The North American League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS) regular season has come to an end, and while much followed the same old song and dance, there were some surprises. Let’s take a look at how it all ended up, what the playoff bracket looks like, and who will be battling it out in the Summer promotion tournament.
It’s no surprise that TSM and Cloud9 sit atop the standings. The two teams have consistently been number one and two (often switching positions between themselves) and an early challenge from newcomers Flyquest didn’t change the status quo at the top of the table. The two now possess an immediate bye into the semi-finals of the playoffs, with TSM having the top seed.
Heading up the rest of the playoff spots in third is Phoneix1, who flew a little under the radar this split. The new lineup with former H2K man Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook consistently battled in and around the playoffs for the entirety of the split, and have held on to third place since week five. They will face off against sixth place Team Dignitas, who mounted a comeback after finding themselves in the relegation spots early on in the season. The addition of former Curse AD Carry David “Cop” Roberson seems to have reinvigorated the team, who now follow the mantra of “trust the process”, after their new owners, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Flyquest fill out the fourth and fifth position in the standings. The two teams shared a very different trajectory during the regular season, with CLG struggling early on but eventually securing their spot with a string of results in the final few weeks. Flyquest on the other hand looked as though they may have even challenged for the title early on in the split. The team never actually topped the standings but consistently floated around the top three before a mid split capitulation saw them drop out of the playoff positions. It took a 2-0 final week for the team to sneak in and grab a spot, though their form going into the playoffs is certainly suspect.
In positive news, Team Liquid have finally broken the fourth place curse. Unfortunately, it’s because they have finished the regular season all the way down in ninth. Not even the return of North American legend Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng was enough to save the team from facing the dreaded promotion tournament. It was a bizarre split for the team, who eventually moved AD Carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin into the mid lane in their desperate search for results. The team failed to produce a single 2-0 week throughout the entire split. Their opponents in the promotion tournament will be Eunited, whose lineup includes former European LCS members Berk “Gilius” Demir, and Hampus “Fox” Myhre.
Propping up the table at the very bottom of the standings is Team EnvyUs. With just three wins and 15 losses, the team found themselves bottom of the standings for the entirety of the split. Their wins came over fellow relegation candidates Team Liquid, along with Echo Fox and Immortals, neither of which went on to make the playoffs. Their spot in the league is possibly the most under threat, as they go on to face Gold Coin United from the North American Challenger Series. The side boasts a lineup that includes Worlds finalist Hong “Madlife” Min-gi, former TSM jungler Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, and former Team Liquid mid laner Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun.
When you don’t quite make it to playoffs but do just well enough to avoid relegation, you and your team earn a spot in the next split. Immortals and Echo Fox fill those slots, and despite perhaps hoping for a better performance, the two can relax a little, knowing that their spot in the league is not under threat.
Immortals missed out on the final playoff spot by just one win, and were ousted on the very final day of the regular season by a Team Dignitas on the upswing and Flyquest arresting their descent down the table. Despite their final position in the table, there are certainly some positives that Immortals can take into the Summer split. Jungler Josh “Dardoch” Hartnett was voted “player of the game” more times than anyone else in the league, and the roster remained unchanged throughout the season, despite inconsistent performances. Assuming that this lineup stays together to compete in Summer, they can only really improve.
Just barely avoiding the promotion tournament for the second time in a row was Echo Fox. Rick Fox’s esports organization has had some trouble settling into the North American LCS, and this split was no different. The team brought in legendary South Korean top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok, along with the comparatively less experienced Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham and Austin “Gate” Yu. The changes were enough to keep the team in the league, but very little improvement was made overall. The majority of community criticism landed on AD Carry Yuri “Keith” Jew, who drastically under performed compared to others in the league in his position. Despite the poor performances, they too have secured their spot in the Summer split, and with a couple of months to self evaluate, who knows how Echo Fox will line up in Summer.