We are just a few days away from the kick off of the LCS Summer Split! June 12th’s edition of Friday Night League will be the starting gun as 10 North American teams race for a slot at worlds. I had the distinct pleasure of talking to some of the biggest names in League of Legends to get their thoughts on the summer split. Let’s break down 5 of the biggest questions facing the LCS as we move into the summer.
Joining me for the Summer Split preview
Gabriella ‘LeTigress’ Devia-Allen
Broadcast Talent for Riot Games/Hostess of Friday Night League
Esports Writer for ESPN
Anand ‘Curry’ Agarwal
Head Coach of FlyQuest
Image courtesy of Riot Games
Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme
Starting Support for Cloud9
Image courtesy of Cloud9
How do you feel about the move from Monday Night to Friday Night?
LeTigress: I’m very excited by the shift over from Monday Night to Friday Night League. I feel the show will still be very reminiscent of Monday Night League in the sense of bringing in new programming, bringing different types of content and experimentation in that way… It seems like a lot of people are excited for the shift over to Friday Night, and it should provide some more weekend entertainment.
Jacob: Yea, I think Friday night is a better time-slot. Especially once everyone is back going to work, it’s harder to stay up on a Monday night. In terms of Monday Night League, I think it was a good idea. I think having League 3 days a week is a good idea for spreading it out and making a weeknight feel special. I enjoyed that part of Monday Night League. So, I think with Friday, I would really like to see them do a sort of “Friday Night Lights” football inspired branding.
Curry: From a competitor’s perspective, I’m not sure honestly if there’s that much of a difference, at least for me. Everything just kind of blends together (on competition weekends). Fridays and Mondays just honestly feel kinda the same at this point. Under more normal circumstances, I like the Friday games better. It’s more natural in esports to have the Monday off day, it’s more comfortable.
Kali: I feel like it’s the right move. And it sucks for me to say that because I was a huge cheerleader for Monday Night League. The truth of the matter though is esports fans are used to the tournament weekend beginning on Fridays. As long as they keep the energy up, Friday Night League has a high ceiling and a high floor, which is a good place to be if you’re Riot.
What teams are you keeping an eye on this split?
LeTigress: Starting with FlyQuest, they made it all the way to the finals in the Spring and that was with a very limited amount of time that Solo was part of the team. So they still have some growth they can experience with that roster. Evil Geniuses made a big shift towards the end of the split, so them understanding a style that worked better for them in the second half than the first half means we could see more out of them in the Summer. And of course any team that has roster changes coming through, Team Liquid with the new bottom lane and the addition of Jatt as their new head coach should give them an entirely different dynamic.
Jacob: I think FlyQuest will continue to be good. I’m excited to see more of them as well as Evil Geniuses. I think they’ll both be pretty solid. I think Team Solomid is the one that everyone is going to talk about. Obviously, they made big changes promoting Spica to jungle, also trading for Doublelift. So they made two major roster adjustments, and they placed fourth in spring! You would look at the moves and think they did really poorly in Spring, but they didn’t.
Vulcan: Uhm… TSM. I think a lot of fans think that’ll be really good. I think they had other issues than Kobbe, who they replaced with Doublelift. Obviously, it’s exciting to see Bjergsen and Doublelift reuniting on TSM, they won a lot in their time together. But I feel like that team has a lot more issues than what they changed. I’m looking forward to beating TSM.
Kali: It’s hard not to say Team Solomid. They made the big splash in free agency, and should be better than their fourth place finish in the Spring. I’m also interested to see if FlyQuest can take another step forward from where they were in the spring, because that would have them competing with Cloud9. Obviously, C9 remains the favorite.
What’s it going to take for Cloud9 to make some noise at Worlds?
Jacob: I think in the Spring, North America was fairly top heavy. I think FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses, and C9 were a tier above everybody else. What’s most important here for Cloud9, and we’ve seen this with teams in the past, is Cloud9 needs a team to give them a run for their money and make them better. Like, they need to lose some games this summer because they need to be able to go back, watch footage, and identify their weaknesses. If they steamroll again and go into Worlds without that, they’ll start facing off with the Korean and Chinese teams that are way better at exploiting team’s weaknesses. I’m not saying they should lose games on purpose, but they need some of these other teams to be able to compete with them.
Vulcan: I think if one team could become better and actually challenge us, both in scrims and on stage, that would be helpful. We’re not getting pushed too much. In both last split and scrims currently, so i think just being challenged more and having more losses would be helpful. It would help us see our weaknesses and improve on them.
Kali: No need for me to say much more than they did. The Mid-Season Invitational would have been Cloud9’s chance to learn what their weaknesses are, but COVID-19 said no to that. Now they need someone in the LCS to step up and challenge them.
How do you feel about remote play during COVID-19? Are you looking forward to getting back into the arena?
Curry: I think most of the guys miss playing on the stage. There’s just a lot of excitement and fun that goes with it. There are definitely benefits to playing at home, mostly just with the comfort of being in your own room with your home set-up. When you go on stage, you’ve got a new set-up every time and you’re on different parts of the stage. Sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s warm, it’s a much more controlled environment at home. You just miss a lot of the excitement and energy.
Vulcan: Competing remotely is kinda sad. You used to win a game and you’re cheering and celebrating with your team, high five the fans, on stage interview… and now it’s just you win, take your headset off, go to your manager and ask what’s for dinner? It’s just over and not as exciting. I hope we go back to on-stage, even if there can’t be fans in the arena yet.
Kali: As a viewer, I definitely miss the live arena. The casting team does a spectacular job, but there’s no substitute for everyone being around the same table. LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley said in his state of the league address that he hopes to be back in the studio by the time playoffs roll around. Fingers crossed.
Will Doublelift return to form this split?
LeTigress: I think Doublelift as a player, when you’re looking at his ability to perform within a specific game, split, or season is often influenced by his motivation and whatever is going on in his life, by his own admission. He likes being in that underdog mentality, not so much in the number 1 spot. So if you combine that with maybe an environment change and other things, I think we can expect him to be performing in a top position.
Jacob: I think that he’ll be a lot better around Bjergsen. I think there’s a lot of respect and Bjergsen is one of those players who generally makes his teammates better. We’ve seen in Doublelift’s past, he’s been criticized for having issues with teammates from a synergy perspective. I don’t think that’s the case here, and I don’t think it was on Team Liquid to be honest. I just think he was generally demotivated with Liquid, and that’s not just in the Spring Split. That was reflected in how poorly they played at Worlds, relative to their expectations. I think with Biofrost and Bjergsen, who are two of his friends, he’ll be a lot more comfortable.
Kali: It’s no secret that I’m a Doublelift fan. I would certainly like to see him, Bjergsen, and Biofrost reunite and perform admirably. I know motivation has been a problem for him in the past, and I hope that’s the case now. That said, I worry because we’ve seen other players hit the end of the career and the drop-off comes quick. The summer will tell us all we need to know.
Check out the full interviews!
The responses above are the abridged answers to our questions. If you want to hear the full answers and more questions that weren’t asked above, check out the full interviews here.
Our full interview with LeTigress
Our full interview with Jacob Wolf
Our full interview with Curry
Our full interview with Vulcan
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games