Another year, another somewhat disappointing World Championship showing from the League of Legends Pro League’s top teams. Shockingly, last year’s format has been retained, something that has effectively never happened. Randomly drawn groups from arbitrary pools remains a fixture the LPL.
This means more complaining about lopsided groups, a favorite hobby of the LPL enthusiast, and this time around it does feel like each group has a distinct identity. Group A features the teams we’ve traditionally dreaded watching fluctuate in form as the season progresses, while Group B has a few teams with a longer history of consistency, for better or worse.
The real reason to watch the LPL this split is the departure of top talent from leading teams EDward Gaming and Royal Never Give Up. EDG are closer than they’ve ever been to losing their Top 2 position in the LPL, and fortune favors the rise of China’s classic iG and WE rivalry more strongly than it has since the start of 2013.
Never bet on the expected storyline. Where teams actually land will likely be somewhere in between.
6. Oh My God
Twice fallen to Promotion, Oh My God so far haven’t made their new generation work. With the exception of rookie Zhang “millions” Wenbo (a player who didn’t even have an English gamer tag when OMG announced him), OMG have retained their conservatively talented core of Yan “juejue” Hang, Xie “icon” Tianyu, Han “S1mlz” Jin, and Liu “five” Shiyu.
Toward the end of the 2016 season, OMG had started to show some synergy playing around S1mlz, and with a change in coaching staff, this could be their breakout split, but even if it is, their best bet is landing middle of the pack and aiming for playoffs.
5. LGD Gaming
It’s time again to talk — grudgingly — about LGD. No matter how you look at LGD’s retained core of Wei “We1less” Zhen, Gu “imp” Seungbin, and Chen “pyl” Bo, they’re some of the best players in their positions — or should be. These same players performed inconsistently throughout 2016, landing LGD on the cusp of playoffs (above and below the line) in both splits. No matter how heartily imp insists he’s committed to beating rival Kim “deft” Hyukkyu “for China,” it’s hard to believe him.
Part of LGD’s late season upswing came from the addition of Tang “1ntruder” Sheng from their reserve team. He seemed most equipped to deal with LGD’s carries demanding pressure. Yet seemingly just because they had an extra import slot, LGD acquired rookie Korean jungler Park “Croc” Jonghoon and placed substitute mid laner Li “Funny” Yuanhui (previously known as “Punished”) in the top lane. If they actually start with that configuration, we may witness LGD’s most embarrassing season yet, and that’s considering they played all of 2014 Spring with an entire team of one-tricks.
4. I MAY
A sense of coordination and easy camaraderie made I MAY deceptively strong despite a lack of stars in 2016. Confusingly, they’ve abandoned the mid laner who spoke Mandarin Chinese the best and jungler Fan “Avoidless” Junwei for a Korean jungler with raw skill and not much else in Sung “Flawless” Yeongjun. Presumably, this means the team will also play with Chinese support Hu “Maestro” Jianxin, and I MAY will lose their core players in Avoidless and Yun “Road” Hangil.
This team doesn’t have a lot of talent as-is, so trying to brute force games won’t get them far. Destabilizing their key support system means they won’t have other options.
3. Invictus Gaming
I’ve seen a lot of Invictus optimism lately, and admittedly their roster looks much stronger this year. Lee “Duke” Hoseong provides a powerful split-pushing presence, and iG have also made bottom lane upgrades (though promising rookie Yu “JackeyLove” Wenbo still isn’t listed on the Week 1 roster list).
The trouble? A lot of the inflated success of iG last year came from strong communication from solo laners to jungler Ge “Kid” Yan. Liu “Zzitai” Zhihao and Song “Rookie” Euijin often prepared waves well in lane for Kid to gank, giving him a boost to snowball the top half. Duke reportedly didn’t even communicate well on SKT, so a lot more of the work will fall to Kid, which, coupled with JackeyLove’s absence from the Week 1 list, makes it difficult for me to place them Top 2 in their group.
2. Snake eSports
The standard world order is all about pushing lanes, and Snake have players who can do that well across the board. If anything, Li “Flandre” Xuanjun, Zzitai, and Oh “Ohq” Gyumin will play in lane too aggressively when the jungler sits on the other side of the map and make themselves easy targets. Still, if this Snake roster coordinates well and doesn’t give up lane advantages to assist in invades, they’ll wow the group.
There’s a lot of agency on this roster, however, and players who are used to having teams accommodate them. Snake’s ambitious build could end disastrously, especially given the team’s resistance to adaptation, potentially stemming from a combination of Team Captain Flandre and the coaching staff, in the past.
1. Royal Never Give Up
Yes, Cho “Mata” Sehyeong and Jang “Looper” Hyeongseok left, and I’m still rating RNG #1 in their group.
Despite Mata teaching his Chinese underlings how to play the game, “RNG According to Uzi” still took shape in Summer of 2016. RNG stayed committed to forcing bottom lane, and Liu “Mlxg” Shiyu remained on his own. Whatever award-winning shotcalling Mata brought to the table seemed to vanish as he and Uzi tunnel-visioned on bottom lane. This is nothing the new roster can’t do, and still do well.
Mata’s replacement, Shi “Ming” Senming, has been running through solo queue with intelligent roams mid on both the Korean and Chinese ladders. He played exceptionally well in Young Miracles all year, narrowly missing LPL qualification by one game in a BO5 four times in 2016. Yan “Letme” Junze worked well with Mlxg and Li “xiaohu” Yuanhao as a core in the offseason between 2015 and 2016, winning two events before Korean players came to the lineup.
With so much to be unsure about in Group A, it’s not ridiculous to think that RNG could stay on top, especially with strong laners present and limited existing strategic play in the LPL.
