Every LCS split has its own intricacies. Despite the fact that there was no World Championship qualification on the line, the split has left its mark on both LCS regions. Season 4’s spring split was characterized by the emergence of the Coke Zero sponsored Challenger Series, an accessible gateway to the top. Because of the Coke League, the competitive climate in both regions has changed.
Time to get serious in the Western Hemisphere
For North America, the Coke League talent put unprecedented pressure on existing LCS teams to stay in shape, something that wasn’t a huge necessity in the previous splits due to a lack of strong Challenger competition. The composition of the North American team lineup remained largely the same for the first two splits: Team SoloMid, Team Coast, XDG Gaming, Team Curse, Team Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming made for a recurring cast, joined by compLexity and MRN in the first split and Cloud 9 HyperX and Velocity eSports in the second. This time around, two of the oldtimers bit the dust in the promotion matches as XDG Gaming and Team Coast got bested by LMQ and compLexity respectively. The North American spring split was a worthy first step towards the next World Championship., separating the men from the boys and solidifying a new North America. Moreover, it is now apparent to teams that they have to fight to stay competitive. Overall, teams seem less reluctant to commit to roster swaps and organizational reforms in order to compete. Counter Logic Gaming tipped its organizational structure upside down by pulling in an authoritative coach and making drastic roster changes, establishing themselves as a top three team in the process. Team Dignitas experimented around by swapping out underperforming players and professionalizing their otherwise perhaps too laid-back competitive attitude. Even Team SoloMid showed that they had no issues with putting pressure on their renowned support player Xpecial by benching him and holding tryouts, despite the team placing top two in both the round robin and playoffs of the split. The All-Star interseason break will have to show what further changes are going to happen and which recent ones will turn out to be permanent.
Where are we going, Europe?
Europe, on the other hand, remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an erratic and inconsistent enigma served on top of a conundrum. Once more, the final standings had most of the teams merely a single point away from one another. Popular belief has it that Europe does not need to be understood in order for it to work. Fnatic’s second place finish at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship seems to confirm this, but the region’s inconsistency remains controversial. Against expectations, all three LCS teams managed to preserve their spot in the LCS during the Promotion series.
With the series’ lineup intact, we’ll have to see which squads will step it up and prove themselves the true European top. Most of the individual lineups are comparatively new and arguably needed time to solidify their teamwork. With a whole split of practice and the interseason break that will follow, this can no longer be an excuse to go into the summer split with. After all, the summer split will have a spot in the World Championship up for grabs.