Top 5 2020 LCS Teams to Watch
Let’s take a closer look at five 2020 LCS teams that stand a chance of leaving a mark in the upcoming season. For the five teams listed below, there’s quite a lot to fight for. Every one of them wants to start on the right foot and potentially even lock down a ticket for the World Championship in China.
This list just so happens to be comprised of the titans of yesteryear—teams that once dominated the region but have slightly fallen off in one way or another. Perhaps they failed to perform domestically or disappointed on the international stage. Maybe they took many risks during the off-season and praying for a small miracle come Spring. Perhaps they need to correct course after a couple of bad splits to once again win the hearts of their fans.
There’s also an age-old organization once again entering the mix. They invested a ton of money to start the season dominantly. You can be sure that they won’t pull punches. For them, this is by no means a do or die type of situation. After building so much hype during the off-season, the last thing they want to do is fail to deliver. By bringing over so many high-profile players, expectations have been set almost by default.
Either way, every team listed below has something to prove. Some more than others, but the point still stands. How high they’ll climb once the dust settles remain to be seen. But, there’s a good reason to be excited about the upcoming Spring Split. It might not be particularly important in the grand scheme of things. But, it’s packed with talented teams and many fascinating, long-standing narratives.
There’s a lot of potential. The fight at the top has never been this intense. Most of these teams are separated by the slimmest of margins, and who’ll come out on top is anyone’s guess at this point. A bit of uncertainty is a positive thing, especially seeing how the LCS needs more top-tier teams to truly shine in 2020.
So, without any further ado, let’s focus on five 2020 LCS teams you should keep an eye on going forward!
Evil Geniuses — A Return in Style
To return to the LCS is one thing. To return in the fashion in which Evil Geniuses just did is an entirely different matter. From the moment the off-season began, we heard they were looking to invest enough money to leave a mark in their very first split back in the LCS.
So, they went and hand-picked some of the best players they could buy. Some of these signings were expected. There was hardly a better jungler at the time than the 2019 Summer Split MVP Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. While they were at it, they picked up Cloud9’s support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam as well. This was to preserve the jungle-support synergy and sign two aggressive playmakers who proved their worth regionally and internationally.
But they didn’t stop there.
They brought former SKT T1 legend Bae “Bang” Jun-sik from 100 Thieves, just in case their bottom lane needed more oomph. Bang didn’t have the best of seasons overall. However, he’s still a known performer when given the right support and infrastructure, something severely lacking at 100 Thieves.
They then signed Colin “Kumo” Zhao from Cloud9’s Academy roster, a young player who has shown immense potential. Finally, they imported Team Vitality’s Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro from the LEC. The move confused many people. The decision is still hard to justify. Regardless, Jiizuke can tango with the very best in the world when he’s at the top of his game. He’s far from a bad signing.
He’s a solid fit with how Svenskeren and Zeyzal want to play the game: Aggressive, mechanically gifted, and always prepared to take a step forward and engage. Whether that works in reality as it does on paper remains to be seen. However, they’re a fascinating mix, that’s for sure.
There’s a lot to like. This team should instantly be considered as a lock for the playoffs. Finishing in the Top 3 wouldn’t be overly surprising. It’ll certainly be an uphill battle, but with head coach Heo “Irean” Yeong-cheol at the helm, they have no real weakness. They’re solid and well-rounded across the board, coaching staff included. There’s always the possibility of things going awry. But, in general, when viewed as a whole, this is a spectacular roster with a ton of potential.
Team Liquid is rightfully considered as one of the best 2020 LCS teams in North America. Right behind them, most people rank Team SoloMid and Cloud9 as second and third. Seeing how both teams changed quite a bit during the off-season (three new players each), they’re going to have to rebuild synergy from the ground up.
That’s an important point. It could prove EG with the upper hand right from the very get-go. In other words, all three will compete on an even footing.
Either way, even if Evil Geniuses don’t upset the status quo, they’re bound to become a top-tier contender in record time, which is just what the LCS needed.
Counter Logic Gaming — An Upwards Trajectory
Counter Logic Gaming’s 2019 was a year of solid improvement. After a couple of mediocre splits (if not years), the former LCS champions returned to form. They were not only stronger on an individual level, but they played far better as a five-man unit than most expected.
For a moment in time, they stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Team SoloMid and Cloud9. It looked like they finally stabilized after years of underperforming. While CLG ultimately failed to leave much of a mark, they still improved leaps and bounds and even showcased a lot of untapped potential in the process.
They’ve made two changes. If things pan out as well as they could, both could be considered upgrades. Lee “Crown” Min-ho and Andy “Smoothie” Ta are still respectable signings, even though they’re not hot commodities coming into 2020. The former World Champion (of Samsung Galaxy fame) certainly surprised a lot of people in 2019 as he hard-carried often under the OpTic Gaming banner. His play didn’t deteriorate much (if at all). He’ll be looking to leave once again a mark come Spring Split.
Whether Smoothie is an upgrade or not remains to be seen, but he brings a different skillset when compared to Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. He’s more aggressive and prioritizes tanky engage champions. So, we could see a far more aggressive CLG than ever before.
