Heya folks. North American LCS is here and it’s time to take a look at the big dogs. There might be eight teams in the brackets, but the real competition during the Spring Split’s regular season was Curse and TSM riding the high life. What’s their Summer Split life looking like?
Top – Dyrus
Jungle – TheOddOne
Mid – Reginald
ADC - WildTurtle
Support – Xpecial
Team Solo Mid has been the North American rock for quite some time. Regardless of the many heated debates on TSM’s skill, Baylife has brought damn good results in North America for years. The last LAN without foreign teams that TSM participated in and didn’t take first place was IPL 3 in October of 2011. It’s a bit different when the team goes international, but the LCS of North America isn’t really the place to look at foreign results (that’s for World Playoffs, which are quite a ways off).
While TSM did take first last season, it wasn’t a clean sweep, and their results rarely are. Early on in the season TSM lagged behind both Curse and Dignitas, boasting a 7-4 record at the end of week four, compared to Curse’s 9-2 and Dig’s 10-2. They never had a bad week however, and that showed as the season progressed and both Curse and Dig slipped, while TSM remained steady and ended with a solid two win lead for first place. It’s the consistency that makes TSM likely to be a top two finisher, if not number one.
In terms of actual gameplay there are a ridiculous amount of shots fired at TSM over Reginald being overaggressive, but the reality is that most of the jokes and criticisms tend to happen because TSM is a team shining in the spotlight. They’re not perfect though, as no team is. TSM has to make sure they’re prepared for each game and to constantly respect the level of play their opponents are at. At the start of the Spring Season TSM seemed unprepared for some of the new S3 strategies and this lack of preparation also cost them matches at MLG Anaheim- which led to Chaox being cut from the team. Chaox being cut is important though, it shows that the team is willing to adapt. Cutting a member is tough, but if Chaox was costing them games and causing more drama than Gamecribs could handle, severing his connection to the team is important and justified. They take their game seriously.
What does this mean for the Summer Split? They are consistent, and that consistency can lead to safer predictions for them taking first place, but at the same time being consistently good, but not great, can have its drawbacks. This isn’t as big a deal for the season itself, since the ten week cycle is about the week to week persistence over flashes of brilliance, but the playoffs are going to be TSM’s weak point. While they were able to cinch number one in the Spring Split, the results show that they’re not far from losing a set. Losing a set in Summer Split’s playoffs will be huge, as it could cost them a spot in the World Playoffs. They beat Vulcun 2-1, and Team Coast 3-2, every game went to its final match. These final matches show how the North American scene as a whole has improved and even “weaker” North American teams are a major threat; TSM will have to remain focused on staying relevant with their strategies. The week where they underestimate their opponents will be the never before seen bad week for TSM.
Top – Voyboy
Jungle – SaintVicious
Mid – Ny Jacky
ADC – Cop
Support – Edward
Curse Gaming used to follow in the footsteps of TSM by being a fairly steady rock, but with bigger falls compared to TSM. However the inclusion of Edward, formerly of Gambit Gaming, onto the team has shut down those predictions and Curse is a bit of a wildcard with their new European blood. Their botlane is going to be naturally different now that Elementz’s small shoes are being filled by Edward, but knowing how big the change will be is hard to predict.
Cop has been heavily criticized as being a passive AD, focused more on playing safe and farming rather than going for aggressive actions. In tournament play throughout Season 3 this was most certainly the case. However a lot of that playstyle rested on his cohesion with Elementz, and as the dissent between Elementz and the rest of the team grew, that began to falter. Cop has shown his ability to kill dudes in solo queue and if Edward is there going aggressive and landing hooks left and right he will be there to follow up, but will he be able to keep pace with Edward?
That is the (potentially) million dollar question. Can Edward work with the rest of Curse? Back when he was known as GosuPepper and as a huge troll, his aggressive personality made him one of the most disliked League of Legends pros. To put it bluntly, Gosu was a pretty big jackass on stream, and that personality might stick with him off stream. Factor in that Edward had issues with Genja and it hasn’t been revealed who caused the conflict between Edward and Gambit Gaming’s shotcaller, and a possible recipe for disaster might be brewing on Curse. Cop, Voyboy, and NY Jacky all have fairly passive personalities in relation to SaintVicious’ aggressive nature, and Edward breaks that mold solidly. The team respects each other right now, but will they be able to handle each other a week from now? At playoffs? There is going to be early steam going forward since the team hasn’t had time to learn to hate Edward, but the road for Curse looks unsteady in an emotional sense.
That tends to be the Achilles Heel of Curse. Unlike other teams that tend to fall behind and have difficulty recovering with their play, Curse has a nasty habit of having difficulty with a member and stirring up drama. In Season 2 a lot of the blame was dedicated at Westrice, and Westrice downward spiralled into more losses as the hate grew. In January they had major issues with Jacky prior to the Season 3 qualifiers, but Curse was able to whip him back into shape. In April there was the Elementz debacle and he ended up leaving the team after underperforming. Since Curse tends to be very public with their statements, this leads to situations where there are upvoted Reddit threads stating whether a player should quit or stay. While most players have learned to ignore Reddit’s opinions on players, in tense situations the public hate can be a breaking point. They’ve shown with Jacky that they can recover from their hate cycle, at the same time it’s not the norm and it’s with Edward’s personality it’s very likely if the bad blood gets in the way of games it won’t dissipate.
What does this mean for the Summer Split? No one knows how the botlane will play out. North America is known for its AD carries moreso than other roles, so Edward may not be able to pull off some of his normal 1v2 bullying. Sona is getting nerfed and Thresh needs to be banned or picked versus Edward, so his naturally aggressive champion pool is going to be a little smaller than Curse would like it to be. At the same time, Edward might just kill everybody, ever. If Curse does well and doesn’t have an extended period of losses (more than a week) they’re not likely to fall into Curse drama and the team will have a strong grip in the top three. On the other hand if they fail for an extended amount of time the team might collapse and eventually SaintVicious will drunkenly threaten to replace Edward with L0cust. It’s anyone’s guess at this point.
For the other teams, check out these articles on Cloud9 and Velocity, Team Coast and CLG, and Dignitas and Vulcun. For are any questions or comments, feel free to contact the author Twitter (@LeagueOfStudio) or leave a comment below.
-Christopher “Studio” Grant