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Analyzing the Three NA LCS Teams Going to Worlds: Can They Make an Impact?

Every major region sends three teams to the World Championship and at least one from each region tends to make their way into the Knockout Rounds. However, the only major region that is the exception is North America.

Over the years, North America has time and time again failed to make any impact whatsoever on the World Championship. Each major team, with the exception being of Cloud9, that managed to make their way to Worlds from the NA LCS was wiped out during Groups Stage.

Perhaps their best year was 2014 when both Cloud9 and Team SoloMid made it to the Knockout Rounds but that didn’t last long and the two teams were quickly eliminated in the first round. Meanwhile, when you look at teams from China, Europe, and Korea, they’ve had strong track records in this event. Fnatic and G2 Esports have made history with Fnatic almost knocking out the 2015 World Champions, South Korea Telecom, at the Mid-Season Invitational and then making the semifinals of the 2015 World Championships themselves.

G2 Esports made the finals of the Mid-Season Invitational during their appearance and they’ve also had strong performances at the World Championships, taking down several Korean teams during their time there. We don’t even need to get into detail about the teams from China and Korea because they’ve already made a reputation of being the best two regions in the world when it comes to League of Legends.

Fans always say: “maybe this year can be different” but can it really? We’re sending three of our best teams who have shown some of the strongest results to Worlds but will they be able to succeed? Will this year’s arsenal of NA LCS teams really be able to break the barrier?

Why the NA LCS Fails

The NA LCS, simply put, is a very weak region compared to all the others. It doesn’t have the competitiveness or drive that the Koreans or Chinese have and the few talented players that come from North America still come up short compared to the top players in Korea and China.Even the Europeans have a stronger work ethic. That’s why names such as Perkz, sOAZ, and Rekkles have embedded themselves in the history of League of Legends—because they know how to work and play.

Meanwhile, North America has been seen as a region where, time and time again, they fail to show up. They don’t have the drive that the other regions do and that’s come up to bite them in the back. Just take a look at Team Solomid. Despite being the strongest in the region for the past nine years, the last time they made it past the Groups Stage of an event was in 2014. Now, four years later, they’re not even going to be going to the World Championship.

This inconsistency has proven to be a fatal flaw to North America and if it’s going to be fixed, it needs to be fixed soon. These three teams do show promise and they have been working harder than before but the question still stands: do they have what it takes to win?

Cloud9 (Third Place)

Cloud9 Team Logo
Cloud9 came in as the third place seed from North America, quite shocking compared to their record at Worlds. In fact, out of all the teams in North America, Cloud9 has the best record out of all of them, making it out of the Groups Stage time and time again and even almost making it past the first round at times.

This year, they’re going to be representing North America in the Play-In Stage under a roster of players that are fresh to the viewers and experienced veterans that have been seen at Worlds several times over. Not only will they have recognizable names such as Sneaky and Jensen, they’re going to have a whole new plethora of players that will be able to showcase their talents. For one, they’ll have Goldenglue in the mid lane to substitute for Jensen at times.

The same goes for jungle and AD Carry with Blaber being a sub for Svenskeren and Keith a substitute for Sneaky. Despite the rookie status, all of these players have proven at one point or another that they’re meant to be on the team and they have the potential to bring them to greatness.

Furthermore, despite being the third place team, Cloud9 didn’t actually have that bad of a year in the 2018 Summer Split. They finished second in the regular season and lost in the finals of the playoffs. The only reason they were not able to secure the second place spot was because they didn’t have enough points to do so.

However, in the Regional Tournament, they completely dominated the scene. Despite facing Team SoloMid for the last World Championship spot, Cloud9 showed no slip-ups and took down TSM in a close five-setter. This was also the year where Cloud9 managed to completely dominate Team SoloMid in every critical match. During the playoffs, they took down TSM in another tight best-of-five and in the regional tournament, they repeated the same instance.

This team has both the experience and mindset to do well at the World Championship. In fact, even though this team placed third overall at the NA LCS, personally, in my opinion, this is going to be the team that makes it the farthest out of the three teams.

100 Thieves (Second Place)

100 Thieves Logo
100 Thieves is one of the newest NA LCS teams on the scene but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the firepower to support their endeavors. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Since their arrival, 100 Thieves has gone and taken the NA LCS by storm.

