Meanwhile, our four bottom League of Legends teams must now regroup and face off in the Challenger Series to reclaim their spot in the NA LCS for next year’s Spring Split. (That is, except for Apex Gaming, which finished seventh and will avoid relegations).
We’re here to recap how each team did this split, who overachieved, and who just straight out disappointed. We’ll cover each team in descending order.
Promotional tournament teams
10. Echo Fox (1-17)
This was just an ugly Summer Split for Echo Fox and one they want to forget soon. After finishing the 2016 Spring Split strong, Echo Fox took down Renegades in a tiebreaker match to claim seventh place and avoid relegations.
That led many to believe that Echo Fox would have a strong showing in the Summer Split, especially now that they could field an entire team. (They were mired with visa issues throughout the Spring Split.) That clearly did not happen.
Echo Fox will now have to prove themselves in the promotional tournament. Without some drastic improvements to their roster, they will have a difficult time against the likes of Cloud9 Challenger and Team Liquid Academy.
At this point, it looks like Echo Fox will most likely not return to the NA LCS next split without a major upset in the promotional tournament.
9. NRG eSports (4-14)
NRG started off their inaugural split, the 2016 Spring Split, with a blast, going 3-0. While they tailed off near the end of the split, they were still able to qualify as the sixth seed for the 2016 Spring Split playoffs (eventually losing to Team Liquid 0-3 in the quarterfinals).
For NRG this split, coming together as one unit has been their biggest obstacle. This team was completely blown up over the offseason, with new additions, including Diego “Quas” Ruiz, Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, Oh “Ohq” Gyu-min, and Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen.
Only Chang-suk “GankedByMom” Lee (GBM now) remained from their initial roster.
NRG has the pieces to make some noise in the promotional tournament. This team still has five mechanically gifted players, but they lack the ability to put it all together and play with each other.
The team was just too inconsistent during the Summer Split to build off initial success. They must come together now if they wish to return to the NA LCS.
8. Phoenix1 (5-13)
Phoenix1’s rookie split can best be described as a tale of two halves. They started out the Summer Split going 0-9, looking completely dysfunctional with many questioning if they could ever win a series.
Then, something just clicked. The team started playing more carefree, and the pick and ban phase became a spectacle every match.
Phoenix1’s greatest accomplishment this split is being the only team to take a series from Team SoloMid. That culminated what had been a stellar finish for Phoenix1. Over their last nine series, Phoenix1 ended up going 5-4.
Despite their strong finish, Phoenix1 will also have to play in the promotional tournament. Their eighth-place finish will make the road back to the NA LCS that much smoother, though.
There’s clearly been a shift in momentum for this team, and we’re excited to see what they can do next split.
7. Apex Gaming (8-10)
There are plenty of similarities between Apex Gaming and Phoenix1. Both were playing in their first split this season. Both started out shaky in the first half, only to come on strong as the split progressed.
In fact, I would argue that both Phoenix1 and Apex Gaming are better than another certain team that is playing in their first split and qualified for a playoff spot. (We’re looking at you Envy.)
Apex’s turnaround can be directly attributed to the maturation of Alex “Xpecial” Chu as a leader. Xpecial saw Apex struggling and took it upon himself to change the course of the team. He started being a vocal leader during scrims, which translated to him being the shot caller during actual competitive games.
Apex will automatically qualify for the 2017 Spring Split thanks to their seventh-place finish. We’re looking forward to seeing how Xpecial and Apex take their game to the next level during their sophomore stint.
Team Envy (8-10)
Unlike Phoenix1 and Apex, Team Envy had the opposite Summer Split. They started the split 6-1, showing a lot of promise as they pushed for a playoff spot.
It all came apart as the split ended though. Team Envy finished 2-9, limping their way to the final playoff spot.
As the sixth seed, Apex will have to face a surging Cloud9 team in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Unless Team Envy has been sleeping for the past nine weeks, I expect a quick 3-0 series sweep by Cloud9 and I’d expect the esports betting odds to reflect this.
Team Liquid (9-9)
It’s hard to exactly say what Team Liquid is in the current state. Before the split started, the team was built around world champion ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. After four weeks (and a brief suspension of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett), Piglet was replaced with Jovani “fabbbyyy” Guillen.
Team Liquid has transitioned from building a team around Piglet to now building compositions around their emerging star jungler in Dardoch. Dardoch is an extremely skilled and mechanically gifted player, but he alone can’t carry the damage for Team Liquid.
Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun has been that second source of damage, but when he’s getting shut down in lane, the rest falls on Dardoch. Fabbbyyy has provided great utility, but he needs to elevate his game if TL is to find true success in the playoffs.
Counter Logic Gaming (10-8)
After reaching the finals at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational, it’s been quite shocking to see CLG struggle through most of this split. They’ve had to grind through literally every series this split, taking first place for most games played (46 games played this split).
Burnout is a real concern at this point. CLG has played a lot of League of Legends since the start of the year. That includes a run through the Spring Split Playoffs, IEM, and then MSI. In total, CLG is approaching 100 competitive games played in the past six months, the most by any NA team.
Now it’s playoff time for CLG. This is when they need to step it up, as TSM and Immortals are clearly playing at a different level this split. If they can’t, it’ll be an early exit for the defending NA champions.
Cloud9 entered this Summer Split with some major changes, largely experimenting at the support position while bringing in new blood to the top lane (Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong) and a returning foundational player (William “Meteos” Hartman) in the jungle.
It took some time to come together, but the team has finally found the success they were looking for.
As long as this team has Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi as their two carries, the organization has the luxury of making such moves without missing a beat. The addition of Andy “Smoothie” Ta was an under-the-radar move, but he’s now officially supplanted Michael “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo as the starting support player.
You can never discount a Cloud9 team in the playoffs, especially one with Jensen and Sneaky. If their run through the gauntlet last year (with two reverse sweeps) taught us anything, it’s that this team will find ways to grind out wins.
The real question is, can they pull off the upset against either Immortals or TSM?
Immortals looks just as strong in their sophomore split as they did last season. While they didn’t exactly run away from the competition (the talent in NA this split is much better), they still are strong favorites to reach Worlds.
The team has played more erratically this split, choosing to play an aggressive early game that can either snowball games or put them in a large hole come mid-game. Their sheer individual talent has allowed them to escape some pretty precarious situations this split, while still going 33-10 in individual games.
As Immortals showed us last split, it doesn’t matter how well you do during the regular season if you can’t translate that success in the playoffs. TSM was their nemesis then, and they were the only team to beat them in both of Immortals’ series losses this split.
Team SoloMid (17-1)
They’re back and better than ever.
After a Spring Split that saw TSM struggle just to secure a playoff spot, the team replaced their support player with rookie Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. Biofrost is, without a doubt, the rookie of the split and a great find for TSM.
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng has had a record-setting split as he continues to be a world premiere ADC. Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg will most likely be voted MVP for this split once again (11 game MVPs this split, two more than the next best player in the NA LCS).
Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has steadily improved his play this split as well, providing TSM with the type of play in the top lane we saw from longtime TSM player Dyrus.
TSM will be heavy favorites at the esports betting sites heading into the NA Summer Split Playoffs. Their only series loss is a blip against Phoenix1 (who won’t be in the playoffs).
The second-best team, Immortals, has lost three straight series against TSM dating back to the Spring Split playoffs. Nothing is certain, but TSM is in prime position to claim the number one spot for NA heading to Worlds.