Team SoloMid hire Weldon Green as coach and psychology trainer

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports / NA LCS Spring 2016 / Riot Games

Esports psychologist Weldon Green is joining Team SoloMid's support staff for the remainder of the 2016 season to assist with coaching and helping the players deal with things like "personal issues and burnout," according to a statement from the organization.

Green worked with TSM for a few weeks during the Spring Split, but was not brought on staff at the time. However, the organization says in its statement that "the players have been very receptive to his feedback and criticism, and Weldon has proven himself capable." Green also worked with Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid earlier in 2016.

TSM are moving Green and his family to a house near the team house in Los Angeles. "He will be a coach and sports psychology trainer at TSM, and will be working with Parth Naidu who is remaining as our main gameplay coach," the team said.

His job could expand beyond League of Legends to TSM's teams in other games. According to TSM owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh, "If this split is successful, we will integrate him more into our other game titles to develop talent."

Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.

Former INTZ coach Abaxial joins TSM as assistant coach

by 5d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of TSM

With the NA LCS set to begin this week, former INTZ coach Alexander "Abaxial" Haibel has joined Team SoloMid as an assistant coach to bolster their coaching staff.

Abaxial left INTZ in October, following the Brazilian team's elimination from the 2016 World Championship. Abaxial originally joined INTZ in March 2015, subsequently guiding them to victory in four CBLoL championships and qualifying for Worlds 2016. At the time, Abaxial said that he was looking to work in the NA LCS in 2017.

"I have particular interest in working in the NA LCS next year, but will consider offers from Brazil, EU, Asia and other regions," Abaxial said. "I want to be the best coach, the best leader, the best person that I can possibly be. To follow that ambition I need to consider all options available now that my contract with INTZ has reached its conclusion."

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

2017 NA LCS Spring Finals to be held in Vancouver

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Jose Silva / theScore esports

Get your raincoats, the 2017 NA LCS spring finals will be taking place at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC from April 22-23, according to an announcement on lolesports.com.

The third place match will take place on Apr. 22, followed by the Grand Final on Apr. 23. Both matches will be best-of-five. All four teams will receive a hefty share of championship points with the first place team automatically qualifying for the Mid-Season Invitational.

The Vancouver event will be the second consecutive NA LCS finals held in Canada, following the summer finals in Toronto in August. The event was a roaring success, with a sold-out crowd filling 15,000 seats in the Air Canada Center.

Team SoloMid defeated Cloud9 3-1 in the August finals to claim a spot at the 2016 World Championship. Meanwhile, Immortals edged out Counter Logic Gaming 3-2 to take third place.

According to the announcement, tickets will go on sale in mid-February but an exact date wasn’t specified.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter.

Fantasy LCS: The best players to draft for each position

by 5d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot esports Flickr

Earlier this week, Riot announced the return of Fantasy LCS, leaving fantasy league organizers scrambling to set things up. Drafts have to happen in the coming week as people set up their leagues ahead of the LCS' return. Not much has changed in the scoring perspective, but there are some differences when it comes to format and rosters for teams. As such, the Fantasy LCS landscape has changed considerably, allowing for a difference in what to pick, when, and why.

When looking at best performers for Fantasy LCS, you want to primarily look at Kills/Deaths/Assists average (KDA) and Creep Score (CS) numbers because that’s what you get points based on. Numbers related to vision or kill participation are extraneous factors to the contribution of the aforementioned statistics.

For the EU players, keep in mind that their value is significantly reduced in situations where you use the “First Two Games” system, to the point that I would never recommend EU players beyond a substitute position. For example, G2 players only have weeks with two games in two out of the nine weeks in which Fantasy LCS is active. Those two weeks are times in which I would consider those players as substitutes, but beyond that they seem like wasted slots for your team.

