With 2021 introducing a new league format, we take a look at this year's playoffs and qualifier for the Mid Seasonal Invitational.
After another chaotic beginning to the LCS split, Including a full rebrand, import rule discussion and some hectic games. Time has finally come to crown the new LCS champions with the league's new Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). Now for any LCS veterans that might have missed the memo — this is the new tournament that is replacing the Spring Split Playoffs.
With six teams locked in we preview the upcoming matchups and explain the format to the league’s first MSS. The MSS finals will be played in the iconic Los Angeles Greek Theater on April 10-11.
New Year, New Format
A full year of pandemic life has paved the way for new innovation and rebrands throughout all of Riot Games' different professional leagues. The LCS was the first one to show it’s new look as well as new format to this year’s competition. The season would no longer be split into a Spring Split and Summer Split. Instead, it would be one long split with a Mid-Season Showdown to give teams a chance for an LCS title as well as qualify to the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).
The MSS takes the top six teams of the league, and places them in a double elimination bracket. The top four teams will start off the show this weekend. Beginning with TSM and Team Liquid (TL) facing off on Saturday, March 20. Followed by first place Cloud9 taking on 100 Thieves the following day. The loser of each match will play against Evil Geniuses and Dignitas respectively.
Official Schedule for 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown.
Breaking Down Round One
The 2021 #LCS Spring Split standings at the end of the regular season:
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) March 15, 2021
LCS Standings halfway through the season have been some of the closest we have seen. With only three games separating first place and sixth place. Yet, it might not feel like a shock to see the teams that made it into the MSS with possibly the exception of Dignitas, finishing only one game from an upper bracket finish.
With no real surprises it feels rather difficult to point at a clear favorite due to seeing some teams have rather inconsistent showings. Some argue that the league is this close because the teams are playing at a significantly lower level. Whatever the case, the MSS is poised to be an entertaining gauntlet to determine our MSI representative.
Match 1 Cloud9 vs 100 Thieves
1.Cloud9 4.100 Thieves
After the Lock-In tournament many saw Cloud9 as one of the top two teams in North America, and even though they did finish first we saw some weaknesses or even sloppiness from the boys in blue. This is not something exclusively to Cloud9 either as we have seen teams drop some games from seemingly unlosable positions.
On the other side of the rift we have 100 Thieves that also came into the year with high expectations following their successful Lock-In results. Since we have seen a team that actually changed one of their main acquisitions in Tanner “Damonte” Damonte with Tommy “Ryoma” Le. This threw a lot of people out of sorts, 100 Thieves however released a statement on the decision of trying Ryoma as the starting mid laner.
Hear from @PapaSmithy on our recent LCS roster swaps as we near playoffs.
— 100T Esports (@100T_Esports) March 11, 2021
Taking a look back at the regular season games Cloud9 looked convincing against 100 Thieves, the first game these two sides played was during Week 2 of the regular season, when 100 Thieves was sitting in first at 4-0. The game had C9 manage to play around the aggressive dive composition of 100 Thieves, resulting in a win with a 12k Gold difference.
Game 2 was during week 4 and was an even clearer victory by Cloud9 only dying twice and finishing the game in under 25 minutes. With the trajectory both of these teams have had, it feels that this is Cloud9's series to lose. We still don’t have confirmation on if Ryoma will keep his starting role on the 100 Thieves roster but it feels like the most likely outcome.
Prediction Cloud9 3 - 100 Thieves 0.
Match 2 TSM vs Team Liquid
2. TSM 3. Team Liquid (TL)
The marquee matchup for the first round of games happens to be against the two winningest organizations in LCS history. TSM had one of the better regular season trajectories after a very lackluster Lock- In tournament. Regardless of the 1-2 start the team ended up only losing games to Flyquest, Dignitas and EG since to finish at 12-6.
Now for the Lock- in champions we actually saw them struggle more, even though to some they still are the favorites to win MSS, it seems unclear due to the inconsistency of the three top teams of who could take the trophy. The main concern for TL fans should actually be in the bot lane with Tactical having some sluggish games and sloppy decision making.
As for their previous meetings TSM hold the 2-0 advantage on TL, these were not as convincing as C9’s over 100 Thieves but TSM was able to win in dominating fashion during their first meeting. While in the second one, grit and determination saw them claw back from a loosing position. This does seem to be the match of the week.
It feels that TSM could be the favorite to take the series but seeing both these teams in a Bo5 for the first time since Lock-in will truly separate the teams that have an understanding on how to play the current meta and who was reliant on winning lanes or dominating “weaker” opposition.
Prediction TSM 3-2 TL
Lower Bracket Teams
Now for the single elimination bracket we will have to wait a week to see the two teams that qualified play, Evil Geniuses (EG) and Dignitas could cause some upsets as they seem to have found their groove in the back-end of the regular season.
Dignitas has been the surprising team with a lot more to show, they currently have a 2-0 Record against TSM and EG. While also having other games won against the other three teams in playoffs, this is slightly unfortunate as they would have to wait for Round 3 of games before they even have a chance to face off against TSM or EG. Regardless, Dignitas has shown that they are the best of the rest only missing an upper bracket finish by having a losing record to 100T.
Evil Geniuses seem to be the one team that is truly up in the air as they have a 1-1 record with every team in the playoffs except for Dignitas. A lot of the recent memes seem to show that they rely on the coinflip of what Daniele “Jizuke” di Mauro will show up on the rift.
Gg TSM Gambling is fun pic.twitter.com/s7O1huNitN
— Jeong Eon Young (@Impact) March 13, 2021
Having to wait one week can actually be an exceptional advantage as both of these teams can see what the upper bracket teams have to show, while not having to do so themselves. We will have to wait to see who will look like the favorite to represent North America in Reykjavík, Iceland during the Mid-Seasonal Invitational.