LCS Summer Split 2021 recap: drama, misfortune, and roster swaps aplenty. Part 3
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 my coverage of the spring split earlier this year and the preview of MSI. A lot has happened since then in regard to the LCS. Let’s see what we missed over these past 2 months
This is part 3 of a 4-part recap. If you would like to see how C9 did at MSI or how 4 other teams did, please see that. Today I will be looking at the next two teams to fall out of Worlds contention. These teams had flashes of brilliance (some brighter and sustained for longer than others) but didn’t end quite the way they would have hoped for. There is much to look forward to in the future but there are still lingering questions of what could have been and what will be.
5-6th Evil Geniuses: 28-17 (18-9 in summer) – Breakout split ends anticlimactically. Much to look forward to.
Roster: Impact: Top, Svenskeren/Contractz: Jungle, Jiizuke: Mid, Danny: ADC, IgNar: Support.
Evil Geniuses only made one change going into the Summer split this year. They swapped out their ADC Deftly for their 17-year-old rookie from EG Prodigies, Danny. This was seen as a fairly good move at the time due to how unremarkable Deftly was and that EG was coming off of a loss in a playoff series that was theirs to win (most of the key blunders made by Deftly). After a disappointing week 1 where they threw a lead against DIG, got backdoored by Lost against TSM, and got punished for diving the enemy fountain with victory in their grasp to lose a 53-minute game against FLY, there were some doubts starting to seep in about EG’s decision making.
Those doubts were quickly quashed as EG had three straight 2-1 weeks with key victories over top teams like an IMT that was undefeated and jousting EG for playoff position, a drama-ridden TL, top teams in C9 and TSM, and taking care of business against GG and DIG. They only lost to the juggernaut 100T, CLG during their one moment of brilliance, and the rematch against TL. They established themselves as one of the most aggressive teams in the league. Even if they weren’t the best team in the LCS (6-6 in summer after 4 weeks), they were certainly one of the most fun to watch.
Then they decided to insert themselves into the conversation of “best LCS team” as EG won their next 6 straight games to go on an 8-game win streak. Most of these wins were in dominating fashion and they included some of the top teams in 100T and C9. Their aggressive style paid dividends. 3 EG members topped the league in Kills, KDA, 2 of them in GD@15. Danny had the highest CSPM of every ADC in the league. Everyone was performing well.
Impact was reminding the league why he was a vital part of the TL 4-peat. Svenskeren looked to be having a bit of a resurgence, but EG decided to let their sub Contractz get in on the fun. He blew expectations out of the water as he made his re-debut by utterly dominating TSM. Jiizuke was in talks of being one of the best mids in the LCS and looked to have finally killed the “coin-flip player” narrative he hated so much for good. Danny was the leading ADC in Kills and KDA by massive margins and was above average in almost every stat that mattered. He was having an absolutely stunning rookie season. And IgNar was putting the league on notice as he helped facilitate EG’s success on engage champions.
Despite losing the coveted win-streak to the Golden Guardians, EG finished the year hot with three more 2-1 weeks only dropping games to GG, a red-hot IMT, and a full-strength TL. They finished the year tied for the best record in summer and 3rd overall in the league at 28-17. Jiizuke made 1st team All-Pro, Impact and Danny made 2nd team, the coaching staff won Coaching Staff of the Split, and Danny won rookie of the year by massive margins. They were seen as true contenders for the title and a worthy representative at Worlds due to their fast aggressive style. Head coach Peter Dun even said that EG vs the top legacy teams was a “battle for the soul of the LCS”
As you can guess by the title, playoffs were a mixed bag. They began with an expected 3-1 beatdown of Dignitas. The only game they lost was because of a throw and every EG member laughably outclassed their DIG counterparts. The series was almost a forgone conclusion, and they took care of business.
Their series against 100 Thieves on the other hand would be one to remember. Game 1 saw 100T completely run over the early game, and despite EG’s best efforts to stabilize the midgame and mount a comeback, they just couldn’t deal with the fed members of 100T in the crucial fights. Closer went deathless on Viego. That Veigo was also a problem in game 2 when Closer turned an aggressive play onto 100T for first blood into a triple kill for him. Despite this, Impact would weather the top lane aggression, Jiizuke would outfight Abbedage to become one of the most powerful members of EG, and Danny wasn’t getting jumped on every 5 seconds. The game was back-and-forth until EG snuck a baron at 25 minutes which allowed them to get mountain soul. An amazing play from Danny led to EG tying the series 1-1. Game 3 was a complete stomp courtesy of Ssumday, Abbedage, and Closer. EG were barley even competitive. But then game 4 happened.
The scene: It is a neck and neck game for about 22 minutes before 100T starts winning all the crucial fights. EG are fighting back but the writing is on the wall. An engage in the midlane by EG down 7.5k gold nets them nothing as 100T take control of the fight. Contractz and IgNar are melted and Jiizuke and Impact soon follow thanks to a realm warp by Abbedage. One versus five, Danny on Tristana, in his rookie season, makes the play of his career.
