#1: Team SoloMid
Throughout the spring split, Team SoloMid displayed nothing but hesitation and sloppy mid to late game play. They lacked aggression whenever they failed to grab a big early game lead, which lead to many stalled out victories, and losses, against weak and strong teams alike. With the start of the new season, TSM looks like the team people had expected last split, with veteran support player Yellowstar. Even in their losses, TSM looked poised, dominating the early game with Svenskeren’s jungle pressure on high mobility champions, and Bjergsen’s willingness to aid his invades whenever he pushes against the enemy mid laner. If there is a support like Zilean behind Svenskeren, then he is ready and able to bully the enemy out of his own jungle, and take buffs for himself. Bjergsen seems to bully enemies on every type of champion, whether it is Ryze, Azir, Viktor or even Zilean. Hauntzer has also been outstanding, playing with leads, disadvantages, tanks, or carries. It seems that his champion pool has no end. Doublelift applies the perfect aggression needed, and Biofrost seems to gel as if he was playing with the team for years. They have the mechanical play, strategical prowess, a literal endless champion pool, and comfort on stage to look unstoppable and maintain the number one seed in North America. This version of TSM seems to be the team to give the run North American fans have been waiting for at this year’s World Championships.
Team SoloMid’s Weakness
If I had to choose a weakness on TSM , It would definitely be the willingness of Bjergsen playing Zilean. More times than not, teams have ignored Zilean, and leaving it up to Bjergsen, which has proven countless amounts of times to be a mistake. During the early game, Bjergsen is enabling Svenskeren to run wild in the enemy jungle with speed-ups, bombs, and revives. With this in mind, it has shown that there is more outplay potential presented, when Bjergsen is not on Zilean, and Svenskeren goes for aggressive plays in the jungle. If Zilean begins to become banned more often, we may see more holes in TSM’s play than we first perceived.
#2: G2 Esports
Despite the Mid – Season Invitational mishap, G2 looked as practiced as ever. They seem to be confident in winning it all, and making a great showing at the World Championship. The reason I am putting them second, is due to Perkz’s performance and champion pool. Unlike most other mid laners, Perkz is willing to play Fizz in the mid lane. Assassins have been seeing less play since season three, and it is definitely a plus for Perkz to pick them up again, amongst all of the control and support mages picked throughout the years. Just like Bjergsen, Perkz can play any type of midlaner; however, Bjergsen has not felt the need to pressure counter pick the enemy mid laner with an assassin type champion. Mithy and Zven are the most proven bot laners in the LCS, and it is obviously showing throughout the weeks. Zven has been a beast on High mechanical marksman such as Ezreal, reveal no signs in slowing down. Trick is the same rookie MVP this split, aggressive early ganking junglers like Elise and Kindred, while giving the necessary pressure for G2 to pull out victories. This team shows no signs of slowing down, and I do believe they will be a prominent force going into International play.
G2 Esports’ Weakness
G2 appears to have no weakness currently within the EU LCS. However, against tougher competition if they do have a weakness to be exploited, it’s similar to what happened to Immortals in the NA LCS Spring Split Playoffs, their over aggression limits their play style. Also, G2 maybe coming into these next few weeks at their most inconsistent point, with the recently replaced Kikis. If there were holes in their game play, it would be revealed within the next two weeks.
This was a tricky placement for me due to the next teams coming up in the rankings. However, the two teams that have played and been with Huni and Reignover the most, are the Fanatic and Immortals organizations respectively. Fnatic got Yellowstar back, a seasoned player in Rekkles, Spirit and Febiven. With their roster, Fnatic have been finding their footing and seem to play with more comfort in every game. Gamsu has a very unique champion pool compared to the top teams in North America, which will be interesting to see, if they were to make it through to the world stage and play teams such as Team SoloMid. Rekkles has been consistent, and has played his role out perfectly as well. Fnatic look like a team to step up internationally on the right day; however, there does seem to be some holes to review.
