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NA LCS Power Rankings and Match-up Analysis

NA LCS Power Rankings and Match-up Analysis:

 

Last week I talked about the LCS system, and I promised that I would share my personal power rankings of the 10 competing teams. But before that a short primer, these views are entirely my own, based entirely on game analysis and off-season performance based on streams and publicly viewable statistics with a hint of foresight into how I think a player will grow during a season. Starting off the power rankings with the #1 team from last season:

Team SoloMid (TSM):

Team SoloMid
Team SoloMid comes in with a strong roster.

Team SoloMid had a superior roster and a strong infastructure to support the team. Partially credited to the influence of the Weldon effect, a term coined during the NA 2016 spring which saw teams performing better after having sports psychologist Weldon Green take part in the teams practice and post-game discussions. While TSM had a rough spring split, they still finished 2nd out of the 10 teams. Between seasons, they only had one player change as Bora “Yellowstar” Kim left the team to go back to Europe and rejoin his old team. The replacement was a rookie who wasn’t on anyones radar when discussing possible replacement supports, Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. TSM’s Summer performance was widely accredited to the improved play from every single one of their players, which was mostly showcased through better synergy between all of the players.

However, going into the 2017, TSM lost their star player, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, who stepped down from the active roster to pursue streaming the game on Twitch.tv instead. TSM showed their replacement ADC at IEM Oakland, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, who used to play for the team in 2015. “WildTurtle” had a decent showing in 2016 while playing for the Immortals team, however, he wasn’t the best performing ADC in the top 5 teams. We will have to wait and see how the new bottom lane works out in terms of synergy and if TSM will be able to perform at the same level as they did in the Summer 2016 split. TSM has quite a few strengths, one of them is their organizations staff, player care and their talented roster. It remains to be seen if their bottom lane is another strength or a weak link in a strong fence.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell:

“Hauntzer” exceeded my expectations during the 2016 season as I initially dismissed him from being a top-tier player in his role. The regular Spring season did little to change my mind, but during the latter half of the season along with the play-offs, his play kept getting better and better until he was outplaying a lot of his matchups. If you are interested in learning how to play in the top lane, “Hauntzer” is definitely a player to watch during games.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Flame” : Even, winner dependant on Jungler influence and Pick/Ban phase
  2. CLG “Darshan” : Same as vs. “Flame”
  3. C9 “Impact” : “Impact” has a slight advantage
  4. TL “Lourlo” : “Hauntzer” has the advantage
  5. FOX “Looper” : “Looper” should have the advantage, depends on how well FOX does
  6. DIG “Ssumday” : Same as the FOX matchup, will need to see how well DIG performs
  7. P1 “zig” : “Hauntzer” should have the advantage
  8. NV “Seraph” : If NV doesn’t improve, heavily in the favour of “Hauntzer”

 

JUN: Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen

“Svenskeren” was also a player off my radar during Spring 2016, but quickly experienced the same growth as his teammate “Hauntzer”. Having excellent synergy with their midlaner, “Svenskeren” knows when to push an advantage that a lane has, making him a top contender in the jungle role. His jungling is solid and consistent, only being bested by a few players in NA.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Dardoch” : If “Dardoch” regains his form, he has the advantage
  2. CLG “Xmithie” : Even
  3. C9 “Contractz” : “Svenskeren” has the advantage
  4. TL “Reignover” : “Reignover” has the advantage
  5. DIG “Chaser” : If DIG performs well, it is an even matchup
  6. P1 “Inori” : Slight advantage to “Inori”
  7. NV “lira” : “Svenskeren” has the advantage
  8. FOX “Akaadian” : “Svenskeren” has the advantage

*Other teams have not confirmed their Jungler signings, will update the matchups as they are revealed

 

MID: Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg

“Bjergsen” is the one remaining star player on TSM. Known for being the best midlaner in NA, he too shared the rough Spring split, but bounced back in Summer. Generally leading the midlane meta in NA, “Bjergsen” is used to having an advantage in the midlane, be it through good pressuring or superior creep control.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Pobelter” : Slight advantage to “Bjergsen”, Jungler can influence matchup
  2. CLG “Huhi” : “Bjergsen” has the advantage
  3. C9 “Jensen” : Slight advantage to “Bjergsen”
  4. TL “Goldenglue” : “Bjergsen” has the advantage
  5. DIG “Keane” : Slight advantage to “Bjergsen”, affected by DIG’s performance
  6. FOX “Froggen” : Slight advantage to “Bjergsen”, dependent on Pick/Ban phase
  7. P1 “Ryu” : Slight advantage to “Bjergsen”, Jungler influence is a factor again
  8. NV “Ninja” : “Bjergsen” has the advantage

 

ADC: Jason “WildTurtle” Tran

“WildTurtle” had a good regular season run that always ended in the first round of the playoffs and a quick loss at the Worlds Gauntlet. His performance was inconsistent, with some of his champion pool being questionable if he was able to play them on stage. I have no doubt that he will improve for the on-coming split, but “WildTurtle” has been around for quite a while so whether he will improve or not, remains to be seen.

