Rough Drafts’ 2016 Spring NA LCS Preseason Power Rankings

It’s Day 2 of the Rough Drafts Podcast LCS Preseason Power Rankings. Today, co-hosts Chase Wassenar and Walter Fedczuk take a look at the North American side of things, taking all of the lessons they’ve learned over the course of producing their team-by-team podcast previews as well as discussions they’ve had with analysts from across the scene to make their best guess as to how teams will stand at the end of the season.

North America is a much trickier beast to pin down than Europe. While the top and bottom of the standings are pretty clear, the middle is packed with teams that could go in either direction. To help make sense of it all, they again broke the teams into four tiers.

Heavyweights: The teams that stand the best chance to win it all. They’ve got great organizations behind them that have invested in the kind of infrastructure necessary to succeed. They’ve accumulated an incredible amount of talent that makes even casual fans of the scene start theorycrafting just how good they can become. They’re the closest things you get to super teams in North America. Unproven? Certainly! Almost every roster in North America went through significant changes. But these teams have the best chance to dominate their competition when you look at everything they can bring to the table.

Dark Horses: The middle of the pack. Any one of these teams could finish third if everything broke their way. Any one of these teams could finish seventh if everything went against them. These are the teams that were the toughest to pin down. Each team has something to offer fans who want to get excited about their team’s chances this split, ranging from long term synergy, a collection of raw talent that’s impossible to ignore, or an infrastructure that has proven capable of sorting out any issues that might arise as the split goes on. Each team also has a potentially fatal flaw, however, that could sink all of the positives they have going for them, and where they finish is entirely dependent on whether overcoming those flaws. This is the section in which teams were swapped somewhere between one and 24,319 times (Editor’s note: All numbers approximate), so if your favorite team isn’t where you’d like, you can at least take solace in the idea that it probably was at some point.

Staying Alive: These teams have more questions surrounding them than answers. Often, they’re relying on young talent to step up in a big way, which is difficult to predict, even when you have a large sample size of Challenger Series games to examine. The veterans they had may be past their prime or perhaps were overrated the whole time. There are certainly bright spots to look forward to, and if the teams manage to maneuver their way successfully through relegations, they may only be one or two moves away from taking a huge leap. This split is where they’ll sort out those issues and determine what they need to do to succeed in the long run. Until then, they’re just doing their best to stay alive.

Dumpster Fire: This team knows what it did.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s get started.

Heavyweights

1. Team SoloMid

Walter: It’s hard to think any team that lost four members of its League of Legends World Championships qualifying roster would ever sit in the top spot, but TSM is poised to do just that after upgrading every one of those positions. The legacy players and underwhelming second generation are gone, replaced by a team of Western veterans desperate to hoist the Summoner’s Cup. New top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has been praised by analysts, and even Marcus “Dyrus” Hill himself, to be a better version of Dyrus, fully capable of carrying if extra resources are funneled to him, while still being able to make due with scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg will get another European jungler in former Copenhagen Wolves teammate Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, who is only a year removed from being considered the best jungler in his home region. The real crown jewel comes in the bottom lane duo of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, two veterans who have been at the top of their positions for nearly 3 years.

Team Owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh has gone all in multiple times in his career, claiming he only cares about International success. But this might be the best roster the West has ever created. No expectation is too high for this level of talent, but can ego be put aside to bring North America its first world championship?

Chase: Welcome to the closest thing to a true super team the West has ever seen. The biggest pick up was YellOwStaR, a true student of the game who manages to be equally talented as a play-making shot caller who sets his teammates up for success and a team leader who brings a work ethic and dedication to the craft that is truly remarkable. He’s the perfect complement to Bjergsen, a dominant force in the mid lane who will no longer be forced to play with four wards as teammates. The two alone would probably provide enough of a tactical advantage to take out many of their North American opponents. Adding Doublelift, an incredible aggressive laner who loves to instigate fights and wreak havoc on the enemy back line, and Svenskeren, a ganking jungler who now has teammates who will take advantage of his ability to make plays across the map with his mechanical prowess, just seems unnecessarily cruel.

Even Hauntzer, who may soon become criminally underrated given the big names around him on this roster, has the chance to grow into an incredibly self-sufficient team-fighting monster in his own right.

