LoL Targets: January 16

My body is not ready. The hype-train for the NA LCS has transformed into a colossal hype-mecha-robot ready to battle ten Godzillas at once in space for the fate of the entire universe, and my heart is ready to burst in excitement!

There are so many incredibly interesting new rosters in this region that anything could happen on day one. Thankfully, a lot of NA teams have been more open with sharing how their pre-season scrims have been going (and a lot of players have been posting their own power rankings on Twitter) to give us extra insight. We’ll be relying heavily on those insights and on-paper talent for this first day of matchups.

Featured Image Photo Credit: LoL Esports Flickr

Top

The Stud: Hautnzer vs. CLG ($6500)
Don’t get tricked by the two NRG players who are sitting out day one (top laner Impact and jungler Moon). Also, don’t worry, it’s just due to a technicality related to buying their team spot — they’ll be back in the roster on Sunday.

So with Impact missing out on his team’s juicy schedule, I like TSM’s new top laner Hauntzer as the stud. All pre-season reports have put TSM ahead of CLG, and Hauntzer should have plenty of room to work while the other lanes draw CLG’s attention.

The Value Pick: Huni vs. C9 ($6000)
Immortals weren’t hyped early on, but all reports out of pre-season scrims have been extremely positive, and every pro player prediction list I’ve seen has them in first or second place overall. That bodes very well for the team, which is filled with players with a history of big fantasy points.

Huni, in particular, is the studliest player on this team and he absolutely loves to throw his weight around the entire map. If pre-season reports match season performance, this could very well be the cheapest you’ll be able to buy him all season.

Bonus perks: Cloud9 is trying their new support player instead of Hai in game 1, which could lead to a lot of uncoordinated moves and Huni faces off against the relatively weak Balls.

Jungle

The Stud: IWillDominate vs. REN ($6500)
Team Liquid is a big question mark going into the season. They didn’t really lose much during the offseason—their support position will likely be an upgrade and their core carries are still there. But pre-season resports haven’t been flattering and most pros predicted them in the bottom half of the standings.

Thankfully, they have a soft matchup on day one against the newly promoted Renegade squad. IWillDominate should find plenty of room to pressure lanes and make plays against the unretired Crumbz.

The Value Pick: Xmithie vs. TSM ($5200)
This is the lowest I’d be willing to go on junglers today (and I’d still prefer Reignover for $300 more). Xmithie is underrated by fans due to his penchant for messing up flashy mechanical plays. But his fantasy score has always been strong while CLG was winning. If you’re going to take on this risk, it’s because you’re less certain than most that TSM will be coordinated right out of the gates.

Mid

The Stud: GBM vs DIG ($7700)
Sure, it’s bad for NRG that they’re required to start two players from the team’s old roster on day one, but it could turn out to be really good for GBM. If NRG is going to beat DIG, they’re going to be relying on their mid and ADC to carry them.

It sounds like GBM is up to the task too—he’s been highly praised by most NA pro players that have spoken out about him so far. A fully powered NRG would probably push DIG over early, but this roster handicap will probably draw the match out longer, giving GBM more time to farm his less skilled opponents.

The Value Pick: Gate vs. FOX ($6500)
It’s going to take a certain kind of crazy to bet on TIP on the first game of the season. Their roster is a haphazard mess of players from all over the globe and everyone predicts them to be the worst team in NA.

Have I sold you on this value pick yet? How about this: Gate actually turned in great fantasy numbers during his short time on Team Impulse (he had the highest points/game of any mid laner in Summer due to his short time playing). He’s also the only mid laner in the bottom half of the cost list that isn’t playing a super-team that should absolutely destroy him.

Gate faces off against Froggen, who is incredibly talented, but incredibly passive. The new meta heavily favors quick, bold, and aggressive plays—remember what Fnatic did to Origen on Thursday in EU? All of that is heavily in favor of Gate. It’s still a big risk, though.

AD Carry

The Stud: Piglet vs. REN ($8700)
Yikes, look at that price. What, you thought the #3 ADC from Summer facing off against one of the worst teams in his region was going to be cheap? Say what you will about Piglet’s social niceties (he completely shunned his support last Split and suppoosedly told him that he was awful), but one thing is for sure: Piglet wants to win.

He has a trophy-sized chip on his shoulder after failing to qualify for Worlds last Split and you better believe he’s going to come out of the gates blazing this time. He’ll aim to make a big statement in this first game, which should lead to a big fantasy total as well.

The Value Pick: WildTurtle vs. C9 ($7300)
We’ve already gone through the reasons I like IMT against C9, especially at this bottom-half-of-the-standings price! WildTurtle will be the one right alongside Huni, charging into battle to get kills and assists.

He’s got a tough matchup against Sneaky, but WildTurtle’s aggression could cause big problems for the newly added support trying to back up Sneaky and force some mistakes.

Support

The Stud: Yellowstar vs. CLG ($5800)
Yellowstar is most famous for his shotcalling, but his fantasy scores have been remarkable throughout the years as well, since he’s almost always at the heart of the action, leading his teammates like a charging general.

CLG’s bot lane is the biggest downgrade they have from last season, so it should actually give Yellowstar more time to focus on shotcalling and avoid overburdening him on his first game with TSM. On paper, TSM should win this match and Yellowstar will be with them every step of the way.

The Value Pick: Adrian vs. C9 ($5300)
This is the #1 support player of the Summer Split facing off against either a newly paired bot lane, or C9′s maligned top laner Balls. I’ll happily take either matchup and cheer Adrian on as he chases his bloodthirsty teammates into the front lines to soak up fantasy points. Like Huni, if Immortals are as good as pre-season reports say, this will likely be the cheapest you’ll be able to buy Adrian all season long.

Team

The Stud: Team Solomid vs. CLG ($4500)
It’s difficult to imagine a world where TL loses to Renegades today (knock on wood). But the bigger point ceiling is with TSM, who have Yellowstar planning their big-picture strategy. Fnatic always scored big points as a team last Split because they rely on smart map movements that chip away at the opponent’s defense. Any strategy that leaves no rock unturned is good for the fantasy team.

The Value Pick: Dignitas vs. NRG ($3600)
If you’re a big believer in teamwork, you can take this gamble against NRG because they have to play with two subs today. It’s not unreasonable to think that their lack of coordination will at least give Dignitas an opportunity to steal away a few towers, and if they get an early lead, they could go for more.

The closest Josh Augustine got to going pro in esports was beating his older brother at Street Fighter. He currently works as a game designer at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.