China has always been the most distant and mysterious region within the League scene. If you’re a western fan, then chances are you don’t get too hyped for the LPL. But that’s what makes it an exciting league as long as you are willing to give it a chance. And looking at 2017, the LPL has some really interesting stories to offer.
Duke’s move to Invictus Gaming
After winning the 2016 World Championship with SK Telecom T1, Duke did not re-sign with the team and moved to Invictus Gaming instead. On paper it seems like a good signing for IG, but when you think about it in-depth, it’s a questionable decision. Invictus Gaming’s main problem for a while has been their bottom lanes. The team is making the necessary steps towards fixing that, bringing in JackeyLove as their new AD Carry and winning 2016 NEST with him. They have also moved their former substitute support Baolan to a starting position which is fair considering how he’s been putting out some impressive performances. Both of them are still fairly inexperienced though so they will probably need more time to develop and synergize.
Another issue for IG will be Kid in the jungle. The former AD Carry has been a decent jungler throughout 2016 but not a premier jungler like ClearLove or mlxg. If IG wants to be a top contender, Kid improving his play is an important step towards that. Duke joining the team may not have much of an effect. He is a player that mostly splitpushes and does not teleport or communicate too well. That’s the opposite of what Invictus Gaming needs. What they need is more reliable playmakers. RooKie is a fantastic player but he can’t make things happen by himself. Invictus Gaming has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to win an LPL title.
Fireloli’s return to Edward Gaming
After spending some time with IMay, Fireloli (former Mitty) did not get a lot of play time. He has returned to EDG in the off-season and is supposedly going to start over ClearLove in the jungle when the Spring Split begins. With that in mind it’s safe to assume EDG will start off the season slow. The problem with Fireloli being a starter is if EDG is serious about him or not. If they don’t see him as a reliable player and will easily replace him with ClearLove after a few bad performances, starting him will be pointless and will only slow down the team. While Fireloli never had any impressive performances on EDG, he still deserves a fair chance to showcase himself. And if the team isn’t willing to give it to him then it’s pointless to use him over ClearLove.
OMG’s decision to keep their roster the same
After a weak 2016 season, OMG has decided to keep most of their roster and the only move so far has been Cool’s departure to Newbee. While this may be a questionable decision for some, it’s great to see them trust their players. Not replacing any of them apart from Cool shows us that they believe in them and expect them to improve and have a better Spring Split this time around. OMG does not have any star players at the moment but all of them have shown good potential. Their main strength will be the synergy they have built up this year. If they can utilize that strength then they have the potential to return to their former glory.
NoFe and Zet’s move to Edward Gaming
Yet another headline involving EDG will be NoFe and Zet (formerly Cry) moving over to the team after leaving the ROX Tigers. RapidStar was a good coach for the team domestically but it’s fair to say he failed to guide them properly at Worlds. That’s to be expected though because it was RapidStar’s first season as a coach. Replacing him with NoFe is a very promising move. The addition of Zet as their new AD Carry is the questionable decision. Deft was so amazing for EDG to the point where it’s so hard for anyone to fill in the hole that was made after his departure. Meiko’s guidance will be detrimental to Zet’s performance.
Apart from those two EDG’s roster remains mostly the same so it’s interesting to see if they will be able to defend their LPL title. However with the team wanting to start Fireloli over ClearLove in the Spring Split, EDG is by no means a clear favorite to win the split.
Royal Never Give Up’s all Chinese roster
After losing their star Korean players, RNG has re-built as an all chinese roster. LetMe and Ming are downgrades from Looper and Mata in terms of skill. However, the removal of the language barriers within the team will be massive for them and it’s very likely that they will be a strong contender for the LPL title. A problem that needs to be solved though is Xiaohu’s decline. After an amazing Spring Split, he has played worse and worse. He will have to fix his play because RNG will need it more than ever. With the Koreans gone they will be lacking in star power and Xiaohu being able to crush his opponents will be very important to RNG.
The lack of hype, loss of Korean players, and the lateness of roster moves has made China a less exciting region, but there’s still a lot of things to look forwards to and there’s still lot of reasons to watch the LPL.