The 2016 NA LCS Summer Split is already more than half over. The conclusion of week 5 leaves us with a top 3 of TSM, Immortals, and a three-way tie between Team Liquid, Cloud 9, and Team EnvyUs. These rankings make it very clear just how strong each North American team has been this Summer.
The Best Teams in North America
TSM and Immortals are S tier. TSM have yet to lose a set, and Immortals have only lost (one) to TSM. Both of these teams have been extremely dominant, and with exception to a few shaky moments, they’re almost always ahead of their opponents on Summoner’s Rift. If you were forced to place your bets on which teams would compete in the NA LCS finals in Toronto, TSM and Immortals would be the obvious wager.
A-Tier Teams: Good, but Not Great
Below the powerhouse teams we have Cloud 9 and Team Liquid. Note the exclusion of Envy? I don’t believe Team Envy is as strong as their record shows. They are certainly ahead of bottom tier teams as they’ve shown us, but they convincingly drop games to S-tier teams and don’t look like too much of a threat to C9 and TL.
Both Team Liquid and Cloud 9 are teams capable of making things interesting for TSM and Immortals. Team Liquid is back on the upswing after welcoming jungler Dardoch back onto the team. How that will affect the team dynamics in the long term is tough to say. Regardless, as soon as they put Dardoch back onto the team they started winning again. That’s not a coincidence.
Cloud 9 is in an interesting spot as an organization. They are transitioning from old talent to new talent and hitting a couple speed bumps along the way. Their plan of creating a roster that reunited former teammates Rush and Impact was squashed by Riot doubling the residency requirements for an import player to be considered a non-import from 2 years to 4 years. Now the boats have been burned and the current roster is left trying to make things work.
Given the circumstances C9 is performing relatively well. They are an A-tier team capable of challenging S-tier teams if on their best day. Newly hired coach Reapered is getting good reviews from the players and the Bunnyfufuu/Smoothie 1a/1b strategy doesn’t appear to be negatively affecting the team. These are all good signs for Cloud 9, but will the team reach its form in time for playoffs? Maybe, maybe not.
NA LCS: B-Tier Teams
Team EnvyUs, Apex, and the defending NA LCS champions, CLG, make up the B-tier. This is certainly not a bad thing for Envy and Apex. Finishing middle of the pack should be considered a success for any brand new roster breaking into the NA LCS. Both of these teams have shown reasonable potential, but like many young teams, it’s the elusive consistency they lack.
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On the other end of the expectation spectrum we have Counter Logic Gaming. How frustrated do you think these guys are right now? A couple months ago all of North America was behind them as they battled their way to the grand finals of the Mid-Season Invitational. Now they’re sitting on the playoff bubble and nobody can really say if they have what it takes this time around to turn things around.
Experience is CLG’s biggest asset. The veterans on this team know that they are capable of forgetting the past and doing their best to have a strong second half. Last split CLG worked together like no other team and defeated their opponents with strong shot calling and map movements. This split they can’t even escape laning phase without giving up a gold deficit.
The C-Tier: NRG, EFX, P1
The bottom of the NA LCS is comprised of NRG, Echo Fox, and Phoenix1. It’s not surprising to see Phoenix1 here at all. Everybody knew coming into Summer that this wasn’t a competitive roster. The Phoenix1 organization saw an opportunity to purchase Team Impulse’s LCS slot and they took it. Now they’re in last place with a relegation match to look forward to.
The most surprising C-tier team? Echo Fox. I’m not saying Froggen is cursed, but… Echo Fox has shown glimpses of potential since joining the NA LCS in Spring. Diverse top laner, low economy jungler, strong mid laner, and a passable bottom lane. These are not the worse ingredients to have at your disposal as an LCS team. Echo Fox struggles to make things happen. Froggen’s shot calling has won them games in tight base race situations, but the team routinely sits back until they lose in the majority of their games.
The jury is out on the new NRG roster, but the verdict may surprise you. Heading into Summer the general consensus was that this was an Ohq/GBM team being supported by experienced veterans. Now, with more than half of Spring being over with, it’s Quas and Santorin that are the consistent performers on this team, and Ohq has yet to be seen. Without GBM and Ohq hard carrying this team NRG is destined to be a C-tier team with B-tier aspirations.