League of Legends: LCS Follow-Up

Week two of the LCS 2021 Lock In (the North American professional League of Legends scene) was an experience, granting glimpses into the better teams and showing who had what it took to claim the tournament victory. In the process, it turns out that four teams stood out on top and all looked to be evenly matched heading into the semi-finals and finals.

Of course, with winners there are losers. Teams that were eliminated will have an entire season of games to look forward to. The expectations for them have been lifted and they will be seen as underdogs heading forward, giving way to potential upsets as they develop and grow as players and as a team.

Immortals went 1-3 in the group stage and eked into the knockout stage where they matched up against Ssumday and the 100 Thieves roster. They were clearly outmatched by their competition, but they outright refused to concede, a stark contrast from the internationally weak North American teams from ages past. In their first game they rallied three support champions around their mid-laner, Pretty. It was safe but low-reward and it showed. While Pretty played fine, the rest of the team couldn’t quite keep up with their opponents. So in game two, they fought back, and hard. Nothing about the game would suggest that Immortals ever had a chance, but they played as if they were the team to beat. Pretty had another nice game while his jungler Potluck looked surprisingly good for a player that’s not even supposed to be on the team. Inevitably, the lost fights and the steadily advancing gold lead took over and IMT collapsed under it.

FlyQuest got their planned jungler Josedeodo in this week and came back from 0-2 to 2-2 and secured themselves a spot in the knockout stage. Their opponents were the star-studded Team Liquid, who didn’t even give the series a chance to look close. It was cross-map domination. Licorice got rolled over in the top lane by Alphari. Johnsun was never going to be as good as Tactical and Diamond, looking downright bad. Even though TL mid laner Jensen didn’t have a chance to carry his team, he was solidly better than Palafox. FlyQuest does have promise, but they will need to make some serious adjustments if they want to stand a chance in the regular season.

Golden Guardians was destined to have a rough time, fielding mostly rookies against the tournament favorite, Evil Geniuses. They weren’t scared and played aggressively to their heart’s content. Golden Guardians had a gold lead 30 minutes into the first game before they lost. They play at their own pace, which was exploited, but they can get better and become a force to be reckoned with. This series was why you don’t see teams experimenting with rookies very often, but I imagine they will improve and this series will be nothing but an origin story.

Watching every Team SoloMid vs. Cloud9 series reminds me of how TSM were the top dogs until C9 rolled in and started winning. They did it again, taking a 2-1 series lead over the new TSM roster. TSM came out the gates swinging and actually took the first game off the back of Huni’s Gragas in the top lane. However, games two and three were wholly decided by C9’s bot lane. TSM Lost is downright a liability and needs to find his footing. His opponent in Zven was no slouch, but even considering it he was still too far behind. Zven built a four thousand gold lead over him in game two and a six thousand gold lead in game three. That’s a problem that won’t just go away without serious adjustment.

And then there were four. 100 Thieves will face up against C9 in the semi-finals with the former being pretty heavy underdogs. On paper, C9 wins the bot side handedly, but Fudge will have his work cut out for him against Ssumday and Closer. Meanwhile, Damonte will finally be able to prove his stature in the LCS if he can make plays against Perkz in the mid lane. On the other side of the bracket, Evil Geniuses will take on Team Liquid. Liquid has looked unstoppable so far. CoreJJ is playing up to his world champion standards and Alphari looks like just what TL wanted when they imported him in from Europe. Still, EG’s 3-0 week one memories still linger as they know what they’re capable of. Impact hasn’t lost his touch and Jiizuke still has his signature over-the-top aggressive playstyle. Deftly has also looked like the best ADC in the league at times.

It’s hard to predict the outcome, which is a pleasant surprise compared to the usual one or two good teams in the league. Still, if I were a betting man, my money would be on C9 and TL to duke it out in the finals, with TL taking the trophy.