Looking back at the 2017 League of Legends Spring Split Finals

It has been three years since the spring split finals of the North American League of Legends Championship Series took place in Vancouver at the Pacific Coliseum. Since then a lot has changed in both the North American League of Legends landscape but also the esports landscape as a whole. So let’s take a look back at that fateful weekend and the four teams that competed in front of the Vancouver crowd. Where did these teams go from there and what was ultimately the legacy left behind by those spring split finals?

The Teams

First, let’s a look at the teams that made it to Vancouver and where these teams and the players are now. At Vancouver the following teams faced off:

3rd place match: Phoenix1 versus Flyquest

Finals: Team SoloMid versus Cloud9

While all four teams looked great by the time they arrived to Vancouver, their journeys to that point were all fairly different.

Phoenix1

First, there’s Phoenix1, a team that consisted of Canadian top laner Derek “zig” Shao; junglers William “Meteos” Hartman and Rami “Inori” Charagh, who is a Vancouver resident; mid laner Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook; ADC Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, the MVP of that spring split; and supports William “Stunt” Chen and Jordan “Shady” Robison.

The team came into the playoffs as the third seed after holding onto the spot by winning five of their last seven games. While the team had some issues with how their junglers were used, the team looked like the stronger team going into their matchup against Flyquest which they ultimately won in a nailbiter series 3-2.

Unfortunately for Phoenix1 that would be the peak of their time in the LCS as the team would end up dropping into relegations the next split thus bringing an end to their LCS tenure as they would miss out on franchising. Currently, Phoenix1 is better known as Sentinels which includes well-known names like the 2019 Fortnite World Cup champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf and 2019 Overwatch League MVP turned Valorant pro Jay “sinatraa” Won.

Flyquest

On the losing side of the 3rd place match is Flyquest, a team that consisted of the Cloud9 Challenger roster that was originally acquired with the LCS spot at the time. The roster at the time was top laner An “Balls” Van Le; jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate; mid laner Hai “Hai” Du Lam; Vancouver-born ADC Johnny “Altec” Ru; and lastly support Daerek “LemonNation” Hart. 

After an amazing start to the spring split, Flyquest slowly faltered heading into the playoffs as the team would ultimately take the fifth seed. Despite this Flyquest would have a solid performance through the playoffs making to the 3rd place match where they would end up losing to Phoenix1.

While the Flyquest as an organization would find further success in as a franchised org, the players on the 2017 split team would only struggle. For the original Cloud9 members in Balls, Hai, and LemonNation, they would all begin declining in play until their eventual retirements. Out of the five players, Altec is the only one that is still active as a player on a LCS roster as a part of the Immortals organization. The only other notable update from this roster comes from Hai who has since started his own organization, Radiance, which competes in the League of Legends amateur scene, where LemonNation is also a manager.

Team SoloMid

Coming off a disappointing showing at Worlds 2016, TSM came into 2017 without the services of ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng who announced he would take a break from competitive play. Taking his place was former Team SoloMid ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran (Also Canadian!) Otherwise, the roster remained mostly the same with top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnel; jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen; mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg; and Vancouver resident Vincent “Biofrost” Wang as the support.

Despite missing the dominance of Doublielift in the bot lane, WildTurtle proved that he was still an amazing ADC. Along with that Hauntzer was able to grow and improve as a player and became a key carry for the team in Doublelift’s absence. Overall it was never a question of whether Team SoloMid would be able to make the finals again despite the lack of Doublelift. In the end, while Cloud9 kept it close and proved they were just as strong, TSM would prevail and win the finals 3-2.

Going forward, TSM continued to dominate North America for the rest of the season with the return of Doublelift. Presently, the organization continues to be one of the most popular North American Esports organizations as they have grown into Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, and now Valorant. Meanwhile, after years of playing for TSM, Bjergsen recently became one of the first players to also become a part-owner of their respective organization. 

Cloud9

After a quarter-final elimination at Worlds 2016, Cloud9 continued looking as strong as ever heading into 2017. The team was able to keep the core roster together while adding in an upgrade in the jungle and some backup in the top lane. As such the roster consisted of top laners Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Jeon “Ray” Ji-won; jungler Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia; mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen; ADC Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi; and  Canadian support Andy “Smoothie” Ta.

Through the spring split, Cloud9 would dominate, remaining in the top two of the standings for the entire regular season and breeze through their semifinal match en route to another showdown with TSM. Unfortunately, a misplay in the final team fight by Jensen would spell the end for Cloud9’s title aspirations for the split as they would fall 2-3.

After falling just short of the title, Cloud9’s summer split would go differently as the team would take the fourth seed heading into the playoffs where they would lose to Dignitas resulting in the Cloud9 falling out of contention for the first and second seed for Worlds. Luckily the team was able to make it to Worlds as the third seed where they had the best results of the North American teams. Currently, Cloud9 has also grown into one of the biggest esports organizations with a spot in the Overwatch League and teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant. Along with that Clound9 is currently dominating the region as the best team in North America and poised to take the top seed for Worlds 2020.

Legacy 

The 2017 spring split finals will ultimately leave behind a bigger legacy on esports as a whole as opposed to anything related to the teams that competed on that day. For the teams themselves, the results of their matches in Vancouver didn’t do much to change or cement the legacy of the players and organizations involved. 

However, the impact it had on Vancouver and Canada as a whole was much bigger. Along with the previous 2016 summer split finals in Toronto, the 2017 spring split finals played a large role in putting Canada on the map as a location to host esports events. While this was never a foreign concept for the Super Smash Bros community with events like Get On My Level and Battle of BC, it took a while for the other esports communities to catch up. Now, esports in Canada has continued to grow, especially in Vancouver

With huge events like the International taking place in Vancouver, it has become clear that the fanbase exists in major Canadian cities for esports organizers to host their events here. Now it’s simply a matter of them taking that chance on a still largely untapped market. Ultimately, while the 2017 spring split finals weren’t memorable in any way for its results, the legacy it leaves behind as a whole for the state of esports in Vancouver and the rest of Canada can’t be understated.

 

All images courtesy of LoL Esports