That road begins for the teams looking to qualify for the next split via the Spring Promotional Tournament. Each series will be a best-of-five.
In the first round, the loser is eliminated and the winner proceeds to compete against the remaining teams in the qualifying round. Who will rise to the top in securing a spot in the 2017 LCS and who will be relegated?
The top two League of Legends challenger teams from the NACS Summer Playoffs, Cloud 9 Challenger and Team Liquid Academy, will compete against the bottom three LCS Summer Split teams — Phoenix1, Echo Fox, and NRG — for a spot in the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split.
In the first round of the promotional tournament, Echo Fox took on Team Liquid Academy in a climactic five game series that went the distance. Echo Fox was completely blown out in the first game of the series, with TLA securing an early ace and racing out to a 9-1 lead in kills.
TLA finished game one in 30 minutes.
The second game was much closer, but Froggen ensured that Echo Fox would come out victorious. That was followed by a blowout win for Echo Fox in game three, securing a 10-1 lead in kills within the first 25 minutes.
Game four was another blowout, this time in favor of TLA. The team went 16-1, with Piglet personally going 9-0-3 on Twitch as ADC. That set up a decisive game five, with the winner moving on and the loser handed an NACS spot.
In the pick and ban phase for game five, Froggen pulled out the unconventional Lux pick. It actually ended up being a crucial pick for the team, as Froggen went 6-1-6, catching out TLA’s support multiple times. After a heavily one-sided teamfight win for Echo Fox, TLA’s aspirations of reaching the LCS were extinguished.
After a disastrous start to their inaugural LCS split that saw the team losing nine straight series, Phoenix1 turned it on at the end of split, including a momentous win against TSM. To regain their spot in the LCS, Phoenix1 would have to take down Echo Fox, fresh off a win against TLA.
This series wasn’t even close, with Phoenix1 sweeping Echo Fox in three consecutive games. In the first two games of the series, Phoenix1 was able to capitalize on small advantages to take objectives and ultimately win the game.
Game one went almost 50 minutes, with Echo Fox turtling hard in their base. Phoenix1 was able to stay patient though, continuously pushing super minions into their opponent’s base, breaking down their defenses.
Game two also went more than 40 minutes, and once again Phoenix1’s patience was on full display.
After the team secured gold leads in each lane, Phoenix1 focused on map objectives to further extend their lead. Three Cloud Drakes by Phoenix1 meant they had plenty of movement speed around the map.
Inori was key in game three for Phoenix1, continuously ganking the lanes to give his team advantages in top, mid, and bottom. This was the quickest win for Phoenix1, securing a victory in 33 minutes and a final score of 19-8.
Cloud9’s experiment, building North American talent through their Challenger team, can now be deemed a success. After a 3-0 sweep over NRG, Cloud9’s undertaking could also be quite lucrative.
Riot passed rules a couple years back that no organization can have two teams at the professional level, meaning Cloud9 will need to sell one of their two LCS spots.
Average cost? A cool $1 million. Let’s take a look at how they did it.
This would be another lopsided series, all in favor of Cloud9 Challenger. The first game we saw C9C put their ADC, Altec, on Twitch against NRG’s Sivir. Altec is super comfortable on Twitch, and this would be a lopsided matchup in favor of C9C from the very start.
Ball’s dominance in the top lane on Gnar further extended C9C’s lane pressure in bottom and top.
After rolling through game one, NRG apparently failed to realize that C9C was completely fine repeating game one pick and bans. Neither Twitch, Gnar, nor Hecarim were banned, with C9C gladly picking them once again. The result? Another blowout win in game two.
One other player I want to highlight here is C9C’s Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia. Contractz is the only real prospect on this team (Balls, Hai, and Lemonation are veteran LCS players). In two games on Hecarim, Contractz went 21-6-18. That’s quite the domination against a team with veteran LCS players.
NRG finally learned from their mistakes heading into game three, banning both Twitch and Gnar. This was a much closer game, but a botch for NRG as Baron essentially gave the game to C9C.
The result was a sweep for C9C (as well as an LCS spot) and a date with Echo Fox for NRG.
The last matchup of the Spring Promotional Tournament featured Echo Fox versus NRG eSports. Winner retained their LCS spot, with the loser being relegated to the Challenger Series next split.
Unfortunately for NRG, they were once again on the losing side of a three game sweep by Echo Fox.
In game one, it was the Froggen show. Echo Fox provided their star mid laner with plenty of resources, as Hard ganked his lane multiple times. NRG’s inconsistencies were on full display in this game.
The team just cannot chain positive plays together into major objectives. Case in point, after catching Froggen and Hard out of position, Echo Fox then turned to Baron.
NRG severely underestimated their total team damage, with multiple players going low as they took down Baron. Out of nowhere, Echo Fox’s Keith showed up, picking off four NRG members for the quadrakill. The next Baron would go to Echo Fox, as well as a 41-minute win.
There’s one champion you have to always ban against Froggen, and that’s Anivia. Well, that didn’t happen in game two. Sure enough, Froggen went off on his favorite champion.
Echo Fox took their 8-2 lead and corralled that into Baron at 30 minutes. Eight minutes later, the game was over with Echo Fox going 13-3.
Who do you think NRG used their first ban on in game three? Anivia! Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to contain Froggen. He was just as good on Viktor, going 6-0-6. This would be another 30-minute domination by Echo Fox, finishing the game 12-2.
One other note, this game featured two former NBA players as investors. Echo Fox is owned by Rick Fox. NRG eSports’ co-owner is Shaquille O’Neal. It’s safe to say O’Neal’s NBA career was a bit more successful than Fox’s, but Fox gets a bit of revenge here by knocking NRG out of the LCS.
Team Liquid Academy
After coming incredibly close to securing a spot in the LCS over Echo Fox, TLA will once again return the NA Challenger Series this spring.