imaginary split.
This would, of course, put Team Liquid at first place. The best performing NA team at Worlds this year, one of the best teams that NA has ever sent out internationally would have no issues finishing at the top once again — especially after having its most winningest splits in the organisation’s history.
With the regular standings decided, we can now begin playoffs for the imaginary runback split. The first week of playoffs would have match one would consisting of Cloud9 versus Evil Geniuses in which we’d see Cloud9 handly take EG down with a 3-1 series win. Match two would be a rematch of round one of the summer split between Team SoloMid and Golden Guardians but this time around Team SoloMid wouldn’t get themselves swept, getting a 3-1 victory over Golden Guardians. This sets up the loser’s bracket matchups; match three would be Dignitas versus Golden Guardians where we would see Golden Guardians taking a sweep versus Dignitas. With match four having 100 Thieves versus Evil Geniuses, Evil Geniuses would take this 3-2.
The second week of playoffs would begin with Team Liquid choosing Team SoloMid as their opponent — as they had the number one seed. They’d elect Team SoloMid as they feel like they have a good feel for them and have good measures to counter their style. This would be a 3-1 defeat over Team SoloMid. For the second match of the week, it’d be FlyQuest versus Cloud9, as Cloud9 would be the remaining opponent due to Team Liquid choosing Team SoloMid. FlyQuest would easily take this 3-1 as by this point even though Cloud9 finished in third place, the discombobulation and slow to get up that they’d be experiencing all split long would put them at a disadvantage. This sets up yet another Team SoloMid versus Golden Guardians rematch in the lower bracket where once again Team SoloMid would win over. Cloud9 would take their match as well versus Evil Geniuses in a similar fashion, but Evil Geniuses would put up a good fight. This puts into fruition another match for the history books between Team SoloMid and Cloud9.
Then there’s the third week of playoffs where only four teams remain, a series between Team Liquid and FlyQuest for the first finals spot and a series between Team SoloMid and Cloud9 to keep their playoff lives intact. Unlike the summer split playoffs, we’d see Team Liquid taking the close 3-2 victory instead of FlyQuest as their performance at Worlds helped them level up quite a bit. Team SoloMid versus Cloud9 would yet again be a 3-1 victory for Team SoloMid — like last split — as even though they severely underperformed at Worlds, that experience proves valuable.
The fourth and final week has Team Liquid awaiting in the finals and Team SoloMid facing FlyQuest in the lower bracket — a repeat of the summer split finals. This time around, FlyQuest would rectify that near reverse sweep and take a 3-1 victory over Team SoloMid. The experienced they gained at Worlds and the momentum they had in the summer would be too much for Team SoloMid. Team SoloMid would not have another historic run, not in FlyQuest’s watch.
With FlyQuest winning the lower bracket match this puts them in the finals for a third split in a row, once again they’d fall short. FlyQuest would give a bigger pushback this time around compared to the first time they met in third week, but it’d once again be a 3-2 victory — crowning Team Liquid the LCS champions for this fake runback split.
Images via Riot Games