If you haven't already read about the new scoring systems, be sure to check out our summary article. Here, we'll take a look at the roster changes and analyze each player's fantasy potential to help you identify the players to focus on, and avoid, in your Fantasy LCS draft.
What Happened in the Offseason?
Thankfully, this off-season wasn't as chaotic as the one heading into Spring. We've gotten to watch most of these players on the Rift for months and have some known quantities to rely on. But there are still plenty of big changes we can target for late-round upside picks.
No EU team made it through the off-season unscathed, but four teams in NA are returning with the exact same rosters. Counter Logic Gaming andImmortals took turns dominating the region last year, so it's no surprise that they've chosen to keep their studs. Expect them to do well again.
Once their roster finalized, Team Liquid also looked incredibly dominant... most of the time. They should enter the Split more cohesive and determined than ever to break the curse and finish on top.
The most surprising untouched roster is Echo Fox, who certainly looked dominant against weaker teams, but struggled against top talent in the region. Roster issues did hound this squad all Split, though, so they're likely hoping to improve their team cohesion with a stable off-season.
The bulk of teams in both regions made small, precision roster changes to fix specific weaknesses. TSM, Fnatic, and Splyce all swapped out their supports. TSM sent Yellowstar back to his home to the orange and black kings of Europe, while SPY picked up the unused sub from FNC to fill their support spot.
Roccat and Vitality both picked up a pair of Korean players to hopefully give their lineups a much-needed bump in consistency. VIT replaced their jungle and ADC spots, while ROC targeted top and support, and lured over UOL's Steelback.
We also had a fun three-way trade in EU. Origen's bot-lane buddies Zven and Mithy went over to G2 Esports, who sent back their support Hybrid in trade. And OG pulled in H2K Gaming's former ADC, Forg1ven, to fill their now-empty ADC spot. So H2K recalled Freeze from his NA stint to complete their new lineup. Got it?
FC Schalke 04 is the previous Elements squad, with UOL's mid laner Fox replacing Eika (a solid upgrade).
New Kids on the Block
Team Envy is a new squad taking over Renegades' spot in the NA LCS, and look likely to carry at least a few of the key pieces like Seraph and Hakuho over, who haven't been shipped to other teams yet.
Cloud9 is, once again, trying to launch a Hai-less roster -- and looks like they're doubling down on their fresh start. Meteos is returning to the jungle as Rush gets sent to Challenger or traded away, and NRG's stud Impact replaces Balls in the top lane. BunnyFufuu will get another shot teaming up with Sneaky in the bot lane.
NRG replaced a lot more players than Impact. Only GBM remains from last year's roster as Quas and Santorin return to the NA LCS for the first time in 2016 in their typical top and jungler spots. DIG's Kiwikid made the leap to NRG too, but it's unsure who his laning partner will be. NRG needs to find an explosive carry for their ADC pick to make this veteran-heavy squad threatening in an NA scene that's more competitive than ever. I love the mix of veteran and LCS rookies on Apex's team. After fighting up through the CS last Split, this squad has amassed a massive 10-man roster with veterans like Diamondprox, Shiphtur, and Xpecial to guide their talents like Keane, Ray, and Shrimp. Like TL last Split, it might take them awhile to find their roster -- so every player has extra risk in fantasy. Unicorns of Love has a less reassuring mix of players, in my books. Three mostly new players jumped into the jungler, ADC, and mid spots. Gravity's former jungler Move is the only player LCS fans will recognize, and their new ADC Veritas is a particular question mark, as his last attempt into the pro scene was a failed run through NA Challenger with Vortex (formerly Final Five) last summer with a 2-8 record.
Giants Gaming also did a full house cleaning, dropping even the face of their franchise, Pepiinero. Only their mid-season replacement top laner (Smittyj) and ADC (Sonstar) made the cut. The three replacements are all virtual unknowns, with only minor CS and semi-pro experience between them. Outside of a miracle, this will likely be a growing Split for Giants.
Which Scoring System Are You Using?
As we dive into specific picks below, it's important to keep in mind which of the two scoring systems your league will be using. Most of our advice applies to both scoring systems, but we'll make specific call-outs for players who we think will perform particularly well in one scoring system.
Who Should I Draft First?
