The second split of the LCS is around the corner, and we’re going to take a look at the teams coming into the second bout of North American LCS. This four-part series will take a look at the teams, their accomplishments prior to the LCS, and changes that might be coming into play since teams were last seen duking it out on the Fields of Justice.
There is a lot of fresh change coming into this split, and what a better way to reflect this by looking first the newest teams? While GGU and CLG have had some changes of their own, it’s time to talk about faces new to the crossed-arm pose involved in most LoL eSports player photography: Cloud9 and Velocity. Both teams were able to succeed in their relegation matches and show some serious punch.
Top – BalIs
Jungle – Meteos
Mid – Hai
ADC – SneakyCastro
Support – LemonNation
Cloud9, while new to LCS, isn’t new to the League of Legends competitive scene. About a year ago the team played their first LAN event, MLG Anaheim, with a different roster and a different name. What are the perceptions of C9 going into LCS though?
Relegations: Cloud9 triumphed in the relegation matches. They started off by facing Team Astral Poke and impressively left some players on TAP with a KDA of 0. No Kills, no assists, just death. This momentum continued to the next day, when Complexity fared marginally better than TAP – but still couldn’t take a game off the beastly Cloud9. While thrashing TAP and Complexity easily is a great sign, it’s also important to note that TAP was the weakest Challenger team at the event, and Complexity on an off day had almost no success versus other LCS teams. Complexity that day wasn’t playing their standard non-standard compositions, and with a new AD Carry seemed skittish.
The Reality: While tournament results may not be the best indicator of Cloud9’s strengths, there is still scrim results. Scrimmages between Cloud9 and other teams have been tremendously in favor of C9- LCS and Challenger teams alike. C9 scrimmed most of the LCS teams, and all LCS teams that were in Relegation (with the exception of coL), and won. It’s not that they just won, but many of their games were outright stomps. C9 has also been in the process of developing strategies unique to the NA scene, but comfortable with their own play (Ex. Jayce as an AD Carry). Their own organization has grown quite a bit, garnering the support of TSM’s former manager, Jack, and Alex Penn (Leaguepedia Zarox) as a Coach/Analyst.
If Cloud9 replicates their success in scrims, relegations, and past Challenger’s events, there’s no doubt they can be a top two team just based off statistics. Their recent experience and success has put them in a position of heavy momentum, and if they can ride it to a strong early start there is no reason C9 can’t ride it to the end of the season and to the World Playoffs. However, hype can only go so far, and getting into the trenches of the weekly LCS is an entirely different beast compared to the more seldom tournaments they’ve played in. Preparation is tougher, and one bad week can snowball into a bad season as it did with Dignitas and Curse towards the end of the spring split. However, Cloud9 is setup with a strong organization and history. Predicting a team’s placement is difficult with how close the LCS NA teams are, but it might be safe to call C9 a Top four team.
Top – Cris
Jungle – NK Inc
Midlane – VileRoze
ADC – frommaplestreet
Support – Evaniskus
Velocity is the other team that falls into the vat of new blood coming into LCS. They come into the scene in a different light than Cloud9 however. While Cloud9 is the older team that sadly couldn’t make it into the first split, Velocity rode a dark horse riddled with controversy from some of their players. 1 Goal 1 Dream in particular, who subbed for Velocity at the IPL6 Replacement. And no, VileRoze isn’t the VileRoze from World of Warcraft.
Relegations: Velocity had a much tighter Relegation life, but were successful. Vel was able to beat their Challenger opposition, The Salad Bar, 2-1. The first two games were incredibly close, and while Velocity only lost one game, The Salad Bar was in control for much of game two; the inexperience of TSB is what kept them from closing out that game and advancing. Velocity did take their series versus MRN but the context of the matches is important to be looked at. While Nientonsoh was playing his heart out, the emotional rush for MRN members was having a major impact, and the majority of the team was not at their normal level. Velocity still won the series and there is still the massive respect that comes with that.
The Reality: The problem Velocity faces is the comparisons they receive between themselves and Cloud9. Since they’re both new teams to the LCS and have tournament results against each other, it’s easier to see that Cloud9 is more well prepared. Velocity lost to C9 at MLG Dallas and IPL6 Replacement as well as smaller online tournaments. Now Cloud9 aside, there aren’t as many conversations going on about Velocity. Their scrim results around Relegations aren’t being broadcasted like Cloud9s were, so most of Velocity’s hype is closely related to their tournament results in the past. Unfortunately, that ties back to C9 who they tended to come in second against..
Velocity is the weakest team in LCS as far as statistics are concerned. While the six LCS teams that remained from the first split each have their accomplishments and Cloud9 has been a terror on the scene, Velocity is still filling out that resume. Now, this doesn’t mean that Velocity doesn’t have a shot at #1, LCS has definitely shown that #1 can go any which way when playoffs are involved, but it does mean that Velocity has their work cut out for them. The team puts in a humongous effort however, and while that may seem like an obvious statement, the spunkiness of the team and the support of Atlanta as a coach can go quite a long way. The question is, can the effort and team structure overcome the relative freshness of the team and their less numerous accomplishments? Calling a rank for Velocity is tough since at the start of the season they’re likely to be #8, but if Velocity has been working hard while preparing for LCS and keep the steam engine rolling, they have a chance to improve and do well in playoffs by the end of the season.
In Part 2: CLG and GGU will be up to bat. Two of the teams with major changes going on. An old but rarely seen face comes back to GGU, and CLG has an impressive combination of roleswaps and new players.
- Christopher “Studio” Grant