Monday, June 13, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer Preview

Who is hyped for another split in the glorious NALCS!? I know we are already 12 weeks in, but never fear, the analysis will be rolling! We are back and better than ever, coming off a MSI FINALS APPEARANCE by Spring Champions Counter Logic Gaming. Now that NA have proved to be major contenders in international play, with two knockout-round teams in both major international tournaments this year, I'm extremely excited to see which teams from this split will make it to #Worlds2016 and how they will fare. The storylines for this split abound, starting with our first game:

  • CLG and Team SoloMid played an extremely competitive BO5 in the Spring Final... and we get them right back again in Week 1... this time in a BO3!! I'm excited for the new best-of changes to the LCS for two major reasons: 1) this helps prep teams for international play, where best-of series dominate the conversation, and 2) this allows them to play more games at the highest level. LCK and LPL teams already play much more on stage than their LCS counterparts, giving them more time to figure out comps, counters, and how to adjust mid-series. I think the best-of move will even the competitive landscape and give LCS teams an even better shot at downing the Koreans
  • Speaking of TSM - I love me some Bora Kim, but Yellowstar was a huge disappointment in the last split. He was constantly caught out of position on roams or in lane and led to a lot of unnecessary deaths, especially for Doublelift. Of course, non-Bjergsen members of TSM all took turns screwing the pot (Doublelift basically threw their first regular season game against Immortals), but there clearly wasn't synergy with Yellowstar, which made for some very interesting comps with Yellwostar unable to bring on in-meta supports (his Braum was a disaster all split) because of his inability to fit the right team dynamic. Still - love you, Bora, and wish you the best with Fnatic, where I think you will be very good! Anyway, TSM brought on a new LCS player, Biofrost, to pair with Doublelift and while I won't spoil too much now, I think this is an exciting development for a team that was soooo close to winning 2016 Spring.
  • And we haven't even gotten to the team that went 17-1 on the way to a first seed in the Spring Playoffs! Immortals really felt uncomfortable in the new meta after IEM Katowice, only suriving games off favorable player matchups and their superior skill. Their playing the meta incorrectly was revealed in their playoff loss to TSM where they picked three ranged ADCs into Braum (one of Yellowstar's few standout Braum games) and never felt in-control. One of the few LCS teams to bring back their entire starting lineup, I'm expecting big things from this team. Can they shore up their presence in mid lane, where Pobelter was the only one not to earn first-team NALCS in the Spring? Can they play the correct style around Huni? I'm excited to see.
  • The new teams: Apex was dominant in the promotion tournament and deserve their spot in the LCS. Seraph is still an unstoppable LCS force for EnVyUs, who purchased the Renegades spot (another example of Riot overreach). Team Impulse started unexpectedly strong before falling off, but will have another season under the belt as the rebranded Phoenix1. I think one of these teams will definitely make the summer playoffs. 
  • Will C9's roster experiment work? C9 lost in pretty disheartening fashion to TSM in the Spring Playoffs. Balls and Rush particularly their matchups in ways I did not expect. Both of those guys are now off the starting roster, as is Hai, who was credit for a lot of C9's midseason turnaround. Can they find the right pieces around Sneaky and Jensen with a 10-man roster, nearly each of who are qualified to start in the LCS? Can they keep their chemistry intact with so many strong players and only 5 starting sleds each week? My hope is that they use subs intelligently in the BO3 format, and they show the depth of the LCS by rolling out different strats with different player comps. I think this is a good development for the NALCS and I'm hoping that it works.
Those are just some of things I'm looking forward to this split. There are many more. How far will Froggen go this season after carrying Echo Fox upon his return in Spring? Can NRG regroup after losing so much (I'm not super hopeful, but maybe)? What will Liquid do with Dardoch, or will Moon show some signs of life? Can CLG get more consistent carry performances out of Huhi? They are the champs after all and we've barely talked about them! That's how good the NALCS is!

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