This is my favorite water-cooler discussion to have around draft time: Which player are you going to pick in the first round? Last Split, we put a lot of value on ADCs in the first round due to the meta and their scoring trends.
This time around, I still believe ADCs are the most important position to draft early. They still have the quickest drop-off in points, as the top three or four ADCs scored higher than all the other ADCs by a bigger margin than any other position last Split.
Bjergsen (Spring 2016: #7 mid, #25 overall, 17.5 points/game)
With that said, though, it's still easy to recommend Bjergsen -- who I think is the safest draft pick you can make in a First-Two-Games scoring system. Bjergsen's superpower is consistency, scoring well in every single game, even losses. He was #25 overall last Split even as his team crumbled around him. He has nowhere to go but up.
Huni (Spring 2016: #1 top, #4 overall, 21.2 points/game)
On the flip side, Huni is the ideal type of player to aim for early in a Best-Game scoring system, which rewards big games without worrying about the bad ones. I think IMT will be less consistent this Split as the other NA teams catch up to their team cohesion level, but that won't matter a whole lot for Huni in this scoring system. IMT should win at least one game in most of their Bo3 matches, and when Huni goes big, he scores big.
Zven (Spring 2016: #10 AD carry, #32 overall, 16.6 points/game)
EU is a tricky region to predict this time. None of their top teams have been particularly reliable and the drama and roster swaps of the offseason put an extra layer of risk on most of them. But Zven is still arguably the best ADC in the region. He was the backbone of OG and should thrive in G2's new roster. G2 looks super scary on paper, and could easily dominate the region.
Piglet (Spring 2016: #2 AD carry, #3 overall, 21.2 points/game)
This poor guy. Piglet wants to win so badly and keeps getting tripped inches from the finish line. Piglet almost matched WildTurtle's high score, without ever going on the sort of win streak IMT had. Piglet's fantasy scores, frankly, have been absurd and TL has looked stronger every week. With no roster changes to distract them, this intense team is going to come out of the gates strong. If you get a chance to grab this guy, you have to take it -- especially in First-Two-Games scoring.
Jankos (Spring 2016: #3 jungler, #14 Overall, 18.85 points/game)
There was a very clear cool-kids-club of top junglers last Split: Reignover, Jankos, and Dardoch all scored similar points (mid-to-high 300s total) and everyone else was fighting for scraps (low-to-mid 200s total). Rush was the only other one that got close, but he may not even be playing in the LCS this time around. So grabbing one of these top 3 junglers in the first round isn't as crazy as it sounds. There's a lot of upside on each, but I like Jankos' chances best. H2K will run into plenty of weaker teams Jankos can abuse.
Stixxay (Spring 2016: #9 AD carry, #30 overall, 16.78 points/game)
Did you see MSI 2016? You need some faith to grab last Split's #30 overall player with your first pick, but Stixxay has never looked more confident and powerful. This is his time to shine, and you'll have to grab him early if you want him -- he's going to be a top-tier fantasy celebrity after that international performance.
Who Should I Avoid Early?
Earlier, I talked about the point difference for the very top players at each position. If we broaden out the scope of that data to include the top 10 players in every position, though, we see something different. ADC, jungler, and support all have a similar trend, with roughly an 8-points/game difference between that position's #1 and #10 players.
Mid and top have a smaller difference, though. The point gap for tops is only 7 points/game in that same range, and mid has the lowest, with only 6 points/game.
So that gives us a general rule of thumb: Mid and top are the least important spots to draft first, since you'll be able to score similar points with later draft picks in those positions.
Forg1vengre (Spring 2016: #6 AD carry, #15 overall, 18.8 points/game)
This is definitely personal preference, but I'm not ready to invest another early-round draft pick on the inconsistent OG squad, even with Greece's best player on the roster. Both OG and Forgiven have had drama around them for the last year, and it's easy to see this roster having a tough time gelling immediately. I'd love to have him as my backup ADC -- especially in Best-Game scoring, where I think OG will excel. But you're going to have to draft Forg1vengre as your main if you want to snatch him before someone else does. That's too much risk for me.
