The Spring Split 2018 brings with it a fresh crop of new blood in many positions, and a mixing up of traditional rosters in the NA LCS. There’s been much said about the rookies this split, but there hasn’t been as much talk about some of the familiar faces in the veteran players of the league finding themselves on new teams, or at least owned by a different organization.
Some of the biggest shake-ups oddly came from some of the most established teams and players in the league. With the shuffle of veteran talent onto new teams, let’s take a look at each positions most exciting new venture.
TL;DR: Impact’s looking as good as ever, and surrounded by another team of talent should continue to do well. However, that’s all depending on whether Liquid ‘click’ right away.
When one thinks about the strength of top laners inNA LCS, you can’t but bring up now long seasoned veteran player Impact. The Shield to the (previously) duo top lane situation on Cloud 9 (Jeon “Ray” Ji-won being the Sword), Impact was a rock in the top lane for Cloud 9, most noticeably in their run-up to Worlds in 2016 (while no slouch either in their 2017 campaign.) Able to soak up pressure like nobody should, and win out duels in the top lane to popularize his ‘top die’ meme, Impact’s impact (hah) was always felt on the Rift.
But he’s onto a new team, Team Liquid, with a hefty reported contract. The #PaidBySteve memes aside, this will be a whole new team for Impact, and a real test for the veteran player of many a season on the Rift. With a consistent in-game presence and a playstyle that is incredibly adept at tanks, while being comfortable on carries, Impact brings versatility and strength to the top lane. Something any overhauled roster wants.
With a rocky start to the Summer Split, after returning from a vacation (a much-needed one, as Impact has apparently not taken much of any break since starting his career as a player), Impact bounced back and returned to that stable rock in the top. Whether he’ll hit the ground running with this new team, or need some time to adjust, has yet to be seen. But Impact, alongside the new Liquid squad, is easily an exciting top laner to watch and Liquid a team to follow.
TL;DR: From Zero to Hero to Zero again, Reingover’s stock has risen and fallen in recent times. Whether he can get back into his Fnatic/Immortals pace is the big question?
There was a time where Reignover was a name uttered in fear. He was the second side of the Huni-Reignover terror duo that led Fnatic to their undefeated split in the Sumer Split of EU LCS back in 2015. Moving to NA, Reignover found himself again beside Huni, albeit on the Immortals roster. A strong performance on the Immortals roster leading them to an almost perfect split in Spring then followed. That was a few years ago, and while the veteran player still carries that reputation from earlier, his stock has… fallen, considerably since.
That was the golden age for Reignover’s career, but now he enters with CLG the new age. It was his time on Team Liquid that has as the most recent performance from him, pundits and fans slightly concerned. Transferring from Team Liquid, who constructed an entirely new (and well funded) roster, Reignover was recruited by CLG to take the then-vacant starter position. CLG itself is undergoing some considerable changes, losing franchise player Aphromoo and a question mark over the replacement for bombastic Dardoch in Omargod.
That’s what makes Reignover an exciting Jungler to watch. It’s not so much of what he’s done recently, but what he accomplished back when he was a tyrant in the jungle. If he can find his step again, alongside CLG, then it’ll be scary to see what he and the CLG boys can do. But that’s a lot of ifs. The Spring Split is always the place for teams to tinker around and figure things out, so if CLG is smart they’ll try to get the team meshing together. If vintage Reignover returns, then we’ll be in for a treat. If it’s the same Reignover we saw on Liquid, well, then CLG fans are going to need a lot of faith.
TL;DR: Hai's presence is felt on any team he's on. Known for his impressive shot calling and leadership, how Golden Guardians will perform rests heavily on the veteran captain.
Hai is one of those players whose effect on the Rift isn’t so much in his play but in his presence. Cited as being a huge part of Cloud 9’s early successes, Hai has always had this special magic to him where if he’s on the roster, the team players better. That’s why, for the longest time, Cloud 9 swapped him around after his injured his wrist from Mid lane to Jungler to Support, hoping to find a less ‘mechanically intensive’ position for him, just to have his shotcalling in the game still.