 

  1. Immortals “Cody” : Slight advantage to “WildTurtle”, “Cody” may overcome it
  2. CLG “Stixxay” : Even, dependant on the Pick/Ban phase
  3. C9 “Sneaky” : Same as against Stixxay
  4. TL “Piglet” : “Piglet” has the advantage
  5. DIG “LOD” : Slight advantage to “WildTurtle”
  6. FOX “Keith” : Slight advantage to “Keith”
  7. P1 “Arrow” : “Arrow” has the advantage
  8. NV “Apollo” : “WildTurtle” has the advantage, may change a little

 

SUP: Vincent “Biofrost” Wang:

“Biofrost” was a rookie during the 2016 Summer Split during which he played with “Doublelift” who was a top ADC. Due to the change in his laning partner, it will remain to be seen how well he will perform in the 2017 season, but his off-season play has been good.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Olleh” : Even, dependant on ADC
  2. CLG “Aphromoo” : “Aphromoo” has the advantage
  3. C9 “Smoothie” : Same as vs. Immortals
  4. TL “Matt” : Dependant on ADC
  5. DIG “Xpecial” : Slight advantage to “Xpecial”
  6. P1 “Adrian” : Slight advantage to “Adrian”, champion pool issues can affect this
  7. NV “Hakuho” : “Biofrost” has the advantage
  8. FOX “Gate” : “Biofrost” has a slight advantage

 

Counter Logic Gaming (CLG):

The 2016 season for CLG was the inverse of TSM’s. Their performance in Spring was fantastic, but after coming back from a succesful run at the Mid-Season Invitational, their play slumped. They still qualified for the Worlds Championship as NA’s 2nd seed, but they didn’t manage to make it out of the Group Knockout stage. The team consists of some veteran players mixed in with newer players that had been sitting on the bench in 2015. The team shows strong synergy in their games and is well known for their impressive teamplay which can change up all of their bad matchups in an instant. On their own, they are talented, but as a group, they are one of the strongest teams.

While they have no obvious weaknesses, other than occasional inconsistency, but they have no obvious strengths either. They have good Pick/Ban phases with their coach, but it can also falter in the next game. The team however, shows consistency with their teamplay, allowing them to pull themselves out of a deficit in the middle of a game, forcing a comeback and achieving the reverse sweep from being down 1-0.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha

“Darshan” is a great solo laner, pulling attention to force junglers to the top side of the map. His individual skills are good, but he occasionally overestimates himself during a game, causing him to lose a 1v1 fight or over extend in his lane, resulting in him dying from a gank. If he has fixed these issues during the off-season, his rankings will definitely be going up.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Flame” : Dependant on “Flame”‘s performance in NA
  2. C9 “Impact” : “Impact” has a slight advantage
  3. TL “Lourlo” : “Darshan” has the advantage
  4. FOX “Looper” : “Looper” should have the advantage, depends on how well FOX does
  5. DIG “Ssumday” : “Ssumday” has the advantage
  6. P1 “zig” : “Darshan” should have the advantage
  7. NV “Seraph” : “Darshan” should have the advantage

 

JUN: Jake “Xmithie” Puchero:

“Xmithie” is a veteran of the NA LCS, having started his competetive career in 2012. His consistency is superior to many other junglers in the region. His pathing is one of the most efficient, making him a good person to follow if a viewer has an interest in playing in the Jungle role. With the changes in the jungle in Season 7, it will remain to be seen how efficiently “Xmithie” can carry from the depths of the Jungle.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Dardoch” : If “Dardoch” regains his form, he has the advantage
  2. C9 “Contractz” : “Xmithie” has the advantage
  3. TL “Reignover” : “Reignover” has the advantage
  4. DIG “Chaser” : If DIG performs well, it is an even matchup
  5. P1 “Inori” : “Inori” has the advantage
  6. NV “lira” : “Xmithie” has the advantage