Fnatic has many strengths and veterans coming into the split; however, there is a strange weakness in the jungle. Besides Nidalee, Spirit has shown average results on champions like Kha’Zix and Lee Sin. These two champions are high impact early-mid game threats, who fall off later in the game, if they do not secure a lead for themselves. The reasoning as to why they are not prioritized in the NA LCS, is that teams are adept in handling low defensive, melee type champions. Professionals have speculated that the EU LCS may be weaker this year in overall competition, which may speak volumes on why Spirit is able to get away with playing these type of champions so often.
Among the top five western teams, I do have to put Immortals in the top four. As a team they have only became more aggressive between the spring and summer splits, and have came back from bigger deficits. Immortals live up to their name. They are resilient, and they seem to play consistently well throughout the whole game, no matter what situation they are in. Huni will go 0-5, and play as if he just solo killed you multiple times. Huni as a player wants to decide the game for himself. He wants to make a highlight reel every-time he plays the game, which results in some spectacular outplays. Out of my list, the other four members have developed well and matured throughout last season. Pobelter is incredibly proficient on Viktor, and other control mages. Reignover himself has revealed his seemingly favorite jungler, Olaf, in his recent play in the NA LCS. His aggression when he hits level 6 still catches teams off guard, and creates massive pressure with speed ups and crowd control from his teammates. Adrian received a ton of flak for his champion pool last split; however, it has only become more meta, as teams around the world have picked up Soraka, Janna, and Karma, in the support role, as ranged supports. Wildturtle is still the same reliant turtle he as always been, providing the damage needed, and always being there to make the play.
Against weaker teams, Immortals can literally let Huni do what he wants and they will probably win. However, against competent teams, he has become a clear liability in many cases throughout the spring and summer splits. Immortals weakness is their strength. They have not shown signs of playing any differently when it comes to Huni’s choice of champions. This may come into question once again, as teams head into playoffs. LCS teams have always played on a different level when the season closes, so IMT will need to foresee, and solidify other strategies, before they suffer the same fate as last season. The reason I put them below Fnatic specifically is for this reason: Yellowstar, Febiven, and Rekkles are very familiar with how Huni and Reingover’s play-style. This could be a case of stylistic matchup, where Fnatic holds the advantage.
This was a difficult decision; however, I do believe C9 has recently shown a new level of play, when they sub in Smoothie, instead of having Bunnyfufu. With Smoothie, they seem to make clear cut calls, including aggressive early game calls, and decisive team fights. Their most recent example, is their very impressive, twenty-five minute win against Team SoloMid in game two. Meteos has stepped back onstage, and he still has the tempo and mechanics on par with the best junglers within the LCS. Impact has actually grown quite a bit since his time on NRG, and has surpassed my expectations of his blending in with the rest of the team. Sneaky is still the consistent player he has always been. He has favored playing supportive ad carries such as Ashe and Sivir ever since season three. Jensen has been the most standout player in my eyes throughout the league. He has come a long way and has developed into a well versed, carry oriented player. Throughout the three weeks, he is the only mid laner to stand on an equal footing against Bjergsen, pressure wise. He has finally reached the point where he could contend with the best in North America, and make an impact on the international stage this time around. With the help of Reapered, C9 look like a team that finally has longevity, and not a team winning on a whim with the constant help with Hai.
Despite his time with the team, It has seems that Bunnyfufu has had a harder time adapting with the team in recent matches than Smoothie has. At first, it seemed to be just a coincidence; however, with Smoothie, Cloud9 look a lot more cohesive when making aggressive plays. Recently, Team SoloMid has exposed Bunny’s lack of proficiency on peeling with Bard, and other problems with shot-calling. The switching of supports may have to end soon, as it may start hindering Cloud9 in the long run. Due to performance during the spring split, Cloud9 does not have the luxury of relaxing. They must solidify a roster, and make a top tier run for the end of the split.
- Honorable Mention: Team EnVyUs
Written by Nduka Bandicoot
Edited by Williaf
Featured Image provided by Riot Games’ Flickr Page
NA LCS and EU LCS team pictures provided by Esportspedia
Video provided by KazaGamez’s YouTube Channel
Highlights made with Vibby