Team Liquid was recently crowned the champion of the LCS Lock-In 2021 tournament, marking the beginning of the regular season for professional North American League of Legends. For the first time in many years, the season has begun with a tournament that helped evaluate where teams sat at the beginning of the year.
The four teams who competed in the semifinals and finals are easily the cream of the crop and will look to build upon their individual legacies over the course of the next several months. Liquid in particular took the crown and with it the title of best team in the LCS. Ahead of the finals, in which they won 3-2 over Cloud9, they had won all but one game in the tournament. That game was in the first week before their starting jungler Santorin even showed up. From their third game through the semifinals they were undefeated as a roster. Their top laner Alphari and attack damage carry Tactical are both likely top three at their positions. Their mid laner Jensen, and support CoreJJ have very strong arguments for the number one stop in their positions. Every year, there’s a conversation regarding a new team being the best North America has ever produced, and it would seem that Liquid is on the trajectory of being that team. Of course, it has yet to come to fruition at the annual World’s Championship tournament, but strong domestic showings is never a bad thing.
Cloud9 came in second and played in the maximum number of possible games you could. They took TSM to three games out of three, 100 Thieves to five games out of five and then took Liquid to five more in the finals. Their game total stopped at 17, one short of a full season’s worth in last year’s LCS format. Their jungler Blaber continued to improve as a player and looked legitimately like an elite jungler in the league. Their ADC Zven looked downright godlike and was bolstered by their support Vulcan and his equally impressive play. Their mid laner Perkz was a big-ticket offseason purchase from Europe, rejoining Zven and C9 coach Mithy. His performance wasn’t quite what fans wanted it to be but he’s still a world’s finalist on his best day and will be a positive force on the team. Their top laner Fudge is the biggest question mark. He’s a rookie who had a rough start to his tournament but then looked much better in the finals, even going so far as to overpower Impact in one of the games. C9 has a good track record with rookies and as good as this team looked, they have the potential to be even better.
100 Thieves looked surprisingly strong. Golden Guardians was never viewed as a powerhouse of his team but four of their members moved to 100 Thieves over the off-season to join the top laner Ssumday and they looked like a contender. Ssumday proved that he still has what it takes as a carry top laner in NA and put the team on his back when he had to. Meanwhile, the synergy between the other four members is heavily apparent. Closer in the jungle, Damonte in mid lane and FBI at ADC are all giving arguments to be considered in the top tier at their positions. Their support, Huhi, isn’t as spectacular but he does his job and he does it well. They are clearly a good team and should contest for fourth or fifth in the standings, depending on how well the TSM roster meshes.
Liquid had no issue halting Evil Geniuses 3-0, but that clearly was not indicative of the strength of the team. They are exciting and have an incredibly high ceiling. Impact in the top lane is a world champion from 2013 but has not let his age catch up with him. He’s good on a bad day and dominant on a good one. The jungler-mid lane duo of Svenskeren and Jiizuke are notoriously aggressive and are the very heart of this team. The ability to live on the edge and push their own tempo, not adhering to the norms established by other teams. The support IgNar established himself on FlyQuest last year and was joined by Deftly this year in the most unlikely duo to perform as well as they did. The two played like they were the best and clearly aren’t scared of the competition. This is the team to watch to see if they can continue to get better with time and become a force to be reckoned with.
These four teams came out on top early, but the teams behind them aren’t going to roll over and let them have it. Expect a year of hopefuls taking on the titans above them for a chance at their own glory as they fight to see who is most worthy of representing North America at the 2021 World Championship.