With the start of the European LCS less than a week away, we've begun our preseason rankings for 2016 Spring Split (you can see #10-6 right here.) There have been a whole lot of changes in the EU LCS, as almost every team looks dramatically different. This has made attempting to rank them both enjoyable and challenging. As a disclaimer, this list is completely subjective, but gives us a starting point for conversation.
Without further ado, here are the teams I expect to be in the top 5 at season's end, starting with #5.
Unicorns of Love
|Top Lane||Tamás "Vizicsacsi" Kiss|
|Jungle||Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov|
|Mid Lane||Hampus "Fox" Myhre|
|AD Carry||Pierre "Steeelback" Medjaldi|
|Support||Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov|
I’m going to chalk up UoL’s awful showing at IEM San Jose as growing pains for a team with an almost completely new roster. With that said, there’s no question that Fox is a downgrade from PowerOfEvil in the mid lane, which could hurt this team’s chances. On the flip side, signing Diamondprox for the jungle was a large upgrade. Vizicsacsi is capable of being a high-level top laner, but will need to show more consistency. Steeelback and Hylissang make up a solid, if not spectacular, bottom lane. Overall, I think bringing on an intelligent veteran like Diamondprox could help boost the Unicorns’ performance, so they should be a decent team. This is a squad that could just as easily miss the playoffs entirely, but I like them enough to think 5th place isn’t out of their reach.
|Top Lane||Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet|
|Jungle||Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema|
|Mid Lane||Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm|
|AD Carry||Petter "Hjarnan" Freyschuss|
|Support||Raymond "kaSing" Tsang|
There’s talent all throughout this roster. Cabochard was the bright spot for Gambit before Vitality took over the LCS spot, Nukeduck has the skills to be a strong mid laner, and reuniting H2k’s old bottom lane of Hjarnan and kaSing was a great move. The lone weak point would appear to be the jungle, where Shook has consistently appeared to be mediocre, at best. Even so, there’s simply too much to be excited about on the rest of the team to believe Vitality should be any worse than #4. A weak jungler can hamper the whole team, which is part of the reason I haven’t ranked Vitality higher. However, this is a squad that should easily make the playoffs, and could potentially even break through to the top 3.
|Top Lane||Yeong-Jin "Gamsu" Noh|
|Jungle||Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon|
|Mid Lane||Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten|
|AD Carry||Martin "Rekkles" Larsson|
|Support||Lewis "Noxiak" Felix|
There’s no doubt that the losses of Huni, Reignover, and Yellowstar sting, but Fnatic is not the type of organization to just sulk in the corner and lick their wounds. Time will tell if Gamsu and Noxiak will be able to fill the shoes of their predecessors, but the crown jewel of Fnatic’s offseason acquisitions is undoubtedly Spirit. He is a world class jungler, who should allow the duo of Febiven and Rekkles to shine. At first glance, this team appears to be weaker than the 2015 version, and doesn’t quite appear to have enough to warrant a spot in the top 2. With that said, Fnatic has proven time and again that they shouldn’t be counted out.
|Top Lane||Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu|
|Jungle||Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski|
|Mid Lane||Ryu "Ryu" Sang-ook|
|AD Carry||Konstantinos "Forg1ven" Tzortziou|
|Support||Oskar "Vander" Bogdan|
For some teams, losing both members of a strong bottom lane would be a difficult blow to recover from. In the case of H2k, they simply signed one of the most talented ADC’s in the West in Forg1ven, while also bringing in two of ROCCAT’s better players in Jankos and Vander. Combined with the talented Odoamne in the top lane and star mid laner Ryu, this team looks absolutely loaded.
It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that Forg1ven might finally have the right team around him to find success. He’s contemplated retirement, and even moving to the Heroes of the Storm scene, but if personal matters don’t become an issue, chances are very good H2k will be thrilled he decided to stick with League of Legends. This is a team that’s capable of great things; the only immediately apparent obstacle is how new the roster is, but they absolutely appear to be a top 2 team in Europe.
|Top Lane||Paul "sOAZ" Boyer|
|Jungle||Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider|
|Mid Lane||Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage|
|AD Carry||Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen|
|Support||Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez|
It would be very difficult to call any team other than Origen the favorite in Europe heading into the 2016 season. With the exception of beefing up the mid lane by adding PowerOfEvil, this is exactly the same team that pushed Fnatic to a 5 game final to spoil a truly perfect 2015 Summer Split, before reaching the semi-finals of the World Championships. They continued their strong play by winning IEM San Jose, and appear poised to take over Europe this year.
The addition of PoE to the mid lane should only serve to make this team stronger. sOAZ proved that he’s above the nonsense the community has thrown at him, Amazing is a very strong jungler, and the bottom lane of Mithy and Zven (formerly Niels) should be able to take on just about anyone. This is a scary team, and I expect they’ll come out on top.
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