This year, the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders will consist of Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and Cloud9.
These three teams from North America will face the tall task of representing their region against the very best teams from around the world in South Korea at LoL Worlds 2018.
Historically, the teams from North America haven’t done well against international competition. To date, the highest placement a team from the NA LCS has achieved at Worlds has been a 5th-8th place finish, which Cloud9 have done multiple times.
This season, things haven’t really looked great for the teams from the NA LCS. Their best team, Team Liquid, could only muster a 5th-8th place finish at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, while the entire region lost against their European rivals at Rift Rivals 2018.
Having said that, there’s been a lot of action going in this past season, and for those who haven’t really spent much time following the scene, things can get a little bit confusing.
Below, we’ll help you catch up, starting with the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders.
Team Liquid — 1st Seed
Our back to back NA LCS champions for this season, this is Team Liquid’s first time to go to Worlds as an organization. However, it is not the same for their players: they have Season 3 world champion top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, and veterans in jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, mid laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park, support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, and bottom laner Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.
Put simply, the team is full of recognized talent. However, with this caliber of roster also means heightened expectations — there’ll be no excuses if they don’t perform well against international competitio, especially after a rather poor showing in this year’s Mid-Season Invitational.
The team’s bread and butter is pouring most of its resources into their AD carry, Doublelift. Impact is often on tanks and is expected to save his summoner spell Teleport and influence the bottom lane with it. Pobelter’s best has been seen through influencing side lanes no champions such as Ryze, Galio, or Malzahar. Olleh has been mostly depended upon in the laning phase, to do his best to make sure Doublelift survives and carries the team in the later stages of the game.
If you’re forced to choose only one team from the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders for LoL Worlds 2018, Team Liquid is your best bet to have a good performance.
Betting: Team Liquid to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 41 odds. (GGbet)
Player to watch: Doublelift
Doublelift, the NA LCS summer split MVP, has been delivering the performances of his life this year. His entire team at times sack their respective lanes and their resources just so he would be able to get ahead, but so far, he has proven himself worthy of his entire team’s sacrifice.
Doublelift shattered expectations of his performance in international tournaments by overperforming at MSI earlier a few months ago. If he gets ahead on picks like the Kai’sa, the Varus, or even the Tristana, he will surely take over the game.
Expect other team’s gameplay to completely revolve around how they can neutralize Doublelift’s impact on the game.
100 Thieves — 2nd Seed
100 Thieves went into Worlds as the North American team to have had the most championship points after Team Liquid won the championship in the summer. However, this team raises eyebrows as they were not able to secure a playoff bye before the summer regular season, fell to Team Liquid in the semifinal, and lost the third place match to Team SoloMid.
Or, for a lack of a better word, 100 Thieves have not been looking so hot and come across as a weaker, inferior version of Team Liquid.
100 Thieves will almost always play a slow game to let Cody”Cody Sun” Sun scale into the later stages of the game. Much of their games in the NA LCS has been about conceding the minimum and taking down the enemies in a later team fight.
While this worked for them, to some extent, in North America, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that this isn’t going to fly on the international stage. After all, 100 Thieves struggled mightly against their EU counterparts in Rift Rivals. How much more worse do you think they will look when they’re playing against teams from China and South Korea?
The hope rests in them being able to push for advantages through their laners, and not losing entirely in the early parts of the game, which doesn’t really help inspire much confidence considering how hit-or-miss they were throughout the season.
Betting: 100 Thieves to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 6.3 odds. (GGbet)
Player to watch: Ssumday
Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho has been the silent star of this squad.
Often left alone in the top lane due to how the team usually plays, he’s able to make the most of his opportunities. He’s even shown capable of ending games by himself, after amassing monumental advantages in the top lane without any help. Giving him a late-game scaling carry like Gangplank is akin to inviting a world of punishment as he can and has taken games into his own hands.
While not the “star” of the team, or so to speak, Ssumday is the one player they trust to make the right decision in late-game scenarios.
If 100 Thieves can provide Ssumday a bit more support in-game, as well as during the drafts, they could go farther than most people would reasonably expect.
Cloud9 — 3rd Seed
Cloud9 is arguably the second best of the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders, given 100 Thieves’ slow decline towards the end of the season.
In terms of playstyle, Cloud9 favors skirmishing and team fights. It’s not unusual for them to go in head first into what looks like an unfavourable teamfight only for them to emerge victors in the process, sometimes mostly because of the sheer mechanical skill of their players. Another standout quality of Cloud9 is their drafting — Cloud9 are not afraid to innovate, going with picks like Hecarim int he top lane, or their combination of Kindred in the jungle and Zilean int he middle lane.
A current problem for the team is that in North America, Cloud9 was utilizing a roster made up of seven players, but at Worlds only six players are allowed to be registered for the roster. The most obvious theory is that they will bring Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen as the sub for Robert “Blaber” Huang. Nevertheless, this is a team that always attempts to empower their jungler— much of their playmaking comes from that position.
Cloud9 will still have to make it through the Play-In Stages before we see them truly represent North America, but if they survive, Cloud9 could very well be the one North American team left standing yet again.
Betting: Cloud9 to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 51 odds. (GGbet)
Player to watch: Licorice
Eric “Licorice” Ritchie is easily one of the best players across all three of the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders.
That’s high praise for a player who was a rookie just last spring. But then again, it’s not like he hasn’t earned it. After all, this is a player who has performed leaps and bounds beyond expectations. It doesn’t matter whether he’s playing a carry like the Kled or Hecarim, or a tank like Poppy or Ornn, he would perform well in lane even against Korean top laners such as Ssumday or Impact.
His ability to absorb a lot of pressure in the lane and even turn the tables against unfavorable matchups is a sight to behold.
How Licorice is going to match up against some of the best laners in the world is going to be a point of contention for as long as Cloud9 is in play.
The 2018 LoL Worlds Championship is almost upon us. As is always the case, Western teams will have a difficult time. But, even so, there’s still some time left for the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders to improve, make some progress, and cover their strengths.
Hopefully, this year, we’ll see a North American team make a deep run into the bracket stage and who knows, maybe get a podium finish?
All odds courtesy of GGbet.
Do you think the 2018 NA LCS Worlds Contenders will be able to perform well at Worlds? Or, do you think the gap between them and the rest of the world remains just as wide? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.