LoL Week in Review: Perkz, Cloud9 Capture Championship
It was a Western weekend of bangers as both the LCS and LEC provided five-game title matches. Perkz has officially shifted the balance of power in both North America and Europe as Cloud9 and MAD Lions captured the Spring championships. Meanwhile, Gen.G and the rest of the LCK are still no match for DAMWON KIA. We look at the top news and storylines across the LEC, LCS, LPL, and LCK.
PERKZ DELIVERS FOR CLOUD9
We’ve heard of player transfers shifting the balance of power in a region. Ramus “Caps” Winther’s move to G2 Esports and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s move to TSM (or anywhere else he went) come to mind. What we don’t often see is a player transfer shifting the balance of power in two regions. That is exactly what Luka “Perkz” Perković’s move to Cloud9 has done after C9’s thrilling 3-2 win over Team Liquid.
As the score implies, it was not an easy series for Cloud9. They failed to make their Seraphine composition work in game one, forcing them to ban it for the rest of the series. After bouncing back to win with a team fight-focused draft in game two, C9’s no frontline composition fell to TL in game three.
With C9 facing elimination, it was time for their big investment to show up—and he did. Perkz responded in game four with a 3/0/7 score and 25.6k damage dealt, highest in the game. But he saved his best for last.
In the pivotal game five, Perkz’ Sylas was everywhere. After getting first move from mid lane, Perkz hunted Hecarim down bot river at four minutes. Perkz boldly flashed the dragon pit wall, knowing he had to connect with the second half of Abscond/Abduct for it to work. He did. Perkz earned a second kill by roaming top at 6:30, helping Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami hold down Barney “Alphari” Morris in the matchup TL were supposed to win.
From there, C9 snowballed the game out of control to win the Mid-Season Showdown 20 kills to 7 in only 27 minutes. The result validates C9’s decision to make a pair of roster changes after originally announcing that they were keeping the 2020 roster together. You can argue that it was a terrible idea to make the original announcement, but it’s hard to argue that the roster swaps haven’t made the team stronger.
After a slow start to the season, Perkz has asserted himself as the best mid laner in the LCS. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen had his moments in the series—particularly his Orianna Shockwave in game three—but Perkz had more influence to close the series. Fudge getting better throughout the season was also key. He went from getting bullied by Alphari in Lock-In to doing the bullying in this series. Yes, he did so with help from Robert “Blaber” Huang and Perkz, but Fudge was constantly putting Alphari in terrible situations with his wave management.
With all that said, the series was probably closer than expected given the circumstances. Team Liquid jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen was unavailable to play due to health concerns. Former TSM and Dignitas jungler Jonathan “Armao” Armao filled in admirably on short notice. Unfortunately, we will always wonder how a full-strength TL would have fared in the rematch.
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT LCS STAGE
The players also questions raised about the fitness of the stage. Even as a winner, C9’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen blasted the setup. “The venue, the whole playing outside, having the sun in your eyes, the breeze once in a while. Then game four and five was really, really cold. The stage was shaking whenever someone was moving. I think it was a fun experiment, but if we had lost I would be really tilted because I think the environment wasn’t fit for competitive integrity. I don’t like when I can’t see the timers of the dragon or the Baron for the first two games because I can’t see anything because of the glare.” He finished by saying that he thought the whole thing was: “a bit of a failed experiment.”
Seeing the players play offline again was exciting, but it’s disappointing to hear there were such problems with the setup. This was a risk Riot was willing to take to put the LCS Finals on a grander stage. Unfortunately, some of the execution was lacking. It’s understandable that the booths weren’t 100% climate-controlled. It is not understandable how glare would be able to enter the booth.
As COVID restrictions continue to lighten in California, we could be moving closer to a return to the studio. It sounds like the players would much prefer that to another event played out in the elements.
G2 ESPORTS, TSM FALL IN SEMIFINALS
We saw how Perkz’ move shifted the balance of power to C9 in NA. In Europe, the move has shifted power away from the two giants. After Fnatic fell last weekend, G2 Esports lost to Rogue in the LEC semifinals. This created the first LEC Finals in league history that did not feature one or both of Fnatic and G2 Esports.
We knew Fnatic would be worse off without Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, but G2’s fall has been more of a surprise. Rekkles has to be considered the better ADC between him and Perkz, but the intangible benefits of Perkz’ leadership are being brought to the forefront. Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski talked about stepping up as a leader following G2’s loss to MAD Lions, but his influence did not save G2’s season.