 

MID: Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun:

“HuHi” was the replacement to the long time mid laner of CLG, “Pobelter”, but he quickly proved himself as the starter for the team. Along with “Bjergsen”, “HuHi” was the other midlaner to bring new champions to the midlane, namely Aurelion Sol. His performance is heavily dependant on the champion he gets in the Pick/Ban phase, which can cause problems for the team, but hopefully during the off-season he has gotten better with a higher variety of champions and that he has gotten better at decision making.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Pobelter” : Slight advantage to “Pobelter”
  2. C9 “Jensen” : “Jensen” has the advantage
  3. TL “Goldenglue” : “HuHi” has the advantage
  4. DIG “Keane” : Even
  5. FOX “Froggen” : “Froggen” has the advantage
  6. P1 “Ryu” : Slight advantage to “Ryu”
  7. NV “Ninja” : “HuHi” has the advantage

 

ADC:  Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes:

In 2016, “Stixxay” outperformed a lot of peoples expectations. On paper, he was a downgrade from “Doublelift”, but he managed to show everyone that he was a fit for the team. In Spring, he had a good international showing at MSI, leading him to be cheered in front of an international crowd. His play stagnated a little during the Summer season, with him having more losing matchups during the season. He seems to have regained his form during the off-season and should be on the higher end of the spectrum. Stixxay’s inherit strength is the strong teamplay and safe laning.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Cody” : “Stixxay” should have the advantage
  2. C9 “Sneaky” : “Sneaky” has a slight advantage
  3. TL “Piglet” : “Piglet” has the advantage
  4. DIG “LOD” : “Stixxay” has the advantage
  5. FOX “Keith” : Based on champion matchup
  6. P1 “Arrow” : “Arrow” has a slight advantage
  7. NV “Apollo” : “Stixxay” has a slight advantage

 

SUP: Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black:

Aphromoo is NA’s star support player, recognized as the best in his role in the region, while also receiving praise from other support players from around the world. He has a strong voice in game and has the mechanics to match any opponents. However, leading from the support role is often difficult in League and if CLG falls behind, Aphromoo can’t do much to change that by himself. He can lead a comeback against any team if given a chance.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. Immortals “Olleh” : “Aphromoo” has a slight advantage
  2. C9 “Smoothie” : “Aphromoo” has the advantage
  3. TL “Matt” : Same as above
  4. DIG “Xpecial” : “Aphromoo” has a slight advantage
  5. P1 “Adrian” : Same as above
  6. NV “Hakuho” : “Aphromoo” has the advantage
  7. FOX “Gate” : “Aphromoo” has the advantage

 

Immortals (IMT):

IMT stormed on to the scene at the start of the 2016 season, building a solid roster with a good native core and two strong imports. The expectations for the team were high, and they had an amazing regular season, only to fall in their first playoff game against TSM. The team stuck together between the seasons and seemed to be back on track in Summer, however, their playoff performance matched the previous one. Having only once chance left to redeem themselves, IMT fell short of a spot at the Worlds Championship, even though they were given a good chance to clear the gauntlet. During the off-season, the roster changed drastically and the IMT powerhouse doesn’t seem as strong as it did.

IMT was perceived to have a strong jungler and top lane with their two previous exports, and their new additions seem to cover those just as well. Replacing the #1 jungler with the #2 jungler in the region isn’t that much of a downgrade and bringing in a different Korean top laner who is known for knockout performances, IMT can still reclaim their amazing regular season statistics.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Lee “Flame” Ho-jong:

“Flame” has a reputation when it comes to the top lane, a situation known as the “Flame Horizon”. This term was coined when “Flame” would frequently get ahead against his lane opponent, usually by massively surprassing their CS and a thousands of gold. “Flame” is definitely someone to keep an eye on during the season, and his first few games for the Immortals at IEM were only a positive indicator on how he will perform.

 

Quick Matchup:

  1. C9 “Impact” : “Impact” has a slight advantage
  2. TL “Lourlo” : “Flame” has the advantage
  3. FOX “Looper” : Even, dependant on team synergy
  4. DIG “Ssumday” : “Flame” has a slight advantage if DIG isn’t on the same track
  5. P1 “zig” : “Flame” has a slight advantage
  6. NV “Seraph” : “Flame” has a slight advantage

 

JUN: Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett:

“Dardoch” was a polarizing figure in 2016. He was perceived as the strongest NA based Jungler even though it was his first year playing in the LCS. Known for his aggressive, carry-oriented style, Dardoch would often make or break the games when he played for Team Liquid. What remains to be seen is that if his team synergy will be better than it was on Liquid and that he has been able to put behind the bad experiences he had on his previous team. If “Dardoch” regains his early 2016 form, he will certainly make IMT a fearsome team.

