fter an astounding conclusion to the Season 2 World Championship, Riot unleashed their vision of a structured third season where professional teams around the world would play on a scheduled, weekly basis that would eventually lead to the Season 3 World Championship. Countless teams battled it out through various online and live qualifiers in attempts to secure their places in the League of Legends Championship Series for Season 3 over the course of several months.
Emerging through the pool of teams looking to rise to the top throughout the Season 3 LCS are eight North American teams and eight European teams who will battle amongst their regions in a regular season that will be divided into two parts. Every team must play four matches against each of the other teams in their division for a total of 28 games during both halves of the season.
By the end of the first half of the season, the top two teams from each division will hold an advantageous bye in a playoff tournament, while a wildcard round will determine which of the remaining teams will advance or be held with another chance among those at the bottom of the division before being held from further advancing in the season.
The second half of the season will hold a similar structure to the first but ultimately discover two divisional leaders to battle for the World Championships.
During the regular season, North American games will be casted and aired on Thursdays and Fridays while the European matches will take place on Saturdays and Sundays. ESFI coverage of the events will include stat tracking, extensive analysis, interviews and more.
To give a taste of this coverage, here is a preview of all the LCS teams. Along with each team preview is the pre-season media poll rankings that will be voted upon and updated weekly.
Formerly The Brunch Club, compLexity is an incredibly new team composed of top-tier players. The roster consists of Lautemortis in the jungle, Nickwu at top, Chuuper at mid, Ellie Beee, who is also known as MeyeA as support, and brunch Ü at AD.
Coming into the Season 3 Qualifiers, only one member, Lautemortis, had any tournament experience. After going 2-1 in a tough groupstage, then TBC defeated Marn convincingly to qualify for Season 3.
After and the success The Brunch Club achieved at the qualifier, CompLexity signed the entire team.
Formed from the remnants of IWantCookie, DragonBorns is an up-and-coming team composed of Season 1 and 2 veteran Shushei at mid, Hosan at AD, Muvert as support, Spontexx at top, and, currently, Brokenshard in the jungle, though he is now a sub and the coach.
Before qualifying for the LCS Qualifiers, DB boasts only one tournament win from the SCAN Invitational. However, Shushei has had extensive experience, including winning the Season 1 World Championship.
Coming into the LCS Qualifiers as an unknown factor, DB showed an aggressive playstyle, featuring picks that dominate the early game and amazing coordination to pull off truly high-level plays to push their way through to victory.
Team MRN was born out of a need for a replacement team last year at MLG Anahiem. They came. They saw. They got stomped by TSM. This left a bad taste in, team captain (now manager), Marn’s mouth. When Season 3 was announced, he gathered a team comprised mostly of untested, but highly skilled players to qualify for the Ranked 5s tournament 30 minutes before the deadline. Once they got to the online tournament, they cruised – 2-0ing everyone into the live qualifiers.
Team MRN’s real Cinderella story began with the huge upset over Cloud 9 in pool play at the NA LCS live qualifier which set the tone for the rest of the tournament. From there, they took out up and comers Dirtnap Gaming and Azure Gaming while getting past the very experienced Meat Playground.
There is no doubt that Team MRN is a fan favorite. Watching the Twitch chat when MRN is playing, you see nothing but “MRN MRN MRN MRN MRN MRN MRN!” which is possibly why they are ranked higher than the team that 2-0′d them in the NA LCS qualifiers (CompLexity).
They have a lot to prove, but they have the backing and support of many League of Legends fans to motivate them.
GGU is a team that, though very new in name, has extensive LAN experience. Formed off of former Team Dynamic members, the current lineup features ZionSpartan at top, NintendudeX in the jungle, DontMashMe at AD, Shiphtur at AP, and I am Anjo subbing in for young support player Pixel.
Under the TD name, GGU players have been to and placed well in multiple IPL and MLG events, with their highest placing being 3rd at MLG Raleigh. The team also competed in the Season 2 North American Qualifiers, losing in the first round to Dignitas.
During the Season 3 Qualifiers, GGU seemed to breeze through their wins on their way to Qualify for the LCS. Expect to see their passion and skill shine during this Season.
GGU preview by Ian Powers
aAa is an old powerhouse within the European region that has featured many of the top players from many of Europe’s top teams in the roster at some point. Currently, aAa features ShLaYa at mid, Nono at AD, fredy122 at top, ViRtU4l in the jungle, and Karalius as the support.
