Why the LCS has been sloppy, and the hope for improvement

Frankly, the first three weeks of the League of Legends Championship Series have been frustrating to watch for North America and Europe. Look back at December, when most teams didn’t even have a finalized roster and the LCS was mere weeks away. Most teams hardly had any practice as a group before coming up on stage, and the play has been pretty evident of this. It’s easy for solo queue players to be critical of the game, but being a cohesive team is such an important part of the game. Knowing your teammates strengths and weaknesses. Knowing their champion pools. Top laners understanding how to expend their teleport to affect other lanes. Mid and jungle roaming to affect other lanes. Learning to use certain team compositions to their fullest potential. Learning how to come from behind. All are things that cannot be learned in a short amount of time.

Here’s an example of a coordinated team play from Sunday’s match between Team SoloMid and NRG Esports that resulted in TSM losing its early-game lead.

At the 6:33 mark, TSM tries for a dive with its jungler to kill Poppy while having knowledge of the enemy jungler, Rek’Sai, in the top lane. Poppy survives the gank attempt. Because of the information Poppy should be relaying to the rest of the team, Rek’Sai knows that Elise is in NRG’s red side jungle, hence, Rek’Sai goes into TSM’s red side jungle.

Meanwhile, Janna follows Rek’Sai, knowing it is safe to get deep vision in the red side jungle. Because they still don’t see Elise enter TSM’s red side jungle via deep wards for a little under a minute, they make the good assumption that Elise is still on bottom side of the map. Zilean shoves the wave mid, knowing it isn’t safe to engage in a fight with Viktor because Eliese could be ganking at any time. He then joins the rest of the team. The play is then called: A 5-man gank top lane with Poppy using Teleport.

A play like that is pretty complicated. Deep vision is a very hard thing to pull off because of the risk involved for the support to roam. Deep vision is a team play, not just for the support. When that type of play is made, it can easily tilt the players. Who’s fault was it? Who didn’t do their job? A good team knows how to not only pull off plays like this, but also recover from them and not get angry each other.

There haven’t been enough of those plays to this point of the LCS.

Visa Issues

Most of the LCS rosters these past three weeks has been in shambles. The constant coming and going of players — for various reasons — sure hasn’t helped, but it has been an ugly beginning to the season.

It is truly astonishing how many visa issues there are right now. Echo Fox had to forfeit one of its games. Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov, Edward “Edward” Abgaryan, Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek, and Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook have all had to sit out games. Germany’s government doesn’t recognize esports as a viable reason to provide a work visa. But that’s not a new issue. What changed?

There are rumors that a few “old guard” owners reported Echo Fox to Riot Games, which then decided to crack down on anybody potentially breaking the rules. But why now? Why after the start of the season?

It would be beneficial to the teams and players if Riot was a little more transparent. But that might reveal that perhaps it was a little too lax on enforcing the rules in the past. In general, it seems odd to host the LCS in a country that doesn’t recognize esports as a career. Regardless of what’s really happened, the fans are the losers in this scenario.

Substitutes and Roster Moves

Besides the visa fiasco, the second reason the LCS has been frustrating is the large amount of roster changes constantly happening. TiP had almost none of its true roster in Week 1, Team Liquid has made changes at its jungler and support positions, Maria “Remi” Creveling might be leaving Renegades. These roster changes really makes it look like the first couple weeks of the LCS isn’t taken seriously and it’s just a really bad look for the LCS.

To counter the offseason craziness and subsequent sloppy play, Riot should implement a roster lock-in period before the season starts so that all these issues could be ironed out so the first few games of the season aren’t treated as exhibition games. Adding a few exhibition games before the LCS starts could also be a good addition to the regular season.

Despite the first couple weeks, the teams seem to be coming together, which means there’s hope for the coming weeks.. The roster changes have all been for the better, most notably Team Liquid with Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Matthew “Matt” Elento. With only three weeks done, and so many roster changes, the standings right now are suspect to change. Watch out for teams not currently at the top, teams like TL, CLG, and Origen.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.