By Petar Vukobrat
May 31, 2019
We are only a day away from the second half of the competitive season, so let’s take a closer look at the top 2019 Summer Split LCS teams you should keep on an eye going forward. Now, this isn’t a list that’s going to highlight the best of the best. We all know Team Liquid is the reigning, defending LCS champions — so it should come as no surprise that you should tune in whenever they step foot on stage if you’re in the mood for some top tier League of Legends.
And the same goes for Team SoloMid and Cloud9. They’re the three teams that define the LCS pantheon. They’re the best, most capable and feared teams that North America has to offer. So instead of focusing on teams that will surely bring fireworks whenever they play, we’ll focus on the teams that could potentially surprise. We’ll focus on rosters that have ample potential and could — in one way or another — upset the established LCS order. Teams that have the capacity to become bona fide contenders, or at the very least upset when you least expect it.
So without any further ado, let’s focus on the top 2019 Summer Split LCS teams you should keep an eye on!
It’s still hard to fully evaluate the Golden Guardians even after nine weeks of the regular season, and a pretty acceptable showing in the playoffs. It’s obvious that they’re a good team overall, but just how strong and capable they really are is still up for debate.
The problem is their streaks of brilliance never last long enough. And even though they were rough around the edges (as was expected), it often felt like they were giving it everything they had. As if they were saying “this is the best we’ve got.” Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but this starting five-man line-up, as talented and experienced as it is, didn’t feel all that threatening to the upper echelon of the LCS.
That said, there is some potential present within their roster, that’s for sure. Experienced veterans in each and every lane, with Henrik “Froggen” Hansen at the helm, leading the charge. Now, coming into the 2019 Spring Split, many thought that Froggen was past his prime. Boy, did he prove everyone wrong. Froggen was as dominant and mechanically strong as ever. In fact, he was so good it was almost confusing. He often topped the charts in Kill Participation, Gold Difference at 10 Minutes, Creep Score Difference at 10 Minutes, and Damage Per Minute. By all accounts, Froggen was a Top 3 mid laner in a region that’s stacked with mid lane talent.
A few highlights of Froggen’s amazing performance in the Spring Split.
His individual skill and capacity to hard carry enabled his team more often than not. The Guardians relied on his ability to dominate and they were rarely let down. Fortunately for Froggen, his teammates were also able to step up at certain points of the split, but they were nowhere near as consistent or dominant.
In the end, everyone is as confused regarding the Golden Guardians’ power level as they were when the Spring Split began. We all know they’re good, but will they be able to transcend their current level of play and take a shot at the Top 3? Do they even have the right players for the job?
Even though they’re all seasoned veterans, they’re still as capable as ever. While it might seem like a strange mixture of players on paper, they’re making it work, and they could, in theory, improve a couple of spots once the Summer Split comes around.
Unlike the Golden Guardians, we’ve seen enough from FlyQuest to know what they’re capable of. They’ve consistently displayed enough skill and mechanical prowess on the Summoner’s Rift to warrant a spot on the list. And that, in and of itself, is rather surprising. Coming into the Spring Split, no one really gave them much of a chance. On paper, they had a very solid roster. They were seen as an acceptable, middle-of-the-pack contender that simply didn’t have enough strength and talent to tango with the best.
But they proved everyone wrong. FlyQuest not only maintained a respectable level of play throughout the entire split, but they also took down the top-dogs of the LCS on more than one occasion. They fully utilized their weapons and always made things extremely competitive. Now, they ended the split in fourth place, and while that isn’t exactly the greatest accomplishment in the world, they were at least able to slot into a tier of their own.
They were obviously worse than the three teams above them (in a Best of 5 setting), but they were definitely stronger, more talented and capable than any of the teams below them. They were solid in every stage of the game, they were talented on an individual level but also as a five-man unit, and they had a solid enough read of the meta throughout the split.
But there was one aspect of their play that stood out as most frightening, and that was their mid and late game team fighting. No matter how big of a deficit they found themselves in, they were always able to pull it together in the mid game and mount an offensive. It often happened game after game. Their mental fortitude and resilience are spectacular, especially for a team that was so newly assembled.
Once they had the items they wanted, they were able to sync up and engage beautifully like a well-oiled machine. Now, they didn’t always manage to climb back after a bad start, but you could never count them out, and that made them a worthy adversary.
Their team fighting was some of the best in the region, and it far surpassed what anyone thought they were capable of. While they did lack the necessary horsepower to actually leave a mark in the region, their fourth-place finish was nothing short of commendable, seeing what they had to work with.