He flashes away from the stun and shuts down Closer, he jumps into FBI and Huhi to avoid the pincer and kills off both. He runs towards the 100T base to cut the minion wave that would’ve won 100T the series and heals off it, but Abbedage and Ssumday are closing in. He melts down Ssumday and dodges Abbedage’s final barrage with a perfectly timed rocket jump to kill him off. Ace for EG. Unofficial pentakill for Danny. The series wasn’t over. Commentators, the analyst desk, and every costreamer lost their minds as Danny wrote his name into the history books of the LCS. Words don’t do it justice, just watch.
Unfortunately, this is where the feelgood story of EG ends. Game 5 saw EG get demolished as 100T 1st picking Aphelios laid waste to EG’s draft plans. Danny couldn’t show off his mechanical prowess on Ziggs and Jiizuke had no impact on Lucian. 3-2 was the final score line but all hope was not lost. Thanks to C9 blundering against TL, a match in the lower bracket would keep EG’s Worlds hopes alive. They would get their wish with a “battle for the soul of the LCS” after all. There was much hype going into the match as people were excited to see two top teams throw down.
It did not deliver. EG were routed in game 1 as every member of C9 but especially Perkz and Blaber were just better than their EG counterparts. EG jumped out to a sizable 4k gold lead in game 2 with solid performances all around, but 1 Aphelios ultimate from Zven 25 minuites in ripped EG apart, resulting in kills, a baron, and a tempo swing for C9. Cloud 9 never let go as they stomped the rest of game 2. An early gold lead in game 3 meant nothing as Blaber and Zven tore through EG as C9 won every crucial fight.
All that hype around the roster and playstyle, only for the season to end in the literal same way as 2020. A 3-0 sweep against C9 where they looked to be completely outclassed by their opponents.
Despite the pretty shaky ending and that Evil Geniuses ended in the same position as last year, I’m excited to see what EG does in 2022. If Danny keeps up his insane rookie form and the rest of EG keeps up the good work, I could see this team going far next year. With how well the regular season went and the upside of playoffs, I don’t think anyone is getting axed. I can easily see EG running it back with the same roster and staff next year.
My big question mark is how Danny is going to develop. After seeing Tactical go from one of NA’s saviors (he also had an amazing play in game 4 of an upper bracket playoff series his team eventually lost. Go figure.) in his rookie year to the Malphite memes in Spring and only just now recovering in Summer, I fear there is a chance that Danny is going to get overhyped and crack under pressure.
However, that fear is just speculation. Evil Geniuses had a good year all things considered. Last year, aside from the “Banger Tweet! #LiveEvil!” meme, they were just kind of, there. Now EG has carved out a fanbase, established themselves as contenders, and now has expectations for next year. And it is up to Peter Dun and his players to live up to them. Good luck.
5-6th Immortals 20-25 (13-14 in summer) – Developmental roster overperforms on a budget. Shows potential but have doubts.
Roster: Revenge: Top, Xerxe: Jungle, Insanity: Mid, Raes: ADC, Destiny: Support.
Immortals had a very strange, up and down summer. The team made no changes after their 7-11 spring but came out of the gate swinging. They embarrassed the newly upgraded 100T in their first game of the split, then stomped the Golden Guardians, and won a hard-fought game against CLG. Xerxe looked unstoppable on Rumble, winning player of the week. Raes and Destiny were setting records for bot lane gold leads, the squad clicked right out of the gate and thanks to EG starting slow, they were tied for an upper bracket spot a 10-11.
And then week 2 happened. They decided to give their academy mid laner playing time in a vital game for seeding. It worked about as well as expected as Pretty was set up to fail and EG began to turn their season around. Their next match against Dignitas was not a good one as Raes went from setting records one week to going 2/7/2 the next. And finally, despite TL having a ton of drama surrounding them took care of business as IMT had no idea how to play with a lead.
This sort of whiplash and inconsistency would come to define the Immortals season. One week they would be a base race against TSM away from going undefeated while taking down Cloud 9, the next they would be in a dogfight with CLG and get slaughtered by 100T off the back of FBI’s Lee Sin. They were a middle of the pack team in record, but people had a tough time determining how strong IMT really was. Were the peaks or the valleys more indicative of the players on the roster? This week-to-week performance change would keep on with Immortals generally taking care of business against the teams they were supposed to beat as a mid-tier team (DIG, CLG, GG, FLY), but were hit or miss against those above them. They would lose their next 4 straight games against the top 4 in weeks 5-6, but suddenly pull a win against C9 out of nowhere in week 7. Immortals always felt like they were on the precipice of being something special and taking the next step, but when it came time to do so, they faltered. Perhaps the best example of IMT’s volatility was Raes.
