NA LCS 2016 Summer Split Pre-Season Power Rankings

The 2016 North American LCS summer split gets under way this Friday and many fans are still unsure where their team stands when compared to the rest of the field. Hopefully, these power rankings help clarify some of your questions about each team. I’ve ranked each team and placed them into groups to help shape the league before it gets underway. Let’s waste no more time and dive right into the rankings.

The Big Three

CLG at MSI

CLG at MSI

1) CLG:

CLG completed their repeat as champions of North America and will look to make it 3 in a row this summer. They return the exact same lineup as spring, which is something new to CLG. Darshan and Xmithie continue to be solid players for CLG that consistently perform well. Huhi is still the weakest point of this team in my opinion, but he has improved his game and is capable of hanging with the best mid laners in NA. His champion pool could use a little more expanding though. Aprhomoo has cemented his place as one of the best supports in North American LCS history. He needs to continue leading his squad with phenomenal play and shot-calling to guide them to a 3-peat. Last but not least Stixxay. Stixxay shined very bright at MSI, but can still improve certain aspects of his game. If he stops making mistakes at crucial points in games, CLG could very well be lifting a trophy for the third consecutive split.

2) Immortals

Immortals finished the spring split with an astounding 17-1 record and only dropped a game to CLG in the regular season. However, their postseason run was the worst from a #1 seed we have ever seen in the LCS. They were swept in their first series against TSM and looked lost each game. Immortals has the talent to once again be at the top of the standings this split, but they need to diversify their team style. Their play style was very linear in the spring and they really need to try new strategies. Huni needs to play tanks when the team needs it. Adrian needs to play melee supports when the team needs it. Reignover and Pobelter need to strengthen their synergy together and Immortals will be on their way to another semi-final appearance.

3) TSM

TSM finished one game short of taking home the spring split title and return 4/5 starters. Bjergsen and Doublelift are both star carries and proved that they can co-exist. Svenskeren will need to play at the level he was playing at during the playoffs for the entire season so that TSM can finish with a better seeding. Yellowstar’s departure was not that surprising, but his replacement Biofrost has no LCS stage experience. Biofrost has been around the challenger scene for years now and could very well step in and contribute enough to help TSM win another LCS title. There may be a little adjustment period for the bottom lane, but TSM has all the talent they need to end up in the end with the title.

Challengers to the Upper Echelon

Cloud 9

Cloud 9

4) Cloud 9

Cloud 9 made huge strides in the off-season and are hoping to be able to once again challenge for an LCS title. Balls, Rush, and Hai left the starting lineup and are now on the Cloud 9 Challenger team. Former NRG top laner, Impact, came over to Cloud 9 and gives them a strong top laner. BunnyFufu was promoted from sub to the starting support. He will need to show fans he can play more than just Thresh at an LCS caliber level. The biggest news for Cloud 9 is replacing Rush with Meteos, who decided to come out of his retirement. Meteos is a highly skilled jungler that could help the team with the many team fighting problems they had last season. With him coming back into the team, expect Jensen and Sneaky to improve their gameplay even more. Cloud 9 will make a lot of noise this summer, but can they perform well without their leader Hai? We shall see.

5) Echo Fox

Echo Fox was plagued with visa issues for half of their first season and looked very strong down the stretch once their full roster played together. Froggen and Keith are both stars at their position and can very well carry their team to the playoffs this season. KFO and Hard will need to improve their early game on the top side of the map this split and Big will need to cut out his random mistakes for Echo Fox to make a title run. The team has been very vocal about their boot camp in Korea this off-season and are very confident coming into the summer split. Echo Fox is a dark horse that no team should be sleeping on.

