The Lock In tournament seems to have been the perfect way to throw everyone back into the excitement of competitive league. After this initial glimpse at how the LCS is shaping up, we have even more unfounded hopes and notes of despair creeping into our perceptions. Retirements and roster swaps filled the off season, but now we have the means to back up our unfounded opinions after a draft or skirmish as to why our teams will fail or succeed.
While we all clearly understand these teams have a lengthy time to overcome issues plaguing them and transform into an undeniable top of the table force. It is hard to ignore what we all saw, good or bad, over the course of the Lock In tournament. There are undeniably standout teams where the expectation is a fight for first place, compared to other organizations who will be lucky to make it to a respectable place in the playoffs.
It will not be long until we make our way into the Mid-Season showdown which will determine North America’s representative to MSI. That being the case, let’s take a moment to readjust our expectations and not convince our hearts (SPOILERS)Counter Logic Gaming has a chance here.
Everyone should be worried about Team Liquid going on another round of championship wins after what was displayed during the Lock In tournament. Team Liquid continued to not only maintain their traditional playstyle of making very few mistakes, they are finally dipping their toes into aggression. While Team Liquid clearly has points of improvement, when they began winning a game, it felt like there was very little hope of a comeback. Team Liquid is nearly composed of the best players in their respective role and if they aren’t you can at least make a respectable argument on a players behalf for the title. As things stand right now, it would be a surprise if Team Liquid were anywhere below a top two finish throughout every LCS event this year.
The addition of Perkz set up a standard of immediate success in the eyes of the public. This “success” should have probably included discussions about a development period and it not looking too pretty. We should have all looked over at the LEC of the past and how Perkz generally performed there on G2. While Perkz has had great performances, watching G2 play could give you a headache. G2 being as good as they were on the international stage would sometimes do some of the strangest things and Perkz was a part of that. In time, Perkz will likely help elevate Cloud9 to new heights and similar plays resulting in internal panic. It will be an interesting storyline to follow across the year and even more interesting to see Cloud9 gradually look to challenge the wall that is currently Team Liquid.
The 100 Thieves organization probably has one of the easiest times getting into the conversation of sitting at the top of the table. While that is probably still unlikely considering Cloud9 and Team Liquid, there is still a glimmer of hope as this team comes together. This is the critical aspect of 100 Thieves considering the core of its players have already been together for a year and are now getting a pure upgrade out of Ssumday. By all accounts 100 Thieves should unarguably threaten the top of the standings. If 100 Thieves do not manage this over the course of the year, however, it is probably time to look at the coaching staff. This 100 Thieves roster is arguably the most talented lineup Tony “Zikz” Gray has ever had and they have all been put to the test. If 100 Thieves coaching staff is unable to elevate this roster into the debate of being a top three team, a new coach is likely on the way.
Evil Geniuses clearly have an immense game knowledge and will probably never lose to a lower end team as a result of in game decision making. Even if Evil Geniuses are behind, you can look to Impact to find an incredible flank to pull up an advantage. The biggest point of concern held towards Evil Geniuses is likely in regards to champion pools for their solo laners. The prospect of seeing Impact play more aggressive champions is exciting, but the repetitive Gnar picks raises concerns. In the case of Jizuke, the question becomes if he will ever be able to look exemplary on control style mages. It’s these champion pools that might make Evil Genius more reliant on a meta shift than anything else to pull off deep runs in tournaments.
It took a little while for all of the pieces of FlyQuest to arrive, but this lineup is taking off in a convincing way. FlyQuest made a really great case not to judge a roster until their full lineup arrives and that was made clear once Josedeodo joined. Things were looking rather bleak for FlyQuest, but life seemed to be restored back to the team once Josedeodo arrived. These statements are reaching into some rather significant assumptions as we really do need more time to see how this team shapes up. While this does seem like a solid roster of veterans and rookies, we need to keep in mind they were slammed by Team Liquid. As of right now, it is probably safe to think of FlyQuest as a team floating in the middle of the pack unless a player jumps in prominence.
Golden Guardians may not win many games this year, but every win will be celebrated. Golden Guardians made it very clear this is a rebuild year and did not exaggerate their expectations to fans. Anyone watching Golden Guardians should be watching to see how this team of rookies develops and be appreciative of how aggressive they are. While the Golden Guardians will probably make their fair share of blundered calls, it’s okay, they are a group of rookies and budget players. When the year is over, any successful player will probably be sold off or traded away. For now it is time to just enjoy the ride.
Considering Immortals used a majority of their academy players during the Lock In tournament, it is difficult to predict how things could shape up. However, an initial assumption made here comes from the fact Immortals beat Dignitas with a roster consisting predominantly of their academy lineup. In a win like this, all members of the organization get a bit of the spotlight and some slight hopes of greater success. Perhaps, over the course of the league, Immortals can make their way up a few steps higher in the standings. These few steps will look more like making it into the playoffs as very low seeds, but for a team of newer talent we probably shouldn’t ask for much more. This is especially the case as Immortals falls into the pool of teams praying their teammates can escape their visa hardships.
It might take a while, but TSM are probably going to slowly creep their way into challenging other teams at the top. The roster TSM has put together during the off season doesn’t initially feel like it should fit together. The backgrounds and playstyles of all these players seems to only loosely fit together into what you would expect to be a working team. However, with a player like SwordArt you would expect this lineup to shape up into an overbearing force within the LCS. It will likely just take time as TSM learns to perhaps, slowly change the structure that has likely contributed to an inability for shot calling success. One thing is certain though, TSM knows what it takes to get through a tournament and how to prepare for it. TSM could float around a few different places in the standings, but they will likely be considered a looming threat in any playoff they make.
Admittedly, the earlier joke made towards Counter Logic Gaming was unfair, as information concerning their roster leaked a few days after the Lock In tournament and contributed to these opinions. The announcement of Pobelter getting benched amongst rumors of “attitude issues”
does nothing to build confidence regarding CLG. This is particularly unfortunate because we didn’t get to see the lineup created during the off season and there is no telling when that could ever happen. Broxah appears to be locked in some sort of visa purgatory with no real answers on the horizon. If CLG’s initial offseason lineup finally hits the stage,it seems reasonable to think CLG could have a chance to jump the highest in the standings. However, if this roster can’t come together in a timely fashion and resolve potential drama, CLG is going to continue its decline in the minds of everyone as an organization associated with below mediocre teams.
With a team composed of Dardoch and aphromoo, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see this team either barely making their way into playoffs or ending up in 10th place. The identity of Dignitas will likely in time become more clearly defined as a “high risk high reward” play style. Dardoch and aphromoo both have careers with a massive number of highlight plays, but generally end up on the losing side after a poor call. It is going to come down to the rest of the rookies on this roster to push Dignitas up into a conversation where they are relevant. I have no doubts Dignitas will grab unexpected wins, but a display of positive consistency becomes particularly difficult to believe.