-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 of 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. It consists of one team because they are not a dark horse, but they are not rebuilding.
Counter Logic Gaming
Top: Finn (from Rogue)
Jungle: Broxah (from Team Liquid)
ADC: WildTurtle (from Flyquest)
Ruin, Top: to CLG Academy
Wiggly, Jungle: to CLG Academy
Stixxay, ADC: to Golden Guardians
Previous Year: CLG to put it bluntly was terrible last year. They were completely outclassed in 90% of the games they played. They won a grand total of 3 games in spring (though to give them credit one of them was against TL and was a big reason why they missed the playoffs) Summer was slightly better in terms of record but was, dare I say it, even more laughable. They started strong going 4-2. Analysts and the viewing public were not sold, however, and the players took note. In interviews, they demanded the community respect them and take them seriously.
The analysts were proven right. They went 1-12 to close the season. They lost a tiebreaker to a Dignitas that took 5 weeks to win a game and missed the playoffs. They did not make the playoffs in a split where eight out of ten teams advanced. When they were up against TSM, caster Phreak proclaimed that "they had done nothing proactive for the past 35 minutes" CLG did nothing proactive during the entire year.
Off-season and expectations: CLG, rather predictably made some major shakeups however I am just left with more questions than answers. Keeping Pobelter made sense, he was the only bright spot all year. Keeping Smoothie did not, as I seriously saw nothing special out of him and he's been around long enough that I don't see him making a major improvement. Signing WildTurtle and Finn makes sense. WildTurtle is a proven entity that's good enough to get you to the playoffs and beyond. Finn is nowhere near as bad as his harsher critics make him out to be. He certainly wasn't the best top laner but he was hardly a liability. Playing in a much weaker LCS should only lead to him looking better, though I have my doubts as to whether he can stack up to the best of the best like Ssumday and Alphari. Broxah is a very questionable signing. Although he has a great competitive history with Fnatic and is a very likable personality, he is coming off of his worst year yet. The decline was sharp in 2020. He was practically invisible in plenty of games and lost quite a few of them for TL. To put it bluntly, he is only worth it if he returns to form.
I just don't understand why this roster is built the way it is. It's not building for the future as all of these players have been around for a while and there is a pretty good idea of what their ceiling is. It isn't building to win now as most of the players in their current form just don't seem good enough to compete with the top of the table. The only way this roster is accomplishing much of anything is if everything breaks right for them. Otherwise, I only see mediocrity in the future. A future full of 6th place finishes and 1st round playoff exits.
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 have 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.