Their jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen was integral to his team’s success, and the fact that he was voted onto the second LCS All-Pro team should tell you more than enough about his consistency and in-game impact. The fact that he played for the fourth-best team in the region didn’t deter him from reaching such a prestigious spot, and even though the All-Pro ranking doesn’t carry any weight in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a nice way to highlight someone’s exceptional performance.
He led the region in KDA (4.6), Kill Participation (75%), lowest Death Share (16.9%), he was third in First Blood rate (50%), and first in all three important jungling stats (Gold, Experience, and Creep Score Difference at 10 Minutes) meaning he was always outperforming his jungling adversary. Santorin had a spectacular split, and it’s hard not to be excited for the things to come if he manages to continue building on his recent success.
Going forward, FlyQuest definitely have the right pieces of the puzzle in order to challenge for a Top 3 spot. Whether or not they’ll be able to do so is a different matter entirely, but they have fantastic players in each and every role, and seeing them upsetting the status quo shouldn’t be nearly as surprising this time around.
This is an interesting one. Clutch Gaming didn’t have much hype coming into 2019, and with good reason. The fact that they had the likes of Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin didn’t help their case that much. But against all odds, Clutch started the split off with a bang — they were taking teams down left and right, and were at the very top of the region during the first couple of weeks.
But as time went on, the meta shifted and other teams caught up. As a result, Clutch quickly fell in the standings. They were no longer the same carnivorous, hyper-aggressive team we saw at the beginning of the split. Their strengths weren’t nearly as evident but they were still there.
We saw their potential, and there was a lot of it, especially for a team that finished ninth when all was said and done. Their sheer creativity and willingness to throw caution out the window and play whatever they feel like gave them a huge upper hand. Then again, it was often their downfall as well, so it was a double-edged sword.
They didn’t always have the synergy or the mechanical skill to pull their crazy shenanigans off, but when they did find a balance, they were a very solid contender and were capable of throwing down with anyone in the region. They’re incredibly volatile, and you can never be too sure of which Clutch Gaming is going to show up.
CG has a plenty of potential, but they appear almost overwhelmed at times.
And even their avenues towards success were somewhat confusing. They looked the strongest when they put Piglet on bruisers and fighters in the bottom lane. The more they flexed their picks around, the bigger the advantage they had. Coming into the Summer Split, the organization decided to move Piglet over to their Academy line-up in favor for Cody “Cody Sun” Sun, known for his play on Immortals and 100 Thieves. He’s definitely an upgrade in the ADC department, but whether or not that’ll push Clutch Gaming towards success is still unknown.
Either way, the team itself showed a couple of their unique strengths, but they lacked dedication and the proper guidance needed in order to improve in the right way. This time around, they’re entering the split with much more experience as a five-man unit and that fact alone should be seen in their play as well.
Counting on Clutch Gaming to improve kind of feels like a fool’s errand, but they do have the potential to upset. They just need to focus on a singular play-style and play to their strengths, instead of trying to imitate what others are doing.
And finally, we have none other than 100 Thieves. Their recent downfall was absolutely spectacular, but not in a good way. It’s baffling, really. A team with so much innate talent should’ve been able to find some success. Maybe Top 3 was a bit of a stretch, but dead last? As in “the worst team in the region” with veterans in four out of five lanes? The more you think about it the more you’ll feel a sharp and eventually numbing pain in your cerebrum.
This line-up had the potential to challenge Team Liquid for the LCS throne, and yet they could barely fight against the ninth-ranked Clutch Gaming. Where it all went wrong is a layered question, and we’ll probably never get to the bottom of it. There are simply too many factors, and we have a fairly negligible amount of information to work with.
Regardless, the upcoming Summer Split will give them a chance for redemption. Will they make the best of it? Will they actually move away from tenth-place? The chances aren’t exactly on their side, but then again, it’s hard to doubt such a stacked roster — even after their most recent failure.
They’re bringing in Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider and they’re moving their Academy mid laner Max “Soligo” Soong over to the starting mid lane position. Will these changes bear fruit? Will they finally be able to leave a mark on the LCS stage? This is definitely a step in the right direction, but until we see positive change on the Summoner’s Rift we’re going to have our doubts, and with good reason.
But not all hope is lost. We’ve seen teams turn things around with just a single roster change. Sometimes they need just a little push, a slight change in the way they operate and they immediately find success. Fortunately for the 100 Thieves, anything higher than tenth place would be deemed as an improvement at this point. When they’re as low as they are right now, the only way to go is up.
That’s it for our list of top 2019 Summer Split LCS teams to watch! The split begins on June 1st, and you can tune in on a platform of your choosing — Twitch, YouTube, or the official LoL Esports website! All things considered, this should be one of the best and most competitive LCS splits in history.