 

Quick Matchup:

  1. C9 “Contractz” : “Dardoch” has the advantage
  2. TL “Reignover” : “Reignover” has a slight advantage
  3. DIG “Chaser” : “Dardoch” has a slight advantage
  4. P1 “Inori” : “Inori” has a slight advantage
  5. NV “lira” : “Dardoch” has the advantage
  6. FOX “Akaadian” : “Dardoch” has the advantage

 

MID: Eugene “Pobelter” Park:

“Pobelter” was the only North American mid-player to reach the play-offs in the LCS in the 2016 season. “Pobelter” is one of the most consistent mid laners in NA, never outperforming his usual performances, but he doesn’t underperform either. “Pobelter” doesn’t usually carry games unless given the resources, but he will also make sure the mid lane stays at an even pace. There isn’t much else to say about “Pobelter”, he is one of the safest players in NA.

 

Quick Matchup:

  1. C9 “Jensen” : “Jensen” has a slight advantage
  2. TL “Goldenglue” : “Pobelter” has a slight advantage
  3. DIG “Keane” : Even
  4. FOX “Froggen” : “Froggen” has a slight advantage
  5. P1 “Ryu” : Even
  6. NV “Ninja” : “Pobelter” has a slight advantage

 

ADC: Li “Cody” Sun:

“Cody” is one of the rookies in the 2017 season. There isn’t much to refer to when talking about his performance except the wins and losses at IEM Gyeonggi. He had a shaky performance, but what is important to remember that his first professional League of Legends game was at an international event, so only the 2017 season can enlighten on how “Cody” will stack up against other NA ADC’s.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Sneaky” : “Sneaky” has the advantage
  2. TL “Piglet” : “Piglet” has the advantage
  3. DIG “LOD” : “LOD” has a slight advantage
  4. FOX “Keith” : “Keith” has the advantage
  5. P1 “Arrow” : “Arrow” has the advantage
  6. NV “Apollo” : “Apollo” has a slight advantage

 

SUP: Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung:

“Olleh” is a player who has played in multiple regions, and is liked by fans across the world. While not perceived as the strongest Korean support in the world, his performance at IEM left something to be desired. His synergy with “Cody” isn’t the strongest right now, but as the season progresses, it will be easier to see how “Olleh” fits into the power rankings further down the line.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Smoothie” : Even
  2. TL “Matt” : Same as above
  3. DIG “Xpecial” : “Xpecial” has a slight advantage
  4. P1 “Adrian” : “Adrian” has a slight advantage
  5. NV “Hakuho” : Even
  6. FOX “Gate” : “Olleh” has a slight advantage

 

Team Liquid (TL):

Team Liquid seems to be cursed in the eyes of the League of Legends community. They have strong players, but always seem to finish just outside of the top 3. While these season finishes aren’t the most flattering statistic, TL has always managed to put together a competetive roster, even after having long time players leave the team. The current Team Liquid doesn’t look like the best roster the team has put together, even though they have some stronger players than they have had before.

Team Liquid has put more faith upon new players than just spending money on more veteran players, which is quite a gamble in any competetive sport. Some of the rookies showed some good performances last year, but after the roster shuffle, it remains to be seen if Liquid can climb up into the top 3.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Samson “Lourlo” Jackson:

Sent up from TL’s challenger squad in 2016, “Lourlo” didn’t have the best showing during his first year. He showed profiency in some champions, but ended up losing his lane matchup unless he received help from his jungler. “Lourlo” did outperform himself on occasion, but it remains to be seen if he has improved during the off-season.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Impact” : “Impact” has the advantage
  2. FOX “Looper” : “Looper” has the advantage
  3. DIG “Ssumday” : “Ssumday” has the advantage
  4. P1 “zig” : Even
  5. NV “Seraph” : Even

 

JUN: Yeu-Jin “Reignover” Kim:

