It will not be long before North America’s best teams hit our computer screens for the 2019 LCS Summer Split. With the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational well underway, any fan not named a Team Liquid fan will not have to wait long to see their favourite players back in action – The LCS officially kicks off June 1st with Team Liquid and Team Solomid likely to kick off proceedings.
Let’s check in with the ten teams battling to become the best team in North America:
Team Liquid: Team Liquid once again walked away with their third consecutive championship, taking TSM down in a reverse sweep to secure their spot at the Mid-season Invitational. The North American powerhouse came under scrutiny when they lost three out of their last four games of the regular season. TL proved their critics wrong with a dominant display against Flyquest and a resilient performance against rivals TSM to finish first in the LCS standings. At the time of this article being written Team Liquid are preparing for their Semi-final matchup against Invictus Gaming in the 2019 Mid-season invitational. Whilst it has not been the strongest display by any means, Team Liquid has shown signs of improvement and has developed new methods to play the game – a quality previous North American champions failed to show. Team Liquid will remain the favourites to enter the World Championship as the first seed from North America, with the improvement they have shown there should only be one winner.
TSM: TSM were the second team in the “Rock-paper-scissors” matchup to be reversed swept in the playoffs, this time at the hands of tournament favourites Team Liquid. TSM preyed upon the innovative strategies that TL threw at them. However, in the final game, an overstep from Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen saw the game heavily swing in TL’s favour. Despite a rough start to the split for the six-time champs, TSM grew in confidence week by week. Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik and Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham found their footing when it mattered the most. Followed up by their experience in mid and bot – TSM will remain a strong contender for the Summer Split.
Cloud9: The boys in blue will be looking to bounce back in the Summer Split following a heartbreaking reverse sweep to longtime rivals TSM. Cloud9 finished in 3rd/4th place in the LCS standings and will be looking to improve on that finish if they wish to regain the LCS Championship. C9 have the tools to remain a big player in the LCS and have maintained their starting roster which dominated the majority of the Spring Split. The one question circling this team is whether Robert “Blaber” Huang and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer will see any action.
Flyquest: Flyquest has made great strides as an organisation, they finished 3rd/4th in the LCS standings. Flyquest entered the Spring Split with mixed feelings from the community. With the departure of Lee “Flame” Ho-jong Flyquest made the bold move of signing Omram “V1per” Shoura from Team Liquid Academy, this is a move that worked out incredibly well for Flyquest with V1per picking up Rookie of the split. At the time of writing this article, Flyquest has made a trade with Rogue from the LEC, allowing Selfie to be traded for Wadid.
I'm rly sad to be leaving Europe like this, but after an underwhelming split, this change was definitely needed. Special thanks to @FlyQuest for giving me a chance to prove myself again, even through the middle of the season. It's time to take on a new adventure. #FLYWIN pic.twitter.com/3zFUEDreh1
— Kim "Wadid" Bae-In (@WadidXD) May 16, 2019
It is unclear the direction the team will be taking heading into the Summer Split, JayJ performed well for his first full split in the LCS. Having bounced around Academy and LCS since 2018 JayJ had finally solidified his starting spot on the roster, so this is a peculiar decision for Flyquest to make. Wadid joins the squad after suffering a miserable season under Rogue, it will be interesting to see if the pair will share time or if Wadid will have to spend time in the Academy league to prove himself again.
Golden Guardians: The Golden Guardians completely changed their strategy ahead of the 2019 Season. Instead of building a complete North American roster, GGS has picked up the “leftovers” from previous superteams. The biggest question mark surrounding the team was the acquisition of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. Froggen silenced his critics, boasting a positive attitude towards his teammates and the performances followed. This was a crucial split for the Golden Guardians, with a stacked roster like they have – they were expected to make playoffs and to challenge for the top four spots. Golden Guardians finished 5th/6th in the LCS standings falling 3-2 to Flyquest in the Quarter Finals. Fans of GGS should be excited about the summer split, the talent level on the team is largely on display and all that it needs to grow is time.
Echo Fox: Despite losing their star players to Clutch Gaming. Echo Fox shocked the community in the Spring Split – finishing a respectable 5th/6th spot in the LCS standings – solidifying themselves as a playoff calibre team after securing their consecutive playoffs. Rush failed to make an impact during the early stages of the season – stepping down from the starting roster at one point. However, after returning to the starting roster – Rush and Echo Fox sprung into life when it mattered most, ultimately securing their postseason. Whilst they are not expected to be fighting for the Championship in the Summer Split Echo Fox will look to once again make it to the playoffs.
Optic Gaming: Optic Gaming made one of the more surprising acquisitions of the offseason by picking up Crown as their mid lane. They also signed both Dardoch and Meteos to the jungle position. In the 2019 Spring Split. Optic finished tied for 7th in the LCS standings, the same place they finished the last split. Optic is not far off the pace compared to the teams around them, Optic was able to find consistent leads in the early game but were not able to transition said lead into the mid and late game. If Optic can shore up these problems they could easily secure a playoff spot.
Counter Logic Gaming: The faith was not rewarded for Counter Logic Gaming in Spring 2019. The former North American Champions failed to reach the postseason, finishing tied for 7th place with Optic Gaming. The 2019 Spring was to be Darshan’s last in a CLG banner after the organisation announced his departure, his replacement is to be former 1907 Fenerbahce top lane Ruin. CLG have made great strides to improve their top side of the map, which was arguably their weakest side. For CLG to amount to any success in the Summer Split, Stixxay and Biofrost will have to step up drastically – having a far from a stellar performance in Spring.
Clutch Gaming: Despite making history in the 2018 season by eliminating TSM from playoffs, Clutch Gaming failed to amount to the same heights in 2019. Clutch finished the Spring Season 9th in the LCS standings. One of the most disappointing talking points regarding the side was the performance of former SKT Top lane Huni. Huni was a shade of his former self and ultimately aided in the sides inability to play around a single lane. If Huni and Lira can find themselves to raise their game and return to MVP calibre form, fans can expect
100Thieves: The final team on this preview is a team that was expected to make waves in the 2019 Spring Split, 100Thieves. After the horror show that was their World championship performance, 100Thieves made massive changes to the mid lane and ad carry position. 100Thieves acquired Huhi and Bang. On paper this was a roster predicted to finish in the top three, however, this was far from the case. 100Thieves finished 10th place in the LCS standings.
The Thieves lacked identity, this can be a result of poor drafting which plagued 100Thieves for the entirety of the Spring Split. Following an appalling Spring Split, 100Thieves had to make changes to the roster, it would be considered competitive suicide to run back the same roster that finished in 10th place. 100Thieves brought in Amazing in place of Anda.
Whilst changes were expected, the direction of this team will be put into question as they are bringing a jungle who has not played competitively in almost one year. Soligo will also receive his opportunity on the big stage. The expectations for this team are pretty low however with the star power on this team, 100Thieves should be at the minimal fighting for a playoff spot.