Right now, we fans and followers of the North American LCS are an unhappy lot. Not one of our three World Championships representatives made it out of the group stage, we clearly lost the “NA vs. EU” debate this year, and Dyrus retired quietly, without even dropping a giant juicy drama bomb (yet!). Is anything ever going to go our way?!
These seem like dark times, but as the all-Korea World Finals loom, let’s take a step back and remind ourselves that 2015 was actually a pretty entertaining year for North American League of Legends. It may not have been exactly the year we wanted, but there were plenty of special moments and great storylines that are worth celebrating.
Here are five things we can look back on and remember fondly about the 2015 season for the NA LCS and its teams.
1. TSM on Top of the World: Team SoloMid wins IEM Katowice
Say what you want about the route Team SoloMid took to capturing the 2015 IEM World Championship in Katowice, but a title is a title. By defeating World Elite in a best-of-five series, just one day after WE had knocked out the KOO Tigers (then known as the GE Tigers) in a best-of-three, TSM earned themselves one of the most significant trophies in the history of their franchise. For a short time, putting all caveats and aside, TSM was on top of the world, and it was a moment worth remembering.
2. The Faithful are Rewarded: CLG captures the North American title at Madison Square Garden
After years of failure in the important moments, Counter Logic Gaming finally came through when it counted, destroying Team Impulse and Team SoloMid in the NA LCS Summer playoffs and taking home the title in front of thousands of fans at historic Madison Square Garden. It was a grand spectacle, a convincing victory, and a truly cathartic moment for CLG’s ownership and long-suffering fanbase, not to mention Doublelift, who at long last saw the first thread posted to reddit.com/r/doubleliftstrophycase, and truly earned it with a dramatic pentakill in Game 2.
3. The Hai Rise: Cloud9’s Captain returns from retirement and leads his team on a miraculous run through the North American Regionals
When Hai retired at the end of the 2015 Spring Split, it marked the beginning of a new era for Cloud9. His replacement, Incarnati0n, was heralded as the next great star of the NA LCS, and C9 fans were filled with cautious optimism. Then it all fell apart. Not quite halfway through the Summer Split, the team announced Hai’s return, not as the Mid laner, but as the Jungler, instead, with Meteos stepping away. The wins didn’t come right away, but it was clear the team was playing better, and improving rapidly, and they did just enough to avoid the Promotion Tournament and secure the bottom seed in the gauntlet-style Regionals tournament. What happened next was perhaps the most dramatic three days of action the NA LCS has ever seen, as Cloud9 pulled off back-to-back reverse sweeps of Gravity and Team Impulse, in consecutive days no less, before overcoming Team Liquid one day later and punching their ticket to Worlds.
4. The End of Forever Fourth? Team Liquid places third in the Spring Split
Coming into the 2015 Spring Split, the newly rebranded Team Liquid (formerly Team Curse) was toiling under a dark spell, forever doomed to finish fourth in every meaningful domestic competition. In the Spring playoffs, Liquid fell to a heartbreaking reverse sweep in the Semifinals, but managed to come back with a victory over Team Impulse to secure third place. It was a significant enough accomplishment to earn them a trip to Hawaii in the mid-season break. Unfortunately, the curse returned in the Summer Split, and Team Liquid narrowly missed a Worlds appearance yet again. But for a while, even just a little while, Team Liquid fans could rest happy that their team had broken free.
5. The Sophomore Movement: North America proves that it can develop quality homegrown talent
Through players like Adrian, Hauntzer, Altec, Bunny FuFuu, and Porpoise, North America showed this year that it has a growing talent pool, provided that teams give those players time and support so they can keep growing. In the midst of the ravenous import movement, where big franchises seem to always be chasing the next big Korean solo queue star, or trying to coax some fresh superstardom out of big-name Korean veterans, it was refreshing to watch North America’s sophomores go toe to toe with their foreign counterparts and hold their own. With more domestic amateur talent waiting to be discovered, we can only hope that teams recognize and develop those players into next year’s sophomores, while this year’s sophomores work to become next year’s stars.
What will 2016 hold? Will we see another Cinderella run like Cloud9’s? Can TSM’s big roster revamp help them recapture their place atop the NA LCS food chain? Who will be the next breakout North American stars? Is this the year North America steps up on the international stage?
Let’s remember 2015 fondly for the entertainment it gave us, and let’s look forward to 2016 with anticipation.
What were your favourite moments from the 2015 NA LCS?