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Top
LPL

2021 LPL Spring Preseason Rankings and Preview

Mike Plant

The 2021 League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Summer Split begins Saturday, January 9th. Though the LPL still clearly looked like the strongest region from top-to-bottom in 2020, DAMWON Gaming’s Worlds win means the LPL will be looking to take back the title. We look at the notable roster changes and where the teams stack up heading into LPL Spring 2021.

LPL suning team

Suning return four of the five players who made it to the Worlds Finals, but they are not the top team in our preseason rankings. (Photo courtesy Riot Games - Zhang Lintao)

  1. Top Esports

TES Esports
Top Esports were bested by Suning at Worlds, but they will enter LPL Spring 2021 as the favorites. They were better than Suning for most of the year, though Suning peaked at the same time TES fell off. Returning four of five starters, TES have turned to another rookie support in Wang “Zhuo” Xu-Zhuo. Zhuo dominated the LDL with Team WE Academy and should form a formidable duo with Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo. With LPL MVP mid laner Zhuo “knight” Ding, veteran jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan, and ascending top laner Bai “369” Jia-Hao all returning, TES already have a strong core in place.

  1. JD Gaming

JD Gaming LPL

JD Gaming were the second best team in the LPL for most of the year in 2020, but they also have only gotten stronger in the off-season. After losing nobody from their roster, JDG also added old Team WE friends Su “xiye” Han-Wei and Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun to have one of the strongest seven player rosters in the world. Zeng “Yagao” Qi and Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook were not bad at all last year, but xiye and Mystic could push JDG over the top. Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran and Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok probably remain the best top/jungle duo in the league, so it’s hard to find a weakness on the team.

  1. Invictus Gaming

INvictus Gaming LPL

It may have felt like Invictus Gaming didn’t have a great 2020 because of their lack of success in the postseason, but iG went 14-2 and 12-4 during the two regular season splits, good for first and third in the LPL. Any roster with Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and Song “Rookie” Eui-jin are automatically contenders, but there is also optimism that the supporting cast will be better. New ADC Zhang “Wink” Rui had a stellar Spring with eStar, while support Li “Lucas” Tan-Pan-Ao helped iG Young win the LDL in 2020 Summer. iG Young’s jungler Peng “XUN” Li-Xun will also start the year with the main squad as Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning takes a break.

  1. Suning

Suning LPL Spring

Suning made only one roster change this offseason going into LPL Spring, but it was a big one. Support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh left the LPL to join TSM, leaving Suning without a support — but maybe more importantly — without a shotcaller. Because of this, Suning are one of the harder teams to judge heading into 2021. They were more a good LPL team than a dominant one for most of the year, instead peaking at the right time. Young players like Chan “Bin” Ze-Bin and Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng got better as the year went along, but we will have to see how the team responds without SwordArt’s presence. Suning promoted Luo “ON” Wen-Jun to fill his spot.

  1. Victory Five

Victory Five LPL

Like Suning, Victory Five were a team that peaked toward the end of the year. After the worst split in LPL history, V5 changed up their roster and improved from 0-16 to 11-5 in the Summer. Though they lost to Suning in the playoffs, V5 have a very bright future. Lee “Samd” Jae-hoon has moved on in free agency, but Wang “y4” Nong-Mo split time with Samd and can play the same supportive role at ADC. V5’s big offseason move was bringing in top laner Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying, instantly upgrading their weakest position. Assuming more growth from Weo “Weiwei” Bo-Han, Li “Mole” Hao-Yan, and Guo “ppgod” Peng, V5 should be pushing for deep playoff runs in LPL Spring 2021.

  1. FunPlus Phoenix

FPX LPL Spring

FunPlus Phoenix still have four of the five members from their 2019 World Championship title, with only Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem no longer under contract. FPX brought in Kim “Khan” Dong-ha to upgrade GimGoon last offseason, but the move never worked. Perhaps his integration was slowed by the start and stop nature of the year due to the coronavirus, but FPX never figured out how to play with a carry top laner. Now, FPX have replaced Khan with 2020 Worlds winner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon. Nuguri is once again an upgrade, but it won’t be a significant one unless FPX can adapt their playstyle.

  1. Team WE

Team WE

Team WE are a team that could really rise through the rankings quickly if they get off to a hot start. After a pair of 7/8th finishes in 2020, Team WE are fresh off a second place finish in the Demacia Cup. Jungler Jiang “beishang” Zhi-Peng and ADC Zhao “Jiumeng” Jia-Hao are ascending players who could take the next step into the elite category in 2021. New addition Chen “Breathe” Chen (formerly known as Curse) comes over from Oh My God as a pure 1v9 type of player who could be an upgrade for WE. The question mark for WE will be their mid lane, as the combination of Cui “Shanks” Xiao-Jun and Jiang “Teacherma” Chen is uninspiring.

  1. Bilibili Gaming

Bilibili LPL

Bilibili Gaming may have an addition by subtraction with the departure of mid laner Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan. While FoFo may be more talented than replacement Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo, it was no secret that FoFo and jungler Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao did not get along. Meteor was benched for part of the year and looked nothing like the 2019 version who was an up-and-coming star. In addition to that new pairing, BLG have overhauled their bot lane by bringing in Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and Ling “Mark” Xu. BLG may not have the solo lane talent of the top teams, but they should be solidly in the playoff race in LPL Spring.