There are valid concerns surrounding the egos that are now present on this team; Svenskeren, Bjergsen, and Doublelift will all have to shake the mindset with which they’ve played in recent splits that reminded them that in big moments, their individual play was the only way to come home victorious. That will undoubtedly take time to balance properly.

When it comes to Team SoloMid, however, I’m not particularly concerned. Their infrastructure is among the best in the Western scene, and I trust that any concerns that arise will be figured out by the time the playoffs roll around.

2. NRG Esports

Walter: It’s been a long time since success and Sacramento Kings have been uttered in the same sentence, but that streak is about to end with NRG. With Kings minority owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov investing heavily, NRG made quick work of free agency by snagging former world champion Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Jin Air mid laner Lee “GankedByMom” Chang-seok. The two veteran Koreans have a wealth of experience and success to pair with tha bottom lane of Johnny “Altec” Ru and Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon, as well as rookie jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate.

Moon consistently improved during his time in the Challenger scene and has received rave reviews from multiple analysts and players, including retired jungler Brandon “SaintVicious” DiMarco. With a talent ceiling greater than any other Western team, the only issue could be a potential language barrier. But LCK caster Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles has come out applauding GBM’s English skills. Even if Moon and KonKwon don’t produce immediately, their skill position players should be more than enough to drive this team to the top of the standings and contend for the spring title.

Chase: Once I knew that the phrase “Sacramento Kings owners” had nothing to do with Vivek Ranadive, I immediately became far more interested in this team. Since its announcement, NRG has managed to put together one of the most impressive support staffs I’ve ever seen. Tadayoshi “Hermit” Littleton, the man who helped theorycraft some of Origen’s best compositions at worlds, has taken over the head coaching role, assisted by various analysts and managers who have all had success at one point or another during their esports careers.

Of course, infrastructure is nothing if you don’t have a solid talent pool to take advantage of it. Signing GBM from the Jin Air GreenWings ensured that was not going to be a problem. His ability to control the game from the mid lane and dictate his opponents’ actions in team fights makes him a perfect match for Impact, a team-fighting hero in his own right who also has the opportunity to be a lane bully (given the quality of top laners he’ll be facing on a regular basis). Moon and KonKwon add some dangerous upside to the mix, with each player displaying an ability to learn and adapt through their experiences in the challenger scene that will make them scary once the playoffs roll around.

Oh, and they also have my favorite Western AD carry, Altec, who manages to farm like crazy and produce impressive amounts of damage from the back line once the mid-game fights begin. NRG has the chance to be something truly special if it takes advantage of the opportunities that await. Given the system that’s been created, it will.

Dark Horses

3. Immortals

Walter: It’s incredible to think that a team with this much star power could be placed so low, but given the questions each of those stars carries, this team could end up even lower.

Fnatic faithful will remember the devastating combo of Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin storming through the European league. Mid laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park managed to keep Bjergsen in check at MSG. AD carry Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has had several memorable dragon steals, and support Adrian “Adrian” Ma reigned in an overaggressive Rush on TiP.

But their weaknesses are just as apparent. Huni fell off toward the end of summer, exhibited by a range of play varying between team oriented and extremely self centered at worlds. Reignover is one year removed from being called “GameOver,” while Pobelter’s champion pool seemed limited to only three champions over the course of the summer. WildTurtle and Adrian might be the perfect combo, however, as Adrian has shown a proficiency with heavy disengage peeling supports that may be the perfect foil to WT’s aggressive play style.

Immortals has talented players at every position, but if even one or two back track, it could derail this team before it even gets started. In the end, does it even really matter?

Chase: Immortals is exactly the kind of team I hate to rank in these types of articles. On the one hand, the upside here is incredible. Huni and Reignover served as a devastating duo that each played a big role in Fnatic’s European dominance. Adrian is easily the best disengage support in North America, and after a split of having to try to keep Rush alive during his increasingly insane gank attempts, helping Huni and WildTurtle stay alive should be a relative walk in the park.

On the other hand, this team’s success depends on longtime veterans making a leap or returning to form. WildTurtle’s teamfight positioning has become more and more of a liability in recent splits, and even while surrounded by a great deal of talent on Counter Logic Gaming, Pobelter struggled to shine outside of utility champions like Lulu. If ReignOver turns back into “GameOver” at some point this split, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Adrian to play perfectly to compensate for his team’s weak points.