What they lack in experience, they make up for in raw mechanical talent. Each player they have on their roster has been considered a top five player in their own respective region. Their top laner, Ssumday, not only has experience winning matches and making moves in the NA LCS but he was a top three LCK top laner at his peak during his time in Korea.

Their jungler, AnDa, may not seem like much at first but I can guarantee you that he’s a player that no one wants to sleep on. His aggressive tactics and tendency to try to put his teammates ahead of himself at all times makes him a selfless jungler that knows all the aspects of the field. 100 Thieves’ Ryu, like Ssumday, has experience from both North America, Europe, and Korea making him a well-versed international threat. He even took down SKT’s Faker at points in his career and he made it like it was no effort at all.

Finally, their bot lane duo of Cody Sun and Aphromoo need little to no introduction whatsoever but the formalities are still here to stay. Cody Sun has been a top three AD Carry since 2017 and the reason 100 Thieves wins so many team fights is because of this man right here. His ability to position and kite properly and quickly makes him a threat that no one wants to face. Cody Sun can weave in and out of sticky situations, all while unloading tons of damage onto the opposing team.

To wrap it all up, 100 Thieves’ support, Aphromoo, is the ideal captain every team wants. He shot-calls. He makes plays and he knows what’s best for the team. His diverse arsenal of champions makes Aphromoo a captain of all natures. He can fight. He can protect. He can shot-call and he can also take objectives. Furthermore, his flexible playstyle allows Cody Sun all the freedom he wants when it comes to making plays and this doesn’t just go for his AD Carry. It also goes for his mid laner, jungler, and top laner.

So, while 100 Thieves is still considered a rookie team, they’ve shown a considerable amount of experience in their play and their arsenal is full of seasoned veterans from the past. That being said, they have a good shot at playing well at the World Championships.

However, two things can set them back. One piece is that, while the team may be full of veterans and experienced players, they haven’t been playing together long enough to be considered a true “super team.” The team still tends to make mistakes and slip up here and there but they overall have a very strong and consistent game plan. If they want to make it far into the World Championship, they’re going to have to work on playing as one unit at all times, no matter the circumstance.

The second piece that could hold them back is their Group. For the 2018 World Championship, 100 Thieves has been placed in Group D with Invictus Gaming and Fnatic, two teams that can be considered extremely strong threats.

Fnatic is a World Champion (Season One) and almost made the finals in Season Five. Moreover, they completely dominated this year’s Spring and Summer Split and made a grand entrance into this year’s Mid Season Invitational.
Fnatic’s AD Carry, Rekkles, could very well dismantle 100 Thieves by himself and if he can’t do it by himself, then he has their mid laner, Caps, to help him in the task. Then there’s Invictus Gaming. Invictus Gaming is a Chinese team that has been on the Worlds scene before.

Their main advantage comes from the fact that they come from an extremely hard region filled with teams such as Royal Never Give Up and Team WE from last year’s World Championship. With the team used to playing such hard opponents, Invictus Gaming knows how to play fast-paced and this could catch 100 Thieves off guard.

To add onto this, Invictus Gaming has added two extremely strong Korean players to their roster: Rookie and Duke. Rookie, who plays in the mid lane, contested for the spot as best mid laner in China versus Xiaohu and is considered to be at least a top three player in the world right now.

As for Duke, the top laner has had experience playing for South Korea Telecom, NaJin Black Sword, and even KT Rolster during his rookie years. During his time on SKT, he helped bring them to a World Championship title. These two players can be tricky for 100 Thieves and if not played against properly, they won’t be able to take down IG but Ryu is an experienced mid laner and has played against tough competition such as Rookie.

The same goes for Ssumday. It’s going to be a Korean on Korean battle versus IG and if 100 Thieves wins that, then there’s a very good chance they could be moving on to the Knockout Rounds. 100 Thieves is a new team to the scene and it might be a little tough for them to make it into the Knockout Rounds but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a chance. They already have a really strong roster. They just need to know how to use it properly.

Team Liquid (First Place)

Team Liquid Logo
While Team Liquid may have one of the most stacked teams in the entire world right now and they showed a dominating performance through the Spring and Summer Split, my confidence that they’re going to make it to the Knockout Rounds isn’t as high as would be expected.

I still have confidence, though. Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely the possibility, considering that they have five of the best players in the region as well as a team that has basically played together at one point in their professional career. Right now, Team Liquid has five World Championship qualifiers on their team, each of which have made their mark on the international stage. To add onto this resume, each of these players are either the top or top three in their respective role inside the NA LCS.