Teams with Talent and Question Marks

dardochcrowd

6) Team Liquid

Team Liquid is in a very peculiar place at the moment. The news of Dardoch’s suspension caught many fans off guard and created many questions. If Dardoch plays, Team Liquid should be ranked higher. If Dardoch does not play, Team Liquid should be ranked lower. His suspension and possible transfer has become a big distraction for a team that was looking very promising a couple weeks ago. As for the 4 returning starters that have been confirmed, Piglet is the best ADC in North America. The team will need to ride in his backpack the entire season, especially if Dardoch is no longer a part of their team. Matt and Lourlo need to continue their growth in the 2nd split after a good rookie split for both players. Fenix needs to open up his champion pool and show the ability to gain an advantage in the mid lane more often. Team Liquid shouldn’t be ranked here, but with all the unanswered questions it is hard to place them where they should be.

7) NRG

NRG has even more unanswered question than Team Liquid does. They have 4 new starters who all come from different places. Quas has come out of retirement to take the top lane position on NRG. If he is as good as he was while on Team Liquid, then he should have no problem making a return to the LCS stage as a quality top laner. Santorin comes in to replace Moon in the jungle for NRG. Moon was the worst jungler in NA last season, but Santorin’s career has been straight downhill ever since he left TSM. He has another chance to regain his professional career and will be looking to take advantage of it.  NRG also replaced their bottom lane of Altec and KonKwon with Ohq and KiwiKid. Ohq comes from a challenger team where he performed very well. Before that, he was one of the top ADCs in Korea. Ohq can be a star in the NA LCS and now has his chance to prove it. KiwiKid finally abandoned ship from the sinking Team Dignitas tug boat. His play will have to improve in order for NRG to make a playoff run. His experience could help the team, but his champion pool can hurt them. GBM is the star of this team and the only returning member. He will need to take hold of his four new teammates and try to guide them to the light at the end of the tunnel.

8) Team EnVyUs

Team EnVyUs purchased the LCS spot held by the Renegades this off-season after the organization was forced to sell their team due to their violations. They retained some of the players from the Renegades and have put together a team that could secretly make a playoff run. Seraph and Ninja have proven they can compete at the LCS level and having two solo laners you can count on is really a great thing to have for any team. Proxcin comes over from Team Impulse and will have to improve his game drastically this season. His debut split with Impulse was very underwhelming. The most concerning part of this team is their bottom lane that consists of Nientonsoh and Hakuho. Neither player has shown strong performances on the LCS stage and they could very well put their team in a hole each game. They will need to be able to hang with the best bottom lanes in North America to give their team a fighting chance each game.

9) Apex Gaming

Apex earned their LCS spot this off-season by defeating TDK in the finals of the promotion tournament. They are committed to using a 10 man roster this season. With the LCS being a best-of-three league now, this could give them more flexibility within a series to operate with. Keane and Shiphtur in the mid lane have different play-styles. The same is true with the junglers Diamondprox and Shrimp. Ray is the starting top laner, but Cris is an LCS veteran that could also steal away some playing time. Apollo and Roar are the ADC’s and Xpecial and KonKwon are the supports on this team. The roster is filled with experienced players and unproven Korean talent. Figuring out Apex’s starting lineup each week could alone give teams headaches.

The Bottom of the Barrel

phoenix1

10) Phoenix1

Phoenix1 is a new organization that purchased the LCS spot from Team Impulse after they were forced to sell due to their violations as an organization. They are starting from the bottom and currently are the only dwellers in this group. The team returns Team Impulse players Gate and Mash in the bottom lane as well as their mid laner Pirean. They also picked up Slooshi to compete for the mid lane spot. He was last seen playing for Team 8 before he stepped down mid season. Inori is the jungler for this team and has plenty of experience in the Challenger scene. He needs to take this opportunity and prove that he can hang with the big boys. The top laners on this team will be Zig and Brandini. Zig is the presumed starter, but both players are very inexperienced and could struggle mightily against some of the best top laners in North America. Phoenix1 will have time to grow, but they will need to adapt quickly or they may need to be reborn once again.

The LCS action kicks off this Friday in North America. With teams competing in the best-of-three format, there will be plenty of games for viewers to tune into and watch. Make sure you stay on top of all the changes and scheduling so that you don’t miss your favorite team play.

By: Jeff “Gravy” Miskin

Twitter: @BigBadGravy