Who's poised to be the strongest LCS team out of the gate?
After a crazy offseason, the LCS is set to return in around a week with the LCS Lock In tournament. With roster shuffles and format changes, there's a lot that happened that is gearing the league up for a great season. Before we can all get into that though there's one piece of business that needs taking care of. Preseason power rankings!
10. Golden Guardians
- Top: Aiden “Niles” Tidwell
- Jungle: Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson
- Mid: Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Abbott
- ADC: Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes
- Support: Leandro “Newbie” Marcos
Someone has to anchor the league and, unfortunately, the Golden Guardians are pretty likely to do so. Besides their bottom lane, the team is filled with rookies that haven't played on the big stage. Sometimes new players can make quite an impact on the scene right from the get-go. But that always seems unlikely, doesn't it?
It looks like GG wants to take a more developmental approach to the 2021 season, which is actually great. A lot of people criticized NA orgs for simply recycling talent each year and not taking chances with younger players. GG isn't the only team to start taking chances this year, but probably the one taking the most with three players who have never played on a major regional stage.
Overall, the Golden Guardians probably won't come out of the gates as a successful team. And that's totally fine. There's a lot of room for development with new players like this and, for all we know, could become a title-winning roster in a year or two. If anything, fans should watch this team to see how far they've come by the end of the season.
- Top: Aaron "FakeGod" Lee
- Jungle: Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett
- Mid: Max "Soligo" Soong
- ADC: Toàn "Neo" Trần
- Support: Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black
Next up is Dignitas. While they won't take the lowest seed, it's impossible to see this team seriously challenging some of the big names like Team Liquid and Cloud9. Truthfully, there's just not much on this squad to get excited about. Aphromoo and Dardoch are recognizable names but haven't found that much success in recent history. Then, the crew that follows with them isn't awe-inspiring either.
Neo, formerly known as Asta, Soligo and FakeGod had very brief stints in the LCS. But they've spent most of their LoL careers in Academy and other various, lower leagues. Now, that's not a bad thing in itself, but their tournament results don't indicate they're up-and-coming talents. Overall, they were middle-of-the-pack in these leagues, aside from a couple of shining moments.
Considering this, maybe this is a sort of redemption shot for the players. As with the Golden Guardians, having some less-experienced players means there's room for development. Sadly, with what these players have shown, it's less likely though, and it's more probable that this team will struggle throughout the season.
- Top: Mohamed "Revenge" Kaddoura
- Jungle: Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir
- Mid: David "Insanity" Challe
- ADC: Quin "Raes" Korebrits
- Support: Mitchell "Destiny" Shaw
Immortals has a roster that gives off mixed signals all around. While there are some things to be excited about, there are a lot of question marks too. Xerxe and Destiny are coming over from Astralis (Origen) of the LEC, while Raes is being imported from Oceania under the new OPL import rules. These three are the ones to be most excited about.
First off, Xerxe was praised for his creativity in the old Unicorns of Love and Splyce days, and a return to form for him would mean great things for IMT. The Raes and Destiny combo was one of the best bot lane duos back in the OPL in 2018. Even after splitting up in 2019, the two continued to find decent success in the respective regions they played in. Because of all of this, it'll be interesting to see if they still have the same synergy and how they perform in NA.
Meanwhile, the IMT solo laners appear to be the weaker points currently. In 2018 and 2019, Insanity had decent Academy results, but both Revenge's and Insanity's 2020s resulted in very low finishes. While this isn't totally indicative of what these players can accomplish, it doesn't exactly bode well for now. Hopefully, 2021 can be their chance to grow and shine in the LCS.
7. Counter Logic Gaming
- Top: Finn "Finn" Wiestål
- Jungle: Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen
- Mid: Eugene "Pobelter" Park
- ADC: Jason "WildTurtle" Tran
- Support: Andy "Smoothie" Ta
Taking the seventh spot here is long-time LCS competitor CLG. Even with the combined accolades these players boast, CLG doesn't look too hot coming into the 2021 season. These players are mostly out of their prime and haven't shown they can always keep up with the current top players.
While Pobelter actually looked damn good in 2020, the rest leave something to be wanted. Finn was commonly pointed to as the weak point on a stellar Rogue lineup back in Europe. Broxah, despite being on the Fnatic roster that went to the World Finals, failed to impress in NA. It's hard to forget that Graves game where he didn't have any kill participation until the last, post-30 minute team fight. Finally, the duo of WildTurtle of Smoothie feels like a barrel of inconsistency. This all may seem harsh but these players should be held to a higher standard based on their pasts.
CLG definitely won't be at the very bottom of the standings. Their players, though past their primes, are still capable of taking games against decent teams. But at the end of the day, it appears as though this will be another disappointing year for CLG fans.
- Top: Eric "Licorice" Ritchie
- Jungle: Brandon Joel "Josedeodo" Villegas
- Mid: Cristian "Palafox" Palafox
- ADC: Johnson "Johnsun" Nguyen
- Support: David "Diamond" Bérubé
The go-green FlyQuest rounds out the number six spot on the list. Now, this roster doesn't look to be anything stellar from a glance, and is likely going to be a comfortably middle-of-the-pack team. But don't get it wrong, it's one to be excited about. Three former C9 members make the core of this team with two extra additions that fans just have to keep their eyes out for.