“Reignover” was voted the MVP in Spring 2016, seen as the best Jungler throughout the entire year. He can seemingly play every role in the jungle, ranging from support to carry, and his pathing is the most optimized, yet he reacts to changes in the flow of the game. With TL signing “Reignover”, it will be crucial to look out for changes in the team synergy, as the other players were either antagonistic or friendly towards the previous jungler.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Contractz” : “Reignover” has the advantage
  2. DIG “Chaser” : “Reignover” has the advantage
  3. P1 “Inori” : “Reignover” has a slight advantage
  4. NV “lira” : “Reignover” has the advantage
  5. FOX “Akaadian” : “Reignover” has the advantage

 

MID: Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer:

“Goldenglue” played in the Challenger series for TL last season, and was brought up to the main roster. He has played in the LCS on occasion, mostly as a substitute player. “Goldenglue” has had varying performances in the LCS, generally staying even or losing out a little to his opponent. It is important to note that he is sharing his spot with “Link” who is a veteran player from the earlier years of League of Legends.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Jensen” : “Jensen” has the advantage
  2. DIG “Keane” : Even
  3. FOX “Froggen” : “Froggen” has a slight advantage
  4. P1 “Ryu” : “Ryu” has the advantage
  5. NV “Ninja” : “Ninja” has a slight advantage

 

ADC: Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin:

“Piglet” was a World champion in Season 3, which was followed by him moving to play in NA. “Piglet” plays very defensively and rarely gets caught out during games, leaving him with a solid KDA and clean slates. He can outperform a lot of ADC’s, but not as often as one would think. He is also tied to his teams performance as he isn’t able to secure a game by himself anymore as the balance of the game has changed over the years. Supported by “Matt”, “Piglet” had a decent 2016 season, which ended when he stepped down from the main roster after disagreements with other players on the team. It remains to be seen how well “Piglet” will do after the changes in the roster.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Sneaky” : Even
  2. DIG “LOD” : “Piglet” has the advantage
  3. FOX “Keith” : “Piglet” has a slight advantage
  4. P1 “Arrow” : Even
  5. NV “Apollo” : “Piglet” has the advantage

 

SUP: Matt “Matt” Elento:

“Matt” was the third rookie on TL in 2016, and unlike “Lourlo” he had stand-out performances during the year. His synergy with “Piglet” seemed strong during the Spring, but seemed to falter a little in the Summer when the team had internal issues. If “Matt” and “Piglet” can get back on the same page on how the lane should be played, they can turn into a fearsome duo.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. C9 “Smoothie” : Even
  2. DIG “Xpecial” : “Xpecial” has a slight advantage
  3. P1 “Adrian” : “Adrian” has a slight advantage
  4. NV “Hakuho” : “Matt” has a slight advantage
  5. FOX “Gate” : Same as above

 

Cloud9 (C9):

C9 is considered the rival of TSM in the eyes of fans after they joined the LCS and dethroned TSM. The team itself has gone through rough patches and unsuccesful splits, with their most recent season not being their strongest. Starting in 2016, they lost their team captain who came back to the team after they faltered early on, followed by him leaving the main roster once again, and leading their Challenger team through to the LCS (team spot bought by Milwaukee Bucks). They also rotated out multiple members to fit in a different export, forcing them to release their jungler and playing with their resident jungler who had resigned prior to 2016.

Even with these roster shuffles, the team managed to claw their way into the Worlds Championship event. Their run ended early, but the team looked better than they did in the Summer season. It will remain to be seen how the team will adapt after changing out their coach “Reapered”. With only one player change from Worlds to Spring 2017, the team may finally be able to fully distance themselves from the comfort of their past players.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong

“Impact” used to play with “Piglet” when SKT achieved their first Worlds Championship victory. He is still regarded as one of the best top laners playing in the west, but his statistics aren’t matching that reputation most weeks. He is still a strong individual in the top lane, requiring very little help from their jungler to stay afloat. If “Impact” regains some of his form from his glory days, he will be someone to look out for.

