With the announcement of franchising for the 2018 season, the North American Challenger Series as we have known it will cease to exist. In its place, Riot Games has announced they will be instituting an academy league, where each permanent partner in the North American League Championship Series will be able to field a team to continue to develop talent and foster growth.
Currently, Only two organization in the NA LCS field a team in the NACS, Echo Fox and Counter Logic Gaming. While there have been other teams who have fielded rosters such as these in the past (Team Liquid and Cloud9 most recently), many teams had instead chosen to only field a few substitutes and forego the cost and time required to run a challenger organization alongside their main squad.
Yet with the Academy League looming, teams must quickly begin to acquire talent to lead their squads or risk being left behind. Some teams have already signed players as “positional coaches” who will likely lead their future academy teams, an obvious example being Cloud9’s recent addition of jungler Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin.
Other teams are stockpiling multiple players on a “ten man roster” that will likely find their way to the Academy team in the future. With this in mind, CLICKON eSports explores a few players who will likely become faces of the Academy League next season:
Next Man Up; Future Faces Of The Academy League
With the announcement of a permanent Academy League, CLICKON takes a look at a few familiar faces that may be leading the way next year.
Echo Fox – Grig
Echo Fox have been so impressed with Grig's play, he has already made a couple starts for the main Echo Fox squad this Split. A veteran of the Challenger scene, Grig has also spent time as part of both the Team Liquid and Cloud9 organizations. Highly thought of within Echo Fox and possessing a wealth of experience, Grig is a likely bet to lead Echo Fox's academy squad in the future.
Phoenix1 – Shady
Phoenix1 made it clear they had faith in Shady's potential near the end of last split when they promoted him to a starting position in the middle of playoffs. While his poor play as a starter saw him recently demoted, Shady still has an opportunity to develop and regain his starting role.With the arrival of academy teams, Shady will have the opportunity to continue to hone his skills as a player and leader, and has an excellent opportunity to eventually regain his starting position.
Team Dignitas – Altec
As one of the most experienced ADCs in the NA LCS, Altec would be an ideal player to build an academy team around, utilizing his knowledge and experience as a base upon which to develop younger talent. Although he may have recently forced himself into a starting position with Team Dignitas, it is unlikely he will remain on the main squad at the end of the season.
Immortals – Stunt
It may be surprising to find that Stunt has still not found his way to a starting roster, considering his impressive run with Phoenix1 at the end of last split. A player who has also spent time with Team Liquid and Team Dignitas, Stunt will unfortunately be buried behind Olleh while he remains a member of Immortals. If he is not traded, expect Stunt to be a star on Immortals' academy team.
Counter Logic Gaming – OmarGod
Already a member of Counter Logic Gaming Academy, OmarGod was thrust into the spotlight after his performance at the inaugural Scouting Grounds, where he was the number one draft pick. One of NA's brightest jungle talents, OmarGod will likely have his opportunity in the NA LCS sooner rather than later.
Team Liquid – Inori
Once considered one of NA's most promising jungle talents, Inori was recently acquired by Team Liquid from Phoenix1 after being replaced by rookie jungler MikeYeung. An aggressive jungler, Inori wants to, and is very capable of being, the carry on his team. Look for Inori to be the face of Team Liquid's Academy squad, and possibly challenge Reignover for time on the starting roster.
Cloud9 – Loulex
There are few signings for future academy teams that appear as clear as Loulex's arrival to Cloud9. With the strong recent play of Contractz, and two imports already entrenched in the starting line-up, it would be shocking if Loulex is given any time as a starter in the near future. An experienced pro who has played for G2 eSports, H2K Gaming, and Unicorns of Love, Loulex is an ideal fit for building an academy team around.