After at least a week of play already from the LCK, LPL, and the LEC, among others, the 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1 is finally here.
Welcome to a new season of the League of Legends Championship series, which has now been left solely for North America after the EU LCS rebranded into the League of Legends European Championship.
For the 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1, we can expect the same thing we have been seeing in other regions. This means, in the drafting phase, expect to see flex picks that can get lane priority and have reliable engage. Because of this, assassins and bruisers like Akali, Irelia, Urgot, and Galio are expected to get some picks and/or bans for the solo lanes. Junglers with skirmishing advantages or can clear jungle camps fast are the go-to picks as of now: picks like Camille, Xin Zhao, and Lee Sin find popularity because of this. Cassiopeia has been emerging as a triple flex, and has been proven to be rather viable in the bottom lane.
In the AD Carry position, it has been dominated by Lucian, Ezreal, and Kai’sa. If they aren’t around, picks like Varus might emerge. Tanky and engage supports have been the norm, like Braum, Alistar, Leona, and Tahm Kench, but if a team desires to double down on bottom lane priority, a mage support like Morgana may be considered.
In general, we should see a lot of skirmishes and shorter games. Although, since this is NA we’re talking about, teams might choose to take their time and play a little bit slower compared to the rest.
2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1 Schedule
Day 1, Saturday, January 26, 2019 (All times are in Pacific Standard Time)
Team Liquid vs Cloud9 — 14:00 PST
100 Thieves vs Team SoloMid — 15:00 PST
Counter Logic Gaming vs OpTic Gaming — 16:00 PST
FlyQuest vs Golden Guardians 17:00 — PST
Clutch Gaming vs Echo Fox 18:00 — PST
Day 2, Sunday, January 27, 2019 (All times are in Pacific Standard Time)
OpTic Gaming vs FlyQuest 12:00 — PST
Cloud9 vs 100 Thieves 13:00 — PST
Counter Logic Gaming vs Team Liquid 14:00 — PST
Clutch Gaming vs Team SoloMid 15:00 — PST
Echo Fox vs Golden Guardians 16:00 — PST
Team to Watch in 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1 — Team SoloMid
Team SoloMid has had their worst year ever in the organization’s history in League of Legends in 2018— after a quarterfinal exit from playoffs and a third place in the summer split, they eventually went to lose the final round of the regional qualifier to Cloud9.
They are now hungry for wins as they have assembled a roster that at the very least seems to be perfectly capable of adapting to the current meta: they still have a strong mid laner in Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, and now Sergen “Broken Blade” Celik has replaced Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen has remained, but his lane partner Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez has left for Origen, and has since been replaced by Andy “Smoothie” Ta. Jonathan “Grig” Armao remains with the team, but has been having wrist issues, and Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham will be playing in his stead for the meantime.
Anthony “Zikz” Gray has also taken the helm of being the team’s head coach, and Zikz’s actual strength while on Counter Logic Gaming has been to properly plan out the early games. Even when Counter Logic Gaming was actually lagging behind in the standings, the team has been getting most first bloods and was able to secure objectives because of this.
If the team can supplement Zikz’s early game direction with proper mid and late game decisions, we should see Team SoloMid get back to playing on the finals stage in no time.
Player to Watch in 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1 — TL Jensen
I’ll be honest with you. As I was writing this I first wrote down C9 Jensen. This is because Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has only played for one team over his tenure in the North American League of Legends Championship Series, and that team used to be Cloud9. Now that he has transferred to Team Liquid, we’ll see if whether or not Cloud9’s success actually depended on Jensen, or if it was the other way around.
Nevertheless, Jensen’s mechanical skill is second to none. At least, in North America. His ability to dodge his way out of skill shots and land very tricky ones himself make him a tough matchup for anyone. More importantly, he’s shown that he’s capable of amassing advantages on his own and using that advantage to make an impact on other parts of the map, helping his team earn a win.
One particular data point that emerges is that in the 2018 season, however, is that he has not shown a deep assassin champion pool— he had one game of Fizz and four games of Leblanc out of a total of seventy games. In the 2018 World Championship semifinal, many criticized Cloud9 after banning Akali and Irelia on the blue side, which at least showed that Jensen could not play the said heroes.
In the current meta, as I have said earlier, Akali and Irelia are some of the better prioritized picks. Will Jensen show the willingness and capability to play them? We’ll know soon enough once the 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1 kicks into action.
Must-watch Matches for 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1
Team Liquid vs Cloud9
This is, of course, a rematch of the 2018 Summer Split Playoff Final, where Team Liquid simply ran through Cloud9 with a 3-0. However, several things have changed: after their defeat, Cloud9 went through the regional qualifiers to get to Worlds and made it to the Semifinal, while Team Liquid went as North America’s first seed and failed to make it past a relatively easier group stage.
Both teams have also went through several changes since Worlds, even: Jensen has joined Team Liquid, and world champion Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in has relace Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung as the team’s support player. Since Jensen’s departure, Cloud9 has acquired Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer from Europe’s Splyce.
Several things come to mind when thinking about this match: since most parts of both teams remain, will they play mostly the same, or will the new acquisitions bring forth changes in the teams’ playstyles? But, even if there are numerous questions about both squads and their performances, we need to remember that we’re playing in a solo lane oriented meta where snowballing is key.
That gives Cloud9 a significant advantage heading into the 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1, mostly because of their willingness to take fights at all times.
Betting: Cloud9 to win vs Team Liquid at 2.65 odds. (10bet)
Clutch Gaming vs Team SoloMid
This is a rematch of last year’s spring split quarterfinal, where Team SoloMid shocked the world after failing to make it to the final for the first time. Much has changed since then, as Clutch Gaming revamped their entire roster, while Team SoloMid had relatively smaller changes.
With Clutch Gaming’s roster, we cane expect plenty of aggression. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon is of course one of the most aggressive players that have graced Summoner’s Rift. Paired with a jungler like Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo and his aggression only increases. For the mean time, Tanner “Damonte” Damont should see a lot of time playing as a support as he searches for the right champion pool for himself. Their bottom lane could prove to be one of the greatest in the league, or one of the worst. Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin is a lane-focused AD Carry that is perfectly capable of taking opponents down by himself, but Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme is a newcomer to the LCS, and it might still take him some time to adjust to the highest level of play.
Expectations are a bit difficult to weigh on the side of Clutch Gaming, as they have a high ceiling, but if they do not reach that, they might be one of the lowest teams in the LCS.
This is why I predict TSM will take this match. Everyone already knows how TSM will perform, and with very little questions surrounding their consistency, at least compared to Clutch Gaming, they should take this series quite easily.
Betting: Team SoloMid to win vs Clutch Gaming at 1.68 odds. (10bet)
It took a while, but the long wait is finally over. The LCS is finally here, and we can’t just wait to see what’s in store for us.
As another season begins, North America will continue to hope to reach greater heights in the international stage. But, before they can even think of repeating last season’s success, the North American teams must battle it out first on home soil.
What are some of the things that you expect to see in 2019 LCS Spring Split Week 1? Which teams and players are you keeping a close eye on? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.