Overall, Counter Logic Gaming will be looking to solidify their spot as a Top 5 team once again. That might not sound overly spectacular, but a solid, well-rounded CLG always presents a unique, layered challenge. A more competitive top half of the LCS is a positive thing (if not a necessity). Counter Logic Gaming is just one of the many 2020 LCS teams who’ll be looking to dethrone Team Liquid.
Dignitas — 50/50
Dignitas’ return to the LCS didn’t exactly go as planned, at least not from a marketing standpoint. Their off-season was mostly highlighted (and overshadowed) by their confusing player signings and astronomical spending. The fact that they were supposedly struggling to complete a starting line-up after spending most of their budget on Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon also doesn’t infuse us with a lot of confidence.
Despite this, they certainly ended up with a fascinating roster. They are an interesting mix of grizzled veterans (some might argue they’re past their prime). The roster includes young up-and-coming talent in the bottom lane (Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen) and an experienced jungler whose strength and power level are still hard to read after a tumultuous run with Team SoloMid (Jonathan “Grig” Armao).
On the one hand, they’re more than solid enough to compete for a playoff spot. On the other, there are so many question marks that it’s downright impossible to predict whether they’ll end up in the playoffs or at the bottom of the standings. Sometimes sheer firepower just isn’t enough. If they don’t synergize well, they’re not going to be nearly as competitive as they look on paper.
If anything, almost every single player from this roster has something to prove and should be highly motivated coming into the 2020 competitive season. Huni wants to justify his paycheck and repeat the success he had in 2019. Grig wants to forget the most recent TSM debacle and prove he’s worthy of being an LCS starter. Henrik “Froggen” Hansen finally wants to go to Worlds (all the while having solid teammates so that he doesn’t have to hardcarry all by himself as he did during his Golden Guardians stint). Whereas the LCS veteran support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to reach his former glory.
This is a rare instance in which almost every single player from a starting line-up has a micro-narrative of his own. They’re all fighting for something and are entering the upcoming season with a chip on their shoulder. Whether or not they’ll find redemption remains to be seen, but watching them fight on the Summoner’s Rift weekly will be an absolute must.
Cloud9 — A New Shade of Blue
Even though Cloud9 changed over the years, they never lost Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. That one fact is incredibly important as his chilled demeanor always defined the Cloud9 we all know and love. But as time went on, his play never really improved. Instead, he plateaued and was often the weakest link in the line-up. Memes aside, his laning left a lot to be desired. It negatively affected Cloud9 as a whole, especially when they faced the best teams the world of competitive League had to offer.
2020 will change that, for better or worse. The legendary North American AD carry will no longer compete under the C9 banner, which in many ways marks the end of an era. Instead, Cloud9 brings Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen over from Team SoloMid and pairs him with one of the best supports in the region right now: Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme. It’s a strange combination, that’s for sure, but it’s far from a bad one.
How good Cloud9 will look is anyone’s guess at this point. They retained their top and mid laner (a plus), upgraded their talented (albeit volatile) Academy jungler to the starting line-up, and brought over a completely new bottom lane duo. For Cloud9, many things have changed coming into 2020. We still don’t know whether these changes will elevate the team and allow the organization to reach new heights. Or, if they’re just passable sidegrades (if not downgrades), that will do little to improve Cloud9’s chances of taking down Team Liquid.
Regardless of anyone’s opinion, Cloud9’s coaching staff is still one of the best in the business. They’re surely going to turn this 2020 roster into a fantastic, well-rounded contender ready to go toe to toe with other LCS teams.
Team SoloMid — The Return of the Behemoth
2019 wasn’t particularly kind to Team SoloMid. Even the moments of success eventually lead to crushing failure. The fact that it was all happening to the one team synonymous with the region made the whole thing that much more devastating.
Just a couple of in-game calls were separating them from reclaiming their long-lost throne. After getting reverse swept by Team Liquid in the 2019 Spring Split finals, Team SoloMid never fully recovered.
It was as dramatic of a twist as possible. It’ll long be remembered for the top tier play on display and the fashion in which Liquid corrected course and defended their throne.
With three new players (one of whom already wore a TSM jersey in the past), however, it feels like the perennial North American titans made all the right changes. With a mechanically gifted jungler and a high-caliber European AD carry known as being the ultimate late game insurance, they’ve upgraded in the most important areas.
On paper, there’s no glaring weakness. With many different weapons and avenues towards success, this incarnation of Team SoloMid should be considered as the biggest and most layered threat to the Liquid dynasty. That doesn’t mean they’ll get the job done come Spring, but they have one heck of a chance, that’s for sure.
They can pick and choose which lane they’ll play through. With fantastic players across the board, they can compete with Liquid lane for lane.
The world eagerly awaits the moment this five-man roster steps foot on stage for the first time.
That’s it for our list of five 2020 LCS teams you should keep an eye on going forward! While there aren’t any exciting new narratives this time around, we still have a plethora of old, unresolved ones that still require our undivided attention. Fortunately, these storylines didn’t lose their appeal over the years. They’re as engaging and fascinating as ever.
The 2020 LCS Spring Split will begin on January 25.