Coming into the European LCS, aAa had relatively little time to prepare, with their team being reformed on December 22nd and subbing in ViRtU4l on January 24th after their formal jungler was banned from competing for a year due to toxic behavior. Despite this, aAa still performed phenomenally in the Qualifiers, ending the tournament with a total record of 4-1, going 2-0 in their group and easily qualifying for the LCS.
This aAa squad has an opportunity to prove themselves a sleeper in the European LCS.
The Copenhagen Wolves are a relatively new League of Legends team, formed in late 2012. Currently composed of Bjergsen at Mid, TheTess at AD, Godbro at top, and Svenskeren in the jungle, the team boasts a good record for their relative inexperience in the pro scene.
Currently, the team lacks an official roster with Deficio subbing for support and cowTard covering mid until Bjergsen is old enough to be contracted. After winning their spot in the LCS, they were so elated that Deficio had a few choice words for his underage teammate.
Before getting through the LCS Qualifiers, the Wolves participated in several major tournaments, including Dreamhack, where they lost to then-CLG.eu in the semifinals, the NorthCon eSport Arena, where they claimed 1st place over Acer, and a 2nd place finish at the THOR Open behind Fnatic.
They also boasted a win over fellow LCS competitors GIANTS! in the Eclypsia Christmas cup.
The Wolves are known for their adaptability and ability to turn games around. They may prove to be quite the formidable force, even for well-established teams.
Note: Team FeaR became Team Vulcun on February 2nd.
Team Vulcun is a veteran NA team that has been on the pro circuit under several different names. Formerly known as A Picture of a Goose, MTW.NA, MME.Ferus, and FeaR; Vulcun now heads into Season 3 after fighting through the LCS qualifier. Despite never having success in major offline tournaments, Vulcun looks strong as they head into Season 3. The departure of star AD carry Aphromoo has not seemed to affect team Vulcun much as former top laner Zuna has proved that he can fill the AD carry role. Zuna’s switch to bot lane and the subsequent pick up of Sycho Sid to take over top has resulted in a team that communicates significantly better and works together much more effectively.
Having never won a major tournament, Vulcan has something to prove as they move into LCS. While they have long been in the shadow of other NA power houses such as CLG, TSM, Dignitas, and Curse, Vulcan has greatly improved in recent matches. With Zuna now in the bot lane and Sycho Sid in the top lane, Vulcun is looking stronger than ever. However, despite the recent improvements Vulcun still struggles to close out games and the team as a whole seems to fall off as late game approaches. The team is aware of their weak points however and with serious practice Team Vulcun might soon see themselves on equal footing with the top teams of the NA scene.
Spanish multi-gaming organization GIANTS! Gaming is fairly new to League of Legends, but has already been making waves within the European scene. The team’s roster has a relatively long history, with the majority of its members dating back to the end of 2011 when they were on team Meet Your Makers. The line-up consists of Samux (top laner), Mordem (jungler), Exterminare (mid laner), Jîmß0wnz (AD carry) and Babeta (support). The team played together on x6tence, until they would eventually be picked up by GIANTS! Gaming. Their roster, however was unconfirmed until just before the LCS qualifiers when Jîmß0wnz finally made the transition from team x6tence to GIANTS!
GIANTS! Gaming has slowly been working their way up the ranks of the European LoL scene, with a 3rd/4th place showing at Dreamhack Valencia followed by a 3rd place finish at The Siege.
However, the team largely fell under the radar until the the Season 3 European League Championship Series qualifiers where they’d truly have their breakout performance.
At the EU LCS qualifiers, GIANTS! Gaming was put into a group with well established teams Fnatic and Alternate, along with fellow newcomer Anexis eSports. Giants showed off a patient, defensive style throughout the tournament and it paid off for them as they were able to come first in their group and win their playoff match, securing them a spot in Riot’s Season 3 EU LCS.
Giants went into the EU LCS qualifier looking to prove they’re one of the top teams in Europe, and now they’ll be looking to cement that notion in this season’s LCS.
Widely known as the most emotional team on the League of Legends and led by their captain Ocelote, SK Gaming is looking to make their mark on the European “League Championship Series.” Coming straight from the Season 2 Qualifiers, SK Gaming picked up second place at Gamescom before being unable to get out of the group at the Season 2 World Championships. Of course, it didn’t end there as they still had Season 2 to look forward too.