Raes had the 3rd most kills of any ADC in summer at 101. He helped set records for gold leads in bot lane in week 1. So why isn’t he being discussed as a rising star? He had the most deaths of any ADC at 70 and was below average in almost every meaningful stat. Those moments of brilliance tainted by often mediocre to bad play could sum up IMT in a nutshell. Potential, but poor execution.
This inconsistent nature would play out in full force in the final two weeks. Week 8 saw Immortals go undefeated with crushing victories over Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves, two of the top teams in the league. They also took care of business against Dignitas to put themselves 1 game back of an upper bracket spot heading into the final week. Everyone looked to be firing on all cylinders, Destiny picked up another Player of the Week for IMT. With a TL that only just then got Santorin back on the roster and two cupcakes in Flyquest and Golden Guardians, it was doable. Immortals played like absolute garbage in the final week. They barley even showed resistance as all 3 teams walked right over them. Nobody bothered to show up as Immortals finished 20-25 and 7th in the LCS. If they wanted to go to worlds, they would have to go all the way through the lower bracket.
It started well enough with a 3-1 victory over Dignitas. Although readers may recall that much of DIG’s woes were self-inflicted, Immortals played well enough to win that series. Every player had their moment to shine from Revenge’s great games on carries in 1 and 3 and being an unkillable tank on Tahm Kench in game 2 (even receiving MVP of the match), to Xerxe tearing it up on Viego. Insanity completely had Soligo’s number for the first two games and did his job well in the third. And Raes and Destiny performed very well on a variety of champions to limit one of Dignitas’s only win conditions. Even better, heading into their match against TSM, there were rumors floating around that IMT were absolutely killing it in scrims. With how much they ramped up over the season, perhaps an upset was possible?
No, no it wasn’t. Immortals were outclassed in game 1 with almost no bright spots. The only one was Insanity and even he was outperformed by his TSM counterpart as PoE went deathless. Game 2 went decent for Immortals. They were trading punches with TSM and even had a 2k gold lead 20 minutes in. There were certainly signs of life from IMT. Unfortunately for them, constant overextensions throughout the mid and late game and TSM’s superior teamfighting skill eventually led to their demise. Game 3 saw IMT take a victory and showcase why teams were talking them up in scrims so much. An early first blood onto Huni from Revenge and Xerxe snowballed quickly as Xerxe jumped out to 8 kills on his Xin Zhao before even 15 minutes. IMT were out to a 4k gold lead by 13 minuites. TSM tried to keep it close. Tried being the key word as the wallets on Immortals were simply too big for the black and white brigade to come back. A 28 minuite stomp with a 13k gold lead and 22 kills to 8 was the name of the game. Perhaps IMT was going to make it a series after all.
With a devastating teamfight comp featuring terrifying engage and frontline with Ornn, Xin and Rakan, coupled with big damage from Oriana and Aphelios, Immortals looked to make the upset happen.
…And then Insanity died to a flash Nautilus hook from SwordArt at level 1 at 35 seconds in.
…And then he died on a repeat gank from Spica before 3 minutes hit.
Yeah, game 4 was laughably one sided. Revenge hit 1 Ornn ultimate the entire game. Spica took advantage of the fact that Xerxe had no winning lanes and ran him over in jungle. Insanity never had a chance at crawling out of the early deficit. And Raes and Destiny where complete nonfactors as Destiny’s engage attempts were stopped cold and Raes delt no damage to the TSM frontline. Immortals got 1 kill and 1 tower in game 4. That’s it. It was the textbook definition of a TSM stomp to end the series, and Immortals’ season 3-1.
Despite the sour ending, Immortals had a pretty good year. This roster was projected to do absolutely nothing. Coach Guilhoto and Xerxe were coming from the 10th place LEC team. Destiny was coming to IMT after being kicked mid-split from the 10th place LEC team. Revenge was from a 9th place Flyquest Academy roster. And Raes was from the infamously weak Oceanic Pro League. I had this team as a 9th place finisher in preseason and coming into summer, despite their ok spring performance, most had Immortals at 10th.
Considering all that, and the budget this roster was built on, a 5th-6th place finish with some memorable moments is much more than they ever could’ve hoped for. Xerxe and Destiny look to be having a bit of a career resurgence (Xerxe especially). Insanity, while not a top mid laner, looks to have stayed the course after the stressful situation that was his rookie year. We can only hope he takes it up another notch next year. Revenge had quite a few good moments (that solo kill onto Alphari in his debut was hard to forget) and built himself up as a likeable personality
This was described as a development roster going into the year and recapping the end of it and I think Immortals can be proud of what they accomplished. I am cautiously optimistic about this team. I do have some doubts about whether Raes and Revenge can truly step-up next year and have questions about this team’s ceiling. But at the end of the day, this team accomplished much more than anyone expected and perhaps have found their core going forward. This was but one step in a multi-step process. It will be the job of the Immortals players and staff to build off of this momentum.