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Highlighting The LCS' 2021 Season

Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

10th Nov 2021 14:38

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The 2021 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) was one for the history books, be it the newfound rivalry between Team Liquid and Cloud9 or 100 Thieves winning their first-ever LCS title. It was filled with new faces, changes of pace in the form of a new format for the season, and much more. It all helped bring to life a refurbishing of what is normally any other LCS season. 

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This begs for a sort of highlighting of the season as a whole. 

The moves that both the teams and the players made gave life to one of the most historic offseasons the LCS has ever encountered. This brought forth a new rivalry, spotlighted newcomers such as Danny and others, as well as crowned the fifth champion in the LCS. Not only that, there was one team that was consistent throughout all of the season, even with the myriad of challenges thrown at them.

On that note, here are our highlights for the LCS 2021 season.

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100 Thieves Took The Big One

To kick this off, it would be remiss if we didn’t choose 100 Thieves finally taking an LCS championship first. The Thieves started off their inaugural season with a bang—one of the best ever for a new organisation. They were able to not only kick off the season on the right foot with a strong regular season showing, but they were also able to make it to their first LCS finals in their first split in. Unfortunately for them, they met a record-breaking grim fate after being swept by the dynasty in progress, Team Liquid. They were still able to make Worlds.

Past that first season, the organisation struggled and underwent a myriad of trials and tribulations, roster and staff changes, and more. This turbulence led to inconsistencies up until the 2021 season. But in true thief fashion, they never quit, they kept forging on and were ultimately rewarded.

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT
Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

They started off the 2021 season well after making huge roster moves in the offseason - a sort of taking Golden Guardians core four and putting them with Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Although they didn’t get the results they wanted, they kept being aggressive, leading to big moves in the middle of the season. Mid-laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun and long-time head coach, Bok “Reapered” Hang-gyu joined the heist and. They were the missing pieces that eventually led to the organisation’s first-ever LCS championship in the summer split.

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The Newfound Rivalry Between Cloud9 And Team Liquid

As two of the winners of what was a historic offseason for the LCS, both Cloud9 and Team Liquid were looking like the clear frontrunners to be atop of the tables. It wasn’t one of the classic rivalries either. It wasn’t the antiquated Team SoloMid versus Counter Logic Gaming or hype-inducing Team SoloMid versus Cloud9, it was brand-new - seemingly a result of both of the organisations’ moves in the offseason. 

It all started with the LCS Lock In tournament finals, in which Cloud9 and Team Liquid got to face off against each other to see who would crown themselves the first-ever LCS Lock In champions.

Although they had to play with substitute jungler, Jonathan “Armao” Armao, for the first week of the tournament, Team Liquid looked expectedly dominant. Contrast this with a Cloud9 who suffered early on and looked vulnerable through their new top laner, Ibahim “Fudge” Allami, things got really interesting to kick off the 2021 season. Team Liquid did end up beating Cloud9 in the finals after thwarting what would have been Cloud9’s second reverse sweep of the tournament, and looked great going into spring. While Cloud9, even though they took the loss to heart, they still were able to keep their heads high. In this tournament Cloud9 underwent an astonishing number of games to get to the finals, 17 to be exact - almost a regular split’s worth - that helped them moving forward. 

After this, both of the teams faced off against each other two more times in the regular season in which Team Liquid took each victory. This was a surprise as, during the spring, Cloud9 looked like the most dominant team while Team Liquid looked like they celebrated their first championship victory for too long, as they were very inconsistent.

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Team Liquid’s inconsistencies were thrown out the window for their first playoff match, garnering some much-needed confidence for themselves but Cloud9 were there to quickly put a stop to it. This led to Cloud9 punching themselves a ticket to the finals early, while Team Liquid had to play a loser’s match to get there. Unfortunately for Team Liquid, they once again had to call for the services of Armao after unexpected health issues occurred to starting jungler, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, for that loser’s match but he exceeded expectations and nearly helped them take a victory over Cloud9 in the finals. This sent Cloud9 to their first-ever MSI trip, a first for the organisation as they weren’t able to attend last year’s tournament due to its cancellation. 

Image via Riot Games
Image via Riot Games

Post-MSI, the rivalry began to fizzle out, with the teams trading blows during the summer until they met one final time in the LCS Championship playoffs. Here, an inconsistent Team Liquid completely dominated a Cloud9 that were never able to pick themselves up after a disappointing MSI performance - -add a victory over Team SoloMid and 100 Thieves and Team Liquid qualified for Worlds.

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The Rise Of Young New Talent

The offseason leading up to the 2021 League of Legends season was one for the history books. Not only did it have a historic amount of player turnover as the LCS fielded less than half of the returning players dating back to the 2019 LCS Spring Split, but it also had two of the most important players ever to grace the league retire, Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. This meant that the league would be devoid of significant faces, and it was not an easy transition. Having Doublelift, the best player North America has ever produced and Bjergsen, the best mid-laner who has represented the region with pride, leave at the same time was a lot of cause for concern.

That’s where players like Evil Geniuses’ Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki, Cloud9’s Fudge, Ian Victor “FBI” Huang came in. They took over these holes that past legendary players left behind and took the mantle with pride. Not only that, but players who had gotten to participate in the LCS in the past but didn’t quite perform well their first time around were able to prove themselves once again. Players like Aaron “FakeGod” Lee, Max “Soligo” Soong, Toàn “Neo” Trần and others were able to show their worth.

Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT
Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT

All of this proved that even though Doublelift and Bjergsen were gone, as well as over half of the league was not the same, there was still something to look forward to in the form of new faces.

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Team Liquid’s Consistency While Being Inconsistent 

As mentioned before, Team Liquid were one of the teams to beat alongside Cloud9 going into the 2021 season. Their roster on paper was not only talented but outright potentially dominating, looking at each player in their roles. It led to them not only winning the first LCS Lock In tournament ever but also making each consequential final. The Midseason Showdown and the LCS Championship each had Team Liquid in the finals. Although they didn’t win, there was something to be proud of.

Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT
Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT

The team had to finish off the MSS with a substitute jungler, not only did they surpass expectations, they nearly won it all. It put the question out there of, “what if Santorin was able to play in the final versus Cloud9?” On top of that, in the following split, they had to battle Barney “Alphari” Morris’ attitude issues, their head coach, Joshua “Jatt” Leesman leaving and Santorin once again being out for an even longer period of time. But the team still made it through. It speaks volumes to what they were able to accomplish, as even though they weren’t able to win the two tournaments after the Lock In, or make it past the group stage at Worlds for another consecutive time, they still did well.

At the end of the day, this season was one for the history books. A new champion joined the banners atop the LCS studio, new faces brought freshness to the league and a new rivalry was formed. It’s all more to look forward to moving into future seasons. 

 

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Five Position-Specific Coaches: Golden Guardians Bring Something New To The LCS

Colin Young-Wolff | Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

3rd Dec 2021 16:44

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