NA LCS Relegation/Promotion Preview - Group A
Thu 2nd May 2013 - 10:53pm
Hello everyone, today I'm going to take a look at the upcoming North American LCS tournament, and discuss which teams have the best chance to ascend up to the LCS, either for the first time, or in an attempt to redeem themselves.
As a quick overview, I've been watching the Challenger tournaments all year, whether it was MLG's RisingStars, TSM Invitationals, or the replacement IPL tournament. During these tournaments, I've written notes and watched these challenger teams emerge and I've watched how they adapted to gaining and losing players.
Group A - Quantic, Astral Poke, and compLexity
Quantic Gaming has gone through a plethora of changes since its attempt to qualify for the Spring Season as Cloud 9. They lost Nientonsoh and Yazuki both to Azure Gaming, and replaced them with former Monomaniac/APictureofaGoose top-laner An "Balls" Le and long time semi-pro player William "Meteos" Hartman, who played for Team Normal Stars and is a substitute for compLexity. Hai "Hai" Lam moved into the mid lane, and throughout much of the season, Quantic Gaming looked terrifying, led by their deadly bottom lane combination of Jason "WildTurtle" Tran and Daerek "LemonNation" Hart, which dominated much of the North American Challenger circuit during the Spring.
However, after Team SoloMid picked up WildTurtle to fill their opening at AD Carry, Quantic was left without a carry and picked up former Team Dignitas player Zachary "SnEaKyCaStRoO" Scuderi to replace him.
Much of Quantic's success has come from their bottom lane dominating teams, while Balls plays aggressively in the top lane to force their opposing team's Jungler to make a tough decision to save one of his two long lanes. Balls is a firm believer in the ability for the two AP metagame to succeed, and plays Rumble, Diana, and Vladimir quite often, and plays as aggressively as Voyboy in the top lane.
Hai has transitioned well from his former home in the jungle, and has developed a deep champion pool for the mid lane, favoring AP casters that siege well and control the battlefield like Lux and Anivia. Meteos has a very wide champion pool in the jungle, and has quickly adapted to metagame shifts that made Volibear and Nasus premier junglers. The bottom lane of Quantic really provides the biggest worry, as Sneakycastro and LemonNation are more experienced playing against each other than together. However, they both play the same aggressive style that LemonNation and WildTurtle used to play in the bottom lane.
Quantic has little experience against either of the teams in their group, with Astral Poke appearing out of nowhere before this tournament, and never facing against compLexity in a tournament before.
Team Astral Poke
Team Astral Poke is one of the four teams to come out of the Ranked 5s ladder, and is composed of eccentric collection of players, including some rookies. Cameron "Bobbyhankhill" Nelson is Astral Poke's AD Carry, and has been on the scene for quite a while, being one of Epik Gaming's substitutes during their Season 1 run. While he was known in Season 1 for his Miss Fortune play, he's really transitioned into a versatile AD Carry who has had poweful games on Vayne and Catilyn as well. He is Supported by Phillip "Nydushermain" Sohn, a journeyman player who has played on MCRC, Normal Stars, and Motion Gaming in the past. Nydushermain plays poke heavy supports, especially Zyra and Lulu. With the recent nerf to Lulu, it will be interesting to see if he transitions back into Sona play like he did when on MCRC.
Kevin "Anxietylol" Duque is the top laner for Astral Poke, and was a former player for 4Nothing. He has quite a deep champion pool, with Jayce and Elise being two of his favorites. When on 4Not, he played as jungler, so his old champion pool doesn't have quite the cross-listing as Bobbyhankhill's or Nydushermain. Ryan "Remstars" Lee is the rookie Jungler for Astral Poke. However, recently during 5s queue he and the rookie mid laner Scot "Newbert" Linney have been swapping positions, and both seem to be proficient with both roles. To be quite honest, its been rather hard to get information about Astral Poke, as they haven't played in any recorded tournaments, and as such they come into the Promotion tournament as a dark horse.
The winner of the previous matchup gets to play against compLexity gaming, the eighth place team from this season's LCS. However, if you have been watching the LCS the last few months, its clear that compLexity has broken into stride during the last three weeks of the season, having major victories over Curse, Counter Logic Gaming, and Dignitas during those weeks. And much of this resurgence can be tracked back to the team's new mid laner, Neil "Pr0lly" Hammad, who formerly played for DirtNap/Velocity. Pr0lly has played a variety of champions, including a number of champions such as Ziggs and Annie, who hadn't been seen in the LCS before. However, he's also shown a preference for Gragas and other champions that have massive amounts of disruption.
compLexity's success has also coincided with Nicholas "Nickwu" Smith's ascension to the upper echelons of top laners. At the beginning of the Season, he was seen as someone that was incredibly easy to ban out with targeted bans on Zed and Jayce. However, he has quickly grown to be a threat on a number of carry top laners, especially Darius and Rumble, and has a few surprising picks like Viktor up his sleeve as well.
Nickwu succeeds in 1v1ing a number of top-tier junglers, and is one of the better duelists in the LCS. He is supported by coL's Jungler, Tyler "Lautemortis" Nicholls, formerly of Legion. Known as a traditionally terrifying Alistar, Lautemortis has embraced the new jungling meta-game that calls for high amounts of CC coming out of the jungle, and has picked up Jarvan IV and Shen for the jungle. He also tends to babysit the bottom lane of compLexity, while forcing the other team's jungler to leave Nickwu alone so that he can slaughter the other team's top laner.
The bottom lane of compLexity is in flux, as John "Brunch U" announced his retirement from professional League of Legends before Week 10 of the LCS. This leaves Abe "MeyeA", their Support, with Samuel "Chuuper" Chu in the bottom lane. MeyeA is known to play one of the most terrifying Thresh's on the North American scene, and often draws bans because of it. He also plays a number of other aggressive Supports, recently embracing Kayle as a potential Support pick.
Chuuper was formerly compLexity's mid laner, but was benched after the team acquired Pr0lly. However, Chuuper has played in the AD role for teams before, being the AD for his namesake team Chuuper's Troopers during much of 2012. On the Troopers, he was known to play a great deal of Graves and Ezrael, but that might be distorted as it was during Season 2's Holy Trinity of AD Carries.
I expect that Quantic will beat Astral Poke, as Quantic, outside Castro, has been a team for much of Season 2 and has much more experience in the high pressure conditions that LAN tournaments are. In the Quantic/compLexity matchup, I believe that coL will take it in five, 3-2. Its unfortunate that Qunatic gets paired up with what looked like the strongest of the LCS bottom four for the last three weeks, as Quantic has been the dominant Challenger team for much of the season. The lane to watch durign the Quantic/compLexity games is the Balls vs. Nickwu matchup, as the player to win that lane will probably win his team the game.