That said, we ended up putting this team third for a reason. Immortals has a ton of talent and a support staff determined to find a way to make proper use of these players’ skill sets. It’ll have every opportunity to do so this season.

4. Cloud9

Walter: Cloud9 have proven to be remarkably consistent despite its faults last split. It attempted to solve its jungler issue by bringing in Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae and moving shotcalling guru, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, into the support role. The real problem is the seemingly disconnected play style differences between Rush and C9 as a whole.

Rush tends to focus more on being proactive, invading, and ganking, whereas the C9 jungle position has always been more reactive, focusing on heavy farming, ward control, and counter ganking. We saw a similar disconnect happen last year with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and William “Meteos” Hartman, and only the return of Hai as a shot-caller seemed to help the disconnect between jungle and mid, which led them to worlds. Zachery “Sneaky” Scuderi has always been a top-three ADC, and An “Balls” Le, despite his awful summer split, can be a serviceable top laner if he’s not being relied on to carry.

At the end of the day, I think Cloud9 figures it out more quickly than last year, and Rush’s style may suit Jensen better in the long run. That said, it’s going to take a few weeks to really get this team to mesh in a way it never did last split.

Chase: I was originally a lot lower on Cloud9 than this ranking would indicate. My issue is simple: Rush makes no sense on this roster. Rush is one of the most devastating junglers to ever hit the North American stage, grabbing 30 more kills for himself than the next closest jungler last summer. Teams that like to play for that kind of early-game dominance could make use of a skill set like his to great effect.

Cloud9 isn’t that team. In fact, historically, it’s been the opposite, opting to farm until the mid game and use superior warding and rotating across the map to ensure any objective trade ends in its favor. Looking at Hai’s vision control and mechanical struggles at IEM Cologne, and Balls’ drop off over the last split, my worries grow exponentially more intense. But I had to remind myself that these types of prediction articles are not a demonstration of where they are now, but instead where I think this team will end up when the Spring Season comes to a close.

Jensen has made massive leaps since emerging onto the competitive scene, and Sneaky has continued to keep himself in the “Best NA ADC” conversation split after split. Hai’s shot-calling has an intangible value you simply can’t measure on a chart, and the organization has shown an ability to make things work at the end of the day. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team shows some struggles early in the season, but once it find a balance between these two seemingly incongruent strategies, it’s going to be a dangerous playoff threat.

5. LA Renegades

Walter: I’m all in on this team: from the branding, to the players, to the scandal that surrounded one its owners, I want to love this team. Veterans Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichtovkin and Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo were once top players at their positions, even if it’s been more than a year since that time. AD carry Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek was the best player on an overmatched Copenhagen Wolves roster, and rookies Oleksii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta and Maria “Remilia” Creveling have shown enough prowess in the challenger scene to make people excited to see them on the big stage.

RF will be the tipping point for this roster. If he can’t compete with the best top laners, he needs to at least be able to stomp the lower tier to give Renegades some breathing room. Alex finally has another chance to add to his storied career after his team’s mismanagement led to a hole blacker than a Ninja in Pajamas onesie. Remilia and Freeze will prove to be a dominant laning duo, and Crumbz has adapted, placing more wards than any other jungler in the challenger scene last summer to make up for Remi’s lack of roaming.

The playoffs are certainly in play for this band of misfits, and if everything comes up aces, perhaps even more.

Chase: After being a North American fan widow for the past split (I’d tried to replace my love for GGU/Coast with Winterfox forgetting Brian Cordry was involved, and have paid for my sins accordingly), I’ve finally found my new favorite team. It’s not just the atmosphere this team sets with player introductions backed by Eminem songs; it’s an exciting mix of established talent that I’ve sorely missed in the competitive scene and young stars looking to establish themselves in a big way.

Alex Ich might not be the hard carry he once was, but the latest phase in his career leaves him as a self-sufficient control mid laner who can turn around important team fights with a single ultimate. Crumbz has developed into a strong supportive jungler, using his vision control to set up plays for his teammates across the map.

But as glad as I am to see those two players back in the LCS, the most exciting part of this team is going to be the bottom lane, where Freeze and Remilia can both shine as mechanical monsters who can dominate their lane early and often, setting their team up nicely for early objectives and map control from which they never look back.