In any roster, watching Hai would be fun. He’s going to have a significant impact on the game itself through his leadership and shotcalling, bringing years of experience with it too as one of the most veteran players in the league. But it’s even more exciting when he’s on one of the newest franchises in the League, Golden Guardians, and is on a roster that is hoping to improve and build on domestic talent. Hai is leading an all American roster with a team that knows they’re not going to win it all this split, or even the next one, but is planning for the future.
Now that’s exciting, at least to me. Sure, he may not be the flashiest mid-laner, or all that consistent, and some attributed FlyQuest’s difficulties to his rather aggressive shotcalling. But to be in a position like Hai is currently, it’s going to be exciting if he can help unlock the potential of his players. Being the oldest player on the roster, and flanked by the now quite seasoned players in veterans Lourlo and Matt, Hai is in a position to create a story of leaving behind a legacy of players ready to advance themselves further than ever before.
TL;DR: Arrow was once a menace and crowned the NA LCS MVP. His last split would have many surprised by that, as his team finished last in the league. Can he bounce back on a new team?
When Arrow was first announced to be heading over to NA LCS, there was a buzz in the scene for anyone who followed the LCK as the veteran player was well known for his time on KT. Arrow was a strong ADC over in the strongest region in the world, and there’s a reason for that. His first split, on what was at the time Phoenix 1, had him slated as the de facto best ADC in the league, with the highest KDA, Damage Per Minute, and Damage % of his team. He was crowned MVP for the Spring Split, the cherry on top to a bright NA LCS career to come, right?
Then Summer hit. Arrow’s stock took a considerable dip as Phoenix 1 didn’t seem to be the blazing hot force they were in the Spring. From third place in Spring NA LCS to dead last in the Summer, P1 was falling apart. But Arrow still remained a strong force on the team, consistently challenging ADCs (as far as the stats go) for a spot in the sun, even while his team fell apart around him. Surrounded by a team constantly in question, Arrow somehow managed to stay above water. While he wasn't able to accomplish what he did in the Spring, his talent, at least, seemed intact.
While old teammates in William “Meteos” Hartman and Yoo "Ryu" Sang-wook from Phoenix 1 found themselves on new teams, and Derek "zig" Shao alongside him on OpTic, it’s a redemption story for the core of the old P1. All eyes, however, are going to be keenly focused on Arrow though, as the Spring Split MVPs got a lot to prove. He has the potential to do that, to be such a force on the rift to overtake the likes of a Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg for MVP status is nothing to scoff at. On OpTic, it’s Arrow’s chance to fly true again or miss the mark.
TL;DR: From franchise player and longest running member of CLG to new frontiers of 100 Thieves, Aphromoo's a strong contender for one of the best supports in the West. Whether he can prove to take another 'underrated' ADC into stardom or not is the big story here.
Aphromoo and CLG were all but synonymous for the longest time, with the Support and Captain being the figurehead of the team for the longest time. It'd be an understatement to say that CLG fans were blindsided by Aphromoo’s departure from the roster for the newly minted franchise 100 Thieves, backed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. While some of the new franchises have gone the, ‘lets try to develop our talent and work this out slowly,’ Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag, owner of 100T, is all in on being competitive this NA LCS split. With high flying signings like Aphroomoo alongside Ssumday, Nadeshot’s squad is ready to try to fight for the top this split.
Out of all the players in the league, it was always my opinion that Aphromoo was one of those that I’d build a new roster around. Similar to the Hai effect, his in-game presence and shotcalling/leadership skills speak louder than his in-game mechanics and mastery of the game. In the case of Aphromoo, though, those in-game mechanics, of course, are nothing to sneeze at, particularly on playmakers like Alistar and Rakan. He's the whole package for a strong player and in game leader, the perfect Support.
If fans enjoyed the Stixxay/Aphromoo lane and storyline, then they'll love the sequel in Cody Sun/Aphromoo that's developing. You’ve got Aphromoo again working with a young, albeit more experienced this time around, ADC, in Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. Aphromoo has a chance to turn an ADC that everyone said was no good into a star like he (arguably) did with Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes. It's like a strange buddy cop film series, except, you know, with bot laners.