North American LCS: closing the gap from bottom to top

With the summer split of the North American LCS right a month away and promotions set to start tomorrow, teams are trying to improve. Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid looked heads and shoulders above the rest. Then, besides Counter Logic Gaming solidly in third, the rest of the league was just not at the same level and a lot was to be desired. As a fan watching, it can get pretty boring to watch when you know there is that big of a talent gap in the league. So what has to change in order to make the summer split more competitive?

Team SoloMid

Bjergsen, Team SoloMid

A lot of the suggestions I have come from the European LCS. First off, we need to see a more diversified champion pool for all teams, even those at the top. Bjergsen played Karma way more than he should have in the playoffs, especially how Cloud 9 handled him in the finals. They already knew how to handle him watching the previous games and since he sticks to mostly the same champions, it’s easy to prepare to play him. He’s not the only one, but that is the most recent example that stood out to me.

Along with a more diversified champion pool, the teams may need to consider breaking away from the meta, or standard lineup compilation, from time to time. In Europe we see this all the time, as in their playoffs Fnatic ran three typical support champions in one game (Soraka, Kayle, and Janna). Things like this bring excitement to the game and throw off the opposing team, and can put the game in your favor if the team knows what they are doing.

These are just strategical things that North America is not doing right now. We see the same champions over and over in the same lanes. Yes, these are the best champions for those lanes, but then the games become predictable for the fans and the teams playing. Some out of the box lineups can help.

Another thing that needs work is the teamwork. Cloud 9 is the best by a long shot in working as a team, with the rest of the teams just seeming to be a bunch of good individual players who can’t always work together. TSM has this issue with letting Bjergsen run autonomously, and other teams are just a two man front with three other people there. Team synergy is definitely lacking, and more practice and work as a team should go a long way to help improve their play.

One thing that should also help is the promotional games this weekend. LMQ could easily be at the top of the league, but they had to go through the NA Challenger Series as a result of their transferring from the Chinese league to North America. Cloud 9 HyperX Tempest should also advance, and these two teams should definitely bring a needed lift and fresh talent to the top level. New faces and new strategies can go a long way to make a more competitive, and more exciting summer split to the North American LCS.

Take a look at my spring wrap up, which features a mini-preview of the promotion games this weekend.