Samsung White plays every lane impeccably and seems to have no weaknesses. Their highly mechanical play and teamfight coordination is backed up by strong vision control and sublime wave pressure. With the exception of the stalled mid-game in their first game against Edward Gaming which was a result of their composition, White had complete control in all facets of the game. The current meta allows for a multitude of strategies and White seems to know how to allocate resources to different members and adapt between games to best compete against their opponents. This adaptability supported by arguably the best jungler and bottom lane in the tournament make them the heavy favorites to win.
While there's a disparity between the teams in this tier, their presence is a result of either not being as refined as Samsung White or being better than the teams in the tier below them.
Samsung Blue can belong in the tier above, but the group stages have revealed some weaknesses in their play, which is the polar opposite to Shield's style. Instead of relying of vision control in the jungle to create picks and safely take objectives, Blue prefers to tunnel down lanes and ward flanks or use objectives to constantly force teamfights or skirmishes. Acorn is often in the front-line either dealing damage or locking enemies down, while Dade either picks priority targets or maximizes his area-of-effect damage. However, they sometimes force fights without adequate vision or patience, causing them to drop a game against Fnatic and extend the game against LMQ. They show more strategic depth than Shield and have better teamfight presence than Cloud 9, but their decision-making without vision keeps them a tier below White.
Najin White Shield
Najin White Shield has perfected the pick style and the vision control required to play it. Ggoong's limited champion pool is complemented by Save's large and unpredictable one. While Watch used to be known only for his Elise, he has recently shown great proficiency on Lee Sin and Kha'Zix. Zefa doesn't quite live up to Deft and Imp, but if Gorilla is on Thresh or Janna, he gets a lot of peel from his team. Outside of pick compositions and style however, Shield lacks the depth to support other strategies. Ggoong has to withdraw to champions like Lulu when his comfort picks are taken away and they don't have the teamfight presence in open areas, making them inferior to White.
Cloud 9 and Shield share many champion picks but each play their compositions with different goals. Similar to Ggoong, Hai excels on Zed and Syndra [instead of Ahri], and Meteos is on par with Watch with regards to his role in team fights and establishing vision control. Sneaky is an all-round amazing ADC and can play a wide range of champions to support his team's particular strategies. Cloud 9 as a whole adapt to situations extremely well and show great coordination in team fights and skirmishes. Their overall decision-making around map movement is the best in the LCS. However, they hinge heavily on Hai's performance and the amount they can control the map. They are equal with Shield and more consistent and adaptable than teams like TSM and Alliance, putting them a tier above them.
Each of these teams have their unique strengths and weaknesses that puts them in this tier. An extended series between these teams is relatively hard to call.
Alliance is the best team from Europe, and have shown great performances against Tier A teams like Cloud 9 and Shield, but they still lack consistency throughout the game from pick/bans, vision control, teamfight coordination etc. Froggen is undoubtedly the star in the team with a lot of resources fed to him so he can have an impact in skirmishes, but Alliance wins teamfights due to the mechanical skill of their players, not necessarily coordination. Shook often sacrifices early game vision control, preferring instead to gank or farm. Alliance also seems to hinge on Wickd's performance. In games where he gets comfort champions like Irelia, he and the team play with confidence, but on champions like Kayle like the game against Kabum, his ultimates were lackluster and he did less damage than the enemy support Morgana. Together, all these flaws make Alliance a highly inconsistent team and unable to match up to the teams in the Tier above in an extended series.
Team SoloMid plays around the strengths of their mid-laner Bjergsen, and he outclasses both of his lane oppositions in this tier. Their win against Royal shows that they have more strategic depth and control than Royal, however the mechanical strength of Royal's bot lane gives them a strong edge against TSM. Meanwhile, Namei's relatively weak laning phase would give TSM's bot lane to mitigate their weaknesses and allow TSM to focus on their skirmishes. Overall, TSM excels when they get their controlled picks and teamfights. Lustboy's vision control is much more efficient than his counterparts in this tier, while EDG opts for quantity over efficiency regarding vision. TSM's primary weakness is the lack of depth in Amazing's playstyle and their underwhelming wave pressure and decision-making. This was especially evident in their game against SK who despite being a weaker team, managed to capitalize on TSM's weaknesses and take a win.
Fnatic is another strong team from Europe and similarly lack consistency in their play, partly because they have awkward resource allocation within the team. The transition from top and mid-centric style they displayed last year has been replaced by a mid-ADC style which is devastating in lane-swaps and other scenarios where top lane doesn't get farm. They prefer pick compositions and skirmishes relying on the mechanical ability of Rekkles. The champion pools of sOAz and xPeke also add a lot of depth to their pool, especially evident in the Lissandra pick against LMQ's Fizz. Their rotations are somewhat awkward but necessary to support their unique style, and their pick-based vision control is usually enough to catch most inexperienced teams off guard. It seems that Fnatic have yet to decide how many carries they can sustain in their compositions, and until then they remain trapped in this tier.
