#4 Counter Logic Gaming
New players, new jerseys, and new management. CLG revamped their organization for the new LCS. With that said, they are poised for victory. Historically, CLG was known for developing homegrown talent. Last year, we saw Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes flourished in the AD Carry position and hanging with the best in the position. After Jake “Xmithie” Puchero departed from CLG in the midseason, Omar “OmarGod” Amin replaced him with hopes of helping CLG to a Summer Split championship. After CLG failed to qualify for Worlds, they had to get better.
First, they announced that they acquired investment from the Madison Square Garden group. This move created shifts within the organization. Former CEO Devin “Mylixia” Nash left the organization on his own decision. Other departures include former Director of Operations Bryan Chen. In their place is former Riot Games and Twitch employee Nick Allen, and Esports Director Matt “Trinitiii” Nausha.
CLG also made roster moves including the departure of Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black. To replace Aphromoo is former Team SoloMid support Biofrost. Additionally, CLG decided to relegate jungler OmarGod to their academy team and sign EU and NA LCS MVP Reignover.
The group of Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya, Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, Stixxay, and coach Tony “Zikz” Gray played together since 2015 — one of the longest current tenures in the LCS. Together they achieved championships and advanced to Worlds in 2015 and 2016. 2017 was a down year as they failed to qualify for Worlds. In 2018, they will continue their tenure as a group with ambitions to win more championships and go back to Worlds.
To assist their goal, they substituted jungler OmarGod for former Immortals and Team Liquid player Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin. Last year, Reignover had a significant down year and the fans dubbed him “Gameover”. In an interview with Travis Gafford, Reignover declared that he feels really good and happier to be on CLG. His expression looked like he is ready to play like the MVP he was in previous years.
Rounding out their 2018 roster is former Team SoloMid support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. He had a great year with Doublelift in the bot lane in 2017. Throughout 2017, they were hailed as one of the best bot lanes in the LCS, which aided TSM to Spring and Summer Split championships. During Worlds, the duo had a difficult time finding their stride and could not keep up with the meta. Post Worlds, TSM’s Andy “Reginald” Dinh stated in an interview that Biofrost had communication issues during Worlds which contributed to TSM’s elimination from Worlds. Following roster moves within TSM, Biofrost signed with CLG. In a recent video, Biofrost stated he wants to able to stand on his own and play at a high level. Furthermore, he wants to show TSM that they made the wrong choice. 2018 looks to be a big year for Biofrost.
CLG looks to have a redemption year in 2018. They have so much to gain with the moves during offseason. Coach Zikz continues to guide them in the right direction to winning and instilling his mentality onto Biofrost and Reignover. CLG is not going to make any counter logic ideas.
#3 Team Liquid
This team had its triumphs and collapses. The team destructed following the release of “Breaking Point”, which led to the release of Dardoch. In 2017, they were unable to recover and memes were thrown as a result. Fourth place turned to last place, “Paid by Steve” memes were known as Team Liquid signed high profile players which failed. At the end of Spring and Summer Split, they went through the promotional tournament to stay in the LCS and barely succeeded. After Team Liquid claimed a spot in the revamped LCS, they explored options in all positions. The outcome was a full overhaul of the entire roster.
Their first move was acquiring the 2 starters for Immortals — Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Xmithie. Following that, they acquired the bot lane of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. To complete their starting roster, they signed former Cloud9 top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.
The acquisitions of Pobelter and Xmithie comes as a surprise for most people but is a good signing as they brought their experience from Immortals to TL. In 2017, both players played exceptionally well in the Summer Split. Xmithie almost earned MVP honors, and Pobelter is arguably the 3rd best mid laner behind TSM Bjergsen and C9 Jensen. Both players are highly intelligent and their contribution to shot call in games will win games.
As a surprise for most people, Doublelift signed with TL. A bigger surprise was Biofrost not joining Doublelift in Team Liquid. Instead in an interview with Travis Gafford, Doublelift was not going to sign with Team Liquid unless they get Olleh as well. He added that he considered Olleh as a top tier support and would love to play with him.
Last year, Olleh played with Cody Sun for Immortals. Many analysts were not expecting Olleh to be a contributing factor behind Pobelter, Flame, and Xmithie. Much to their dismay, Olleh overperformed and helped Immortals to the Summer Split championship finals and qualifying for Worlds. Team Liquid signing Olleh is a huge plus. Aside from Doublelift praising for Olleh, he also has great synergy from playing with Xmithie and Pobelter.
Team Liquid could reach great heights and achievements never seen before in the organization — besides winning The International. From top to bottom, these players carry remarkable prowess and is a team to fear. There is always a sense of fear that they could fail. Previous superteams like Alliance in 2014, Immortals in 2016, and KT Rolster in 2017 did not reach expectations.
However, with the synergy these players possibly hold, they can silence any doubters. Team Liquid is not destined for 4th place, they are destined to win.
Cloud9 is an organization who always competed for the top spot alongside Team SoloMid. They are always praised for raising homegrown talent, making thoughtful roster moves, and being in touch with their fanbase. It comes as no surprise that Riot Games accepted their application into the LCS.
2017 was a rollercoaster ride for Cloud9. During the Spring Split, they had a great run facing Team SoloMid in the championship finals where it was hailed to be one of the best matches in LCS history. In the Summer Split that year, they were inconsistent. They made a significant change using Jeon “Ray” Ji-won on a consistent basis. That experiment failed to work and Impact was implemented into the starting lineup during the middle of the split. Even though Jensen continued to play at an all-star level, Cloud9 failed to advance to playoffs that split. However, qualified for the regional playoffs where they won and qualified for Worlds. At Worlds, they always seem to show up and overachieve expectations. Like 2016, they got out of groups but failed to advance to the semifinals of the knockout stage.
In offseason, there were 2 significant changes to Cloud9 — Impact leaving for Team Liquid, and Contractz traded to Golden Guardians. Impact and Juan “Contractz” Garcia were the supporting cast that kept the team at the top of the standings. Replacing them is rookie Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and former TSM jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.
Prior to this year, Licorice spent the majority of his career in the Challenger Series. This year is Licorice’s first time in the NA LCS stage. Not much is known about Licorice, but under the guidance of current Cloud9 staff, they will raise another up and comer.
Many questions and skepticism were raised after the signing of Svenskeren. This skepticism was mainly introduced to his poor performance at Worlds. To support that fact, TSM’s Reginald also stated that Svenskeren lacked in communication. However, Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne believed in Svenskeren,
We’ve gone head-to-head against Svenskeren for a couple of years now and his skillset wasn’t lost on us. He’s clearly brought a lot to TSM and the NA LCS and we’re eager to see what he puts together for us here at Cloud9. Welcome, Sven!
With confidence raining down from management, there is the belief that Svenskeren is an upgrade from Contractz. In 2018, Svenskeren will prove that Worlds is a fluke and will show his fans that he is still a dominating player.
From a quiet offseason, there is a feeling that Cloud9 will falter in the Spring Split. With all-stars Jensen and Sneaky, they will not let that come to fruition. The organization always proved any doubters wrong and came out on top of the standings. In the Spring Split, Cloud9 will prove once again they will fly high.