The new year begins and the beginning of the LCS season is upon us. Among the 20 teams competing in the championship series across Europe and the United States, the changes have been numerous. Some teams have lost single players, others have flushed out the old and collected an entirely new set of summoners under their banner.
It's going to be a challenging year for teams hoping to lift glorious cup at Worlds 2017. The all-new ban phase will provide players the opportunity to lock out the entire champion pool of some players, making greater flexibility a must in the months ahead. This could be great news for champion diversity, but dire portents for pros who refuse to expand their repertoire. All but Faker, be afraid.
Coming to meet this brave new world head on are talented acquisitions who've yet to make their LCS debut. Whether they hail from the LCK or the EUCS, we'll be watching them closely to assess their impact on the season to come.
Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther
After a two-year stint as midlaner for Fnatic, Febiven has moved on to H2k, leaving an open spot for a new master of mages. The team, which won the first World Championship, has an enormous following with high expectations, and their latest addition may surprise some.
Caps joins Fnatic from the team Dark Passage, who stormed to victory in the Turkish Champions League last summer. His performance within the TCL was exemplary, and the team stomped on rival team SuperMassive to win a 3–0 victory.
Here's a clip of him outplaying Cassiopeia as Vladimir in a superb act of top-lane devilry.
He finished that game with a 7/2/3 score, and the next game on 6/1/8 with Lissandra. With limited experience of the CS, and no experience of the LCS, however, it remains to be seen how he'll perform against more seasoned pros. Stepping into the shoes of Febiven is no small order.
Choi ‘Chei’ Sun-ho & Shin ‘Nuclear’ Jung-hyun
Meanwhile, over at H2k, joining Odoamne, Jankos, and Febiven are Chei and Nuclear, who join the roster from Jin Air Green Wings and SBENU Sonicboom.
Both players have tested their nerve against some of the most formidable names in professional League of Legends, including SKT T1. SBENU's performance was lackluster in 2016, and Jin Air didn't get close to attending Worlds, but as we all know, the professional standard of the LCK is terrifyingly high, and both players have individually shown promise.
Here's a video of Chei showing off his Solo queue Thresh, and landing some superb hooks to earn an enormous pile of assists.
And here's another (track to 17m for the action) of Nuclear displaying how a nimble Ezreal can crush opposition. Sure, he loses out to the enemy Jhin at the end, but not before securing a couple of excellent kills.
Kim ‘Wisdom’ Tae-Wan
In 2015 Origen stormed to the semifinals of Worlds with xPeke at the helm. Glance at the squad today, and you'll find none of the same names populating the current roster. It's been all change aboard the Origen train, and the team has signed a completely new squad for the start of the 2017 season.
Technically, Wisdom isn't a total newcomer to the LCS. Last year he enjoyed a brief stint aboard Giants Gaming after transferring to the Challenger Series team Misfits. Misfits have earned a promotion into the LCS, but Wisdom travels in a similar direction without them, as Origen's new Jungler.
His experience on the ROX Tigers squad (back when they were known as KOO Tigers) will prove invaluable, but let's hope that he manages to stay in one place for a decent stint in 2017. With the exception of a less than one year stint at Incredible Miracle, Wisdom’s short esports career has seen him move between teams every few months.
This jungler's swift movement between squads is, thankfully, matched by an equally swift movement across the Fields of Justice. Wisdom's Rek'Sai is fearless, and the highlight clip below shows off how to engage and disengage swiftly whilst sat beneath a pile of enemies.
The best of the rest
There are plenty of other intriguing roster changes within EU LCS teams, some of which are more notable than others. Hachani, a former player for KT Rolster joins Vitality as their support. Team Roccat has adopted the toplaner, Phaxi, about which very little information is known. Meanwhile G2 Esports has signed absolutely no one, retaining the same squad in spite of its questionable performance at Worlds last year.
The new competitive season begins on January 19, at which point we'll discover whether the sweeping changes, or lack thereof, make or break the teams clambering toward Worlds.