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Where Does The LCS Go From Here?

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

7th Jun 2021 17:03

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Once again, the North American region walked out of another international tournament limping.  

Failure to make it past the group stage, let alone a piece of the trophy, was all that was left in its trail. Now all that remains is moving forward to the summer.

The start of the 2021 season had Team Liquid win the first-ever League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Lock In tournament over a Cloud9 who went through a 17-game gauntlet to meet them in the finals. Although Cloud9 fell in the finals, this experience proved immensely useful for the tenured organisation. Once spring started, all bets were off — winning spring, and getting their rightfully deserved Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) trip.

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100 Thieves took full advantage of their 2020 Golden Guardians roster plus Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho roster early on, but like their similar past trends, the heist didn’t come to fruition later on. Somewhat opposite to the Thieves, Team SoloMid had an atrocious start, one that had five complete new players play as expected, discombobulated. But the winningest organisation in LCS history only needed a handful of weeks to get into the groove of things and was justly rewarded with a solid placing in the playoffs. 

As the lone wolf, having all five North American players, Dignitas surpassed expectations and solidified themselves as the stalwart defenders between the upper echelon and the bottom teams; the gatekeepers. Parallel to Dignitas, Evil Geniuses weren’t too far behind; one could make the argument of the team being gatekeepers themselves, although not as explosive.

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Once at the four remaining teams, one could begin to mentally check out. A mish-mash of teams that left too much on the plate, left a lot to be desired or were just downright disappointing. Although ahead in the pack of four, Immortals never truly had a dog in this LCS race. No true identity and no ability to push themselves over the hump, coupled with no big names, this was a team that seemed doomed from the start. In contrast, FlyQuest did have big names or at least names in general. This team had names coming from Academy, had Eric “Licorice” Ritchie joining them from Cloud9 and had Brandon “Josedeodo” Villegas from the Liga Latinoamerica (LLA) after an eye-catching 2020 Worlds performance all join but somehow did worse.

Counter Logic Gaming lived true to their name, truly counter logic. A roster filled with experienced players from top to bottom, players that have been in the LCS for years — some since nearly its inception — still couldn’t translate their historic early game leads into wins. But at least they were able to do better than nearly the all-rookie team led by veteran Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes. 

Where Does The LCS Go From Here?

This leaves us to this upcoming summer section of the 2021 season; this time around, pressure is at an all-time high. Poor international performances by the region in recent years, as well as the spring records rolling over, it’s nothing short of nerve-wracking. Teams have to give it their all to get the chance to perform on the international stage, all to possibly have the fans be dissatisfied with the outcome.

Cloud9 didn’t deliver at MSI, but it’s not time to sound the alarms quite yet. Yes, they went 3-7, yes they gave up the only win to Pentanet.GG got but in stark contrast to the region’s performances internationally — discounting 2016 and 2018 MSI, of course — this team looked somewhat different. It wasn’t a team that just got dominated from start to finish, they had the ability to punch up, and they did. A good number of their losses were heartbreakers, just one small play that cost them the game and gained them the mockery. But it’s something that they themselves, and the region can build from. 

Add the fact that 100 Thieves continue to be aggressive with their pickups of now head coach Bok “Repeared” Han-gyu and now mid-laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun. The region continues to be aggressive. 

Then there’s Team SoloMid, an atrocious start to the season, but out of all the teams, aside from Golden Guardians, this was a team that had five new members. They kept Mingyi “Spica” Lu as the focal point of the time, their best performer in last year’s Worlds, added big names around him, and were able to pull through from the spring’s week two onward. This shouldn’t go unnoticed. Chances are, this team will come out the gates strong; they got their much-needed time.

This aggressiveness, of course, continues with Team Liquid. One cannot forget that they were one game away from going to MSI themselves. They had two chances to do it after they went up 2-1 in the finals. This was all with a substitute jungler, albeit an anomaly of a substitute. Jonathan “Armao” Armao could very well be a starter in the league, and the way Team Liquid kept him in the loop and utilised him came in clutch. 

Add Dignitas and Evil Geniuses’ surprise performances early on, and the LCS is not in bad hands. It has the possibility of moving in a  good direction Only time will tell if it does. 

 

Images via Riot Games

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Cloud9 vs. Gen.G - Worlds 2021 Quarterfinals Preview

Image via Riot Games/Getty Images

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

25th Oct 2021 11:31

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