-By Edward Brady
The LCS is the North American League of Legends professional league and one of the 4 major regions in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes. You may remember our brief coverage of the League of Legends World Championship last year; these Regional seasons are the build up to the international tournaments. Although there are a total 12 official leagues all around the world in places like Europe, Korea, China and more, I will only be covering the North American scene as time zones are unfortunately a thing. Here is a small preview and what to expect of the teams that will make up the 2021 League Championship Series, power ranked from highest to lowest expectations and split into 5 tiers. This part shall cover the 2nd tier, the contenders.
The contenders: These teams are very skilled, should make deep playoff runs, and have the potential to contend with and beat the top 2 if they perform even better than advertised or the top 2 stumble.
Jungle: Closer (from Golden Guardians)
Mid: Damonte (from Golden Guardians)
ADC: FBI (from Golden Guardians)
Support: Huhi(from Golden Guardians)
Contractz, Jungle: to Evil Geniuses Academy
Meteos, Jungle (free agent)
Ryoma, Mid: to 100 Thieves Academy
Cody Sun, ADC: to TSM Academy
Poome, Support: to 100 Thieves Academy
Stunt, Support: to ANEW Esports
Previous Year: 100 Thieves had an up and down 2020, they finished spring 3rd in the regular season, but were swept 3-0 by Cloud 9 and lost a hard fought 5 game series to TSM to finish 5th/6th.
Summer was a rough split as they started the year 3-6, but eventually swapped out Stunt for Poome and picked up the pace to finish 7th in the regular season and secured a playoff position at 7-11. We were then given a concrete piece of evidence as to why 7th place teams probably should not be in the playoffs as they were murdered on live broadcast by Evil Geniuses 3-0. Put simply, if we were talking about their previous iteration, they would be near the bottom
We are not talking about their previous iteration
Off-season and expectations: True to the organization's name, 100 Thieves took almost the entire roster of the Golden Guardians. The same Golden Guardians that swept the eventual LCS champs in TSM and almost swept them again in the losers bracket before TSM mounted a massive comeback. The one piece they didn't take was because they didn't need to, Ssumday was the lone bright spot in a roster that saw most of his teammates either be inexperienced or regress dramatically.
This roster which is essentially Golden Guardians + Ssumday has a bright future ahead of them Closer and FBI have really made names for themselves after coming from emerging regions (Turkey and Oceania respectively) Damonte is one of the better young talents having already helped get a team to worlds, and Huhi role swapped from mid to Support last year and has made the transition better than anyone could have expected practically revitalizing his career. Ssumday has a good team around him again and the last time that happened, (2018 100T) he took them to Worlds. Keep an eye on this team, they could be something really special.
Top: Huni (from Evil Geniuses)
Mid: PowerOfEvil (from Flyquest)
ADC: Lost (from TSM Academy)
Support: SwordArt (from Suning)
Broken Blade, Top: to Schalke 04 Esports
Bjergsen, Mid: retired from pro play, switched to coach of TSM
Doublelift, ADC: retired
Biofrost, Support: to TSM Academy
Treatz, Support: to SK Gaming
Previous Year:TSM's Spring split was not very interesting, despite picking up a new jungler in Dardoch, and a talented EU AD Carry in Kobbe, they went 9-9, and had a decent playoff run upsetting 3rd seed 100T before falling to eventual runner up Flyquest in 5 games.
Then the break happend and after a wild series of events, Kobbe went back to his home region of EU to play for Misfits and Dardoch ended up in Dignitas TSM had a few new faces for summer, or more accurately 1 new face and one old face.
Doublelift, superstar ADC and one of two contenders for greatest NA player of all time (the other being TSM's mid laner Bjergsen) came back to his old team, with 3/5ths of the 2016 and 17 roster that was so beloved, TSM were expected to contend for the title. The road was rocky as they finished 4th in the regular season and were swept by Golden Guardians in the first round, TSM had quite possibly the greatest playoff run in LCS history as they went through the losers bracket playing more games in the playoffs then they did in the regular season and brought home the organization's first LCS title since 2017
Worlds, to put it bluntly was a disaster, through a combination of mistakes, failing to adapt and being straight up outclassed, TSM went 0-6 in the group stage. As NA's 1st seed. The first ever Pool 1 team (1st seed of a major region) to do so.
Off season and expectations: Broken Blade went overseas to EU to play for Schalke 04, as did Treatz to SK Gaming and Biofrost was sent to the Academy team. The bigger story is that Bjergsen and Doublelift, the two greatest players NA ever had, both retired from pro play, Bjergsen to become the coach of TSM, and Doublelift to focus on streaming and to open the next chapter in his life. As the rest of the league mourns their retirement TSM was forced to look forward to the future.
They picked up PowerOfEvil from Flyquest, an impressive player who has been one of the top mid laners for a while now. They also picked up SwordArt from the Chinese team Suning, an amazing pick up on paper as SwordArt is coming from a roster that finished 2nd at worlds. However most of his value to Suning was from his shot calling rather than his mechanics. While his play is still great and should be more than enough to compete with the best of the best only time will tell if that same leadership can carry over.
Their final addition was Huni from Dignitas to the top lane. This has been a contentious pick up, as Huni in recent years has made a reputation as being a player with an incredibly high ceiling but lacking in consistency. How far TSM goes depends on which Huni they got. Did they get prime Huni that helped Fnatic go undefeated in summer and to the semifinals at Worlds? Or do they get 2020 Huni that was bad enough for Dignitas to look for another top laner despite the org playing 3.2 million to get him?
The LCS Lock-in Tournament, the first ever official preseason tournament licensed by Riot Games themselves is already underway. Although it won't count towards Worlds qualification, teams will still be playing for cash and pride and the fans will get a first look at these new rosters. You can find the full schedule at lolesports.com, and you can watch the matches on the website, the lol esports YouTube channel or Twitch.tv/LCS.
More importantly, the Spring Split will begin on February 5th. Although the exact time and schedule has yet to be announced, you can keep up to date on the LCS and all things competitive League of Legends at lolesports.com, and the other two aforementioned channels.