The 2020 season of LCS is set to kick off this Saturday, January 25, with the opening fixture between Cloud9 and the reigning LCS champions Team Liquid, who will look to secure their fifth LCS title comes March.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this year’s LCS season, partially due to all the new talent that has arrived in the North American league, which includes some big talent from Europe, who will now look to prove their worth and help NA teams reach success on the international stage. Furthermore, the 2020 Spring Split will see the return of some renowned esports teams who have been out of the league for a while and are now set to prove once more they belong among the best.
Now let’s take a look at the 10 teams who will compete in the LCS, what they changed in the offseason and in the end give our thoughts on what the teams can achieve this season.
Team Liquid are entering the split as the favorites, meaning not a lot has changed in terms of which team is considered as the favorite to dominate the league. While we can never know for sure how this team will perform, TL are at least on the paper the strongest team in the league. That said, the LCS as a league has risen the standards and it would be easy to argument 2020 LCS Spring Split will be significantly more stacked as previous years, which leaves the door open for another team to upset TL and derail the reigning champions from their path to the historic fifth LCS title.
The main talking point with TL this season is the arrival of Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen from Fnatic, which, as we see it, is clearly a move to create the mid-jungle synergy with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. With his arrival, TL seem to be stronger on the paper, simply because Broxah can be a very deadly jungler in the early game and while he had the tendency to fall off as the game went hit later stages, having a strong early game will be crucial in current meta of competitive play.
On the paper, TL are without a doubt the alpha dogs in the LCS, however, we can’t ignore other teams, who in theory have a very solid chance of finishing above TL, especially if the reigning champions fail to find the needed chemistry with the new arrival.
The player under the spotlight at Team SoloMid will be Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, who is the newest arrival alongside Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. The biggest question with Dardoch is how will he fit in with TSM, mostly because he has been a part of so many teams before, until everything fell apart. There is a reason to believe that he will be significantly better now that he is surrounded by stronger players, yet we will never know for sure.
Another massive change for TSM is the arrival of a new head coach – Peter “Peter Zhang” Zhang, who known for establishing a solid relationship with the players, which might help Dardoch with finding his place in the team sooner.
Last but not least, we have to address the bottom lane changes. Kobbe and Biofrost are on paper a massive upgrade compared to Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta. Kobbe was one of the best ADC mains in Europe, while Biofrost is regarded as one of the best supports in the league. The quality is there, yet we have to ask ourselves if the duo will gel together soon enough to show off what they are capable of.
The baseline for this team is easily top three in the LCS and if Dardoch can deliver and create a good synergy with Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik and Søren “Bjegrsen” Bjerg, TSM just might impress everyone and push for the top spot. But then again, it will all come down to how well will the new arrivals fit in and perform.
Counter Logic Gaming and TSM swapped supports, which, as we see it will be an upgrade for CLG, who with the arrival of Smoothie received a very solid leader – something they lacked in the previous year. The biggest addition to the team, however, is Lee “Crown” Min-ho, who is one of the most talented mid laners in the league. He might not have had a very fruitful season at OpTic, but at the end of the day… he played at OpTic. There he was without a doubt the best player on the roster but was unable to do much. That, however, can and most likely will change at CLG, where Crown will be surrounded by strong and experienced individuals, which should help him step out of the shell and prove everyone how good can he be.
The only concern with Crown we have is that he will need some time before he finds his place in the team. Another thing is that CLG need to change their strategy and stop playing around the bottom lane, which won’t do the many favors since Biofrost is no longer in the team.
With the South Korean trio in coach-top-mid, we expect CLG to be more proactive compared to last season and should have no issues getting themselves into the playoffs. Anything more in the current state of the league is very unlikely.
Cloud9 are entring 2020 season with two new arrivals in Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, who will play a pivotal role in the team’s success. Other than that Eric “Licorice” Ritchie is still one of the best top laners in the league, and Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer has had a very solid summer, despite his iffy displays at Worlds. Nonetheless, he is a very aggressive mid laner which could translate in C9 becoming a very aggressive early-game team.
Even though we are putting a lot of emphasis on the bot lane, there is a reason to believe the Vulcan-Zven duo will work out. Vulcan played great last season with Clutch and now, paired with arguably better ADC, he should, in theory, improve even further and have an even greater impact on the team. While we talk about the bot lane, it remains to be seen how the departure of Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi will impact the team as a whole. C9 were known for producing comeback games and supposedly Sneaky had a lot to do with that, by keeping the morale up even when C9 were down. At the end of the day, C9’s bottom lane is the biggest question heading into the 2020 season, and if Vulcan-Zven can deliver, we could easily see C9 contest TL for the title.
Prediction: Cloud9 to win LCS Spring – 5.00 Bet365
Prediction: Betting Without Team Liquid – C9 to win – 2.87 Bet365
Dignitas are a huge enigma, especially with Jonathan “Grig” Armao as their jungler. He is known for having very strong games in scrims, but when the time comes for him to show up on the stage, Grig falls flat. That said he has shown improvement and maybe, just maybe, 2020 will be the year when he will deliver.
