Archive:Leaguepedia Articles/2014 NA LCS Spring Split - A Sea of Change - General Overview
|2014 NA LCS Spring Split - A Sea of Change - General Overview|
Hot off the heels of the European LCS Superweek, NA LCS opens on Friday, January 17th with a 3-day "Superweekend" featuring 16 games in total. Featuring 7 of the same 8 teams returning from the previous Split, the LCS will look different than last season nonetheless as a result of widespread roster changes. Expect action early and often, as well as a fierce battle for the top spot once again in the 2014 North America League Championship Series Spring Split.
Taking the North American scene by storm, Cloud 9 burst into the LCS via Summer Promotion, taking first place after a 5-0 Week 1 and never looking back. Cloud 9 carried the torch for North America into the Season 3 World Championship Quarterfinals, but fell to Fnatic. Throughout the Summer Split, no team was on the same level as Cloud 9, but repeating as champions will be a tough task with such a giant target on their backs.
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Leaders of the Pack
Cloud 9 dominated the LCS Summer Split, at one point going 6 weeks between losses. Relatively untested through the LCS Playoffs, Cloud 9’s capabilities relative to the World’s best teams were a total unknown. Cloud 9 was unable to prove their mettle in the Season 3 World Championship, but managed to get their revenge in the Battle of the Atlantic, beating Fnatic 2-0 and claiming victory for North America overall. Heading into the 2014 season with high expectations, anything other than a return trip to Worlds could be seen as a failure.
The only team in North America to make absolutely zero roster moves, Cloud 9 looks to flex their composition and teamfighting muscle once again. Centering around potential all-star Hai in the mid lane, Cloud 9 looks to remain ahead of the curve through variable team compositions and lane choices. With the changes to the jungle in Season 4, whether or not Meteos will be able to adapt and thrive might make all the difference for Cloud 9 in their hopes to repeat as champions in the Spring Split.
Team SoloMid started off Season 3 with great success, particularly once WildTurtle came on board, winning the Spring Split regular season and playoffs. They struggled in the Summer, but managed to participate in the World Championships where they woefully under-performed, going 2-6 including a controversial final loss to GamingGear.eu. Looking for answers, TSM made a major roster move and appear ready to challenge Cloud 9 for the title of LCS Champions in 2014.
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New Look for a New Season
TSM had their first major change since Dyrus joined when longtime AD Carry Chaox was benched in February. Former Cloud 9 member WildTurtle provided a spark that led TSM to win the Spring Split. With the introduction of Cloud 9, and re-invigoration of Vulcun in the Summer Split, TSM faded, placing third in the regular season with a 14-14 record. Following a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Cloud 9, and a dismal showing at the World Championships, the outlook for TSM was bleaker than ever before.
Enter Bjergsen, the former Ninjas in Pyjamas mid laner. The addition of Bjergsen appears to be just what TSM needed. In his first performance with TSM, Bjergsen helped lead in a 2-0 destruction of a thoroughly overwhelmed Lemondogs (though not the same team that went 1-1 against TSM at Worlds). Bjergsen’s personality meshes with the rest of TSM and morale appears extremely high for the team as they look to reclaim their place as the top team in North America.
Always on the cusp of greatness in Season 3, XDG (then Vulcun) couldn’t close out when it counted. Despite a fairly poor performance in the World Championships Group Stage, XDG opted not to stir up their roster much. An underwhelming performance in the Battle of the Atlantic brings many questions as to the legitimacy of XDG’s chances to repeat as North American representatives on the World stage. Can XDG stave off the rebuffed efforts of the competition to remain among the top in the LCS?
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Burning Bright or Burning Out?
Vulcun surprised many by placing 3rd in the Spring Split playoffs, and carried the momentum into the Summer Split, boasting a 20-8 record as well as the distinction of being the only team to beat Cloud 9 twice. Vulcun fell to TSM in the Summer Split playoff semifinals, but punched their ticket to Worlds by beating Dignitas in the 3rd place match. Starting off group stages with a bang, Vulcun knocked off eventual European champions and semifinalists Fnatic. Vulcun ultimately couldn’t sustain the success, dropping every other game against a top 3 group opponent.
Among an offseason full of roster changes for the majority of North American teams, XDG insisted they would maintain the roster that had been together since April. With a new team name and manager (Julian Collins, as Christina “Gnomesayin” Laird moves to General Manager), XDG announced a final roster tweak in the week leading up to the start of the 2014 season, with Xmithie and Zuna trading roles. The synergy between the team in their new positions remains to be seen, but XDG’s success will boil down to the ability for mandatorycloud - arguably the best mid laner in North America - to carry his team to victory.
Dignitas is a team whose brilliance comes in bursts. Their inconsistent record in the NA LCS is mirrored by the occasional dominance of mid laner Scarra. Nevertheless, the last year was marked by a gradual decline. By now, the Season 2 World Championships must seem like a long time ago to Scarra, Imaqtpie and company. With only one new addition going into Season 4, Dig aren’t following the lead of many of their rivals. Will their resistance to change prove an asset or a weakness to be exploited?
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Stubborn and Determined
Dignitas’ record in Season 3 did not slip much, as they went 17-11 in the spring and 13-15 in the summer. An early defeat to Team Coast in the Spring Playoffs was balanced out by a decent 4th place finish at the end of the year. Although Dignitas undoubtedly hoped for more, their abilities have managed to keep them in the LCS for this long. They seem prepared to hold on for a while longer.
With new top laner Cruzer fresh to the fray, it remains to be seen whether the team will retain its synergy from last season. The benching of longtime support Patoy puts pressure on the new bot lane of Imaqtpie and KiWiKiD to perform and, as usual, a final question mark hovers over Scarra’s limited champion pool. Dignitas’ continued reliance on Scarra will make this last issue pivotal to the success or failure of their 2014 campaign.
