The North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) is looking more different than ever before, with multiple new faces joining. Many big name free agents are joining the league from South Korea, shifting the NA scene once again leading into the LCS 2019 Spring Split. However, there are still some familiar faces up at the top, while some of the old kings look to regain some of what they’ve lost over the past couple of years. Let’s take a look at the preseason power rankings for the North American LCS.
— Team Liquid LoL (@TeamLiquidLoL) November 20, 2018
Last year, Team Liquid was undoubtedly the best team in North America. However, they still had some glaring problems over in the mid lane and support positions. Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung were simply not as good as the team needed them to be. Also, Liquid desperately needed another source of firepower from someone that wasn’t named Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.
Therefore, Jack worked his magic once again and acquired Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. Last year, Jensen was arguably the best player on Cloud9, providing his team with multiple carry performances. His play at Worlds this past year was essential to pushing his team and region to record heights. Since CoreJJ switched to support in 2016, he has become one of the best in the world at the position with Gen.G.
Replacing their shortcomings with super upgrades should only bode well for Liquid. Jensen can now relieve some pressure from Doublelift’s shoulders, while CoreJJ will be able to control the bottom lane with the All-Star ADC as well. Although the 24-year-old didn’t find the results he wanted in 2018, he and Doublelift may be the best bottom lane duo in the region already. Expect Team Liquid to be at the top of the ladder and the top of our power rankings for most of the year.
— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) January 1, 2019
There is a clear one-two in the LCS right now, but 100 Thieves isn’t that close to Team Liquid yet. They are still the second best team in the league in our power rankings though. The moves they made in the offseason have pushed them upward and over most of the teams in the region. Nadeshot and company finally found a solution to their ADC problem by picking up a perennial World Champion in Bae “Bang” Jun-sik. His experiences with SK Telecom T1 and great mechanics should be valuable in the upcoming season.
Additionally, Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black will be reuniting with Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun while Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook is moving to a coaching position with the team. Huhi was much more consistent in his performances through 2018 than Ryu, so this should be a welcome upgrade for 100 Thieves fans. Together, Huhi and Bang should provide some welcome support for the team’s superstar top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho.
The only possible weakness we can see on this team is the output of their jungler, Andy “AnDa” Hoang. He was a lackluster jungler in 2018, and not upgrading that position could cause problems for 100 Thieves down the line. However, they are still a powerful force to be reckoned with in North America and in our power rankings.
As the end of the off-season approaches, we're here to keep track of all the upcoming #C9LoL matches with our game schedule!
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) January 10, 2019
Losing Jensen is going to hurt. Most of the time, Cloud9 ran their offense through the Danish superstar, so having to change up their strategies could have an adverse effect on the team. Also, the rest of the crew will have to shoulder a ton more responsibility with his absence. However, if we are going off the way they performed in 2018, they shouldn’t fall as far as many expect.
Eric “Licorice” Ritchie had a breakout season of his own and became one of the best top laners in the region. Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam also did well in his first year as a starter and should continue to perform well alongside LCS veteran Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Cloud9 is probably sticking to a duo jungle system again with Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Robert “Blaber” Huang. However, last year we did see the resurgence of Svenskeren as a top jungler, especially in crunch time during the playoffs and Worlds.
Meanwhile, the question remains whether or not Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer will be able to adjust to life in North America. Of course, he has some huge shoes to fill, but as long as he learns to play the right role on Cloud9, he should be fine. He was a pretty decent mid laner for Splyce over in Europe, but the pressure placed on him could affect how he plays in the future.
— TSM (@TSM) December 15, 2018
Last year, Team Solo Mid suffered their worst year in their decorated history. They didn’t make it to both the Spring and Summer Split Finals and failed to qualify for the World Championships for the first time ever. It was a new low for them that prompted another big roster change around Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.
Yet another piece of the 2015 super team has fallen with Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell heading to Golden Guardians. In his place, TSM brought in a fresh new face straight from the TCL, Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik. The young, 18-year-old top laner is oozing potential, but will his skill translate well into the LCS? Only time will tell. He seems confident and ready to play for the perennial NA LCS champs, so hopefully he can bring his A-game.
We will also need to watch out for how Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen performs without his longtime partner, Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez. Andy “Smoothie” Ta is a talented support who is quite vocal on the Rift, but building synergy will be key for this bottom lane duo. Also, due to Jonathan “Grig” Armao’s wrist issues, TSM will be starting Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham. Akaadian had a rough 2018 with OpTic, but maybe having more tools across the Rift can help him bounce back as well.
It's official! Welcome the CLG 2019 League of Legends roster.@MindGamesWeldon breaks down the roster here:
— Counter Logic Gaming (@clgaming) December 6, 2018
The last two splits for Counter Logic Gaming were some of the worst they’ve had to endure, as they finished as a bottom-four team in the spring and summer. However, they may have made enough adjustments to push them into the playoff conversation for 2019. First, they replaced longtime mid laner Huhi with former OpTic member, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. POE was one of the only positives for the Green Wall last year, so hopefully his good performances can carry over.
Next, they’ve brought up Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin from the CLG Academy team. It will be interesting to see if he can follow in the footsteps of the past great rookie junglers to hit the North American scene. He needs to make the most out of his first full season as a full-time LCS jungler.
However, plenty of CLG’s power still lies in their bottom lane with Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. They will be doing a lot of the carrying this coming year, so look for a standout performance from the veteran duo. Another big acquisition this past offseason was head coach Weldon Green, who will also be a huge factor for CLG moving forward.
