Just as in grade school, the new kids in League of Legends Championship Series will change the status quo. Organizations like the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers may well come in like the kid who moved from the big city whose parents had a pool in the back yard. They'll take the friends you thought you had; established "franchise players" will more easily jump ship.
Or nothing may change at all. The new kids might be ostracized as outlandish and weird, hardly capable of signing players from organizations ousted from LCS before the new year.
Either way, things will change in both the North American and European LCS ecosystems. A lot of these changes will definitely be bad, but a few will be new and exciting. The changes will provide hope that some of the old favorites will become heroes again, that Team SoloMid and G2 Esports may finally get some domestic competition. Here are just four that I'd like to see.
Take the reigns from Henrik "Froggen" Hansen
Froggen's reputation as one of the greatest mid laners in League of Legends history has also given him credit for things he certainly shouldn't have: control and leadership. With the dissolution of the classic CLG EU roster in 2014, Froggen had the opportunity to build a team around him, and since then, we haven't seen Froggen part of a team where he wasn't made captain.
Experience doesn't always create the best decision-making, and hallmarks of Froggen's teams include indecisive mid-to-late games, fear of Ashe arrows even with massive leads, and a lot of mid-centric team fighting. On Echo Fox, more emphasis has been put on joining lanes in early plays with the likes of Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham, but meandering mid games remain.
While I applaud Echo Fox in 2017 for bringing in rookie North American talents (something the scene sorely needs), this is almost the opposite direction for a team that boasts Froggen. Placing Froggen with at least one well known in-game leader that has the resources and confidence to challenge him could turn NA into a region with three star Danish mids instead of two. Fox are welcome to keep the likes of Brandon "Brandini" Chen and Wang "Feng" Xiaofeng as long as it also adds an established shotcaller.
Rumor has it Hai "Hai" Lam still hasn't played AD carry. Jake "Xmithie Puchero worked wonders on Immortals, a team now reportedly ousted, and even Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett could redeem himself after a season of musical chairs. Someone willing to make plans and do the talking would remove one of the last things holding Froggen back from returning to international legitimacy: himself.
The redemption of Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir and Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm
Like Soft Cell after the release on Tainted Love in 1982, Xerxe went from the highly praised rookie of the split in 2017 Spring to a criticized nobody. Two years in a row, fans looked to the Unicorns of Love jungler as a scapegoat when both tried to compensate for a poor mid lane performance in different ways.
Meanwhile, on Team Vitality, 2017 Summer was a year of wasted promise for Nukeduck. Young mid laners openly praised him for his laning and willingness to impact the map, but Vitality had an almost entirely top side bend with an often too-predictable and inefficient jungler.
Both Xerxe and Nukeduck found ways around their problems, Xerxe by heavy farming on scaling picks until he could force a fight on a level advantage -- a style that fell out of favor with catchup experience. Even so, his ability to move around and avoid the enemy jungler with a losing mid lane demonstrated an intuitiveness for the jungle. Nukeduck chose high map impacting picks like Corki that could affect his side lanes and perform well in later team fights.
Nukeduck's laning strengths would give Xerxe freedom to make his creative pathing shine. His willingness to roam when he has an advantage would also make him a good partner for Xerxe in dragon fights, and both could experiment more with champion pools.
Of course, Nukeduck could team up with other smart pathing junglers like Jonas "Trashy" Andersen or Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian, and other strong laning mids exist to help Xerxe shine, but there's something poetic about the two of them finding redemption and complementing each others' strengths on the same team.
Cloud9 and Team SoloMid trade supports
Andy "Smoothie" Ta is the best support in North America. But attempts to leave lane for a jungle invade often start and stop awkwardly. He goes into the river to meet up with Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia or Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen only to return to lane if Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi loses priority or if Jensen decides he'll miss a wave.
On Team SoloMid, Vincent "Biofrost" Wang has made strides to improve his lane trades, but he and Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng seemed sometimes out of synch on the international stage, and Biofrost has looked more comfortable in team fights settings playing for peel or group engages. Historically, Doublelift has focused much more on laning than Sneaky, and even after about a year playing together, Doublelift and Biofrost don't completely synergize.
A support swap between Cloud9 and Team SoloMid, unlike the trade of junglers between Immortals and Counter Logic Gaming this year, could actually work out positively for both. Cloud9 demand a lot from its support in team fights, and Smoothie fills that role. Biofrost could focus more on team fight setups and work with Sneaky's more conservative laning phase to ward diligently.
A support like Smoothie could also open up roaming paths with Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg so he isn't retreading the same move to enemy red buff with his jungler every game. Cloud9, as it is, gets a lot more from its top side, and TSM focuses on bottom priority. Both supports might look more outstanding on the opposing team.
Retool G2 Esports to focus on solo lane dominance
The speculated departure of Jesper "Zven" Senningsen and Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez could mean G2 is left without the strong bottom lane it has worked with since its second LCS split. It will be hard to replace one of the best duo lanes in LoL - so perhaps it shouldn't try.
More than likely, with the rise of promising rookies like Patrik "Sheriff" Jírů who held first on the EUW ladder for a large portion of Summer, the team that brought up Luka "PerkZ" Perković might simply look to invest in new talents. That means that, in the mean time, it should look to beef up top side and work from the "lane kingdom" identity it attempted to build at the Mid Season Invitational.
That means strong top laners. Martin "Wunder" Hansen announced, along with the rest of Splyce, that he is open to opportunities. It's time for the Danish wonder squad to rebuild, and the union of the two star players from G2 and Splyce's debut in 2016 Spring could create a smart opportunity for storytelling as well as synergy. Add a snowball-happy jungler like Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema or more rising talent like Milo "Pridestalker" Wehnes or Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek that can build a strong foundation in communication, and G2 have a top side that can keep up on top of the EU LCS.
But that creates the most fundamental point that both LCS leagues should consider: mix rookies with veterans, but don't forget new players. Especially with franchising in play, a roster that looks like a loser now can have a high ceiling. The fresher you get them, the more likely they are to develop to complement each other and build a team instead of a few star players.
So new kids -- look into the new kids.