With the LCS Spring Split Playoffs starting this Thursday, March 23, and it's time to revisit our power rankings.
It has been a long and exciting regular season, but finally we are leaving best-of-ones behind as the LCS heads into the playoffs. And despite all the chaos during the middle of the season and a very close 8-team race for a postseason spot, there aren't too many surprises among the six teams we are left with. Maybe the biggest jump from the preseason expectations this Spring was made by Golden Guardians.
After starting out the split 0-4 under some unfortunate situations involving visa issues, the Guardians made a seven-game run to rocket themselves to the top of the standings. Unfortunately, GG didn't have the finish they wanted as they only won two out of their next seven games, dropping to the last available spot for the playoffs. While we can say the split overall was a success for a usually mid-table org, GG was so close to getting to 10 wins for the first time ever in their history but fell short at the finish line for another .500 season.
Two other big stories from the LCS regular season have to be the ups and downs of 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses. Both teams came into the season with a lot of hype behind them, EG as the last Spring champions and the Thieves with Doublelift and Bjergsen signings. And while both teams are still in the fight for the LCS title, it would be hard to argue they are completely satisfied with their split. 100 Thieves went on a massive loss streak in the middle of the season, losing seven out of their eight games and playing some really bad League of Legends at some point. Evil Geniuses also had some performances on the Rift that cast doubt on their ability to win the LCS. To be fair the team's mid/jungle duo battling with sickness and the whole team having the play their games from home definitely didn't help them. Still, coming into the playoffs EG only secured one victory in their last six games.
6. Golden Guardians
- Top lane: Eric “Licorice” Ritchie
- Jungle: Kim “River” Dong-woo
- Mid lane: Kim “Gori” Tae-woo
- AD Carry: Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes
- Support: Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun
Preseason prediction: 8th place, Finished regular season: 6th place
The Golden Guardians hype settled down a bit since their two big victories over Cloud9 and EG during Week 5. They are still a good team to be sure, but it seems like the rest of the playoff teams are either playing much better like the 100T or have players with more explosiveness that can get an upset victory like CLG. The 0-3 Superweek to end the season hurt them a lot as it resulted in a sixth-place finish, which means they will have to get through FlyQuest or 100 Thieves in their first series.
Either team will be hard for them in a best-of-five especially with their bot lane losing their mid-split dominance. 100T and FlyQuest have some of the best bot lanes and ADCs in the league, so they will need Stixxay to show up big time. On the other side of the coin, neither of their potential opponents has a stable top side. With Licorice playing much better than his early split performances when he was probably the worst top laner in the league, and with one of the best mid/jungle duos in the LCS on a good day, Golden Guardians will be a tough opponent for anyone coming their way.
5. Counter Logic Gaming
- Top lane: Niship “Dhokla” Doshi
- Jungle: Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia
- Mid lane: Cristian “Palafox” Palafox
- AD Carry: Fatih “Luger” Güven
- Support: Philippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere
Preseason prediction: 6th place, Finished regular season: 4th place
If CLG does one thing very well it is subverting expectations. When everyone started to count them out in the last week, they came out with a massive 3-0 week including a 30+ kill victory over Cloud9. So it is very hard to tell what they will do in the playoffs. They are strong enough to take games off Cloud9, but can they do it three games in a row? I'm not necessarily confident in CLG this split as the last week was the first time this season they played three consecutive good games. The top side of the team has been incredibly volatile which is sometimes reflected in their drafts. In one game they are challenging the best teams in the league, in the next one they are going till the 45. minutes against Dignitas. The talent is there for CLG, just hoping it isn't too late into the season to start being more consistent.
4. Evil Geniuses
- Top lane: Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho
- Jungle: Kacper “Inspired” Słoma
- Mid lane: Joseph Joon “jojopyun” Pyun
- AD Carry: Victor “FBI” Huang
- Support: Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme
Preseason prediction: 1st place, Finished regular season: 5th place
We talked about some of the issues Evil Geniuses had to deal with near the end of the season. It's undeniable Jojo and Inspired's health issues hurt the team, but still, it would be wrong to say all their issues stem from these problems and the remote play. EG had more than a fair share of their shaky games before they started playing at home, their 40+ minutes wins over 100 Thieves and Team Liquid comes to mind.
