Mainstays To No Stays: Another LCS Changing Offseason
League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) offseasons are never a dull moment. From the moment All-Star American ADC Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng left Counter Logic Gaming to join rivals Team SoloMid going into Season 6, to last year’s mighty offseason that saw the likes of Luka “Perkz” Perkovic and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh join the league. It will be an ongoing law for as long as League of Legends exists, and this year it was no different.
LCS offseasons usually have their wow moments, no matter how big or small. As sort of a preamble to what was going to be one of the most different LCS formats to date, the offseason going into the 2021 season was one for the LCS history books that started off with retirements from the region’s most historic players in Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and Doublelift. This change was followed up with nearly half of the league’s players from 2019 not returning for this same season in what was a noteworthy turnover for the LCS.
All of these changes combined lent itself to a very exciting season that although continued to show the gap between the top and bottom halves of the league, also introduced another new champion in the form of 100 Thieves.
This past offseason continued the trend to turn heads, as even though it hasn’t contained any big signings or transfers - apart from Bjergsen’s return to pro-play and signing to Team Liquid - it still had its own take on it. This take was its lack of mercy, in the form of leaving what many think are players that can certainly still make an impact on the league.
As of this time of writing, there are multiple players that just a few seasons ago - especially last season - could be considered highly sought after pieces to any roster. Players like mid-laner Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro who, although when he first joined the league wasn’t up to snuff, managed to play at an MVP candidate level in this past season’s summer split when given a second chance. There’s also veteran jungler who’s been a part of various successful rosters in Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen who has also not been able to find a team.
That’s not all, as veterans such as ADC Liyu "Cody Sun" Sun, jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen, support Andy "Smoothie" Ta, and many others have also been left without a team. One could also count the likes of newer players that managed to make a name for themselves this past season in mid-laner Max "Soligo" Soong and support David "Diamond" Berube and the like. The list goes on and on.
This 'leaving out' of players marks a new change in the LCS. You still have the big spenders in teams like Team Liquid with their signing of top laner Gabriel "Bwipo" Rau, ADC Steven "Hans sama" Liv and, of course, Bjergsen while keeping jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen and multiple-time MVP support, Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in. But now teams have shifted into younger rosters and in many ways - what is to be the general thought around the league - cheaper rosters. Or 100 Thieves, who have kept their championship-winning roster while adding another assistant coach.
You have teams like a Cloud9 who have always managed to pull whatever it is off, be it making it past the group stage when they make Worlds, or introducing new raw home-grown talent, making the organisation a paragon of the LCS. Or teams like Golden Guardians who continue to build small while also making outstanding movements in the coaching department.
It’ll be one of the most different LCS seasons to date. Considering the past seasons as a changing of the mantle, or a transition between old and new. One could consider this upcoming season a heightened continuation of that. This continuation will be very interesting as opposed to past seasons where there were a number of clear favourites among the top, this time around that isn’t guaranteed.