EDG borrows a lot of elements from Korean teams, but a lot of them seem to be mistranslated. This helps them outclass the Chinese teams in their region. Their vision control is philosophically focused on quantity over efficiency, generally somewhat haphazard unlike SSW's vision which is focused and supports their particular rotations and fights. Their team-fight is strategically sound and well-positioned, but lack the mechanical ability of players like Bjergsen and Uzi. While super hyped as a team, they have been quite underwhelming with Namei being the biggest disappointment. Royal Club lack Uzi's dominating laning phase, Gogoing's consistency, inSec's mechanical ability, or Cool's finesse, but as demonstrated, their team-focused play allowed them to challenge White for a short period of time in the mid game and that's encouraging looking forward to the quarter finals.
Star Horn Royal Club
Royal Club is the team with the most strategically shallow in this tier and are focused around the mechanical skill of their jungler inSec and ADC Uzi. Their games against TPA and and TSM have demonstrated that they do well with particular compositions, but lack EDG's teamwork. Similarly to how TSM lost a game to SK due to their poor decision making, SHRC's first game against TPA showed a gaping weakness in their play. In addition, their loss against TSM showed that they still don't know how to properly capitalize on Uzi's dominating performances in lane and use that transitioning into the later parts of the game. They belong in this tier regardless because they have consistently beaten SK and TPA as well as control the early game against TSM.
OMG is the quintessential Chinese team, composed of mechanically strong players like Cool and Gogoing supporting their constant skirmish mentality. However, they still struggle with objective-based decision making and controlling wave pressure. They only seem confident in open areas or in situations with numbers advantage, but don't show the adequate foresight to set up proper rotations or efficient vision. Their losses to Fnatic and LMQ revealed their compositional and early game errors, while in their later games against the two teams, they made many mistakes against Fnatic that almost cost them the game and they showed their inability to close out the game against LMQ. Despite the deficiencies, Gogoing is a strong and stable top laner in a tournament, a consistency that is lacking from Alliance and Fnatic. Therefore, while they're inhibited strategically, they still play to their strengths and that's enough to maintain their presence in this Tier.
All teams in this tier showed brief, strong performances but lack the talent or strategic depth to challenge the higher-tiered teams in a series.
SK Gaming is actually quite tough to call because their primary jungler missing half the games gives us a very small sample size to evaluate them. They excel at controlling minion pressure around the map and objective-style play, opting to rotate and split up their enemies to make up for their weak mechanical ability and teamfight coordination. This play allowed them to take one win against TSM by being to capitalize on their poor rotational decision-making, but they don't seem to have the depth to challenge the members in the tier above them in a series.
LMQ demonstrates that they have merged elements from both Chinese and North American playstyles. They advance the game by forcing teamfights, but unlike the Chinese counterparts, they have learned to trade objectives, control minion pressure, and how to win without Baron. However, their organizational instabilities towards the end of the season has followed them to the World Championships, leaking into their pick/ban phase. Outside of their early wins, they have failed to adapt against the remaining teams in their group and chose many compositions without synergy or awkward champions for their players. LMQ weren't able to make Rumble work for them, XiaoWeiXiao lost his Orianna and was forced to pick Xerath in their last game against OMG, and finally Vasili seemed off on Kog'Maw compared to his usual Tristana. This team is a ghost of the team that rose to the top of the NA LCS during the summer and join their fellow 3rd place LCS team SK Gaming in this tier.
AHQ e-Sports Club
AHQ lacks the experience in large tournaments and that discrepancy was evident in their wins [where they played having nothing to lose] and losses [where they tried to play a passive, controlled game]. Riding on the mechanical skill of Westdoor, they were able to upset EDG, but were unable to clinch the tiebreaker.
TPA is an interesting to team to watch because they demonstrate a lot of parallels to their counterpart that won two years ago. They have mechanically proficient players that can farm and maintain a presence in the laning phase. Their early game lead against Royal showed that they have control over that phase in the game, however they seem to lack the ability to transition into the mid and late game due to weak objective and vision control. Similarly to the tier above, TPA's early phase and AHQ's lack of experience would give TPA an edge in the matchup, but SK's objective control allows them to defeat TPA.
Kabum! E-Sports like AHQ lacks the experience in international tournaments and that was evident in their early games. However, they adapted over the course of their games and managed to upset Alliance through their strong composition and the mechanical finesse of their mid-laner Tinowns. Even in their losses, Kabum! usually kept up during the laning phase and even pressured Cloud 9 in the mid game. It's a shame Kabum! was in a group with three terrifying teams because it would've been interesting to see their results in either Group A or B. Either way, they seem to have the raw skill and foundations of game knowledge to belong in this Tier.
Dark Passage showed that they still lack the experience and strategic depth to play against a lot of their opposition on the international stage. With time and more exposure to international teams, they could come back and put up a strong showing against other teams, but currently lack the ability to keep up with most other teams in Groups A and B.