NA LCS: 2016 Spring Split Pre-Season Power Rankings

This week Season 6 of competitive League of Legends kicks off around the globe. On Saturday North America will debut many new teams as well as many new faces. Before teams take the rift to do battle, let’s see where exactly they stand before the season begins in our power rankings. If you missed our European LCS power rankings, click here to check that out.


 

1) TSM

TSmwall

TSM once again finds themselves as the pre-season favorites. A position they held before both splits last season. TSM’s only returning member from season 5 is their mid laner, Bjergsen. TSM reconstructed their team behind the two biggest moves in the western scene by acquiring longtime CLG ADC Doublelift, as well as former Fnatic support player YellowStar. Doublelift and YellowStar are long time veterans of the pro scene and top tier players at their respective roles. Even with hardly any practice, this bottom lane instantly becomes one of the best in North America. With the retirement of eSports legend Dyrus from the top lane, TSM brought in Hauntzer, who played season 5 on an average Gravity squad. He will be left on an island like Dyrus was, but Hauntzer should be a slight upgrade in that position. To complete the roster, TSM signed former SK Gaming jungler Svenskeren. Svenskeren has great mechanics and will be looking to rebound after a down year last year in Europe. TSM built a team to win, and they have the personal to do it. Now it comes down to execution.


 

2) Immortals

immortals-reveals-roster-title

One of the biggest off-season questions was where would Huni and Reignover be playing next season. Immortals started from scratch as they purchased Team 8’s LCS spot and brought over one of the best duos in the world. Huni and Reignover had an amazing year on Fnatic last year, but now they will be looking to dominate North America. Joining the two Koreans are mid laner Pobelter, ADC WildTurtle, and support Adrian. Pobelter won the 2015 summer split championship as part of CLG but was not retained by the organization after a sub-par performance at Worlds. Pobelter will need to improve his game though if Immortals want to take the number one spot this spring. WildTurlte and Adrian are the weak point of this team but are in no way weak. Turtle did not have the best year for TSM, and he will be looking to rebound with Adrian’s top notch vision on the bottom side of the map. Adrian was almost out of the pro scene last year but stayed with Team Impulse for the remainder of the year. There may have been some internal problems with his past team, but a fresh start is exactly what Adrian was looking for. Immortals should be the toughest opponent for TSM this upcoming year.


 

3) NRG

nrglogo

Coming in at the number 3 spot is NRG. NRG is also a brand new organization this split that bought an LCS spot. NRG is led by an investment group that contains many big names like the Sacramento Kings owners. NRG bought their LCS spot from Team Coast and quickly assemble a team ready to compete. Their lineup consists of Impact (Top), Moon (Jungle), GBM (Mid), Altec (ADC), and KonKwon (Support). The strong part of this team is their solo laners. Impact is a season 3 world champion and had a successful season last year with Team Impulse. In the other solo lane, GBM comes over from Korea where he was last playing with Jin Air. He brings experience and skill to a team that could use it. Altec is no pushover in the bottom lane, but he will need to take the next step for this team to become champions. KonKwon was on the Coast team that sold their spot, so he did, in fact, earn his spot in the LCS. Now he will need to show why he deserves to stay. The biggest x-factor on this team is Moon. Moon will finally make it onto the LCS stage after a long time spent in the challenger scene. He’ll be looking to leave his mark and help NRG make a run to the top.


4) Cloud 9

cloud9rushfufu

The North American powerhouse Cloud 9 finds itself at number 4, but I have a feeling, not for long. This team has the talent to make it into the top 3 without question. Hai’s ability in the support role has me a bit skeptic. Cloud 9 acquired Rush from Team Impulse in the off-season. His addition should greatly help them on the top side of the map. The 2015 summer split MVP will be looking to once again prove himself as the best jungler in NA. Balls, Incarnation, and Sneaky all return to the lineup as well. The other change to the team is BunnyFufu being brought in as a substitute support. If Hai does not perform well at his new role, BunnyFufu could save the day for Cloud 9 fans and contribute to this team. There’s no doubt that Cloud 9 will be in the playoffs in my mind.