6. Game Talents
There was a short stint when Game Talents discovered the magic of Teleport Leblanc in conjunction with Jhin and Trundle, and many believed this team could be good. That time is over now.
With only minimal roster changes, Game Talents’ upside is that they retain their synergy. With gaping holes in coordination throughout mid game and a sense of splintering from trying to play around Bong “Republic” Geuntae, as well as the public animosity between Republic and jungler Wang “WuShuang” Haili, that doesn’t seem like a plus.
5. Vici Gaming
Despite fanbase insistence that Bae “Bengi” Seongwoong is an upgrade over Choi “DanDy” Inkyu, you’ll have to forgive me if I disagree. Bengi’s greatest strengths are matching the enemy jungler and taking advantage of his mid’s ability to push out aggressively by tracking. DanDy could perform the tracking function (somewhat riskily) without a pushing mid and also play a carry role.
A carry role is something this team has needed since they joined the LPL. Zhu “Loong” Xiaolong has developed, but only slowly, and his pool of champions remains shallow. Lee “Easyhoon” Jihoon seems happiest when he clears waves conservatively and waits to clean up team fights.
Vici Gaming will likely retain their ability to match the opponent jungler, giving them a slight edge in choice circumstances, but it’s doubtful they’ll play it as intelligently or efficiently as they did in 2016.
4. Newbee Gaming
What was the difference between the QG Reapers of 2015 and Newbee Gaming? An aggressive mid laner who could exert early game pressure and follow-up Baek “Swift” Dahoon’s engages. In the offseason, Newbee acquired two mid laners accustomed to complementing an aggressive jungler, including one who has a history of playing well with Swift.
The problem comes upon examining both Shin “Coco” Jinyeong and Yu “Cool” Jiajun’s performances in 2016. “Uninspiring” would be a charitable description of poor lane pressure and discombobulated roams. Newbee haven’t finalized the starting choice, however, which has at least motivated Cool to attack the Korean ladder with great enthusiasm. His individual performances in solo queue have been inconsistent, but the last time he showed this level of dedication to practice, he was destroying his LPL competition in early 2015. With the rest of Newbee forming a strong core, this at least provides a sense of tentative optimism.
3. EDward Gaming
Every time I’ve ranked EDG anything less than first (effectively never), I’ve regretted it. This time, however, no matter how strong their staff and core in Ming “clearlove” Kai and Tain “meiko” Ye seems, the roster changes they’ve made in the offseason don’t inspire confidence. While Hae “Zet” Sungmin shows promise as an AD carry in solo queue, EDward Gaming also retain their weaker solo laners, and clearlove allegedly won’t start immediately, heralding the return of Zhao “Fireloli” Zhiming.
If this were any other organization, they’d be contending for relegation. With their strong foundation and the fact that they went undefeated in the LPL with Chen “mouse” Yuhao and Lee “Scout” Yechan, it feels almost like EDG decided they needed more of a challenge and will come out on top to the perplexity of spectators. To do this, they may have to rotate in Tong “Koro1” Yang and try to play around top more, something that has always been a struggle for clearlove. I expect them to fail horrifically at the start of the split, but climb back at the finish line.
2. QG Reapers
The QG roster is a mess. With two players in almost every role, it isn’t even clear which players will start, much less how they will come together as a team. With Kim “Doinb” Taesang captaining, QG will play fast or not at all, and some of the players on the list will create friction.
There’s no denying, however, that QG have both the talent and foundation to succeed. Hu “Cloud” Zhenwei is still one of the most exciting Chinese players to touch the game (if he can control his attitude), Kan “Kabe” Homan has been practically screaming for a chance to play in the LPL for the past year, and both Korean prospects outside Doinb have displayed a considerable amount of skill.
QG feel like they’re in the same category as Snake and Invictus. They have the talent to succeed in terms of strong lanes, but it’s still murky as to how it will all come together and whether they can juggle pressure around whichever jungler they ultimately choose to start.
1. Team WE
Many experts will place Invictus Gaming at the top of Group A and Team WE at the top of Group B, as if four years haven’t passed since the end of 2012. While I don’t pit iG at the top of Group A, the possibility that they could still top it is very real, and I do peg WE to take Group B.
WE spent the offseason bootcamping in Korea, signaling their plan to retain their full roster. This team nearly made the World Championship, and with all teams above them (only one of them in their current group) undergoing massive roster changes, most likely for the worse, this is their split to return to the top. The team’s biggest hangup is over-tunneling on the lane where they perceive they have the strongest advantage and forcing confrontations too often. They’re at their best when they outplay on the map. Ideally, this will be the split for them to find balance.
Group A feels like there isn’t a team that will definitively rise to the top; close competition between RNG, Snake, iG, and potentially I May or even LGD seems likely. Team WE should easily top Group B, but competition for the second spot will be closer. EDG, NB, and QG should be able to compete reasonably well with the best of Group A. Knee jerk reaction has me pitting Group B’s overall strength over A, but that could also carry a degree of skepticism given the histories of several organizations in Group A.
This season of LPL should prove to be incredibly exciting given the departure of a wealth of talent in the top teams. EDward Gaming could show their longevity, even without Deft, but the level of talent in teams nipping at their heels makes it feel like, for the first time since the organization’s inception, we’ll have another squad take a turn at the throne.Another year, another somewhat disappointing World Championship showing from the League of Legends Pro League’s top teams. Shockingly, last year’s format has been retained, something that has effectively never happened. Randomly drawn groups from arbitrary pools remains a fixture the LPL.
Moreover, Lol Matrix provide you more objective and logical analysis. Let's check out >> 2017 LPL Spring Split Teams Analysis
And the power ranking is as follows>>LPL
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