League of Legends: North America’s Summer Split

Ever since the Summer Split started for the League of Legends Championship Series in North America, it’s been hard to attribute power levels to the 10 teams. Cloud9, the Spring champions and representatives at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational tournament, have faltered. Evil Geniuses have hit their stride. FlyQuest, who swapped all five of their players out mid-way through the Summer Split, are out to spoil everyone else’s season. Who is still good? Who needs to make major changes? This is how the LCS teams stack up against each other.

Rank 1: 100 Thieves (16-5 Summer, 27-12 overall)

The only certainty this split has been that 100 Thieves has been the number one team. Even with their suspicious losses to the ninth place Golden Guardians and sixth place Dignitas in the last couple of weeks, they have dominated and are looking to run away with their lead. Their ticket to success was the acquisition of Felix “Abbedagge” Braun back in April. He was a stud in Europe and he’s showing why in the LCS. However, if 100 Thieves had a weakness, it would obviously be in their top lane. Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho has been consistently dominant since he arrived in North America in 2016. But recently, he’s shown major weaknesses in the early game, often falling behind his opponents. On multiple occasions, he has been nearly all of their team’s deaths late into their games, even if they won.

2.  TSM (14-7 Summer, 26-13 overall)

This is the best iteration of TSM in a decade. They have been remarkably consistent across their roster, with all five being well above-average in their positions. Mingyi “Spica” Lu is the best jungler that TSM has had since Svenskeren way back in 2015. Surprisingly, it has been the bot lane that has shown the most proficiency, specifically Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh. When the veteran was acquired early this year, he made rookie mistakes time and time again in the Spring Split. But now, he has turned things around and is a force to be reckoned with.

3.  Team Liquid (11-10 Summer, 23-16 overall)

While Liquid lags behind in the standings, it would be disingenuous to count them out. They finally sorted out their drama in the top lane, where Barney “Alphari” Morris ran into motivation issues and was benched for a few weeks. Now that he’s back, it’s an easy prediction that success will run through him and Liquid can surge back toward the top. However, it won’t be smooth sailing. Their starting jungler Santorin had to take an indefinite break due to health issues. The weight of responsibility instead fell to Jonathan Armao, who is objectively a downgrade.

4.  Evil Geniuses (14-7 Summer, 24-15 overall)

There is no explanation for what happened to Evil Geniuses. With no roster changes whatsoever, they transformed from a slightly above-average team to a juggernaut between splits. Their team was always heavily focused on team-wide aggression, picking champions to suit their playstyle and trying to overwhelm their opponents. While their victories in Spring seemed like they could go either way, they’ve since settled into a rhythm of dominance. Their rookie bot laner Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki is outstanding, as he is already challenging the region’s best.

5.  Cloud9 (11-10 Summer, 24-15 overall)

How the mighty have fallen. They had a truly dominant Spring Split, going 13-5 in the regular season and then 9-3 in the playoffs. Ever since their participation in the Mid-Season Invitational, they have struggled hard. Their jungler, Robert “Blaber” Huang, looks like a shadow of his former self, throwing games away as soon as they start. However, the player keeping them afloat was the one player people were disappointed in back in Spring. Top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami has pulled far more than his fair share of the weight. On multiple occasions, he keeps his team in the game or even wins them outright. There’s no question that the roster can turn around, but there’s a reason teams are made up of more than one player.

6.  Golden Guardians (9-12 Summer, 12-27 overall)

7.  Immortals (10-11 Summer, 17-22 overall)

It would be safe to call these teams out of championship contention. While eight teams make the playoffs in NA, only three of them will earn the honor of going to the World Championships. It’s up to the bottom half of the standings to spoil the top half, using upset victories to potentially alter the standings and throw off other teams. Golden Guardians has made a stunning turnaround in the later weeks of the Summer Split, with mid laner Nicholas Antonio “Ablazeolive” Abbott turning into a major star in the region. Immortals looks like they are held down by their players, such as their jungler Xerxe and bot lane combo of Raes and Destiny. Like GGS, they also have a native star mid laner in David “Insanity” Challe. Insanity’s innovative style has led to him being a wild card in most games.

8.  FlyQuest (7-14 Summer, 13-26 overall)

9.  Dignitas (8-13 Summer, 19-20 overall)

FlyQuest made a major roster change in the middle of the Summer Split, calling up their five academy players to replace their main roster. Immediately they had a 3-0 week, and are 4-2 since the change. While not a fantastic team, they are led by the fearless duo of jungler Hoangan “Nxi” Dinh and mid laner Stephen “Triple” Li. They have won games from the brink of failure and have shown that they have exactly what the league needs: players who are not scared of anything. Dignitas were the heartfelt story in Spring, pressuring the top of the standings with relatively unknown players. However, after they benched their mid laner Soligo for David “Yusui” Bloomquist and then kicked their jungler Dardoch in favor of Matthew “Akaadian” Higgenbotham, they took a turn for the worse. They have shown no signs of recovering.

10.  Counter Logic Gaming (5-16 Summer, 10-29 overall)

Even far below Dignitas rests CLG. They are hopeless, but LCS fans no longer blame the players. Three of them (top laner Finn, jungler Broxah and bot laner WildTurtle) were all in the World Championship tournament just last year. But there is no life or heart or energy within this team anymore. There is a serious failure by the leadership involved when they can’t turn a roster of this caliber into a decent League of Legends team.

With just two weeks to go, the playoff picture is becoming clear and the top eight teams will compete for the privilege of going to the World Championships. Will it go to one of the titans, or perhaps will there be a Cinderella story by one of the severe underdogs?