Despite my excitement, I still have a couple rather large concerns. RF Legendary has struggled at times to deal with Challenger-level top laners, and if those struggles continue on the LCS stage, he could quickly prove to be a liability to his teammates. More troubling is this team’s one track mindset when it comes to winning games. I appreciate that Remilia is a very gifting laning support, but by exclusively keeping her in lane for that single advantage and forcing Crumbzz to make up for the lack of a true support roam, the team runs the risk of being one dimensional.

At the end of the day, I believe in the talent and synergy this team brings to the table, but it’ll need to adapt quickly to live up to this ranking.

6. Counter Logic Gaming

Walter: The memes just write themselves. Counter to what would seem logical, the NA summer champions released longtime ADC staple and superstar Doublelift. And though the drama that erupted afterward boils down to little more than “he said, she said,” the release of such a pivotal player in and out of game after the most successful season in team history is head scratching.

Luckily for CLG, it have a new star in top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha, who finally had a meta in which his split-pushing prowess could punish enemy teams without leaving his teammates at a disadvantage. The rest of the roster fills out with veterans Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black; and LCS rookies Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes.

Xmithie and Aphro give CLG a solid shot-calling core equally adept at engaging and disengaging to allow Darshan to really shine. Stixxay has long been praised as a hidden gem talent, though his Challenger career has had few highlights to back up the claims. Huhi, on the other hand, is a marginal player whose massive champion pool was a problem from teams during his challenger days, but his “jack of all trades, master of none” style might not be enough to contend with NA’s suddenly-stacked mid lane lineup.

CLG certainly showed its structure and shot-calling are to be feared at IEM San Jose, but one meta shift could implode its star and cause the team fall into mediocrity.

Chase: The best thing CLG has going for it right now is the stability of the system in place. Devin “Mylixia” Nash has already proven to correct many of the flaws that doomed previous iterations of the team, allowing Tony “Zikz” Gray to prepare the next wave of CLG talent in Stixxay and Huhi to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Many organizations would have panicked after losing Doublelift, a player whose time in CLG had run its course, and CLG should be commended for keeping its head straight. Of course, making that kind of decision is easier when you have Darshan, one of my personal favorite top laners who can become a terrifying split-pushing presence across the map and force the enemy team into awkward trades, and Aphromoo, one of the most intelligent supports in the North American scene.

With so many positive things to say, this is probably where you start to wonder why CLG is ranked so low. Honestly, it comes down to my belief that it’s going to take some serious time before the team reaches its full potential. While faith in Huhi and Stixxay is commendable, they each have serious issues at this point in their careers. Huhi’s champion pool is massive, but he hasn’t been able to play any of them particularly successfully at an LCS level yet, struggling mightily in the laning phase and forcing the rest of his team to play from behind.

Stixxay is a solid ADC, but he’s no Doublelift, and it’s hard to imagine him acting as a solo carry threat when the chips are down in that fashion. This leaves the team with a ton of questions to answer if the meta ever shifts away from the split-pushing top lane champions that make Darshan so dangerous, as neither Huhi nor Stixxay appear quite ready to handle that responsibility.

I can’t wait to see how this team looks by the end of the summer split, but spring is likely to be a roller coaster as CLG tries to discover a new identity and get its young additions where they’ll need to be for long-term success.

7. Team Liquid

Walter: No team keeps me awake at night more than Team Liquid. Last year, the team seemed ready to rip apart at the seams, as issues between star AD carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin and various members of the team and management led to a momentary benching. Just as all seemed lost, Piglet returned and led TL to a third place finish in both the spring and summer split, and its season ended only one series away from a spot at worlds.

Once again, issues have cropped up, and rumors of terrible scrim results have lead to a spiraling freefall in preseason rankings. Still, the talent is there, so TL really can’t be counted out. Piglet and Kim “FeniX” Jae-hoon were arguably in the top three at their respective positions last year, and Christian “IWDominate” Rivera showed that he could adjust his play style to fit the needs of the team.

Newcomers Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Samson “Lourlo” Jackson will replace veterans in Alex “Xpecial” Chu and Diego “Quas” Ruiz, and while Smoothie looks to be a direct upgrade, Lourlo isn’t so simple. After Quas’ suspension and retirement, TL had to scramble to find a suitable replacement. Much like his former CLG Black teammate Stixxay, Lourlo’s name has been mentioned as a “diamond-in-the-rough” North American talent who just needed the right opportunity. He’ll get his chance now.

