The start of a new year of LCS brings with it a lot of inconsistency and surprising results; it’s difficult to measure the strength of new look teams and with little information regarding the practice everyone got in the offseason. As such it is often the case that strong teams will take a little while to settle in, and teams that burst out of the gate quickly will often slow down as the season progresses (take the MYM team that went 4 – 1 in their first week of the Season 3 EU LCS Summer Split, only to finish 8 – 20 for the season). Here we take a look at some of the teams we expect to cool off, as well as some of the teams we expect to rise as the weeks roll on.
Origen – The slow starters
Origen have had a start to forget, going 1 – 3 after being touted by many as a team that would roll over the rest of the teams this split. The hype seemed justified too, after their convincing performance at IEM San Jose where they won the tournament without dropping a game, and after upgrading their mid lane with the addition of PowerofEvil.
Many of Origen’s problems can be traced back to their draft phase, particularly in week 1 where they picked two slow scaling top and mid laners in each of their games, only to get snowballed on before their late game picks could become relevant. Week 2 they learned from their previous draft mistakes, going 1 – 1 with their victory coming off the back of a tanky composition that allowed Origen to protect the double carry threats of Zven on Kalista and PoE on the hyper carry Cassiopeia. It would seem Origen’s success this year will come on the back of Zven and PoE carrying, and it may be time for Soaz to take a backseat on the team and reign in some of his split pushing insticts and act as a utility top laner for this team, something he has historically bemoaned doing.
Moving forward, we expect Origen’s overall level to increase as they play more and get the practice time in; teams that Soaz and Peke have been involved in historically have been slow starters in the league portion of the LCS, and it would seem Origen may suffer from the same issues. Hopefully their coaching staff can continue to improve their draft phase, and this along with developing a more efficient team identity (with Soaz playing tanks) should see them climb toward the top 3 placings in Europe this year.
Unicorns of Love: Robbed of their chance
Unfortunately, this team have been hit with an unexpected blow in the form of losing veteran jungler Diamondprox to visa issues after an impressive 3 – 1 start. Unicorns of Love seemed to have developed a very natural team identity that fit the personnel they put together in the off season, no doubt in part to the experienced coaching talents of Sheepy. The solo laners take much of the playmaking responsibilities, allowing Steelback to play teamfights in the sensible, low risk way he has always preferred to, mopping up kills and providing consistent DPS to back up his top and mid laner.
Diamondprox had not been a key part of this team’s success, but it was definitely a team effort in the case of UoL. Removing him at this part of the season will only serve to hurt the synergy they have developed thus far, and the stress and strain of trying to find a replacement when most top players are contracted to teams is going to test the teams management. Hopefully UoL can continue their impressive start, but we see them faltering in the face of these difficulties and expect the next couple weeks to be less successful for the Unicorn’s squad.
Team Solo Mid: Can the stars find their way?
After a very disappointing week 1, TSM looked marginally better in week 2, comfortably taking down Dignitas and losing a game to the top team in NA right now Immortals, despite controlling the pace of most of the match. Whilst immediately after the Immortals game many punters voiced their concerns about Doublelift’s performance, the teams’ poor build pathing and multiple macro mistakes, the fact that TSM were able to control the game even from behind and execute their split push effectively despite repeated errors was somewhat encouraging. Factor in the fact they have managed to go 2 – 2 despite playing nowhere near their peak level, things aren’t looking all that bad for this TSM squad.
The big problem is that this team is seen by many as the most talented roster in the west, only run close by H2K in Europe, and as such expectations are remarkably high. Bjergsen seems to be taking a more self sacrificial approach in this iteration of TSM, often sacrificing farm and pressure mid in order to roam and get his side lanes ahead. Whilst this style is different from Bjergsen’s usual domineering approach in mid lane, which saw him rise to be one of the best players from the west in the last couple of years, it is a style which could suit his raw mechanical abilities and playmaking tendencies and may serve to turn him into something of a western GodV. Hauntzer has been showing he can take on even the best 1v1 in top, his impressive duel with Huni in the Immortals game just being on example of this. The real concern for TSM has been the bot lane, which whilst accruing large CS leads early in games, often fails to translate this into any meaningful lead. Add this to the fact that Yellowstar’s shotcalling seems to be ailing currently and Doublelift’s individual performance has been erratic, and you can see why TSM are where they are currently.
We expect this team’s sense of identity to improve as we move forward, and for the bot lane’s individual performance to improve as they settle as a team and have time with their coaching staff to work on their issues. Doublelift remains in our eyes the biggest question mark on this roster, as he is yet to justify the large resources the team pour into him. TSM will get better, and we expect them to occupy one of the top 3 spots heading into playoffs. The big question is how good can they get, and will it be enough to win the LCS this split?
Immortals: Natural synergy only goes so far
The Immortals squad have thus far been able to roll over their opponents with natural synergy and aggressive compositions, tailoring their style to fit the “flash forward” mentality of Wildturtle and Huni. Whilst it has been impressive to watch and the rest of the team have moulded themselves to fit this playstyle very well, they do appear somewhat one dimensional. TSM despite being behind for most of the game were able to run Immortals around the map with their split push in week 2, and Immortals only won that game due to some questionable shot calling around Baron and poor builds from TSM.
Immortals will definitely be a top 3-4 team this split. They have a lot of individual talent, the best jungler in NA right now in the form of Reignover and a cohesive playstyle. What really remains to be seen is whether or not they can grow beyond the very natural, organic style they have created thus far, and diversify strategically as a team. We are not sure if Huni will ever be able to switch up his top lane style to be more utility focused, or whether Wildturtle will be comfortable playing a more clean up focused ADC. With these question marks over Immortals as they move forward, we expect this team to pick up a few more losses as the teams around them figure out their one dimensional style and start to counter it – maybe with more Tahm Kench focus in the drafts against Immortals for a way to counter their aggression. We do expect Immortals to continue to be a good team this year, just not as dominant as their current record might suggest.
By: Arron “King Dempz” Dempsey – @arrondempers