Best performers

Top Lane: Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell, Team SoloMid

With the advent of an NA LCS that has an abundance of top lane talent, It’s interesting but shouldn’t be at all surprising that Hauntzer tops our fantasy rankings. When it comes to fantasy scoring, the main thing that you want from your lineups is consistency as one bad week from a player can be the difference between a win and a loss. Despite the talent coming from impending imports like Echo Fox's Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok and Team Dignitas' Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho, consistency is exactly what you get with Hauntzer.

A stalwart laner with the ability to improve, Hauntzer sits on a team that has seen minimal changes and has retained the synergy of his accompanying solo lane and jungle for early game stability. Furthermore, his champion pool has shown to include a diversity of playstyles, allowing him to rack up assists as the team's tank or get kills as a dependable top lane carry. He has high KDA numbers and comparably good CSD@10, leading the NA LCS in the former last year. We’ve also seen him perform in the international spotlight, meaning we shouldn’t expect the region's new imports to stomp all over him.

Honorable Mentions: Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong, Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu (in Best Game formats), Tamás "Vizicsacsi" Kiss (in Best Game formats)

Jungle: Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, Team Liquid

Only one player supplanted a TSM member from the NA LCS 1st-team last summer, as Reignover's impeccable summer split play earned him high praise. Far and away the region's best jungler, Reignover should continue to dominate his competition from a fantasy perspective. One thing to note is that the jungle pool is especially deep this year, so while Reignover should be expected to continue his monstrous form, it is not imperative that he be drafted with your first-round pick in smaller league formats, as you might be able to secure him with the snake wrap-around.

Honorable Mention: Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen, Kim "Trick" Gang-yun (In Best Game formats), Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett

Mid Lane: Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, Team SoloMid

The best player in the west is the obvious top choice for the mid lane and probably the most obvious choice for your draft's first pick. Bjergsen had a sort of renaissance last summer, with a team behind him that supported his aggressive playstyle. He and Svenskeren carved out an efficient Mid/Jungle 2v2 that netted Bjergsen high first blood rates, high CSD@10 numbers, and an insane KDA that actually seems repeatable in comparison to those above him.

Honorable Mention: Eugene "Pobelter" Park, Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, Chres "Sencux" Laursen (in Best Game formats)

AD carry: Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin, Team Liquid

Even through Piglet’s most volatile times, he was still a steady force in keeping Team Liquid competitive, as his remarkable laning and teamfight positioning proved fruitful despite the fact that his team was falling apart around him. Now, in a stable environment with the region's best jungler, a resurgence for Piglet is not only possible, but highly likely. Beyond that, Piglet is the most capable carry player amongst his team and you can be sure that he'll produce regardless with how his team performs.

Honorable Mention: Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen (in Best Game formats), Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup (in Best Game formats)

Support: Andy "Smoothie" Ta, Cloud9

Smoothie spent part of the summer season splitting time with Michael "Bunny FuFuu" Kurylo, a move that even Doublelift found perplexing. An interesting thing to note is that the extrapolation of Smoothie’s stats (if he were a full season starter) would have him with a stats projection similar to Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black with way less deaths. Given the fact that he now has full control of the starting spot, he is able to gel more with his teammates and has a fairly safe and punishing laning phase. The latter is especially true now that bot lanes in the NA LCS will not be able to go toe to toe with this experienced one as readily as they could last year, as most bot lanes including TSM are considered weaker than they were last year.

Honorable Mention: Alfonso "Mithy" Rodríguez (in Best Game formats), Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black, Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle (in Best Game formats)

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

How will the new Korean imports affect the NA LCS in 2017?

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The NA LCS is not unfamiliar with import players, and this upcoming split is proving to be an exciting one with some big names entering the region, like AD carry Noh "Arrow" Dong-hyeon and top laner Lee "Flame" Ho-jong.

We asked Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng and Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black how they think the NA LCS will be affected by these newest players.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.

NA LCS Week 1 Staff Picks: Where the WildTurtles are

by 11h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dennis Gonzales / theScore eSports

theScore esports' League of Legends experts have tapped into their inner oracle for the first week of the 2017 North American LCS Spring Split and offered up predictions for each of the games. We'll be keeping track of how many results the predict correctly as the season goes on, but for now, we'll be heading into the season with a clean slate for our analysts.