Team Liquid has gone even farther, bringing its Liquid Academy team on board to create a full 10-man roster. When considering all the talent and concerns, Team Liquid could end up anywhere from third to ninth, and for once, I think it’d actually settle for fourth.

Chase: I’m a little higher on this team than Walter, but I’ve also struggled to talk myself into a team that still looks incredibly solid on paper. While losing Quas certainly hurts, Liquid never really prioritized the top lane, opting instead to put him on the kinds of utility tops that can allow the rest of his team to take advantage of his tankiness during team fights.

Not much is known about Lourlo on a serious competitive level, but there’s a good chance he can fill that role just fine. My bigger problem with the team is how patch-dependent it has become. Even if we ignored stories about FeniX refusing to play certain champions in scrims, his champion pool had some serious holes in it. He did well on mages with safe laning phases that can turn team fights with devastating ultimates like Azir and Orianna, but he struggled mightily on utility champions like Lulu and never seemed to get a handle on Viktor despite its power at the time.

Piglet had an incredible summer split, finishing in the top three in just about every ADC stat that matters while getting a lower percentage of gold than most of his rivals. But pairing him with Smoothie, who did little stand out in any meaningful way last summer, feels like a step backwards. There’s no doubt that there is a significant amount of talent on this roster, but at this point, I can’t ignore the multiple signs that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub being thrust back into the Head Coach role at the last minute — despite having claimed only weeks earlier he had no interest in such a position — is not a good sign. Rumors of terrible scrim results is not a good sign. And honestly, being less than a year removed from Piglet having to be benched for multiple weeks due to his own ego issues, the notion that FeniX might be having similar problems within this organization isn’t surprising.

Even with the talent that could be on display, the way this organization folded when it mattered most last split combined with all of these other issues has led me to lose faith in the infrastructure Team Liquid has built around these players. I want to be wrong, but I think the teams above them are a safer bet right now.

Staying Alive

8. Team Dignitas

Walter: While other teams looked to Korea for talent, Dignitas looked across the pond and brought in European Challenger talent in the form of top laner Lennart “SmittyJ” Warkus and jungler Thomas “Kirei” Yuen. They join Danny “Shiphtur” Le, Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen, and fellow newcomer Apollo “Apollo” Price, to form a roster that on paper looks pretty good.

There’s no true star player on this team, as all of them have played second or third fiddle on their previous teams. Shiphtur and Apollo are passive laners that don’t play the early game very well, but are prone to limited moments of brilliance, while SmittyJ has served as a functional top laner on his previous teams. Instead, Dignitas will rely on KiWiKiD and Kirei to set up and control the flow of the game in order to get their carries going. Kirei proved that he can be an aggressive ganker, relying on heavy invading to bully his opponent and build a lead. Kiwi, on the other hand, has been a lightning rod for criticism due to some poor decision making. Still, he’s one of the few supports that is constantly looking to make a play, which leads to some brilliant engages.

DIG’s major flaw comes down to who will carry when no one on the team has had to in the past. If it can figure that out, the team will catch some of the higher ranked teams off guard as long as they don’t do Baron.

Chase: I appreciate what Dignitas is trying to do here. Barento “Raz” Mohammed has the potential to be a great coach for this young roster, and Kirei has already shown through his play at IEM Cologne that he has the potential to be a pretty special talent in the right meta. I’m just not convinced about the rest of this roster.

While KiWiKiD’s enthusiasm for the game will always leave me rooting for his success, his KDA, kill participation, and warding stats all left much to be desired last split. Apollo is a known quantity who is nearly guaranteed to be good, but not great, leaving much of the carry role to fall onto Shiphtur. That is a major concern, as Shiphtur’s laning stats were incredibly weak, and his damage per minute and KDA suggest that he hasn’t found a way to dig himself out of that deficit at this point in his career. That leaves SmittyJ, a player who was considered one of the weaker members of Gamers2 before signing here and found himself caught out of position way too many times at IEM Cologne.

Some of these problems are fixable. Shot-calling will certainly improve from IEM, and SmittyJ might eventually develop into a solid top lane threat. But the veterans Dignitas chose to keep from last year leave a lot to be desired, and it’s hard to imagine this team reaching its full potential without an unprecedented leap from those players.

