What Happened in the NA LCS?

Last week, we shared our quick gut impressions of the LCS rosters announced for 2016. Now that we’ve had time to analyze them a bit more, we wanted to take a more in-depth look at each team and help you determine which players to really focus on targeting when Fantasy LCS contests kick off later this week.

Yesterday, we analyzed all of the European teams. Today, let’s break down all of the North American teams, who will start playing on Saturday, January 16. You can see the full player rosters and regional power rankings in this post.

Cloud9

Is this finally the year that Cloud9 successfully converts wins into fantasy points for owners? Their new jungler, Rush, is a rampaging dragon who goes wherever he wants and kills everything in his path. If Hai can control him and direct his rampage in a helpful direction, they could be one of the best teams in the West. But that’s a high calling, even for one of the best shotcallers in the world. The rest of the team will rise or fall with those two.

Players to Watch: Rush (Jungle), Hai (Support), Sneaky (ADC)

CLG

The more I investigate this roster, the more I’m convinced that this is the most underrated team in the LCS right now. It’s easy to overblow the loss of Doublelift and Pobelter, but Huhi is not a new player on this roster—he’s been scrimmaging with the team for 6 months and they chose him as the starter because of how well he did in those scrims. Stixxay is really the only trouble spot, but with a stud like Aphromoo holding his hand, he shouldn’t do too poorly.

Players to Watch: Aphromoo (Support), Darshan (Top), Huhi (Mid)

Echo Fox

Froggen is cursed with always being the best player on his team, no matter where he goes. There are a lot of big question marks on this roster. The only remotely experienced players are Hard (who excelled in Challenger on Cloud9 Tempest) and Keith (who played a few LCS games as a substitute last year). Keith looked solid, but had the benefit of slotting into a fully organized team. Building this squad up from the ground up will be entirely different These will be decent sleeper picks on week one.

Players to Watch: Froggen (Mid), Keith (ADC)

Immortals

This is my favorite fantasy team in the entire LCS. EU’s Origen may have a better chance of winning games, but I love Immortals’ playstyle. Everyone on this team loves to fight, like all the time. Pobelter is the closest they have to a conservative player, but he won’t be able to sit back and play passive when WildTurtle, Huni, and Reignover are all diving into the backline like crazy people. The best fantasy-scoring teams either win a lot or fight a lot. Immortals have a very good chance of doing both, and the current meta feeds right into their playstyle. I’m in.

Players to Watch: Huni (Top), WildTurtle (ADC), Adrian (Support)

NRG Esports

We know that GBM loves to wear bow ties and that Altec and Impact are studs at their positions. That’s not really enough to get a clear read on this new team, but reports out of scrims between LCS teams have all been pretty positive, putting NRG at above-average in most power rankings. The players all seem to get along and aren’t having problems working together despite some language barriers. This is a team I expect to stumble a bit early, but get stronger as the season goes on.

Players to Watch Impact (Top), GBM (Mid), Moon (Jungle)

LA Renegades

There are a lot of questions swirling around this team. Can old veterans Crumbz and Alex Ich become relevant again? Can newcomers Remilia and RF Legendary cut it at the LCS level? The most troubling thing for me is that they didn’t score awesome fantasy points, even while beating Challenger teams. However, picking up Freeze for the ADC spot is very reassuring. He’s a talented player with recent experience and a good Fantasy record.

Players to Watch: Freeze (ADC), RF Legendary (Top)

Team Dignitas

I don’t see anything but mediocrity awaiting Dignitas this year. Apollo is a great pickup that’s a definite upgrade in the bot lane, but there’s still plenty of weaker players holding this squad back—including his lane partner. There are a lot of uncertain teams with new players that could grow into studs. But we’ve already seen the best that players on this team have to offer, and I’m not interested.

Players to Watch: Kirei (Jungle)

Team Impulse

It’s hard to say which team has a worse roster between TIP and EU’s Elements, but in the end it doesn’t matter. These dudes show every sign of being NA’s whipping boys for 10 weeks before getting mercifully kicked into Challenger. I won’t gamble on any part of their roster before they win a game in the LCS.

Players to Watch: Gate (Support), Pirean (Mid)

Team Liquid

Close behind CLG as the second-most underrated team in the LCS, TL has a very solid core. They took a hit in their top lane when Quas left, but Fenix and Piglet were the top fantasy scorers on the squad anyways, and they have everything they need to succeed. Of particular interest is Piglet, who hated his support teammate last split and hand-picked Smoothie to be his replacement. He should have better teamwork this year and do better as a result.

Players to Watch: Piglet (ADC), Smoothie (Support), Fenix (Mid)

TSM

We saved the best for last. TSM’s roster looks absolutely incredible on paper, and they’re definitely the team to beat going into Week 1. Yellowstar’s shotcalling carried 4 rookies into the LCS Hall of Fame last year, and that’s been TSM’s big weakness lately. Also importantly, it will free Bjergsen up to focus solely on his performance, which should be a boon for him. TSM’s talent in every position is through the roof, especially the new ADC Doublelift. The only thing that can stop them is egos and in-fighting, but I don’t think that’ll happen if they’re winning as often as they should be.

Players to Watch: Every. Last. One. Of. Them.

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