Between seasons, SK looked unimpressive in the Tales of the Lane tournament, including that monumental loss to Eclypsia, but hasn’t been seen much since. After the loss at Tales of the Lane, it was announced Araneae and YellOwStAr would be leaving their respective positions as jungler and AD Carry on the team, leaving them with an incomplete roster heading into Season 3. This was the case for about a month before it was announced that former AD Carry for the team, CandyPanda, would be rejoining the team, while also introducing new member, Hyrqbot.
With this new lineup tested only once in an unimpressive showing at IEM Katowice, SK Gaming will surely have to impress. They have a big stage to do it on, as they will open the European LCS against the recent favorites, Fnatic Gaming.
Team Dignitas has always been one of the North American power house teams, with the reputation to cheese at least once in every major tournament. But since its inception, Dignitas has only gotten first place a single time at a major LAN event and ended season two ranked third in the professional circuit for North America.
However, their lineup has recently changed dramatically. Back in December, Riot decided to carry out a Tribunal punishment on I Will Dominate and banned him from competitive play for a year.
In response to this sudden loss of a team mate, Dignitas moved Crumbzz to the jungle and picked up the somewhat unknown TheRealKiwiKid to play in top lane instead. With his professional background in other MOBA games, KiwiKid has already accompanied Dignitas to a second place finish in the most recent NESL Pro Series online tournament, but the new line up is still unproven. Dignitas will have to step up their game to rise above other North American teams, let alone the foreign power houses that seem to be taking the competitive scene by storm.
TSM was a North American powerhouse throughout most of 2012, dominating every tournament they played in until MLG Summer Arena. There they met their first Korean team, Azubu Blaze. TSM was completely caught off guard and lost to the Koreans in all five of the games they played against each other. With knowledge of the Korean playstyle, hope was still alive for TSM in the Season 2 World Championships and IPL5. However, history repeated itself and once again the kings of North America fell from their throne. TSM continued to struggle for the rest of the season up until now.
LCS is the perfect chance for TSM to redeem their throne to North America and show the world they are on top again. TSM is known to not change their playstyle but instead change champions they play within it. They are ranked 6th on the ESFI rankings due to their inability to adapt to some teams and playstyles plus their lackluster recent results and absence from the competitive scene the last few months. If they want to have a shot at the title in the LCS, they need to bring out some crazy champions that are rarely played, especially Dyrus. TSM has been known to dominate tournaments when Dyrus brings in a champion that isn’t played often. If TSM wants to go far in LCS they will need to focus more and figure out how to counter teams specifically instead of doing their own thing.
Curse has had a troubled past in tournaments over the last year, never earning a substantial placement in any of the offline tournaments they took part in. The only tournament they won, they were immediately disqualified. However with Voyboy joining the team, Curse seems different. The team has proven to be even more serious about playing and more focused. Curse is starving for first place and the team finally looks like they are prepared to take it. There’s no doubt that Voyboy has created a spark for the team. He fits perfectly into their play style and adds another voice to the teams strategies and decisions.
Even though Curse is only placed 5th in the total ESFI Rankings, they are a team to beat. They rolled through the LCS qualifier as if they it were child’s play even with their individual careers on the line. The team is now quite experienced in offline events and are working together better than ever. As long as Curse holds this lineup and continues to work hard, instead of partying everyday, they should perform well in the NA region and make a good showing in the mid-season playoffs against EU teams.
As one of the oldest and most decorated teams in the scene, CLG has a record of pulling out unexpected strategies to overcome their opponents. The current CLG lineup consists of founder HotShotGG at top, Chauster in the jungle, Doublelift at AD, Aphromoo as support, and LiNk at mid.
CLG Qualified for Season 3 during the Season 2 North American Regionals by placing 3rd. They would go on to the World Championship, but would be knocked out in the groupstages, going 1-2 after a narrow victory over SK.
In the months since the World Championships, CLG have moved positions and changed the roster and has shown improvement for it. At IPL 5 CLG placed 5th/6th, highest for any NA team, and then when Locodoco left the team, picked up Aphromoo who is thought to be a better support, improving the team even more.
