Photo courtesy of Riot Games
After two months of well-deserved rest, the League of Legends Championship Series returns for the first week of the Spring Split 2020!
Following the recent change of format, there are no more championship points to win, but the competition will be no less fierce. At the end of the nine-week competition, the top six teams will win their ticket to the Playoffs, with the possibility of qualifying for the Mid Season Invitational.
As an introduction to the first day of the season, Cloud9 vs Team Liquid is a classic.
Triple LCS champions, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng and his teammates certainly want to prove that they're still the best NA team, even after the humiliation of Worlds. This upcoming match looks like a challenge, especially since they will have to play without their newly recruited jungler, Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen, who's currently facing visa issues.
Recruited as Team Liquid's Head Coach after the transfer window, Eugene "Pobelter" Park will replace Broxah in the jungle until he manages to get his visa.
On the other side of the map, Cloud9 start the season with an almost entirely new roster. With the departure of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam to Evil Geniuses and the retirement of Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, the organization brought in Robert “Blaber” Huang from the substitutes' bench, Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami from their Academy team, and recruited former Team SoloMid ADC Jasper “Zven” Svenningsen and former Clutch Gaming support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme to complete their roster.
This newly formed line-up will surely have to face numerous challenges before finding the proper balance required to play at this level of competition.
While Team Liquid dominated the LCS last year, the only obstacle on their road to the grand slam was Cloud9. The two rival teams promise a battle of giants.
If you can only watch one match this weekend, this is the one.
Behind the two current biggest rivals of the NA region, the fates of Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming seems inexplicably bounded — notably because they traded their support players. With Vincent “Biofrost” Wang joining TSM in exchange for Andy “Smoothie” Ta, the two teams adopted quite the same strategy and kept the core of their respective rosters while recruiting one or two players to fit the gaps. Both teams tasted to the podium, several years ago, and they're now hungry for the gold.
On CLG's side, Lee “Crown” Min-ho was recruited to replace Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, who left to join FlyQuest. The Korean player, who previously played for Samsung Galaxy, had a pretty rough year with OpTic Gaming, and he might find the redemption in his new team.
With the recruitment of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett from the substitutes' bench of Immortals and the import from LEC of Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, SoloMid patched a roster that is sadly far from resembling the powerhouse lineup they owned a few years ago.
CLG and TSM are two teams that made LCS history, and it would be difficult to imagine a championship without them. Last year, they were only dueling for the third place and because of these recent results they now have to prove that they can be in the frontrunners.
Immortals are starting the season, not only with the rebranding of OpTic Gaming, but also with a completely new roster built from scratches. With the recruitment of Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, they managed to secure one of the most popular free agents of the off-season, but it doesn't really feel enough. Admittedly, they also recruited Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, but the LEC veteran failed to shine in Misfits since he left Fnatic in 2018. After an absolutely dominant season in the French league, midlaner Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire might spring a surprise, especially since he already played at this level of competition during his time at Elements, in 2016.
It's almost the same with 100 Thieves, who only kept Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho from their previous roster. With the departure of Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, the team had to face the loss of the two pillars of their line-up. However, the big return of William “Meteos” Hartman and Sun “Cody Sun” Li-Yu within the team that made them famous is certainly shedding some light of hope. Directly coming from the Oceanic Pro League, Tommy “ry0ma” Le is another imponderable that could help 100 Thieves regain the status they had in 2018.
With the recruitment of Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, FlyQuest are bringing the big guns for the upcoming Split. The German midlaner and LEC veteran had a correct season with CLG, but his departure from HotshotGG's team probably means that he's aiming for more. The same goes for Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun. Alongside Schalke 04, the Korean player managed to climb LEC rankings during the past season but eventually failed to qualify for Worlds. These two hungry players are joining an organization that has always struggled to shine, but that recently proved that they could achieve far more than just being at the bottom of the rankings.
With the departure of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen to Dignitas, Golden Guardians lost their legendary midlaner and the boost of confidence he was providing. The organization recruited Can “Closer” Çelik, who dominated the Turkish league with Royal Youth during the Summer Split, and made the choice to recruit two Academy players, Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer and Yuri “Keith” Jew. If they might spring a surprise, Golden Guardians still have everything to prove.
With Echo Fox and Clutch Gaming disbanding, two former LCS teams are making their return into LCS, and they're thinking big — really big.
Dignitas is bringing Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black — a trio of veterans that demonstrated countless times their ability to change the course of a match. On their sides, Dignitas recruited two players from TSM Academy — Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen and Jonathan “Grig” Armao — who might find it difficult to adapt to the level of competition or even to the three giants leading the team.
We hadn't seen them since 2015, but Evil Geniuses are back in the spotlight with a colorful roster. For their reintroduction into LCS, the NA based organization recruited three former players of Cloud9: Colin “Kumo” Zhao, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam. They also poached Bae “Bang” Jun-sik from 100 Thieves, and are bringing LEC midlaner Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro. This line-up looks like a patchwork, but it might precisely be a source of success.
These two teams aren't completely new to LCS, but they aren't veterans either — and their journey into the NA league promises to be fraught with pitfalls and challenges. While we might expect some good things from them, their success remains quite impossible to predict.
Cloud9 proved they were the best LCS team, defeating FlyQuest in a clean sweep. It also meant they ended Playoffs with just two losses on their record.