Meteos (Spring 2016: N/A)
Before Rush joined, C9 was known as the team that always won but never scored high fantasy points. They played safe, slow, and controlled -- right in line with Meteos' farm-heavy jungle style. I flew high on C9 players in Spring, but I'm not biting the bait this time. C9 may turn out to be decent above-average fantasy picks, but I want to see how this roster is going to work, and what their playstyle is before I invest an early pick into any of them -- least of all their out-of-practice jungler.
Froggen (Spring 2016: #16 mid, #71 overall, 16.7 points/game)
Froggen's position rankings are misleading, so don't get too psyched out by those. He only played 12 games last Split, and actually ranks as the #13 mid if we take that into account. When you see him in the draft queue you're going to think about those games where he crushed TIP and REN (8/0/15 combined record). But Froggen and friends couldn't beat the best teams in the region and still have a lot to prove. You might be able to scoop up Froggen late, when he's a good value, but I doubt it -- his celebrity status will draw in overeager buyers too early.
Hylissang (Spring 2016: #4 support, #37 overall, 15.7 points/game)
Hylissang was a beast last year. No matter who UOL plugged into their jungler spot, they managed to win and rack up a ton of fantasy points while doing it. Supports, more than any other position, rise and fall with the strength of their team. Last year, that worked in Hylissang's favor -- but this year looks much more uncertain. If I'm going to pay big for a top-tier support like this, I'd rather go with a safer option like Adrian or Vander.
Nukeduck (Spring 2016: #8 mid, #22 overall, 17.8 points/game)
I ended up with Nukeduck as my mid starter in a lot of leagues last Split, and it worked out decently well. But I'm not sold on this new Vitality squad. The jungler is an unknown and, from what we saw of Police on Apex in the NA Challenger scene, I doubt he'll be an instant upgrade to the former Kasing/Hjarnan combo. Nukeduck will definitely be able to beat up a few of the other EU mid laners, but I think Cabochard is the only player on the squad I'm 100% confident in drafting early.
Which Value Picks Should I Look For?
When it gets to the later rounds, start poking around the teams that have new rosters or new players, and try to grab rookies with upside as backups to the positions you have rock-solid starters in. Here are some of my favorites to aim for in the middle and end of the draft.
Odoamne (Spring 2016: #3 top, #19 overall, 17.9 points/game)
Top laners still get overlooked in fantasy. They're often skipped entirely in the first few rounds and sometimes even get picked up after supports. Don't sleep on studs with flexible champion pools like Odoamne.
Odoamne should dominate EU's top lane again in the Summer, and could easily take the #1 fantasy spot in his position if H2K's new roster works out. He's been rock-solid for years and doesn't have the same sort of draft hype that makes you overpay for Cabochard or Huni.
Ninja (Spring 2016: #22 mid, #100 overall, 24.8 points/game)
Ninja's position stats are pure lies. He only got to play four games in the Spring Split and managed to score the highest points-per-game average of any player in NA or EU -- even above WildTurtle, IMT's point king. When I'm writing this article, we don't yet know who else is going to end up on Envy, so it's tough to say how strong the team will be overall. So adjust accordingly once the full roster is announced, but Ninja has everything I want in my perfect backup mid laner: he's proven himself against the best talent in the region, has a history of scoring big points, and is extremely undervalued so you don't have to reach for him.
Rekkles (Spring 2016: #11 AD carry, #35 overall, 16.7 points/game)
NA has some titan teams returning completely intact, but EU is up for grabs -- all the top teams made big changes and it's unclear which one will take over this time around. I like Fnatic's chances to usurp the throne this Summer. Yellowstar is back to lead the squad and help Rekkles re-achieve his high potential. Febiven is another great pick on this squad and I'd be happy to grab either in the middle of the draft. Don't let these studs drop too low.
Keith (Spring 2016: #13 AD carry, #61 overall, 13.7 points/game)
This kid is so talented as an individual and FOX kept their roster together so they could grow as a team. If they finally got something working, Keith will be the main benefactor. He was the top scorer on their team and a key part of their big plays, when they made them. You should be able to grab Keith with one of your last draft picks, when his upside value is unmatched.
It's Almost Here!
Fantasy LCS launches the morning of the 26th of May and the LCS Summer Split starts next week, so be sure to draft your teams soon! Let us know how your drafts go and what your favorite picks are in the comments below, and don't forget to grab some tickets to see the teams play live in NA and EU!