 

Quick Matchup:

  1. FOX “Looper” : “Looper” has a slight advantage
  2. DIG “Ssumday” : Even
  3. P1 “zig” : “Impact” has the advantage
  4. NV “Seraph” : “Impact” has the advantage

 

JUN: Juan “Contractz” Garcia:

“Contractz” is the LCS rookie for C9 in 2017. NA currently has a lot of jungle talent present in the League so Contractz has his worked cut out for him to prove himself against the likes of “Reignover”, “Dardoch” and “Xmithie”. “Contractz” reached the NACS play-offs, but had to be traded off the team due to his age restricting him from participating in the event.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. DIG “Chaser” : “Chaser” has the slight advantage
  2. P1 “Inori” : “Inori” has a slight advantage
  3. NV “lira” : “lira” has a slight advantage
  4. FOX “Akaadian” : Even

 

MID: Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen:

“Jensen” is another Danish mid laner making a name for himself in NA. He is somewhat of an up-and-coming talent in the region, known for making some impressive plays, but also having the occasional bad game. His laning is quite strong, but can get baited into making bad decisions in game. “Jensen” is very much a player who wears his heart on his sleeve as you can see his reactions captured on the cameras during the games.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. DIG “Keane” : “Jensen” has a slight advantage
  2. FOX “Froggen” : Even
  3. P1 “Ryu” : Even
  4. NV “Ninja” : “Jensen” has a slight advantage

 

ADC: Zach “Sneaky” Scuderi

“Sneaky” has been with C9 since the start and is known for his team synergy and active playstyle. While he may lose in lane, he can never be counted out due to his smart map movements that catch his opponents off-guard. “Sneaky” has enough experience to help his support play better, so as the season goes on and “Smoothie” improves, “Sneaky” will improve as well.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. DIG “LOD” : “Sneaky” has the advantage
  2. FOX “Keith” : Even
  3. P1 “Arrow” : “Arrow” has the advantage
  4. NV “Apollo” : “Sneaky” has a slight advantage

 

SUP: Andy “Smoothie” Ta:

“Smoothie” was splitting his time with a different support during 2016, which resulted in an uneven performance as he did not gain as much experience as other supports who started out in 2016. “Smoothie” did slowly improve during the season, but it will remain to be seen on how much he has grown with C9 and as a player during the off-season.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. DIG “Xpecial” : “Xpecial” has the advantage
  2. P1 “Adrian” : “Adrian” has the advantage
  3. NV “Hakuho” : Even
  4. FOX “Gate” : Even

 

Team Dignitas (DIG):

Team Dignitas is back in the LCS after being relegated in Spring 2016. The team bought out Apex Gamings LCS spot during the off-season, keeping some of their players and coaching staff, but the major difference with the franchise is that they have new investors. With the influx of money, the team picked up import players from Korea, making the team stronger on paper.

The question remains however, will the new DIG roster manage to shed the old reputation of team. The team is completely different than the DIG variation of Spring 2016 and the Apex variation of Summer 2016. With the massive roster changes, if the team doesn’t find synergy with the staff and the teammates themselves, DIG could find themselves in a bad spot..

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho:

“Ssumday” used to play for the 3rd place LCK team, KT Rolster, along with being considered one of the better top laners in the region. Generally, this means that “Ssumday” can be expected to outperform many of the native NA players, along with some of the Korean players who have played outside of Korea for an extended period of time. If DIG does well, “Ssumday” is going to be one of the players to beat if a player wants to prove themselves, and even if DIG doesn’t perform, it will still be an achievement to beat him in lane.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Looper” : Even
  2. P1 “zig” : “Ssumday” has the advantage
  3. NV “Seraph” : “Ssumday” has the advantage

 

JUN: Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun:

“Chaser” is another Korean import coming to NA during the off-season. While not as recognized as “Ssumday”, “Chaser” will have more competition in NA than “Ssumday”. His former team was in the lower half of teams in the LCK, meaning that “Chaser”s performance will be heavily tied to the success of DIG.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. P1 “Inori” : Even/Unknown
  2. NV “lira” : “Chaser” has a slight advantage
  3. FOX “Akaadian” : Same as above

 

MID: Jang “Keane” Lae-young:

“Keane” has been playing in NA long enough to be considered a native player. “Keane” had some impressive performances while on Apex Gaming, but the team faltered in the later half of the Summer Season when they had to go up against the top teams. With the roster change ups, “Keane” has a chance to outperform his 2016 self in the upcoming season.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Froggen” : “Froggen” has the advantage
  2. P1 “Ryu” : “Ryu” has the advantage
  3. NV “Ninja” : Even

 

ADC: Benjamin “LOD” deMunck

“LOD” had a rough 2016, he spent Spring as a substitute for multiple teams and joined EnvyUs in the Summer, who barely managed to get into the play-offs. “LOD” is seen as a low-econ ADC, meaning that he doesn’t need many resources and prefers playing as an obstacle more than a carry, enabling the rest of his team to carry the game. He tends to play safer champions and tries to stay even in lane rather than try aggressively trading with his opponent. If he keeps the same role in DIG, the bottom lane may have a rough time