Predictions

Friday Rand Zoltan-Johan
TSM vs. C9 TSM TSM
FOX vs. P1 P1 FOX
Saturday Rand Zoltan-Johan
CLG vs. TL CLG CLG
nV vs. FLY FLY nV
FOX vs. IMT IMT IMT
DIG vs. P1 DIG DIG
Sunday Rand Zoltan-Johan
TSM vs. IMT TSM TSM
nV vs. CLG CLG CLG
DIG vs. C9 C9 C9
TL vs. FLY TL TL

Spotlight Matches

TSM vs. C9:

Rand: Headlining NA LCS opening weekend is the clash between perennial NA powerhouses TSM and C9. Both organizations only made one roster move — Jason “WildTurtle” Tran replaces Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng in the TSM bot lane while the latter takes a split off and Juan "Contractz" Garcia is now the C9 jungler instead of signature C9 jungler William "Meteos" Hartman. Both teams are expected to be at the top of the region this split.

So why am I picking TSM? TSM knows what they're getting with WildTurtle and are already aware of his strengths and weaknesses. AD carry is somewhat of a nebulous position in the current meta as it is, and WildTurtle should be perfectly serviceable. Issues could arise due to the loss of pressure in the bottom lane and another veteran shot calling presence on the team; however, for Week 1, Bjergsen and company should be fine. C9 on the other hand, have to develop a communication system with their rookie jungler Contractz, which is a more difficult adjustment than the WildTurtle for Doublelift swap.

Zoltan-Johan: This one’s a doozy, I’ll say it. It’ll come down to whether you believe WildTurtle fits TSM’s style more than Contractz fits C9’s. In a world currently filled with ADC in 2017 memes, perhaps the negative impact of WildTurtle may be more muted than the exploitation of Contractz by a more veteran jungler such as Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. I expect this to be close, and coaches' drafts in the new 10 ban system may play a big part in where this series goes. But I think TSM will edge it out 2-1.

CLG vs. TL:

Rand: In the battle of established synergy and a new hybrid roster, who wins? Although I think TL's roster shows thought behind its construction, it's unlikely that they'll have the same amount of coordination as CLG, a team that made their name last year on playing together as a cohesive unit. Again, things could change as the season wears on, but in Week 1, I'm betting on synergy.

Zoltan-Johan: The return of Austin "Link" Shin makes this quite the spotlight match, but unfortunately for TL, I just don’t think they have enough co-ordination to displace CLG just yet. Some bright spots were evident in TL’s IEM play, but I think a big hole in TL will be their inability to exploit Huhi outside of the draft phase. If he brushes up his often-criticized champion pool and Jake "Xmithie" Puchero continues matching Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin’s pressure as he historically did, the bottom lane win-condition for the early iteration of Liquid may be hard to accomplish. CLG takes this.

TSM vs. IMT:

Rand: TSM have two important matches this week against likely contenders for the top spot — first C9 and then IMT. Again, IMT have made more significant changes to their roster, with a hybrid lineup that focuses on Flame in the top lane and Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett in the jungle. Short of one, or both, of these two players going off and having a monstrous carry performance, I don't see IMT beating TSM in the first week of competitive play.

Zoltan-Johan: A veritable trial by fire for Immortals’ rookie bottom lane, they run into one of the more experienced bottom lanes of the LCS very early. One of the key weaknesses of a rookie such as Cody Sun is their champion pool, something that I expect to be exploited as TSM gets frequently better matchups for WildTurtle and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang through the draft. As a result, they will need to rely on the stability of Eugene “Pobelter” Park and the potential to take over a game imbued within Lee "Flame" Ho-jong and Dardoch. To have that happen so early, when coordination can be amiss, is incredibly unlikely, so I see TSM taking this overall.

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