A new year brings with it a brand new season of League of Legends, and the anticipation is growing each day. It also means it’s time for a brand new set of pre-season rankings! While there’s a reason the games have to be played rather than just decided on paper, trying to predict the relative strengths of each team gives us a foundation upon which to base our expectations (and have them dashed later on.)
We’ll rank the teams in descending order, with 5 each day. Let’s start with the North American LCS, and the teams we expect to end up in the bottom five.
|Jungle||Kim "Procxin" Se-Young|
|AD Carry||Brandon "DontMashMe" Phan|
|Support||Austin "Gate" Yu|
It’s unfortunate, but this one seems to be an easy call. Impulse’s owners actually wanted to sell their LCS spot, not even intending to compete. However, they were unable to find a deal they were happy with in time, and so Impulse is a part of the competition almost against their wishes. This shows in their lineup, as there isn’t a single player who appears to be above average. DontMashMe and Gate at least have some LCS experience, but that’s about as much as can be said about this lineup. More than a couple wins will be a surprise.
|Top Lane||Lennart "SmittyJ" Warkus|
|Jungle||Thomas "Kirei" Yuen|
|Mid Lane||Danny "Shiphtur" Le|
|AD Carry||Apollo "Apollo" Price|
|Support||Alan "KiWiKiD" Nguyen|
In the offseason, Dignitas parted ways with Gamsu and CoreJJ, who were arguably their two best players. They’ve imported SmittyJ and Kirei, neither of whom have much of a track record. DIG’s “carries” are Shiphtur and Apollo, both of whom do not measure up well against the top end of talent in their respective roles. KiWiKiD has been a consistently below-average support player, and does not figure to do much in helping Apollo over-achieve, which is the only way this team appears capable of having a fighting chance against even middle of the pack opponents.
|Jungle||Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev|
|Mid Lane||Henrik “Froggen” Hansen|
|AD Carry||Yuri “KEITH” Jew|
|Support||Terry "Baby" Chuong|
The concept of a former NBA star (Rick Fox) owning an LCS team is, without a doubt, exceptionally cool to think about. That he went out and grabbed one of the best mid laners in the West (Froggen) shows that he truly wants to compete. Unfortunately, the rest of the roster leaves something to be desired. KEITH has shown that he is, at the very least, able to hold his own in the LCS, and Hard and Baby have some competitive experience. Top laner KFO is a virtual unknown, having been plucked from Korean solo queue. A lot of this team’s hopes are pinned on Froggen, but as we’ve seen with Alliance, that isn’t enough to be considered a strong team.
|Top Lane||Oleksii "RF Legendary" Kuziuta|
|Jungle||Alberto "Crumbzz" Rengifo|
|Mid Lane||Alexey "Alex Ich" Ichetovkin|
|AD Carry||Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek|
|Support||Maria "Dreamcatcher" Creveling|
One would have to imagine any team owned by MonteCristo should at least have a fighting chance, especially with a legend on the player roster. However, Alex Ich isn’t the world-beater he once was, and there isn’t much star power on the rest of the roster. The chances of RF Legendary being anything more than average compared to other top laners are low, and Crumbzz has always been a jungler who’s decent, but not great. The team will be counting on the bottom lane, as the addition of Freeze was absolutely a big deal. Dreamcatcher (formerly known as Remilia) has shown a very limited champion pool, but a high level of proficiency on the few champs she is comfortable on. This team has potential, but will be tested every day.
Counter Logic Gaming
|Top Lane||Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaha|
|Jungle||Jake "Xmithie" Puchero|
|Mid Lane||Choi "HuHi" Jae-hyun|
|AD Carry||Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes|
|Support||Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black|
I will be the first to admit that this ranking might be a bit low, and there’s a very real chance that CLG could be a top 3 or 4 team. With that said, the loss of Doublelift and Pobelter will hurt, as those two performed quite will in CLG’s North American crown last year. Stixxay and HuHi are unproven, and while they could end up being quite good, will likely need some time to mature as players.
It should be noted that Darshan is a monster in the top lane, Xmithie is still a very strong jungler, and aphromoo is one of the best support players in NA. The combination of those three might very well be enough, even if Stixxay and HuHi are merely adequate. There is a lot that CLG needs to prove, so I’m tentatively ranking them a bit low, knowing that they could certainly perform well.
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