At this point in their careers, I’m not holding my breath.

9. Echo Fox

Walter: If you told me a year ago a professional basketball player would own an LCS team I would have laughed and asked which one. If you responded “Rick Fox”, I would have doubled over laughing.

That’s the world we live in now, and Fox made quick work of finding his team’s new “Kobe” in European mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. Froggen has spent the past year in LCS purgatory, also known as Elements, and while he escaped the peril of terrible ownership, he still doesn’t have a roster equal to his status. The bot lane of Yuri “KEITH” Jew and Terry “BIG” Chuong, have had very limited success in short LCS stints, while Park “kfo” Jeong-hun and Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev are both raw talents taken from Korean solo queue and the North American Challenger Series, respectfully.

Acquiring Froggen is perfect move for a new organization as it pulls in his already established fan base and gives itself a talented piece to build around. The growth will be slow, and there’s a very good chance that this investment may end up relegated, but with a little bit of luck, this team is poised to break out in the summer.

Chase: The words “Rick Fox” and “eSports” have come together in an incredibly interesting way this year, as team Echo Fox, a name that could easily be confused with a mid tier Metal Gear Solid villain, is hoping to finally be the salvation that Froggen has needed after being trapped on Elements.

Froggen’s individual talent at this point of his career is just staggering. Despite favoring champions that tend to rely upon a mid-to-late-game power spike after a couple key item purchases, Froggen’s early game numbers put him on pace with the best mid laners in Europe. That’s incredible.

Sadly, the talent around him isn’t. The bottom lane consists of journeyman KEITH, a player who tends to follow other players’ calls well without ever doing much to stand out on his own, and BIG, who really struggled during his brief time with Team Dragon Knights last year. Hard will come out of the jungle hoping to prove himself as the next wave of North American jungle talents, but given players like Porpoise are still available, it looks like a weird gamble to take given he was merely average during his time in the challenger scene.

The biggest question mark is kfo, about whom we know pretty much nothing at this point. If kfo steps up in a big way, Echo Fox has the ability to surprise us. For now, however, there are too many big question marks to have much faith in it, and it appears Froggen is once again left to attempt to carry his team out of potential relegation.

Dumpster Fire

10. Team Impulse

Walter: In all honesty, I don’t want to watch this team. Ever. The roster leaves nothing to be remotely excited about outside of Korean solo queue talent Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik and maybe some jokes about how terrible teams like Coast and Velocity were. Avoiding the 10th spot may be possible, but it’ll take a real breakout performance from someone on this roster to avoid auto relegation.

Chase: I seriously considered leaving this section blank. After all, what is there to say about the team? The only reason it exists is because the cost of dropping out of the LCS entirely was greater than the cost of throwing a roster together at the last minute. Wang “Feng” Xiao Feng, a player known in North American solo queue as a one trick Bard main, is the starting top laner. According to Jacob “Brayll” Wolf from the Daily Dot’s appearance on our podcast, Alex Gu, the team’s owner, isn’t even involved anymore. The website is down. The twitter account tweeted out a request for potential mid and support players on December 27, less than two weeks before the final roster was due. Its Facebook page hasn’t posted anything since July. There hasn’t even been an official roster announcement yet from the organization despite Riot having released all rosters five days ago.

Team Impulse doesn’t care about having a team this year. Its offseason moves filled the bare minimum required after failing to sell the team’s spot due to its own terrible business practices. This is worse than Velocity, which was outmatched as teams greatly increased their funding towards becoming as strong as possible in a way in which they could never have matched.

This is worse than Coast, which managed to keep losing games early in the season due to terrible shot-calling and a lack of coaching, followed by the team giving up halfway through the season and throwing a bunch of unproven young players to the wolves. Those teams were terrible, but they at least made an effort not to be. This mess would be embarrassing to everyone involved if there was anyone around to take credit for it.

At this point, I just hope the players’ reputations are not irreparably tarnished by their association with this dumpster fire when this split comes to a close. But hey, at least we can say they’ve ensured that none of the far more interesting teams will be at risk of auto-relegation this split.

Photos courtesy of Riot Games.

Freelance writer and co-host of the Rough Drafts podcast.

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