The North American League Championship had some notable changes occur. With Cloud 9 replacing mid-laner Hai, as well as TSM coming off a poor performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, no one is really sure where the region stands. As always, teams have something to prove, something to redeem, and all of them have the World Championship in their sight.
Every year, professional League of Legends enters a season. Currently on Season 5, each one is organized into two splits, a spring and a summer split. Each lasts nine weeks, and while the first split – the spring – is important, it is the summer split that really matters since it determines who goes to the World Championship. At the end of each split are the playoffs, taking place over three weeks and consisting of quarter finals, semi-finals, and then finals. Each match is a best of five. There are 3 finalists. The season ends with the World Championship which takes the top 3 from each region and pits them against each other. Winners have their name engraved on the Summoners Cup.
Along with playoffs, there are also relegation matches. These target the bottom two teams of the split and force them to play the top teams of the League Challenger Series, which is essentially an amateur league. If the challenger team wins, they take the old teams spot in the LCS. Since the change to 10 teams in the league, the #1 challenger team automatically enters the LCS, while the 2nd and 3rd place teams compete against the two lowest teams.
The game itself is a 5v5 setup, consisting of a blue and red side. Each person has a very specific role and place they belong on the map. There is the top laner, the mid laner, the jungler, the attack damage carry (abbreviated as “adc”), and the support (or the “supp”). The top laner goes to the top lane and the mid laner to the mid lane. The adc and support traditionally go to the bottom lane together, while the jungler fights neutral monsters in a place called the jungle between lanes. The jungler usually focuses on vision control and ganking a lane, which means they leave the jungle and attempt to help their laner kill their opponent.
There are also several regions all around the world, all of them having their own regular season. The big ones are the North American League Championship (NA LCS), the European League Championship (EU LCS), League Championship Korea (LCK), the Chinese LoL Pro League (LPL), and the Southeast Asian Garena Premier League (GPL). Then there are smaller regions – including Brazil, Turkey and Australasia’s OCL, which usually compete for the wildcard spot at Worlds.
The game is currently in the summer split. With the basic understanding of how professional League of Legends is set up, let’s dive into the first week of the NA LCS and see where each team stands for this year’s summer split!
Team Liquid: 2-0
Finishing 3rd place last split, Team Liquid rose from the ashes of Team Curse, and had a shaky start. Piglet, one time World Champion and ex-adc for SK Telecom T1 K, was benched for many of the first weeks. However, this time he was determined to show he was still a top adc not only in North America, but the whole world. Taking down Team 8 and TeamDragonKnights, Liquid has their sights set on playoffs, and Piglet has his sights set on the World Stage.
Counter Logic Gaming: 2-0
Perhaps the oldest team in all of League of Legends, CLG has had the best of times, and the worst of times. Mostly the latter. Coming off of a disappointing slump at the end of last split, as well as replacing mid laner Link with Pobelter, CLGs drive comes from their desire to redeem themselves and end the trash talk. They are notorious for giving fans “false hope” by doing extremely well early on, but choking and dropping important games. Beating Team Impulse and Dignitas, CLG is coming into the split so that they can show they’re a top team in North America and finally enter their golden age.
Cloud 9: 1-1
Not only do Cloud 9 and its members hold multiple seasonal records, but they are widely considered one of the top teams in North America and the world, showing up and performing well internationally. Perhaps one of their most impressive feats is holding the record for longest time a roster has been together, staying unchanged for roughly two years. But this split, mid laner Hai stepped down from the team to take a managerial position. His replacement was the unchallenged and solo queue legend Incarnati0n from Europe. Defeating longtime rivals Team SoloMid, they lost against Dignitas to have them start 1-1 for the split. They’re confident in their chances at Worlds; with jungler Meteos saying they may have a rough start to the split but could pull out at the end.
Team SoloMid: 1-1
Multiple split champions, crowd and home favorite, and one of the oldest teams along with CLG, Team SoloMid has once again started their split with a win and loss. Losing to Cloud 9 and beating Enemy eSports, TSM is coming off of a dismal showing from the Mid-Season Invitational. Being knocked out in group stages in the tournament, many speculate that they are on edge, making mistakes, and on a decline as region champions. However, loyal fans and TSM management are confident that they will bounce back, make playoffs, and get to Worlds where they will try to make up for the Invitational and set their sights on the Summoners Cup.
Enemy eSports: 1-1
Coming into the summer split from first place in the Challenger Series, Enemy eSports has performed better than many people speculated. After beating Team Gravity, they played a hard fought game against Team SoloMid. A previously untested team, they will have to play through veterans and newcomers alike, trying to find where they fit in all of it. If they continue to play like they did against Team SoloMid, then Enemy eSports will start to rack up wins.
Team Dignitas: 1-1
Many people would agree that Dignitas has slipped since the departure of charismatic veterans Scarra, Imaqtpie, and Crumbzz. Going through multiple roster changes to replace these players, they were ultimately forced into relegations last split. However, this wasn’t the end for Team Dignitas who managed to crush their enemy and remain in the LCS. Despite losing to Counter Logic Gaming the first day, they pulled out a convincing win against Cloud 9. The last thing Dignitas wants is to be forced back into relegations and they will be fighting tooth and nail to remain in the LCS.
Team Impulse: 1-1
CLG adc Doublelift described Impulse as a “wildcard” and a team “that can take a game off of anyone.” Previously known as LMQ – an all Chinese team that came to compete in North America – they have consistently been one of the most unpredictable teams. They defeated Team 8 before losing to Counter Logic Gaming. As always, Impulse and their mid laner XiaoWeiXiao will have to be respected and taken seriously, or they really will start to take games off of every team they run across.
Gravity Gaming: 1-1
Previously known as Team Curse Academy, Gravity’s largest roster change for this split was the retirement of veteran Saintvicious and addition of ex-Liquid adc Cop as coach. After finishing 5th place last split – not a terrible placement but not great – Santvicious decided the team was on its feet and would be able to perform without him. As one of the many teams starting 1-1 this split, Gravity is looking to place better than fifth, but not being fourth would be nice too.
Team Dragon Knights: 0-2
They haven’t had the best start to their League Championship career. Failing to officially declare their substitutes on time, they lost all of their champion bans as penalty, making the start of the Summer Split considerably more difficult. Even though this penalty was in place and even though they didn’t win any games their first two days, Team Dragon Knights didn’t let that deter them. Both games were hard fought and perhaps if everything was as it should be then their score would be different. They’re a team to keep track of.
Team 8: 0-2
Along with Enemy eSports and TeamDragonKnights, Team 8 is one of the new kids on the block, itching to prove that they belong in the highly competitive LCS. Having ex-Gambit Gaming mid laner Alex Ich as a sub player for qualifications, it’s no surprise that they made it. However, after losing to both Team Impulse and Team Liquid, they’re on some shaky ground. With the addition of a new coach, Team 8 may not be looking towards the World Championship, but towards securing a comfortable spot in the League.
With the addition of new players, coaching staff, and an increasingly competitive environment, the North American Summer Split is looking to be explosive. Will Inacarnati0n synergize with Cloud 9, becoming comfortable on the stage and dominating? Will Team SoloMid make playoffs and prove themselves at Worlds? And what about Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming? Neither will want to settle for 3rd, but to make top two they’ll have TSM and C9 in their way. Everyone has questions about where the teams are going and who will be the top 3 to secure the coveted League of Legends World Championship spots.