The LCS returns to both Europe and North America next week, and it will be once again time for players and teams to test their skill against each other. In the debut season of the LCS, fans were treated to unbelievable plays like Xpeke back-dooring SK's nexus, Wildturtle's unbelievable Caitlyn ultimate, and countless others. We also saw the rise of teams like Cloud 9, the resurgence of Fnatic and Gambit, and the decline of CLG and Curse.
The competitive scene has been active for over 3 years now, and we have learned it isn't a forgiving place to players who can't adapt. Challenger teams and players are getting better every day and with the introduction of the Coke Challenger League, it's time for a few older players and teams to finally step up and prove they are worthy of the praise they get. If not, they'll find themselves on the outside of the LCS looking in after a disappointing spring season.
Doublelift has unbelievable talent and regularly carries CLG to victories they have no business getting. However, their entire team strategy has been about building around him to carry almost since he joined CLG without any first place results. Newer fans of the league scene might not realize this, but CLG was the best team in the world in Preseason 1 and again at the very beginning of Season 2. Since CLG acquired Doublelift on November 23rd, 2011, they have not finished first at a LAN event (they have 3 second place finishes.)
When a team is built entirely around you to succeed, you get all the credit when the team succeeds, and all the blame when it loses. It happens to quarterbacks in football, stars in the NBA, and it's only fair if it starts happening in LoL as well. Talent only gets you so far, and highlight plays don't get you wins. Doublelift might make the flashy plays, but he gets caught out position or down farming a little too often when his team needs him to be somewhere else. CLG's failures are by no means all his fault, but it's simply time for Doublelift to play like the star he should be.
Outside of Wildturtle, Doublelift has no one else that is close to his level of skill at his position. He hasn't always gotten the strongest support play, but his laning has always been good. Mid and late game his teamfighting is flashy, but the meta doesn't allow him to do what he once did in terms of overall effect. If he can't be the one to kill everyone, he needs to be the one to make CLG see that their team comps can't simply revolve around trying to keep him alive.
Dignitas was an infuriating team to watch last season. You truly never knew what you were going to get out of them because their performance was so up and down after a strong start to the Spring Split. Much of that had to do with the decline in its midlaner, Scarra's play. Scarra's been around the competitive scene since Season 1, and has had his moments as a dominant player over the years; however, in the summer split he really struggled to be an impact player for a team that really needed him to step up.
Since Voyboy left the team, Dignitas hasn't had a top laner that can really take the pressure off Scarra in mid or absorb bans. Teams figured out over the the course of last season that Scarra's champion pool was limited, and forcing him onto a champion that he wasn't comfortable on spelled almost certain victory. Scarra went from being an All-star player in the spring to a guy who had people questioning if Dignitas wouldn't be better blowing up their entire roster and starting over in the summer.
I believe the talent is there with Scarra, but he needs to prove he still belongs in the scene this split along with his team. If Scarra truly feels comfortable on only 3 or 4 champions (which he has been working to rectify), find a way to make team compositions that work with all of those champions and be prepared to execute each of them. It's more important to be good at a champion than to pick a champion who is good. We see that over and over again, even in solo queue. If Scarra's best champions are Kayle, Diana, Gragas, and Katarina in some order, then Dignitas needs to go into the vault and pull out some of those crazy team comps that made them famous to help both Scarra and the team succeed.
Wickd's another player that has been around the scene since it began, but isn't performing at the level fans are use to seeing him. Once upon a time, Wickd and HotshotGG ruled the top lane with their "secret" to the lane that only they knew, but now Hotshot finds himself running a team instead of playing on it and Wickd needs to step his game up if he doesn't want join him. Wickd wasn't particularly bad last season for EG, he was just simply sort of there. He didn't have a gigantic impact on EG's games, and his limited champion pool hurt the team in picks and bans.
Europe is a less forgiving place than North America when it comes to old stars. Old faces seem to stick around in North America longer when their performance might not dictate it anymore than in Europe. It's hard to not be an impact player in EU and keep your job because the talent pool is deep and people are much less attached to the player than to winning. With Ocelote gone, the oldest players in the European scene are all still high caliber players like Xpeke, Soaz, and pick a Gambit player. Wickd was once a part of that group, and needs a strong LCS on a good team to show that he still is.
Now, he finds himself on the new EU team, Alliance, with all the hype surrounding them. A rising star jungler in Shook, and a brand new bottom lane will join Wickd and Froggen this season on their quest to regain EU greatness. Alliance can't fall into the same traps that EG did, where everyone stands around waits for Froggen to carry them. Wickd specializes in tanks, and this should allow Shook to play aggressive junglers and make plays across the map for the team. Wickd has the be foundation of the team for Alliance to succeed. All the tools are in place, all that's left is for Wickd to show us he's still great.
Several other players like Voyboy, Candypanda and Yellowpete could easily have found themselves on this list, but I tried to include ones that I haven't already discussed in the past. What players or teams do you feel need to step up in the upcoming LCS season RoG'ers? What can they do to prove they are still great? Are they even capable of it anymore? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to stay tuned to ReignofGaming for all your LoL-related needs!
Follow me on twitter!