They've been bad at closing games the whole split long, even with big gold advantages on their side. They are still an extremely dangerous team when it comes to teamfights, while FBI is not Danny-level dominant in 5v5s he is still one of the better ADCs in the league. Their inability to close out games also started to show more since they are ahead in the bot lane more often this season, with Vulcan and FBI's laning phase being a clear upgrade. Unfortunately, their map play during mid to late games is not up to par for a championship team, especially since some of their Baron calls left a lot to be desired.
Another big problem is the individual level of EG's top side. It was always going to be hard to replace Impact, but it is worse than expected since Ssumday is having his worse season of the last couple of years. Last year on 100 Thieves, he had a lot of successful games on carry champions like Tryndamere, but this year he couldn't have the same impact on these kinds of picks. It doesn't help that Jojopyun is apparently in a sophomore slump. Even before his sickness, Jojo has been underperforming. The young player is still a good laner but he's been especially careless with his positioning, both in fights and around the map. His tendency to get caught and die randomly lost his team more games than they should've and limited his positive impact. If EG wants to seriously push for another title, they will need Jojo to return to his Summer form.
3. 100 Thieves
- Top lane: Milan “Tenacity” Oleksij
- Jungle: Can “Closer” Çelik
- Mid lane: Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
- AD Carry: Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
- Support: Alan “Busio” Cwalina
Preseason prediction: 4th place, Finished regular season: 3rd place
While it's the right thing to start considering 100 Thieves as a serious threat, I still have some questions about this team. The biggest one is, can they play any comp other than draft a lot of hard engage and let Doublelift carry? It's a working strategy for them, it's especially great in the LCS's teamfight-oriented style. But can they win the championship by only playing to their one strength? It is a tough question that will see the answer this week, but at the very least they probably have the best player they could've asked for to build this draft strategy around. Doublelift has been on a tear in the last week or so, and he doesn't seem to be slowing yet.
- Top lane: Jeong “Impact” Eon-young
- Jungle: Mingyi “Spica” Lu
- Mid lane: Lee “VicLa” Dae-kwang
- AD Carry: Lee “Prince” Chae-hwan
- Support: Bill “Eyla” Nguyen
Preseason prediction: 2nd place, Finished regular season: 2nd place
People started to overcorrect their first round robin praises for FlyQuest a little bit lately, with many analysts on the LCS broadcast not even thinking FlyQuest would make it to the Finals in their mock brackets on last week's stream. While I think Fly has some obvious problems, they are still a top-two team in this league. The problems they have like the inconsistency from the mid lane, weak macro play or the support situation aren't big enough to suppress the talent in this team.
Sure, he had more bad games than he should've, but VicLa is still one of the best mids in the league. Prince is still a top two ADC, and there aren't too many jungle/top lane duos anyone would take over Spica and Impact. The road might be tough for FlyQuest, but if LCS fans learned anything from last year's Evil Geniuses, it should be never to bet against Grandpa Impact when playoffs come.
- Top lane: Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami
- Jungle: Robert “Blaber” Huang
- Mid lane: Jang “EMENES” Min-soo
- AD Carry: Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol
- Support: Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen
Preseason prediction: 3rd place, Finished regular season: 1st place
With the tiebreak victory over FlyQuest last Friday, Cloud9 brought their head-to-head to 2-1 for the regular season, unofficially cementing themselves as the best team in the LCS. Throughout this season, we saw Cloud9 excel at many teams on the Rift. They've always been one of the best teamfighting teams in the league, always with a chance to turn the game around with a fell fought 5v5. But ever since EMENES joined, they addressed some of my biggest criticism of this team. The early games have been a lot more active, both from Blaber and as a collective team. They played more games around Berserker and the bot lane, playing more and more early game picks like Varus or Draven. It is hard for any team to face this iteration of Cloud9 as they are good at getting leads, closing out games with those leads and fighting back from a deficit even if they aren't in the lead.
LCS Spring Playoffs Schedule
- Thursday, March 23 – 2:00 PM PST // 22:00 CET
- FlyQuest vs. 100 Thieves
- Friday, March 24 – 2:00 PM PST // 22:00 CET
- Cloud9 vs. Counter Logic Gaming
- Saturday, March 25 – 2:00 PM PST // 22:00 CET
- Loser of FLY/100T vs. Golden Guardians
- Sunday, March 26 – 2:00 PM PST // 22:00 CET
- Loser of C9/CLG vs. Evil Geniuses
2023 LCS Spring Split Daily Recaps
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 4
- Week 5
- Week 6
For more LCS and LoL Esports news, follow us on ESTNN.