NA LCS 2019: Preseason Power Rankings
With the 2019 NA LCS Spring Split getting closer and closer, all eyes are once again on North America as they look to improve on their first ever semifinals performance in the modern era at last year’s World Championships. This year also marks the start of the naturalized players being introduced into the league, with the NA region boasting more imports than any other top league at the moment. Looking forward, esports.net has devised a list, categorizing the best teams participating in the 2019 NA LCS Spring Split this next year. Keep in mind that this list is subject to change, and is only to be considered a reference point for the first week of LCS action.
The 2019 NA LCS season start date will be the weekend of January 26. For a full NA LCS Spring schedule of the year, refer to Leaguepedia to catch your favorite teams matches at every point of the split.
Starting off our list at rock bottom, it seems like FlyQuest are in a transition year as their lackluster roster signings have been dampened by the subsequent firing of their Head Coach Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco early this month. Adding Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Omran “V1per” Shoura to the roster is a boost to their sails, but the Canadian LoL roster simply does not have enough fire power at this point to merit them becoming a playoff team for a successive split.The saving grace for this roster rests on Santorin and his ability to play off of rookies. In the Summer Split of 2017, there was an argument to be made for Santorin being a top three jungler in the league, and if he can keep the momentum going, FlyQuest may actually have something to be excited about for 2019.
9. OpTic Gaming
OpTic Gaming have had one of the absolute weirdest offseasons in NA LCS history with their acquisition of players this year. What started off as a blockbuster free agent pickup with William “Meteos” Hartman quickly became overshadowed by the additions of Lee “Crown” Min-ho and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett at Mid and Jungle respectively.Having two LCS caliber junglers on your team is generally a bad omen for players who don’t enjoy sharing game time, and both Meteos and Dardoch will be attempting to earn that starting spot role for the long term, making it an easy breeding ground for team conflict at an early stage.
Not only that, but OpTic are also in danger of suffering communication breakdowns from having another player who needs to learn the language. Although Crown is a workhorse for improving at the game, he will need that same work ethic to improve his communication skills to really make the best out of this 2019 roster.
8. Golden Guardians
Golden Guardians have hit a complete revamp for the 2019 NA LCS Spring Split and the possibilities for success are once again in the crosshairs. After a massive team breakup that saw GG only retain the services of Jungler Contractz and ADC Deftly, the team was heavy on prospect talent but there was a lack of veteran skill in their ranks.The 2019 Golden Guardians will look to change that next year. Adding Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung to their team has given Contractz much more tools to play with on the top side of the map, and using their aggressive laning to his advantage might be the secret sauce to picking up a few more wins next season and potentially make a playoff push.
7. Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming opted for a low budget, 10 man lineup this year as they are looking to ingratiate their impressive Academy roster into the main team over the course of 2019. Keeping Darshan at top and adding Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage to their ranks has improved their stock slightly in the mid lane, but the real power of this team stems from the bot lane.Stixxay and Biofrost, under the tutelage of Head Coach Weldon Green, have the most to gain this season as they look to do the brunt of the carrying from bot lane next year. Weldon’s debut as an LCS Head Coach is as much a storyline as any player signing for CLG this year, but they are still lacking that star player who can make or break teamfights in high stress situations.
6. Clutch Gaming
While some critics have rated Clutch Gaming as the worst team coming into the 2019 NA LCS Spring Split, their roster has a few contentious points that will surely make them more competitive as an organization than ever before. The additions of Heo “Huni” Sung-hoon and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin in combination with star jungler LirA, means that Clutch Gaming will have a decisive late game trio that will be looking to make aggressive moves no matter what the result.
While having this high intensity feast or famine gameplay can be disruptive for team results, taking gambles in a best of one format like NA LCS is the only real way to ensure wins against teams that are better than you, and Clutch Gaming have the M.O. necessary to grind out results from being craftier than their opponents.
5. Echo Fox
What at first seemed like a budget roster for Echo Fox this year quickly turned into a beacon of hope for fans of the organization after the major signing of Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae this offseason. The beloved streamer and LoL pro spent all of 2018 in South Korea plying his trade on LCK Champions kT Rolster as their back up jungler, and now Rush is back into the fold with some familiar teammates on his side.
In the bot lane, Apollo and Hakuho remain together for another year as their indefatigable bond remains true to their playstyle. This is now the third team Apollo and Hakuho have joined together and their synergy in 2018 was definitely worth keeping for a second look. Adding FeniX in Mid Lane and Lourlo in Top Lane don’t seem like major acquisitions right now, but both players have a chip on their shoulder for how they were discarded last year, and the future is looking brighter than ever for the Orange Foxes.
4. Team Solo Mid
After failing to make Worlds for the first time in their history, TSM are in a bit of an identity crisis heading into the new year now that they’ve decided to make some serious changes. Losing Mithy and Hauntzer and breaking up the legendary bot lane of Zven and Mithy are two huge storylines to keep track of this next season.At Support, TSM have added former MVP of the league in Andy “Smoothie” Ta to pair up with Zven in the bot lane. Smoothie’s communication skills will come in handy for TSM, a team that has been known to get pensive if the game isn’t in their favor. Smoothie has the capability to improve this team immensely, but the real question mark comes from their top lane in new Turkish import talent Sergen “Broken Blade” Celic.
If Broken Blade is the prospect he’s made out to be, TSM can very well become an elite team in the league, if he lags behind and doesn’t pull his weight in the top lane, it’s going to be another very long year for TSM.
3. 100 Thieves
At first glance, this 100 Thieves roster seems like a definite upgrade from the pitiful roster that ended up making it to Worlds last year. Adding in former World Champion Bae “Bang” Jun-sik alongside Team Captain Aphromoo for next split immediately makes them candidates for strongest bot lane in North America. Retaining Ssumday for 2019 was a huge step in the right direction being their best carry last year, but the real ace in the hole for this roster comes from the Mid lane position.While Huhi’s latest performances in the past few years have made him a liability for CLG, his worth on a roster like 100 Thieves is improved massively as he is considered a North American resident that can speak fluent Korean to his new teammates. Huhi also played his best League of Legends when he was partnered alongside Aphromoo at CLG, and returning to a control mage role as he puts Bang and Ssumday in a position to carry will be key to their success next year.
2. Cloud 9
Cloud 9 once again find themselves in a semi rebuild after their last year’s heroics at the World Championships. The most successful org in the NA region will face yet another challenge as their most consistent player has jumped ship to Team Liquid, but Cloud 9 are opting for strength in numbers next year with a possible seven man roster being floated around as a possibility.Picking up Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer to compete with GoldenGlue for a starting spot will definitely soften the blow for this team, but one way or another Cloud 9 will need to start finding new win conditions as Licorice enters his sophomore year and Sneaky returns to the fold at AD Carry once again.
1. Team Liquid
No surprise with the top pick here, the back to back NA LCS champions last year have yet another score to settle in 2019, and that goal starts with being the best North American team to represent their region on the Worlds stage. Team Liquid have made two major upgrades this year, buying out Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in to fill out their roster.Team Liquid also have an added boost next split as Jensen will finally become a naturalized North American resident, opening the door to yet another import slot if Team Liquid want to continue expanding in the next year. With two major upgrades at Mid and Support, it’s hard to see a Doublelift led team falling by the wayside so early in the season. Expect Team Liquid to continue dominating 2019 NA LCS Spring Split from the outskirts in this new era of dominance for the team.