The first week of the League of Legends Pro League spring split has come and gone, and it's been a week that both played to expectations while also completely subverting them. An old stalwart might still sit atop the league, but a number of brand-new organizations have rushed to proved themselves.
No Uzi, no problem (mostly)
It's no surprise that the current leader of the Eastern Conference is none other than Royal Never Give Up, who have been one of the strongest international performers in the league for years now. What is surprising is that Royal managed to get its 2-0 start against the likes of Invictus Gaming without one of its key members, who is also one of the most well-known players in the world: Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao. Uzi has yet to take the stage for a single game, but Royal's performance has hardly suffered outside of the first game of the season; both the second substitute AD carry, Dai "Able" Zhi-Chun, and a hyped substitute jungler, Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan, took a crack at the Rift in a single match with disastrous results.
An undefeated Royal is hardly the strangest thing to come out of the Eastern Conference, though, as the lowly Suning Gaming also finished the week with an undefeated score. With a subpar 7-9 record in the 2017 summer split, Suning is trying to prove that that it's a legitimate contender by smashing both the freshmen on Topsports Gaming, and the once mighty LGD Gaming, who are currently struggling to even take a game. For the moment, Suning looks to be squarely in the for the playoffs, as the Eastern Conference is, by far, the least trying of the two conferences, and they look to be a cut above the other relative newcomers against whom they'll need to compete for a chance at the post-season.
Cut of a different cloth
It is the Western Conference that is proving to be the far more interesting of the two, however. Few expected that in a group including Team WE, EDward Gaming, and OMG that it would be Bilibili Gaming and Snake Esports that would rise to the top, yet that seems to be the reality that's taken shape. Bilibili, a new team built from the ashes of the former team I May, has already secured high profile victories against Vici Gaming (0-1) and, more importantly, Team WE, which makes its current position on the top of the league anything but a fluke. The victory over Team WE was especially telling as not only were WE fresh off its own victory against OMG, another team that is expected to be a serious post-season contender, but also because Bilibili largely defeated Team WE at its own game. All three games were played out in a way that normally should have favored the teamfight happy Team WE, yet it was Bilibili that managed to snatch the victory in the end.
The rest of the Western Conference is something of a wash. Of the seven teams in the league, four currently sport 1-1 records, with only Bilibili and Vici Gaming distinguishing themselves. Everyone seems to be able to beat anyone, as a team like Snake Esports has already proven they can take down the former LPL champions, EDG, then lose to the upstart FunPlus Phoenix the very next day. Whether that points towards a surprisingly strong crop of new teams this split or hints that some of the giants of the league might be headed for a less than stellar season remains to be seen. It's still too early to count out names like EDward Gaming or Team WE, but initial offerings have left fans both domestic and international wondering as whether this split will be business as usual, or if some new names will be left standing at the end of the split, ready to battle for the 2018 LPL title.