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Keith” : “Keith” has the advantage
  2. P1 “Arrow” : “Arrow” has the advantage
  3. NV “Apollo” : Even

 

SUP: Alex “Xpecial” Chu:

“Xpecial” is a veteran of the NA LCS, having played for some of the powerhouse teams. His performance in 2016 was good and consistent, only having had a few bad games while playing for Apex. “Xpecial” brings experience to the table, but having two new Koreans on the team can make the leadership role harder during the game, so if “Keane” can translate for “Xpecial”, the team has a better chance at good synergy.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. P1 “Adrian” : “Adrian” has a slight advantage
  2. NV “Hakuho” : “Xpecial” has as slight advantage
  3. FOX “Gate” : Same as above

 

 

Phoenix 1 (P1):

Phoenix1 bought their way into the NA LCS alongside EnvyUS at the start of Summer 2016, keeping some of the players from the acquired team, TiP. P1 had a terrible season, only winning a few out of all of their games, but one of their wins was against the top team of the season, TSM, showing the teams peak performance. They were forced to play in relegation, but they managed to retain their LCS spot.

During the off-season, the team went through a major overhaul in terms of their roster and organizations staff. Their new roster consists of promising new players and world class players from other regions. Chances are that P1 will find new success with their new roster and outperform their 2016 counterpart.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Derek “zig” Shao:

“zig” had a decent performance during the 2016 season, and while “Inori” wasn’t on the team, he didn’t receive much help in his lane. It is hard to judge how “zig” will perform with the new teammates and now that “Inori” is a full time starter from the very beginning, so it is important to keep an eye out for the first games of the 2017 season.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Looper” : “Looper” has the advantage
  2. NV “Seraph” : Even

 

JUN: Rami “Inori” Charagh

“Inori” was a standout player in P1 in 2016. When all of the issues with “Inori” playing were cleared, the team started doing better immediately, but it was too late to salvage their 2016 season. In my eyes, “Inori” has a high skill ceiling with the potential to overtake a lot of junglers in NA during 2017.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “lira” : “Inori” has the advantage
  2. FOX “Akaadian” : Same as above

 

 

MID: Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook:

“Ryu” was a surprise signing for P1. Leaving H2K behind in EU, “Ryu” has been a long time foreign player with good performances outside of Korea. He carries with a legacy of losing to “Faker” in Korea in Zed mirror matches, but that hasn’t stopped “Ryu” from being competetive in EU, a region that has been known for housing some of the best mid laners outside of Korea.

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Froggen” : Even
  2. NV “Ninja” : “Ryu” has a slight advantage

 

ADC: No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon:

“Arrow” was another surprise signing made by P1. “Arrow” played for KT Rolster back in Korea, a team that nearly made it onto the World Championship stage. “Arrow” is likely to be a difficult matchup for many of the ADC’s in the region, but his performance is closely tied to P1’s performance.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. FOX “Keith” : “Arrow” has the advantage
  2. NV “Apollo” : Same as above

 

SUP: Adrian “Adrian” Ma:

“Adrian” was the best support player in NA in the spring of 2016, with his place falling down the rung after the Summer season. “Adrian” has a shallow champion pool in the game, only playing a handful of supports during 2016, leading many to question his skills on different champions. While he played those champions well, the shallow pool allowed him to be banned out, making him ineffective in lane. If “Adrian” has increased the number of his played champions, he should be competing for the #1 spot again.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “Hakuho” : “Adrian” has as slight advantage
  2. FOX “Gate” : “Adrian” has the advantage

 

Echo Fox (FOX):

Echo Fox was one of the newcomers in 2016, notable for their owner, Rick Fox, a former LA Lakers player. The team had picked up “Froggen” from EU and “kfo” from Korea and bringing in an NA jungler along with an NA botlane. Their performance in the Spring of 2016 was good, enough to keep them out of relegation, but there were some clear communication issues between the players, with “kfo” not synergising well with the other lanes, leaving the team to fight teamfights with 4 players when “kfo” didn’t teleport in on time.

For 2017, Echo Fox changed around some of their players, keeping “Froggen” and “Keith”. Echo Fox is coming off a terrible 2016, only winning 1 game in the 2016 Summer, so it remains to be seen if the team can bounce back with their new players.