Their top laner, Impact, can be considered to be the best top laner right now in the NA LCS while their jungler, Xmithie, is top three, possibly only stopped by 100 Thieves’ AnDa or Echo Fox’s Dardoch on a good day. Team Liquid’s mid laner, Pobelter, knows no bounds to his game and can only be matched by Jensen right now, game-wise. Doublelift, Team Liquid’s AD Carry, is unmatched by every single AD Carry that opposes him in the NA LCS and Olleh is a top three support, both mechanics and KDA-wise.

Furthermore, all five of these players have played together beforehand so synergy won’t be a problem. Xmithie, Pobelter, and Doublelift were teammates under Counter-Logic Gaming’s golden era and Olleh joined Pobelter and Xmithie on Immortals.

Impact may not have played with these players on an actual competitive team but he’s been known to duo and play alongside his current teammates throughout his solo queue ladder climb. Therefore, synergy among Team Liquid isn’t a problem. If you look back at any previous matches played during the NA LCS, they make little to no mistakes throughout the game and move as one unit rather than separate players. Yet my points still stand. Despite being such a strong team on paper, my confidence that they will make it to the Knockout Rounds aren’t as high as expected.

Why? Simply put, Team Liquid has had a reputation for choking at critical moments. In the 2015 NA LCS run, they had a similar situation. They completely dominated the entire Regular Season but failed to come up and win their matches during playoffs or regionals, thus failing to qualify for the World Championship.

They’ve shown themselves to be a strong team when it comes to statistics but never truly manage to meet standards when it matters the most. Even the players have failed to do so individually. Doublelift has choked several times at the World Championship and even cost TSM a crucial win at one point over Samsung Galaxy.

Impact showed steady results but nothing extremely impressive during his time on Cloud9 and Xmithie plays a monotone game that doesn’t yield many results. That being said, Team Liquid can play an extremely explosive game and they have the potential to do so but they tend to fail to show up at times.

Now, if this can be fixed or they have an extremely strong start to their Groups Stage, then there’s no doubt that Team Liquid will be a team to make an impact at the Worlds tournament. However, they need to get past the Groups Stage and even that will be a burden.

For the 2018 World Championship, Team Liquid has been placed in an extremely hard group comprising of MAD Team and KT Rolster with the fourth spot being subject to the winners of the Play-In Stage. With only two spots available for Knockout Rounds, Team Liquid is going to have to play some of the best League of Legends they’ve ever played and that’s not an exaggeration.

KT Rolster is currently considered the best team in the entire world with a team full of top level players. Their top laner, jungler, and mid laner are currently considered to be the best players in the world in that respective role and they destroyed virtually ever Korean team they faced with one or two exceptions.

MAD Team may not be from a major region but they’re still from the LMS and the LMS has been known to rival the Chinese and Koreans at their best playing level. If Team Liquid isn’t on their feet when they face MAD Team, then they could very well lose their Knockout Round spot to them.

Team Liquid has shown some very strong results in their NA LCS seasons but they haven’t shown anything astounding at the international stage just yet. They’ve had a past of screwing up big opportunities and this could be extremely detrimental this year considering the tough competition they’re going to be facing in their group.

Now, does that mean it’s impossible? Certainly not. They have a high chance of making it, in fact, but you should be alert to the fact that they could definitely lose their spot. If they can fix their problem of choking away major matches, then they will be a top contender for a Knockout Round spot and potentially have a shot at winning a World Champion title.


As I’ve stated before, the teams sent from the NA LCS have been known to put on disappointing performances at the World Championship. They rarely make it past the Groups Stages and if they do, they’re eliminated in the first round.

That being said, it’s questionable as to whether or not any of these teams will be able to make it past the Groups Stage this year and make it to the Knockout Rounds. While each team certainly does have the potential to do so, some have more than others.

Cloud9 is an experienced veteran and the only NA LCS team that has consistently qualified for Knockout Rounds over and over again. If they can make it past the Play-In Stages, then they’re going to have a shot at continuing the legacy. 100 Thieves is a new team to the scene but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to perform. They have a seasoned team of veterans and mechanically strong players and this will be extremely good for them on their part.

Finally, Team Liquid has one of the strongest teams in the world right now and if they don’t choke like in the past years, this might very well be North America’s year. Each of these teams have what it takes to win the World Championship. It just depends on whether or not they act on it.

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