Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pre-Season Power Rankings for North America LCS Spring Split 2014

With Season 4 LCS starting tomorrow I thought I'd throw my power rankings out there as I do before every split. These are just my opinions based on years of following the sport and organizations involved as well as current knowledge of the game. Feel free to discuss!

1) Cloud 9
                Unless there are drastic changes I believe that Cloud 9 just have such a high understanding of objective based play that if they can continue to improve as individual players the sky is the limit (no pun intended). The difference this time around is that the other teams won't be caught off guard. It'll be interesting to see how they respond to being "top dog." 

2) Team Solo Mid
                Dyrus is much better that people give him credit for, TheOddOne is versatile as well and Xpecial and Turtle are the best bot lane in NA. The one thing holding TSM back was Reginald. It was the elephant in the room that everybody knew about. So they went out and go Bjergsen, a premier European mid laner that is just going to open TSM up to all of the possibilities. You could make an argument for any player (except maybe OddOne) being the best at their position in NA and they now have the best mid laner in the region in my opinion. I just think you're going to see an entirely new side to TSM and while I've been a hater for a long time, the fact is that they are prime for a good run and it wouldn't surprise me if they surpass Cloud 9 at any point this season.

3) Evil Geniuses
                Contrary to what you may think, the reasoning for EGs high ranking isn't Krepo, Snoopeh, and Yellowpete but Pobelter and Innox. Both of which are incredibly talented and versatile players that have been playing at a high level and trying to get into the scene for a long time. There is a hunger and talent level combination here that just gives me this gut feeling that they'll perform well. If the Europeans can continue to perform well at what they did overseas then I think it'll result in a solid, consistent team which will help over a long regular season.

4) Team Curse
I'm a huge fan of this revamped roster. The way Voyboy plays transfers very well to mid lane, especially with the early season tower changes he'll be forced to gank and others will be forced out of lane to duel him potentially. The big question is his depth of champion pool which leads to my next point. Quas is going to be an all star. I'm going to call it right now. He's an incredibly versatile player that can play next to every champion in the game at the highest level. This depth will help offset some of the lack of depth from Cop and, potentially, Voyboy. Cop needs to maintain this level of play as well and not revert back to his old, and frankly, bad self. IWillDominate is seeking redemption and I'm excited to see how he's adapted to the "new" game.

5) Counter Logic Gaming
                The Rush Hour bot lane will do their thing and with the new meta you'll see the talents of Link really come to fruition with his ability to play a large number of high tier champs at a high level. Dexter is a nice upgrade but the main concern I have is Nientonsoh. At some point he needs to learn how to hard carry a game or become a threat instead of just being that passive farmer. If he can do that then I believe CLG will be competitive.

6) XDG Gaming
So I understand the change the moving of Xmithie to AD and Zuna to jungle more than I think most people do. Zuna is often making the calls and loves being a playmaker (sometimes a little too much). This will allow him to get around the map and do exactly that. I'm actually not concerned about that change as much as I am about moving Xmithie to the jungle. I don't know why you'd fix what isn't broke but XDG clearly noticed something that we did not. I think Zuna will be on a short leash for sure. I just don't like the change very much and think they'll come out very slow and have a tough time coming back even if they do start to "click" in the middle of the season. Mancloud is a maniac of a mid laner but he will need to display competency at the pro level on more traditional mages (which I'm confident will happen).

7) Team Coast
                Shiptur is a beast and the key to Coast's success but it will certainly help having the playmaking bot lane of WizFujin and Daydreamin. NintendudeX has been around for awhile and has always been a relatively high level jungler. The big question will be whether or not ZionSpartan can control his often tilt-y in game nature. I think the potential is here but I need to see more.

8) Team Dignitas
To me, this is the end of Dignitas as we know it. I think the lack of overall talent, combined with the potential to "burn out" is very relevant. Dignitas has struggled to keep up with all the new blood and even with their old competition (CLG and TSM). Also, from a managerial standpoint I don't understand completely removing their best player Patoy right as the support power level is higher than it might ever be. Maybe he wanted to or there is something else we don't know but on the surface it looks a little strange.I expect big roster changes and a disaster of a season for Dignitas.

             If I had to break this into a tier list is would be something like this

Tier 1: Cloud 9 and TSM
Tier 2: EG, Curse, CLG, XDG
Tier 3: Coast
Tier 4: Dignitas


Monday, January 13, 2014

Pre-Season Power Rankings for European LCS Spring Split

Preseason Power Rankings

With Season 4 LCS starting tomorrow I thought I'd throw my power rankings out there as I do before every split. These are just my opinions based on years of following the sport and organizations involved as well as current knowledge of the game. Feel free to discuss!

