As the countdown for the new season of the North American League of Legends Championship Series hits zero, eSports fans will be welcomed back to the competitive scene by a host of new faces and foreign talent. This will be the best season the NALCS has ever seen, with many exciting rosters and match-ups to look forward to each week.
As the curtains were drawn on a dramatic off-season, the North American region found itself poised for the most competitive LCS split in its history. Analysts were quick to jovially describe the NA region as ‘China 2.0’, after a flurry of powerhouse Korean talent was snapped up by American organisations. With so many teams strengthening across the rift, the outcome of the NA LCS Spring Split has never been more difficult to predict… as highlighted by CLICKON eSport’s 2017 NA LCS Pre-Season Power Rankings.
With almost every team making multiple roster changes, here are the players who will be under the spotlight for each League of Legends squad in North America:
Echo Fox: Looper
Top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok joins Echo Fox this season after a Worlds Quarter-finals run with the LPL's Royal Never Give Up. A former World Champion, Looper will be a key piece in Echo Fox's chances to succeed this split. Known for strong play on champions such as Singed (the Samsung White skin is based on him), Echo Fox needs Looper to return to his World Championship form for their new roster to be successful.
Hai "Hai" Lam is an LCS veteran who has led the former Cloud 9 Challenger squad into the LCS. Having played multiple roles professionally, Hai is everything you want out of a leader with superb shot-calling and consistent play. Still, FlyQuest will be challenged by an LCS deep with talent on a team with very little star power.
Team EnVyUs: Seraph
Top laner Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong leads an EnVyUs team who returns most of their starting roster from last split. On a roster that feels limited by talent, Seraph will need to be a consistent carry in the top lane for EnVyUs to find success, a task that will be much harder this split after an influx of talent to the top lane.
The former ADC for KT Rolster, No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon joins one of NA's biggest wildcards in Pheonix1. A team that has the talent to easily finish near the top, Pheonix1 will look for Arrow to continue the stellar play he exhibited in the LCK. If Pheonix1 are able to gel as a roster, they will be one of NA's best.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett leads a roster that returns only one player for Immortals. Once thought to be NA's best native player, late season internal issues (to which Dardoch contributed) led to a collapse on his former team Liquid. Dardoch remains one of NA's best and will be looked to as a leader and carry for a roster with major questions in the bottom lane.
Counter Logic Gaming: Aphromoo
The only team to return its entire roster, CLG's Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black may be one of the best shot-callers in the NALCS. Leading his team to a Spring Championship and a spot at Worlds, Aphromoo and CLG continue to defy expectations with excellent macro play and team fighting.
Team Liquid: Reignover
Star jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin joins Team Liquid after playing last split with Immortals. After winning the Spring Split MVP, the expectations are high for a jungler considered by many to be the league's best. With Uncertainty surrounding the top and mid lane, Liquid will need Reignover to step up and lead Liquid to the spot at Worlds that has continued to elude them.
Team Dignitas: Ssumday
Top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho joins Team Dignitas after playing for the LCK's KT Rolster and narrowly missing a trip to the World Championships. Widely regarded as a top 3 player in Korea and possibly the World at his position, the expectations for Ssumday are high on a revamped Dignitas roster that has it sights set on a top 3 finish.
Cloud 9: Contractz
Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia joins Cloud 9 as the starting jungler after qualifying for the LCS last split on Cloud 9 Challenger. The only new member on a loaded Cloud 9 roster, the expectations are high for a player who many think will be the next great North American jungler. Cloud 9's success may hinge on his development and performance.
Team SoloMid: WildTurtle
LCS veteran Jason “WildTurtle” Tran returns to TSM after playing last season for Immortals. The only new member for a TSM squad that convincingly won last split, WildTurtle has big shoes to fill with the departure of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. A divisive figure amongst fans and analysts alike, TSM will need WildTurtle to play at a high level to continue their reign at the top of the LCS.