 

5) Team Liquid

Liquid

Team Liquid returns in season 6 with two new faces and a solid core. Piglet, Fenix, and IWillDominate will be looking to continue their success from the summer split last season and make their ways towards the top. Xpecial departed and taking his spot will be Smoothie, the former TDK support. This might be an upgrade, then again, it might not be. We will need to see how Smoothie does against the best of the best when he has capable players around him this time around. An even bigger question mark on this team is their new top laner Lourlo. Quas was top tier top laner in North America, now they have a top laner that didn’t even perform well in the Challenger series. In a league with Huni, ZionSpartan, and Impact, I don’t think Lourlo will be able to hold his own.


 

6) CLG

CLG2016

Like Team Liquid, CLG also returns 3 starts from season 5. They also are bringing in 2 promising young players that they hope will pan out to be stars. CLG promoted Stixxay from their Challenger team to take the place of Doublelift at ADC. He has huge shoes to fill, but with Aprhomoo giving him guidance in the bot lane, Stixxay should be able to turn some heads. Xmithie and ZionSpartan are going to have to play at the same level as they were playing at the end of season 5 in order to help out the young guns on this squad. Huhi will take over the mid lane duties for Pobelter this season as well. Huhi spent the summer split as CLG’s back up mid laner, so he should have no adjustment issues. Look for CLG to earn that final playoff spot this spring.


7) LA Renegades

Renegades

Renegades were the first place team in the Challenger scene last year and earned a birth in the LCS with their performance. Crumbz and Alex Ich lead this team of bandits as they try to establish themselves as a threat to the top team in NA. RF Legendary worries me in the top lane much like Lourlo does for Team Liquid. Freeze (Former Copenhagen Wolves ADC) and Remilia in the bot lane will be better than people expect. Renegades may not be the most talented team in the LCS, but they are a good team that nobody will be able to sleep on this upcoming split.


 

8) Echo Fox

echofoxpaper

The biggest storyline this off-season was all the big names in the business world buying LCS teams. One of those big names is former NBA star, Rick Fox. Rick Fox purchased the LCS spot that belonged to Gravity and quickly assembled a team that could compete. The big name on Echo Fox is Froggen. Froggen moves over to North America after a disappointing season 5 on Elements. Other than Froggen and their ADC Keith, Echo Fox lacks talent. Echo Fox’s support Baby has been around the NA Challenger scene for a while, but has never impressed. Their jungler, Hard, has also been around the NA Challenger scene but has never made it to the LCS stage. Baby and Hard will look to show fans and other teams that they do belong at the pro level. The mystery of this team is their top laner, KFO. KFO is an unknown from Korean solo queue. There’s no way to tell exactly how well or how poorly he will perform when the lights are on.


 

9) Team Dignitas

Dignitaspaper

Dignitas has been around the scene forever it feels like, but their talent is severely lacking. Their mid laner, Shiphtur, and support player, KiwiKid, are returning with 3 new faces around them that don’t get viewers out of their seat excited. Apollo makes his way to Dignitas by way of Team Impulse, but he has shown the inability to take the next step as a carry ADC. Add him with SmittyJ in the top lane and Kirei in the jungle, plus the two returning player, and you have a below average squad. Dignitas surprised many people last year, maybe they could find some magic again and make an improbable playoff push.


10) Team Impulse

Impulsepaper

RIP TIP. Team Impulse are in the same boat as European team Elements. They tried to sell their spot, but failed to do so and are now competing with a ragtag bunch of players. This team finished 4th in both splits last season, but failed to retain any starters. The only player coming back is Gate, who is now playing support. Next to him in the bot lane is MashMe, who has failed on the pro level multiple times and found himself being relegated right back to the challenger scene. The solo laner are Feng and Pirean, two players who have no experience on the pro level and are just solo queue players. Their jungler, Procxin, had a very brief stint playing professionally in Japan, but as you can see, did not work out. Team Impulse may very well have wrapped up one of the worst off-seasons for a team in LCS history. Anything better than 10th place would be a huge success for TIP.


 

The North American LCS will kick off Saturday at 3:00 EST. This split is sure to be one of the best ones ever with all the new competition. I’ve never been more excited for a split to start. Make sure you stay on top of everything that’s happening in the pro scene all year long here at Big Bad eSports.

By: Jeff “Gravy” Miskin

Twitter: @BigBadGravy