Other than him, all the spotlight will be on Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon who is an exceptional individual player and arguably one of the best top laners in the league. While he has had some iffy moments in Spring and early Summer last season, Huni switched into a higher gear in Summer and at Worlds, and if he can continue improving, he just might push DIG a few spots up the leaderboard by himself. Talking about strong individual players, DIG signed Henrik “Froggen” Hansen as their mid laner, who has had a decent season and the experience he brings is another massive plus for DIG. So in regard of the two solo laners, Dignitas look set.
As for the bottom lane, it seems like it can go either way. DIG decided to pair the experienced Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black with a rookie Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen. There is a chance Johnsun will develop into a strong ADC, but at this point, that is still very uncertain. DIG bot lane will be their biggest weakness and we will continue to believe so until the duo manages to show something.
DIG have the potential to make it into the playoffs if their individual pieces can work and while Johnsun-aphromoo might slightly under-deliver at the start, if Huni can show what he is capable of, DIG should be just fine this season.
Prediction: Dignitas to reach the playoffs – 2.25 Bet365
Out of all the teams, Evil Geniuses are the biggest question mark in terms of what they bring to the table. EG boasts with all the right pieces, which, if they work, could earn EG a very solid placement at the end of the split.
Daniele “Jizuke” di Mauro has had a down year in 2019, but that was mostly due to his health issues, which are not gone, leading us to believe he should improve in 2020 and if he can reach the performance he has shown in 2018, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Then there is the Bae “Bang” Jun-sik Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam duo at the bottom lane, which holds a lot of promise, yet we don’t expect them to be lane dominant, meaning Zeyzal will most likely focus on helping mid lane, which in all fairness is not all that bad. We can’t forget to mention the 2019 MVP Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, who will play a pivotal role in EG success this split.
Colin “Kumo” Zhao is, however, the biggest question in the team and even though he is not regarded as one of the best top laners, EG don’t really need a dominant top laner around whom they will play. Instead, EG will look to establish a good jungle-mid synergy, and let their mid lane carry games, because we don’t expect Bang to have a strong enough laning phase to do so in mid-game. All in all, Jizuke will make or break EG success in 2020.
There is always going to be a team just on the brink of making it into the playoffs and in this case, that team is 100 Thieves.
Looking at 100T squad, they have a very promising top laner in Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, but as we go down the list, it gets progressively worse. The biggest concern is 100T new mid laner Tommy “Ryoma” Le, who we don’t have a lot of faith in and that becomes an issue. If mid laner fails to deliver, a team can only dream of playoffs, simply because mid lane is such an important lane. If he can develop, however, 100T could be good, but for that to happen, he will need time and we have a hard time believing that two months is enough time for him to achieve his potential or at least the potential people say he has.
Other than that Cody “Cody Sun” Sun and William “Stunt” Chen will have to show up big time and considering there are rumors the duo had hard time in scrims, we simply can’t have 100T among the top six.
All in all, it goes without saying 100T will be no match for TSM, TL, C9 and CLG and while we believe they might do fine against other teams, reaching the top six by the end of the split will be an uphill battle for them.
FlyQuest have been struggling last season and we don’t expect that to change this year. They do, however, have enough quality to avoid finishing at the bottom of the league.
Their new addition Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun has been praised as very solid support and while we can’t know for sure, he just might be the right player to help Jason “WildTurtle” Tran recapture his old form, which, if he does, will be massive for FlyQuest.
Then there is Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, who seems to be a great fit for the team and their playstyle and while he might be an upgrade to Eugene “Pobelter” Park, the main question we need to get an answer to is how will Lucas Tao Kilmer Larsen and Omran “V1per” Shoura work together. If they manage to show something like in 2019 Spring, FlyQuest will be just fine, however, if they perform on the level they did in Summer, FlyQuest will most likely finish among the bottom three.
Immortals are entering the 2020 season with some strong individual talent, yet there is a huge question surrounding how those players will work together.
Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero are without a doubt one of the top-four players in their roles, while Immortals new top laner in Paul “sOAZ” Boyer still needs to prove himself in LCS, however, he looked very solid in LEC and we have a lot of trust in him.
That said, mid Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire and Johnny “Altec” Ru are both of a very questionable quality, which will weight the team down to a degree the might not even come close to the playoffs. Another big issue is that this team has no player to carry them. Yes, they have great support and jungler, but that alone won’t be enough for a playoffs run.
As we see it, a lot of things will have to go right for Golden Guardians for them to be even considered a mid-table team. Victor “FBI” Huang looked ok last season but had his moments where he underperformed, which leads us to believe he might be a bit inconsistent. Unlike FBI, however, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell is a very consistent player and a solid top laner, who should play a crucial role in GGS and significantly strengthen their top part of the map, if he can learn to play with Can “Closer” Çelik.
All in all, if the bottom lane can deliver and if Closer can translate his form from TCL to LCS, GGS might be much stronger than what they would lead us to believe, but there are just too many “IFs” with this team for us to predict a playoffs finish.