They are ranked the highest in North America mostly for their strong results at IPL5, but they still have something to prove. Link115 will be replacing BigFatLP at mid, who has started for CLG since their inception. Link has some giant shoes to fill on the largest stage in e-sports in the first match of the season against TSM.
A few months ago, Fnatic was a team that seemed to have lost their touch. After they won the Season 1 championships, they faded out into near obscurity. Their team was eventually gutted and replaced, leaving only xPeke and CyanideFI left from the original Season 1 Championship team. With more and more tinkering, something felt right and Fnatic seized the hell out of it. Fnatic came out of nowhere, beating the dominant CLG EU team at Dreamhack Winter for the gold and then taking second place at the absolutely stacked tournament at IPL5.
Fnatic was met with a hiccup on their way into the LCS as their former AD Carry Rekkles was too young to compete in the series, forcing the team to find a replacement. Lucky for Fnatic, they would be joined by veteran AD Carry YellOwStaR, who had played competitively for teams such as aAa, Millenium, and had even previously qualified for LCS with SK-Gaming back in August. While team captain Cyanide and dominant AP Mid player xPeke have been around since the original lineup, every player on Fnatic brings competitive gaming and LAN experience to the table in the LCS, and aren’t likely to be nerve-stricken any time soon.
While Fnatic isn’t known to be one of the biggest innovators in the game, they’re definitely a team to watch out for in the picks and bans. Top sOAZ is known for playing things written off or unnoticed by other players such as Jayce, and more recently Kha’Zix, before they would reach widespread popularity. In the mid lane, xPeke’s prowess and experience is not to be trifled with, and for anybody who may have doubted, he proved his play-making capabilities with the infamous Kassadin backdoor that would lead to victory over SK-Gaming at IEM Katowice just two weeks ago. Although Fnatic picked themselves up from their slump proceeding the Season 1 Championships, they suffered some losses at the LCS qualifiers, nearly losing their group.
Fnatic proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in Season 1, though their momentum died down until near the end of Season 2, when they made a roaring comeback proving that they were once again a team to fear. While their lineup may have changed, their drive, determination, and dominance seem to still be around, just needing a chance to show itself. The League of Legends Championship Series is that chance.
After ending their contract with Counter Logic Gaming at the end of last year, former CLG.EU was picked up by one of the biggest names in eSports: Evil Geniuses. The team is generally known for its calm demeanor and consistently good play, a trait which has allowed them to take a top three finish at almost all the events they’ve attended.
The team’s line-up consists of Wickd, Snoopeh, Froggen, Yellowpete and Krepo; the top laner, jungler, mid laner, AD carry and support respectively. Their entire roster has been together since late 2011, and, considering the volatile nature of the European scene, the fact that they remain on the same team is a testament to their excellent synergy.
They qualified for the European LCS series by placing third at the Season 2 regional finals in August. They would then go on to take 3rd-4th at the Season 2 Championships, alongside fellow European team Moscow 5 (now Gambit Gaming). This, and their second place finish at Azubu the Champions Summer, would ratify the end of a very good season for the European powerhouse.
Evil Geniuses’ recent showing at events and online qualifiers has, however, been less than ideal. After moving from Korea to the CLG gaming house, the team has been apart for several months. These disruptions in their practice regime has showed in their results; at IEM Cologne EG failed to make it out of the group stage, an unheard of event for the team.
The team however has recently reunited in Cologne and after some practice together can be expected to return to their former glory.
Formerly known as Moscow 5, Gambit Gaming is a high-caliber team known for extremely aggressive playstyle, using less popular but strong champions, and in general, bringing out innovations far before any other team does.
The lineup for GG consists of AlexIch at mid, Darien at toplane, Diamondprox in the jungle, Genja at AD, and Ed Ward (formerly known as Gosu Pepper) at support.
GG qualified for the LCS by winning the Season Two European Regionals as M5. However, after devastating losses at both the World Championships and IPL5, many began to question whether GG (still under the M5 name) still had the ability to win major tournaments or whether they were past their prime.
IEM Katowice proved to be the revival of the old spirit. After barely making it out of their groupstage, GG pulled off shocking 2-0 wins against the two Korean favorites Azubu Blaze and Azubu Frost to win the tournament and prove to the world they are still quite the force to be reckoned with.
Expect GG to be quite the powerhouse again this season, as they were in previous seasons.
Gambit Gaming preview by Ian Powers
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