New faces and new storyline await as the LCS Spring Split begins to kick off the 2021 Season. After two of NA’s biggest names in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg announced their retirement, the region is kicking things off on a clean slate.
Unlike previous years, teams will test their mettle early on in the LCS Lock In on January 15. Ahead of the three-week tournament, here how we’ve ranked the league’s 10 roster lineups.
1. Team Liquid
Team Liquid went from being the most heavily criticized top team in NA in 2020, to being the region’s best hope for success at the 2020 World Championship. The core trio of Edward “Tactical” Ra, Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen made their cases as the best in their respective roles in the LCS, and the org made two upgrades over the offseason to round things out.
TL grabbed the best top laner from Europe, Barney “Alphari” Morris, and the best performing jungler in NA, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, to round out their dream team. Don’t let their second place ranking fool you, however. This lineup has the potential to take the LCS by storm and become the most consistent team in the league.
After a disappointing end to their dominant run in the first half of 2020, all eyes were on Cloud9 during the offseason to prove that they’re all-in on redeeming themselves.
They accomplished that swiftly by signing one of the best players in the world, Luka “Perkz” Perković, to replace Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer in the mid lane. This is a player that proved his ability to level up teammates and perform at a world-class level. The superstar lineup is rounded out by breakout top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami who was promoted from the Academy squad to replace Eric “Licorice” Ritchie.
The tools are there for Cloud9 to write off last year’s flop in Summer and pick up where they left off in Spring. Perkz is positioned to become the hard-carrying anchor for this lineup. Plus, with the three week grace period offered by the LCS Lock In tourney, C9 will have plenty of time to iron out any issues in their lineup.
Out of all of the top teams from 2020, TSM had to make some of the toughest and boldest roster decisions. With both Doublelift and Bjergsen retiring, they rebuilt around Mingyi “Spica” Lu. Under the guidance of coach Bjergsen, this team has all the makings of a regional powerhouse. But don’t expect them to hit the ground running.
The success of this roster is heavily reliant on the new pieces fitting together perfectly. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s volatility, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage’s resource-heavy playstyle, and synergy between Lawrence “Lost” Hui and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh are all big question marks for this team. If they’re able to click during the Lock In, they’ll be a team to fear during the regular season.
4. 100 Thieves
Victor “FBI” Huang, Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, Can “Closer” Çelik, and Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun made their mark as top players in the LCS during their explosive playoff run in 2020 Summer with Golden Guardians. Now, they’ve planted themselves over at 100 Thieves, complimented by perennial carry Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho.
For 100T, the biggest hurdle they’ll need to overcome in 2021 is executing on the potential of their roster. The org has fielded powerful lineups in the past that failed to live up to expectations. It will fall on the coaching staff to take a good thing and make it great. This is probably the strongest group of teammates that Ssumday has had supporting him since his time playing in NA. There’s no doubt that this lineup will surprise people, but if they decide to stray from the roaming playstyle that the ex-Golden Guardians players cultivated last year, they may be starting at square one.
5. Evil Geniuses
With the signing of legendary top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-young and confirmation that Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro is returning as the team’s mid laner, EG is shaping out to be a solid playoff team this season.
EG is undoubtedly stacked with talent, but Jiizuke remains the team’s primary carry threat. At least, until Matthew “Deftly” Chen can prove that he can take his opposition to task in the bot lane. If he and Lee “Ignar” Dong-geun find stability, Ignar can do what he does best and play the map in the early game.
The team that had two chances at lifting an LCS trophy in 2020 went back to the drawing board for 2021, building around Licorice and back-to-back 2020 Academy champion Cristian “Palafox” Palafox. This team is bursting with hot young talent; if things click early, they’re a dark horse to shake up the standings and possibly compete for a top spot.
The key to the puzzle for FlyQuest is how well Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas and David “Diamond” Bérubé perform out the gate and sync up. The two players most responsible for controlling the pace of the early and mid game come from entirely different backgrounds with different experiences playing against different levels of competition.
IMT is one of a few orgs committing to a developmental approach to their LCS lineup composition. The team went all-in on investing in Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura and David “Insanity” Challe while surrounding them with a young and experience botlane in Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw and Quin “Raes” Korebrits.
The team is led by top European jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir with the goal of qualifying for playoffs in mind. It’s not likely they’ll be able to stay too far ahead of the composition for long. But the baseline talent on the roster should keep them from falling below eighth place.
Finn “Finn” Wiestål said in an interview with Hotspawn that CLG will be a team capable of surprising people this season. While they certainly have veteran talent that’s shown the ability to get results, they’re one of the few LCS rosters left without an obvious carry threat of X factor on paper.
In order to achieve results that transcend the sum of the team’s parts. CLG’s carries in Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran will need to step up significantly and play at a level beyond what’s typically been asked of them on previous teams. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta, will need to show improvement in areas like champion pool diversity and mechanical consistency as well for the team to become a major threat.
Dignitas didn’t make any explicit plans to build around young talent this season, but it’s looking like the “Aaron “Fakegod” Le, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and Max “Soligo” Soong show” for the most part. Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black will lead the way for rookie Toàn “Neo” Trần.
The lineup doesn’t have too much inherent synergy outside of the two solo laners, and the level of individual skill across each role is comparatively low when matched up against the rest of the league. This is undoubtedly a season for this roster to find its footing and grow over time.
10. Golden Guardians
Golden Guardians find their way to the bottom of yet another LCS power ranking, but this time, it’s for good reason. The org committed to a high-risk high-reward roster of talent that goes all-in on development.
GG is former TSM Academy and GG Academy mid Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Abbott, Maryville University aces Aidan “Niles” Tidwell and Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson, and the odd bot lane of Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Latin American support Leandro “Newbie” Marcos. Somebody has to be 10th place, and in this case, it’s okay if that’s all Golden Guardians is capable of showing us as their players continue to grow this season.
The LCS Lock In kicks off on January 15 at 3 p.m. PST with TSM vs 100 Thieves.