Jankos’ play did not save G2 either. Kacper “Inspired” Sloma out-jungled Jankos throughout the series. We saw both mechanical misplays — his missed spellshield on a Nidalee Spear that led to his death in game two — and mental misplays. Perhaps the burden of stepping into a leadership role made his gameplay suffer.
He was hardly the only member to have an off series. Outside of a comeback win courtesy of Seraphine in game one, Rogue outclassed G2 throughout. Rogue and MAD Lions have caught up to G2. It will be up to G2 to come back in Summer with a chip on their shoulders and a renewed sense of purpose.
The other traditional Western power to fall in the semifinals was TSM. Realistically, TSM were power ranked third at best in the LCS heading into the season, so this finish is within reason. However, we’re not sure TSM owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh would feel the same way. Do you think Reginald paid all that money for Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh to be satisfied with losing to Team Liquid’s substitute jungler? A jungler that had, at most, one week of practice with the main roster. And, oh yeah, was once benched and kicked off of TSM.
TSM had to start from scratch with their roster after Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Doublelift retired, so it’s fair that they’re behind Cloud9 and Team Liquid in Spring. But the expectations in Summer will only grow. Reginald and TSM didn’t splurge on this roster to be the third place punching bag.
MAD LIONS REVERSE SWEEP ROGUE TO WIN LEC
Less than six months after the worst Worlds performance in LEC history, MAD Lions have found redemption. MAD came back from an 0-2 hole to reverse sweep Rogue to win the LEC Spring title.
The way MAD recovered after the first two losses has to be satisfying after the Worlds disappointment. It helps to have new players, but the three-man core of Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság, and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser remain. They showed great mental fortitude to not let their past performances get in the way of their future.
Humanoid is a prime example of this in the series. He played brilliantly in the first two games until he made crucial, game-altering mistakes that led to Rogue wins. Instead of falling apart, Humanoid tightened up his play and went a combined 17/4/16 in final three games. Performances like that separate the champions from rest.
Like Cloud9 in the LCS, this title validates MAD’s roster changes in the offseason. MAD could have stood pat with the lineup that got them to Worlds, but they didn’t. They wanted a top laner that was a playmaker and got him in İrfan “Armut” Berk Tükek. They wanted a jungler who could take on shotcalling on the team and got him in Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla. Both thrived in their roles to deliver MAD their first LEC title.
On the other side, it was a disappointing end to the season for Rogue. They finally overcame G2 Esports, only to fall again to MAD Lions. It has to especially hurt that they were up 2-0 and had a huge gold lead in game five to close it out. Mid laner Emil “Larsson” Larssen will hear more criticism for choking after a rough end to the series. Top laner Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu made it to his first Finals, but will have to wait for his first title.
The good news is that Rogue are still good, young, and hungry. The new bot lane pairing of Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Adrian “Trymbi” Trybus dominated their matchup. Rogue are still continuing on their upward trajectory. First, they had to slay G2 Esports. Next, they have to close out an LEC title.
DAMWON KIA DOMINATE LCK AGAIN
The LCS and LEC had thrilling, back-and-forth five game championship matches. The LCK—not so much. DAMWON KIA dominated Gen.G in a 3-0 sweep to remain the undisputed kings of Korea.
The series opened in expected fashion, as DK led from start-to-finish in game one. Gen.G had their chances in game two, though. They took a 4.4k gold lead by 29 minutes and had a strong scaling advantage with Zoe and Tristana versus Renekton and Xayah. It did not matter. DK took a four-for-one team fight at 30 minutes to secure Baron, even the gold, and eventually win the game. Game three was the shortest of the series, with DK needing only 28 minutes to clinch their title.
There really isn’t much else to say in the LCK right now. DAMWON KIA just swept the team that swept the other semifinalist. We know that the 2020 version of DAMWON KIA was the best in the world. We’ll get to see at MSI how the 2021 version with Kim “Khan” Dong-ha stacks up. DK’s showing at MSI will tell us more about the rest of the LCK than anything from their domestic playoffs. DK is still just too far ahead of the rest of their region.
The LPL is the last major region still battling it out in the playoffs. 2019 World Champions FunPlus Phoenix (5) worked their way all the way from round two to win the Upper Bracket and make the Finals. They will face the winner between EDward Gaming (2) and Royal Never Give Up (1). The LPL Finals take place on Sunday, April 18.
The next time we’ll see teams from the LEC, LCS, and LCK play is at MSI 2021. The international tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland begins on Thursday, May 6.