1) Gambit Gaming
                Coming off a red hot performance at the end of EU LCS Summer Split and, more importantly, Worlds, Gambit look as dominant as they've ever looked. The current patch and huge changes that happened for season 4 fit their style very well. They like to have multiple bruisers/off tanks and skirmish a lot. The strong champions also fit with the players quite well and while this will obviously change as the season goes on, Gambit have the experience and expertise to adapt as it happens. The only way I don't see Gambit going to the finals for this split is if they burn out or drastic changes happen to completely nerf the champion pool of every single player but as it stands they're in a really good spot.

2) Alliance
                Laning phase and game length are both lasting longer which benefits two of the strongest solo laners in Europe, Froggen and Wickd. People learned just how good Tabzz is last split and Shook is one of the best junglers in Europe. Another combination of the players fitting the meta and strong champions as well as an extraordinarily high skill level here. Expect Froggen to return to his godlike status of previous season after a down year last year.

3) Millenium
                Millenium acquired the former Team Alternate roster of Kev1n, Araneae, Kerp, Creaton, and Jree about a week back in an outstanding move for the organization. This is a team that completely dominated the European scene until Creaton went down with a wrist injury which completely threw off the synergy of the team. Upon his return they saw a resurgence at the end of the season but it was a bit too little too late. Expect them to come out guns-a-blazing just as they did last split and, barring any injuries, I expect them to be a Top 3 team even without superstar mid laner ForellonLord.  Every single player on this team possesses a high level of individual talent much like a lot of the Korean teams (SK Telecom T1 K and S anybody?) we'll just have to see if they can pull off the macro strategy aspect of the game.

4)  Fnatic
                After an eternity of drama surrounding the "prodigal AD carry" Rekkles we finally get to see him in action. I, for one, believe that he'll be quite good seeing as the bot lane scene in Europe has tended to be rather weak compared to other regions. That being said, the real question will be whether or not the incumbent members can adapt to the current patch and maintain the passion for the game (not burn out) as they've been playing at a high level for a long time. Also of intrest will be Yellowstar moving back to support. I think they'll be solid, but not quite as good as they were at Worlds where they were playing on a much higher level than I thought possible for them.

5) SK Gaming
                The "new" Ocelote-less roster of SK Gaming is sure to turn some heads this season after defeating Supa Hot Crew in a set of qualifiers in which they looked very solid. Svenskeren will thrive in the new jungle and Jesiz is one of the more underrated mid laners in Europe simply because there are so many of them. The experience bot lane of Candy Panda and nRated will provide stability and allow playmakers to do their thing.

6) Copenhagen Wolves
                I loved the previous incarnation of the Wolves with TheTess, Bjergsen, Godbro, Svenskeren, and Deficio but that team is no more and as we saw from last season, Bjergsen and Shook can't carry the team on their own. With both of them gone, it will be up to cowTard (also underrated but not quite Bjergsen level) and Amazing to pick up the slack. It would take a massive improvement from all of the members on the team to compete with the rest of the teams this split but if they can adapt quickly they'll have a shot. While there aren't really any glaring weaknesses, nothing about the Wolves really "wow's" me and they're not as strong on an individual level as some of the other teams.

7) Supa Hot Crew XD
                SHC have been through a ton of changes and, as of this writing, do not have a jungler on their roster. Who the add will have a big part of how this team does with the new changes but let's look at what we have. A team that was up 2-0 on SK Gaming before their miraculous comeback to take the series 3-2. Mimer who is considered one of the better players in Europe, Migxa who is a playmaking support, MrRallez who is one of the stronger ADs in a weak bot lane scene in Europe. The fact that this rag tag bunch has battled all the way from the ranked 5v5 ladder and gone through so many changes just makes me think there's something going on here... I'm not really sure what. We'll see who they add at jungle and I'll get back to you. That being said, they've faired better against similar competition to the team I've ranked "last".....

8) Team ROCCAT
                ROCCAT acquired the former Kiedys Mialem Team (KMT) which was a Polish team that began climbing their way into the circuit last year. They took a game off of SK Gaming at DreamHack this year and swept Ninjas in Pyjamas 3-0 to earn their promotion into the EU LCS. Frankly I know nothing about this team other than those two previously mentioned matches. From what I've read Overpow is quite the solo laner and Xaxus as well but I honestly don't know more than that. What I do know is that until they prove other wise, they have a win over a flailing (and since deceased) NiP team and took a game off of the "new" SK Gaming who are somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as EU LCS teams go. In order for ROCCAT to do well they're going to have to win all of their games against the "bottom half" teams and steal a few from the "big dogs." But hey, I've been proven wrong in the past and I hope that we get some new palyers to watch out of these guys.