NA LCS Expansion tournament concludes this weekend

The stage at Worlds.

For the last four teams hoping to join the North American division of the League of Legends Championship Series, this weekend represents the moment of truth. A mix of eSports hopefuls and veteran League of Legends players are fighting for two spots in the 2015 spring split.

For some of them, it would be a dream come true. For others, it would be a last chance to get it right.

The easy favorite of this tournament has be to Team Fusion, an exciting new team that formed this fall and combines — fuses, one might say — some of North America’s most experienced players with a Korean legend and… another Korean.

Fusion is the most promising of the news teams to emerge in North America during this off-season, as it is staffed by players who have proven themselves in professional LoL before. While none of the players there have quite managed to find a good fit with their previous teams, that’s not necessarily a warning sign when you’re talking about notoriously political outfits like CLG and Team SoloMid, or a sinking ship like Team Coast was last year. Yoon “MakNooN” Ha Woon, meanwhile, is one of League’s best players, and although his Korean heyday is behind him, he should be able to shepherd his new team into the North American LCS.

One of the most interesting teams competing in this tournament is Final Five, who qualified for the tournament via the ladder and who flattened the compLexity Black team, for whom the expansion tournament was a last hope after they fell out of the promotion tournament. They proved they’re not just a flash in the pan when they took their first game from Team Fusion after what looked like it was shaping up to be a rout in Fusion’s favor.

The other contenders are the Curse Academy team, which includes veterans like Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco and David “Cop” Robertson, who are trying to take Curse’s B-team into the LCS alongside the leading team. They’re matched against Team Coast, in a brand new configuration that features European imports like Jesse “Jesiz” Le and Matthew “Impaler” Taylor. Both these teams are led by players looking for another chance in North America after falling behind in the European game, and no matter who makes it in, it will be interesting to see how they do.

An expansion tournament, by definition, tends not to feature the absolute strongest teams. None of these teams appears to be a strong playoff contender at first-glance, and there’s usually a long period of adjustment for any new team joining the LCS (though the Polish ROCCAT squad and Cloud 9 are massive exceptions). But that doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high. For many of these players, an LCS spot is the difference between having a major playing career or going back to the amateur or semi-pro circuit.

The expansion tournament is already streaming on The winner’s final and loser’s semifinal is tomorrow, with the broadcast starting at 7 PM UK / 2 PM Eastern. The last game is on Sunday, at the same time.