NA LCS Summer Preview Part 3, The Elite

Yesterday (Part 2) can be found here, I’m happy to finally be able to let happiness into one of these previews. There’s no need to define what ‘elite’ is, you know it when you see it. They’ll be in order from what I perceive to the lowest placed team to the highest, so fourth to first.

4. Team Solomid: Reginald, We Have A Jungle Problem

On June 14th Team Solomid announced this,

Honestly I have no confidence in Grig’s ability to play at an LCS level. Having said that I do think this is an important move if TSM want’s to keep their roster together. My personal theory is that Grig has been promoted in order to test MikeYeung and get him to compete for a starting spot that should clearly be his. While MikeYeung does not have a lot of LCS level experience he is still one of the most talented junglers in NA. I believe he could be the missing link for this team and if he’s able to get his act together this could be the best TSM team ever assembled.

Going into the Spring Split there was an argument that on-paper this was the best TSM team. Reginald had undoubtedly won the off-season. There was a very short list of players that TSM could have brought in that would be equal to Doublelift and Reginald instead brought the best botlane in the EULCS over to TSM. It should be simple for them (and Bjergsen) to adapt to the new Meta and I don’t see them stumbling. It will be difficult for them to deal with some of the more outlandish drafts that some teams create when this kind of tectonic shift happens. TSM do take their preparation seriously so here’s hoping their analysts have prepared the team for the curve balls that will come out for the next couple of weeks.

This incarnation of TSM should be able to snag a decent playoff seed at a bare minimum. I’m not confidant that they can win at the NA LCS Summer Playoffs but this team should be able to win NA Regionals after playoffs are over. I want to see this team at worlds, they have far too much talent to stay at home.

3. 100 Thieves, How High Can We Fly Before Our Wings Melt?

100 Thieves rose to the occasion during the Spring Split. This is a team that never lost twice to any other NA LCS team. No one expected 100 Thieves to be performing so well, so quickly. I think some credit is in order for their management for creating a roster that only has 1 player with less than six years experience playing at a professional level. Pairing Cody Sun (their least experienced player) with aphromoo covers that weakness as well. The masterstroke for 100 Thieves (at least to me) has to be signing Pr0lly as the coach.

Despite their loss in the Spring Split final I don’t think that loss is entirely on them. I don’t know if any team in NA could have beaten Team Liquid in that final, Doublelift was still on fire and the rest of his team (especially Pobelter) showed up to play that day. Now 100 Thieves deserve a lot of credit for beating Clutch Gaming in the semifinals 3-2. Clutch Gaming are inferior competition but that best-of series was 100 Thieves first best-of series (of any consequence, scrims don’t count) ever. I think 100 Thieves are capable of another great regular split and I expect them to win their first playoff series again. I don’t like their chances in the Summer Split final (if they make it there) but I could see this team making waves in the NA regional after the playoffs are over.

2. Echo Fox, Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Memes

Echo Fox have got to be the ultimate momentum based team in NA LCS. If both Huni and Dardoch can get fully engaged in a game, Echo Fox can easily roll to a victory. When Dardoch or Huni get held back (or start feeding) Echo Fox tends to lose games pretty hard. This is best exemplified by their series against Team Liquid in the semifinal during the Spring Playoffs. In Echo Fox only win Dardoch had a great performance on Skarner. The issue with both Huni and Dardoch is that they rarely show consistency in a best-of series. On top of that problem Echo Fox don’t really have someone else on this roster to pick up the slack when Huni and Dardoch are having bad games.

I realize that Altec did have a good Game 2 on Caitlyn but his performance in he other four games is what reaffirms my beliefs about him. Altec is a veteran player but he’s never been anything more than an above average AD Carry. Game 2 against Team Liquid is probably his ceiling for any given game. Given the fact that Adrian is less experienced and at his best Adrian is slightly above average; Echo Fox have a very pronounced weakness in the botlane. Some of that is only because Huni and Dardoch can shine so bright but the majority of that weakness comes from Altec & Adrian.

The meta is a bit wonky right now and Echo Fox should be able to play that in their favor. It should only take a few weeks for the Meta to settle down (or stay in it’s completely bonkers current state) and after that Echo Fox can get back to business. Echo Fox may be a very one dimensional team but when that strategy works they are capable of taking a game from any team in NA LCS. I expect this team to make both the Summer Split Playoffs and NA Regionals, what happens once those events start is anyone’s guess.

1. Team Liquid, Once And Future Kings

Did you watch the Spring Playoffs? Did you see any of Doublelift’s games where he didn’t die? Team Liquid didn’t just win the NA LCS Spring Split, they crushed every single team. Through three different playoff series Team Liquid only lost one game. During the off-season when everyone else was looking at expensive imports or prospects Team Liquid went out and found three players that had already won championships and added Impact (still a former world champion) and Olleh. The Spring final finally revealed the truth to the rest of the NA LCS teams, while the regular season is not their forte, Team Liquid has no equals in a best-of-five series. Nothing any team has done during the break between splits has changed that.

Team Liquid did not have a good time at the Mid-Season Invitational but theu did manage to grow as a team. Team Liquid looked like a train wreck during their first few games at MSI and this team deserves credit for getting it together. They didn’t manage to get out of the group stage but it’s a small miracle they forced a tiebreaker at all. Team Liquid’s biggest issue did emerge from MSI though, Olleh had a number of terrible games at MSI. Team Liquid even had Joey start a game before coaxing Olleh back to his starting position. The support position is probably the only thing holding Team Liquid back from a sure victory in the Summer Playoffs. Team Liquid need to work with Olleh, he needs to overcome his confidence issues and the team needs to draft in a way that sets him up for victory.

Speaking of drafting I belive that Team Liquid are in a unique position to take advantage of the current Meta. Unlike most other LCS teams, Liquid have two carries that can always be relied upon in Doublelift and Impact. Pobelter can be trusted to hold his lane and on occasion he too can play a carry champion. Xmithie can easy play whatever his team needs. If Team Liquid really wanted to they could treat Doublelift and Impact as carries in the sense of DOTA 2. This meta encourages unorthodox drafting and Team Liquid has a number of extremely talented and experienced players. I fully expect this team not to finish at the top of the Regular Season standings but at the end of the Summer Playoffs I look forward to seeing Team Liquid hoist their second straight NA LCS trophy.

That’s all for my NA LCS Summer preview, from this point on I’ll be updating sporadically on the NA LCS and hopefully the LPL, LCK and maybe the EU LCS. The NA LCS begins on May 16th at 5pm Eastern Time.

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