 

Individual Players:

Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok:

“Looper” has played in Korea and in China, and in China, he was one of the best top laners. It is hard to pinpoint his skill level in comparison to others in NA, but during international events, he did perform well against a variety of teams, beating out high ranking top laners from other regions, so it can safely be assumed that his performance will be better than “kfo”‘s.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “Seraph” : “Looper” has the advantage

 

JUN: Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham

“Akaadian” is an upcoming rookie in the LCS for the 2017 season, he has been playing in the Challenger series  for some time, but Echo Fox is going to be his first team in the LCS. Depending on how fast “Akaadian” can get used to playing on stage and how well he synergizes with his team.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “lira” : Even/Unknown

 

MID: Henrik “Froggen” Hansen:

“Froggen” is another EU born mid laner playing in NA. Known as an LCS veteran, “Froggen” has certainly had better seasons than the ones with Echo Fox in 2016. The strength of “Froggen” lies in his safe playstyle, often preferring to outlast his opponent, reaching new heights of CS in game that can last really long periods of time. “Froggen” also has a deep champion pool that he has been building with his long career, so he can surprise his opponents.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “Ninja” : Even

 

ADC: Yuri “Keith” Jew:

“Keith” had a similar rough season as “Froggen”, other players praise him for being skilled, but that wasn’t seen by viewers during their many losses. “Keith” had promising games and moments, but I will need to see more in 2017 to be able to correctly assess him.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “Apollo” : “Keith” has a slight advantage

 

 

SUP: Austin “Gate” Yu:

“Gate” is the first roster change that I question heavily from this off-season. Echo Fox’s previous support worked well with “Keith” and “Gate” had a poor performance with his previous teams, TiP and P1. There isn’t much else I can say about “Gate”, he is an average support player that gets outclassed by many of the other supports on most days.

 

Quick Matchups:

  1. NV “Hakuho” : “Hakuho” has as slight advantage

 

Team EnvyUs (NV):

            I was initially impressed by NV when played in the LCS starting in Summer 2016. They played well, but once they had played all of the lower tier teams, their play got sloppier and teams figured out their playstyle. They barely made it to the top 6, which earned them a spot at the regional qualifiers for Worlds, but only beat out Team Liquid who was playing with two people on off-roles.

For 2017, NV only changed out two players, bringing in “lira” for the jungle and “Apollo” in for ADC. These changes don’t feel substantial enough to me to make the team more competetive and the first week of the NA LCS should give us a more accurate telling on how the rest of their 2017 season will turn out.

 

Individual Players:

TOP: Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong:

“Seraph” put up some good numbers in the first few weeks of the LCS in Summer 2016, but his performance gradually got worse and worse, losing in the rematches against some teams or never getting ahead of his opponents. “Seraph” is well composed during games and doesn’t seem to falter when things seem hopeless, but his play simply isn’t on the same level as most of the other top laners. If he has improved during the off-season, he may end up in the middle of the pack.

 

JUN: Nam “lira” Tae-yoo:

I don’t know much about “lira”, other than the fact that he was on the 5th ranked team in the LCK in 2016, but with the situation with the rest of NV’s roster, my hopes for “lira” are quite low, and don’t expect much out of him for 2017. If he has good synergy with “Ninja” in the mid lane and “Seraph” in the top, he could improve the team slightly.

 

MID: Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo:

“Ninja” was the stand-out player in NV last season. He played well and stayed consistent even during their losing streaks. His strengths lie in his own abilities rather than relying on his teammates, but he will need their help if NV wants their 2017 season to be good.

 

ADC: Apollo “Apollo” Price:

“Apollo” played for the 2016 variant of Team Dignitas, taking part in some of the worst games of the 2016 season, which included turrets having killstreaks and the Rift Herald feasting on players. If “Apollo” plays in the same way as he did in the Spring 2016 split, he is definitely outclassed during many matchups:

 

SUP: Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent:

“Hakuho” had some good games, but he also had a lot of bad games. His playstyle was inconsistent at best, but he had moments of brilliance. He played for Renegades in Spring 2016 when “Remilia” stepped down from the team, and it was obvious that he wasn’t on the same level. If “Hakuho” has gotten better during the off-season, the question still remains on how effective the bottom lane is going to be.

 

Conclusion:

I’m not going to rank the teams in order of best to worst, readers should use the information given to make their own opinion as things can change and different perspectives are always valuable. All of these views are my own and are meant to be more constructive than outright critical. As a side note, the next article will be about the EU LCS and its rankings, but it will be in a different style, so feedback is welcome.


Timothy Grey

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