CLG fans would probably prefer to forget Season 3, as the team struggled throughout both splits to stand out. The epitome of mediocrity, CLG managed to requalify for the 2014 Season by defeating Team Curse 2-0 in the Summer Playoffs to take 5th place. Extremely active over the offseason, CLG hopes to have found the lineup that will return them to the peak of North American play.
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Can Rush Hour 2 Outperform the Original?
Since the end of Season 2, CLG has seen roster turnover in every lane, with the exception of AD Carry, held down by Doublelift since late 2011. Team President and former top lane and jungle starter HotShotGG shuffled players in and out, hoping for the perfect hand to lead CLG to world class play. The result were disappointing throughout Season 3, finishing 5th or 6th in both Split Playoffs, while being unable to secure a winning record in either regular season. With Chauster and bigfatlp stepping down, CLG looks to new (or familiar) faces for the upcoming season.
Not content to be a one-hit wonder, Aphromoo reunites with Doublelift for the 2014 Season, looking to flip the fortune of North America’s first International Champion. Also joining CLG for the 2014 Season is German jungler dexter, formerly of Lemondogs. Dexter hopes to break the apparent curse on the jungle position for CLG, and his heavy-ganking tendencies fit with CLG’s carry-centered team compositions and play. The formula of success for CLG will likely once again rely on an effective bot lane carry, and the newest version of Counter Logic Gaming is built around that goal.
After a lackluster finish to Season 3, Team Curse followed in the footsteps of fellow old-timers CLG by making a number of roster changes. Former captain Saintvicious rotated into a coaching position and three new players were added to the team. Performances in the NACL and the Promotion Tournament indicate that - while Curse is still strong enough to win - the new players haven’t had time to gel yet. Putting the woes of last season behind them, Curse must use this split to prove they are still a North American powerhouse.
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Big Changes put Curse Under the Microscope
The end of Season 3 saw over half of Curse’s previous roster depart. Support Edward choose to return to his old buddies on Gambit Gaming, mid laner Nyjacky left to form Team LoLPro and jungler Saintvicious stepped back into a coaching position. Curse filled two spots quickly, with former coach/analyst IWillDominate returning to professional play as their new jungler and Voyboy rotating positions to take over in mid lane. The final two spots were taken by well-known streamer Zekent (as support) and the mechanically-gifted Quas (as top laner). This left only Cop in his old position from the 2013 Curse roster, after being temporarily replaced by CLG’s Aphromoo.
Curse’s 6th place finish in the NA Summer Split meant they could choose first in the Spring Promotion Tournament. They picked opponents COGnitive Gaming and battled out several long games, winning re-entry with a 3-1 victory. Now that they’re back, they’ll have to show their new roster has what it takes to win.
After a surprise 2nd place in the 2013 Spring Playoffs, Team Coast went through a bit of a slump during the summer. Recent months, however, have seen a resurgence of the old team that shocked us with its aggressive picks and constant split-pushing during their spring playoff run. The addition of a new AD Carry and a new coach have caused Coast to step up their game in the preseason. A hard-fought victory over The Walking Zed in the NA Promotion Tournament sees them qualify for the NA LCS yet again. This time, with something to prove.
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A Return to Form?
2013 was not the best year for Coast. After a great start to their LCS career, they went 9-19 in the NA Summer Split and placed 7th, forcing them to battle against relegation going into the 2014 Season. After dropping their former AD, DontMashMe, in between seasons, Coast spent several weeks trying out various players for the vacant role. Their final choice was talented solo queue player, WizFujiin.
After an impressive performance in the NACL, Coast looked formidable heading into the 2014 Season. Their final test was the NA Promotion Tournament, where they picked The Walking Zed and narrowly won 3-2. Despite occasional lapses in focus, the match culminated with a resounding victory in Game 5, with Coast putting in one of their strongest showings. Now that they’ve secured a spot for the 2014 Season, it’s up to Coast to prove they truly belong in the LCS.
Best known for their past exploits as CLG.EU, the current incarnation of Evil Geniuses.NA was formed after they failed to qualify for the Season 3 World Championships. The team split, with Wickd and Froggen staying in Europe, to form new super team Alliance, and the jungle/bot lane combo of Snoopeh, Yellowpete, and Krepo moving to North America. After acquiring Velocity eSports’s relegated LCS spot, Evil Geniuses recruited former Napkins in Disguise top laner InnoX and ex-Curse wunderkind Pobelter to fill their missing roles. North America’s latest European imports now look set to shine in the LCS, after a convincing win over Determined Gaming in the promotion tournament.
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After going 15-13 in the highly-competitive EU Summer Split, Evil Geniuses were part of a four-way tie for second with Gambit, NiP and Fnatic. EG beat Gambit in the tie-breaker to place 3rd overall, but then lost to Gambit in the playoffs. Gambit’s dramatic turnaround meant EG failed to qualify for Worlds. The team was left to regroup and make plans for Season 4, ultimately deciding to part ways.
With the move to North America, this new incarnation has taken a positive step towards the future, however, a few questions need to be answered. EG’s bot lane and jungle go into the 2014 Spring Split with considerable LAN experience, but will the solo laners hold up their end of the bargain? Pobelter is a highly-gifted player, one of the youngest to reach rank 1 in solo queue. However, neither he nor InnoX have been truly tested at an offline event. Will the newly-formed roster find the synergy they need? Their performance during the NA Promotion Tournament seemed to say ‘yes’, but how will they fare against stronger teams? We’ll have to wait and see.