  1. EDward Gaming

Edward Gaming

If this was a few years earlier, the EDward Gaming lineup would undoubtedly be at the top of the rankings. Top laner Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun, jungler Ming “Clearlove” Kai, mid laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan, ADC Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, and support Tian “Meiko” Ye have all been at or near the top of their roles domestically in their career. However, EDG will be counting on them to return to form, rather than maintain it. Only Scout and Viper could be considered to still be at the top of their game. Flandre was in and out of the lineup in 2020, while Clearlove had retired to be EDG’s head coach. The team is experienced, but has many question marks.

  1. Rare Atom

Rare Atom LPL Spring

Rare Atom, formerly known as Vici Gaming, were twice knocking on the door of a playoff berth in 2020. While they lose their head coach in Kim “kkOma” to DWG KIA, they made an upgrade in mid lane by bringing in FoFo for Zeka. While that trade may have been worth it to BLG to unlock Meteor, FoFo is still the better individual player, so this should be a win for Rare Atom. The team is already loaded with mechanical prowess in top laner Dai “Cube” Yi and ADC Hu “iBoy” Xian-Zhao, so opposing teams will have a hard time choosing which lane to focus on.

  1. Royal Never Give Up

RNG

How far the mighty have fallen. Without Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, RNG were never really a factor in the LPL in 2020. Chen “GALA” Wei flashed promise to end the year, but RNG still must figure out how to fix their top lane issues. Tian “New” Zhi-Peng and He “705” Yu-Long are both gone, leaving Yang “Xiaobai” Zhong-He as the only natural top laner. RNG originally announced Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao would shift to top lane, as he did at the Demacia Cup, but it is rumored that he has already moved back to mid lane. Considering the constant tinkering of a lineup that already lacks top end firepower, it may be another long year for RNG.

  1. LNG Esports

LNG

The optimism for LNG Esports in 2021 revolves around one man: Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong. The long-time Griffin star jungler has joined the team after sitting out the 2020 LPL Summer Split. Joining him to be the other big carry on the team is mid laner Xie “icon” Tian-Yu. icon spent the past five years with Oh My God and now finally gets his chance to play with a great jungler. Wang “Light” Guang-Yu and Liao “Iwandy” Ding-Yang are a middle-of-the-pack bot lane, so top laner Chang “M1kuya” Xiao could swing the team. M1kuya comes from Shu Dai Xiong Gaming in the LDL and will be seeing his first major region action in the LPL Spring season.

  1. Rogue Warriors

Rogue Warriors LPL Spring

While still building their roster around Chen “Haro” Wen-Lin, Rogue Warriors opted for some safety in a pair of PCS pickups. Top lane Chen “Ziv” Yi and ADC Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung have joined the lineup to provide some more stable play to the team. Rogue Warriors also picked up former iG and Vici Gaming mid laner Deng “Forge” Jie and former TES support Zhang “QiuQiu” Ming to round out their roster. RW will be hoping for a rebound for both players, as each lost out on playing time on their previous teams. They probably have a safer floor than the remaining teams, but a limited ceiling.

  1. Oh My God

Oh My God LPL Spring

Oh My God have a pair of exciting solo laners to build around in 2021. While RNG decided to swap Xiaohu top lane at the beginning of the offseason, it wasn’t an indictment on New, who played very well for RNG last year. Likewise, Wang “Wuming” Xin was a very aggressive mid laner for Rogue Warriors who looked like he belonged in the LPL. OMG are expecting support Liu “cold” Shi-Yu to be the veteran leader on the team, as he is their only player who has played in the LPL for longer than a year.

  1. TT

TT LPL Spring

Previously known as Dominus Esports, TT completely revamped their roster for LPL Spring 2021. The most exciting addition is mid laner Luo “Captain” Fei-Yang, who comes over from the iG Youth team that won the LDL in 2020 Summer. Joining him are former Victory Five ADC Lee “Samd” Jae-hoon and former Joy Dream support Wang “Teeen” Yao-Ji. Top laner Xia “Chelizi” Han-Xi and jungler Xiang “bless” Yi-Tong return, but neither were big contributors to DMO in 2020. TT have the type of young potential to quickly make noise, like eStar in Spring or V5 in Summer.

  1. LGD Gaming

LGD LPL Spring

LGD Gaming will look a lot different in 2021, as ADC Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun is the only member returning from LGD’s Worlds appearance. New mid laner Chen “Uniboy” Chang-Chu had a great showing against LGD at Worlds, perhaps leading to his pickup. The rest of the roster, however, lacks experience. Jungler Xu “Flora” Hui and support Lin “Peace” Shang-Ren come from the LDL, while top laners Chen “Cult” Guo-Ji and Fang “Garvey” Jia-Wei were replaced by Langx in the Summer. LGD may try to do what they did in 2020 and acquire veterans in between Spring and Summer.

  1. eStar

Estar LPL Spring

eStar had such a stellar entrance to the LPL in 2020 Spring, beating Invictus Gaming and going on an early run. Unfortunately, they tailed off to end the split and then finished in 16th place in the Summer Split. There isn’t much reason for optimism heading into 2021, as now both Cryin and Wink are gone from the roster. Liu “ShiauC” Chia-Hao returns, but only new addition Yang “H4cker” Zhi-Hao brings with him real experience. Unlike some of the other bottom tier teams, it’s hard to see a path to the playoffs with the current roster.