With a little over 2 weeks to go to the start of #NALCS, we're excited to announce our LCS schedule for the 2019 Spring Split! Download desktop and mobile wallpapers of the schedule to stay up to date and cheer us on! #GGSWIN https://t.co/eD0AZA2PFy pic.twitter.com/rCJV1usLt7
— Golden Guardians (@GoldenGuardians) January 10, 2019
There’s nowhere to go but up, right? The Golden Guardians, unfortunately, finished last in both splits last year, only winning nine games in two seasons. As a result, the team would drop a majority of their lineup in an attempt to find any kind of success. Although their lineup still leaves something to be desired, Golden Guardians already look like they have a better roster than before.
Adding Hauntzer and Henrik “Froggen” Hansen to the team gives GGS plenty to build on. Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia now has more firepower to play with and should be a focus for the team as the Spring Split rolls along. The bottom lane is still a visible weakness, but adding Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung should help in that regard as well. The only problem is the lack of real star power on the team. Still, there is no doubt that Golden Guardians improved their roster from last year. We will wait and see if it translates into more wins and higher placements in our power rankings when the new season arrives.
Post your best welcome gifs to welcome them to the squad! 👋
*pending Riot approval ☑️ pic.twitter.com/XxKGdnrILx
— Echo Fox (@echofoxgg) December 1, 2018
Nothing too crazy here from Echo Fox, who comes into the 2019 season with a completely new roster. We say this even though we are ecstatic to see Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae on the LCS stage again. Even still, Rush is coming out of a substitute stint with KT Rolster, where he played nine games throughout the whole year. Before that, he took a year off from all competitive League of Legends activities. He’ll still need some time to stretch out and get used to playing in the LCS on a regular basis.
Apollo “Apollo” Price and Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent have always been a consistent duo in North America, so they will probably be a good place for Echo Fox to lean on early. Samson “Lourlo” Jackson has gone through some pretty tough times with Team Liquid and Golden Guardians. We will need to see if another change of scenery helps or harms him.
Lastly, bringing in Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun might be a problem, especially with how the team treated him in 2018. Additionally, it doesn’t look like he has improved much since 2016, so the mid lane may be a source of weakness. We expect them to be a bottom-five team in our power rankings throughout the Spring Split.
We’ve got you covered. Presenting our schedule for the 2019 Spring LCS and Academy split. pic.twitter.com/9RSAtLKRkT
— OpTicLoL (@OpTicLoL) January 10, 2019
We aren’t sure how to feel about OpTic Gaming. They made some blockbuster acquisitions throughout the offseason, but none of them truly pushed the needle. For example, OpTic looked great by picking up veteran jungler William “Meteos” Hartman. However, they also picked up NA superstar Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. Both players are LCS-caliber junglers and will want to start one way or another. Therefore, this could create some pretty bad tension in the group early in the year.
Lee “Crown” Min-ho is a huge pickup for OpTic as well and should be a menace in lane, but there is a big question mark surrounding his ability to adapt to the North American scene. Communication is key, and Crown will need to improve his communication skills with his non-Korean speaking teammates.
Additionally, they did not improve on their bottom lane at all and opted to keep their current duo in Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon and Terry “BIG” Chuong. These two made up one of the worst bottom lanes in the league last year, so they will most likely be a liability this spring. All of these potential problems will keep them down in our power rankings until they prove us otherwise.
— Clutch Gaming (@ClutchGaming) January 10, 2019
Like Echo Fox, Clutch Gaming replaced most of their roster for the new season. However, it seems like they got the short end of the stick this time around. Many of the players that Clutch Gaming have are going through some kind of slump. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has been a very hot-and-cold top laner ever since he returned to NA with Echo Fox. Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo was a significant weakness for Clutch Gaming last year.
Tanner “Damonte” Damonte was okay last year but wasn’t too impressive in the mid lane. Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin has become a shadow of himself over the past few years, and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme only played two games in the LCS. Clutch Gaming has a very good chance of falling flat when the spring comes rolling through. Don’t be surprised if Clutch is fighting for a spot at the bottom of our power rankings at the end of the season.
All the way up ⬆️ pic.twitter.com/2rgBb1rCLt
— FlyQuest (@FlyQuestSports) January 11, 2019
Lackluster offseason moves combined with the release of coach Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco may send FlyQuest down to the bottom of the standings this spring. Picking up Omran “V1per” Shoura and Eugene “Pobelter” Park could help them fight against some of the teams lower in the standings. Also, this will be Viper’s first stint in the LCS, so here’s to hoping that he can have a decent showing this spring.
The biggest problem with FlyQuest right now is lack of firepower across all the roles. Pobelter was never known as a carry mid laner and was replaced on Team Liquid as a result. Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Juan “JayJ” Guibert weren’t the greatest bottom lane duo either. The only silver lining FlyQuest has right now is Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, who was a pretty good jungler last year. In the summer, he would lead all junglers with the highest KDA, the second highest kill count, and the highest assist count of any NA jungler.
However, I predict that Santorin will not be able to drag FlyQuest to much of a showing this coming season. All these factors push them to the bottom of our power rankings for the moment.
What are your thoughts on our LCS Preseason Power Rankings? Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you want to follow our power rankings for 2019, check us out here!
Born and raised in Toronto. Sometimes a writer. Sometimes a creative director. Sometimes bored. Catch me with hundreds of unplayed games in my Steam library.