First off, everyone knows Licorice and how, since his debut with Cloud9, he's solidified himself as a top-tier top laner in NA. Accompanying him from the previous org are Palafox and Diamond, who played in Academy. However, these two set themselves apart from some of the aforementioned Academy players because of their incredible 2020 season. These two, with the rest of C9A, absolutely dominated the season and won both splits handily. This shows that despite the lack of experience on the big stage, they're not players teams can afford to underestimate.
Lastly, we come to two amazing prospects FlyQuest managed to secure. In his rookie split, Johnsun proved he has great potential, even on a lackluster Dignitas squad. Then we have Josedeodo, a Latin American player joining the LCS for the first time. He's played since 2017 and had a noteworthy 2020, along with a World Championship appearance that gained him many fans around the globe.
Though they're not listed highly here, this team looks like one without limits. If they mesh well they certainly have a shot at breaking into the top ranks, but it's difficult to say that confidently without seeing them in action first.
5. 100 Thieves
- Top: Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho
- Jungle: Can "Closer" Çelik
- Mid: Tanner "Damonte" Damonte
- ADC: Ian Victor "FBI" Huang
- Support: Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun
100 Thieves is always a team that you want to root for but can never manage to break into the upper echelon of the LCS. This year, they snagged four out of five of the previous Golden Guardians roster and kept Ssumday as their rock in the top lane.
Honestly, we know a lot of what to expect with this roster already because most of it played together in 2020. On GG, Closer and FBI were the main focal points of the team. They had pretty impressive seasons, so expect them to put up good individual performances. Meanwhile, Huhi will probably still be okay, but lackluster compared to top supports. And Damonte is somewhat inconsistent with his on-stage performances. However, if he's really feeling himself, he can compete with the best.
The real change here (besides new coaching staff and a new org) is Ssumday. Everyone knows Ssumday is an absolute beast and has been the strongest 100 Thieves player this entire time. It's unfortunate that he never had a squad here that he could find more success with, but if this team synergizes well it could be the chance for an LCS title Ssumday deserves. Still, it's an uphill climb for this team with so many heavy-hitters like TL, C9 and TSM.
4. Evil Geniuses
- Top: Jeong "Impact" Eon-young
- Jungle: Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen
- Mid: Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro
- ADC: Matthew "Deftly" Chen
- Support: Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun
Living evil in the number four spot is none other than Evil Geniuses. They're still maintaining two members as a core from last year in the form of Svenskeren and Jiizuke but adding three new parts. For the most part, their additions are straight upgrades too, so things are undoubtedly looking up for EG.
The two biggest aspects of this upgrade are Impact replacing Huni and IgNar replacing Zeyzal. The players who they're replacing aren't slouches by any means but these two will be much better fits. IgNar in particular will be interesting to watch and how he interacts with Jiizuke in the mid lane. Both players have an aggressive, always-fighting play style associated with them, something that Svenskeren can bolster.
Looking elsewhere, Impact will be a solid performer in the top lane. He's tried and true, not experiencing the same coin-flip problems Huni faced. With all the action that is inevitable in the mid and bot lanes, Impact's consistency will be highly valued. At last we come to Deftly, who is filling the shoes of a former World Champion, Bang. Truthfully, this is a strange move to read. Bang was a great player but never really found his footing in the LCS. Perhaps Deftly will be able to play to IgNar's crazy play style better than someone like Bang could've. Regardless, there's a lot to look forward to for EG in 2021.
- Top: Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon
- Jungle: Mingyi "Spica" Lu
- Mid: Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage
- ADC: Lawrence "Lost" Sze Yuy Hui
- Support: Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh
Breaching the top three is TSM. The iconic NA organization lost two staple players in 2020, Bjergsen and Doublelift, but seems to have recovered just fine. They picked up some huge names and have a couple of younger players to keep them fresh. While they don't look to be the absolute strongest, they have a recipe for success.
The major addition to this roster is former Suning support, SwordArt. He's coming hot off of a Worlds Final appearance and an overall incredible season with Suning. The individual prowess he displayed at Worlds especially made him arguably the biggest offseason signing in NA. If he's able to have an impact on TSM like CoreJJ did with Team Liquid, TSM will be massive.
Joining him in the bottom lane is Lost, who isn't on the same level but has found pretty decent success in Academy in recent history and can be molded by an international superstar. Filling out the other positions is PowerOfEvil, who was fantastic with FlyQuest last year and a staple mid laner, Spica, who demonstrated his worth during the 2020 World Championship even as a rookie, and Huni, a beloved player who, despite inconsistency problems, has had very high highs during his long career.
Will TSM find themselves taking home another title with this roster? Maybe, but it's less likely than the two teams that come next.
2. Team Liquid
- Top: Barney "Alphari" Morris
- Jungle: Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen
- Mid: Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen
- ADC: Edward "Tactical" Ra
- Support: Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in
Team Liquid looks absolutely terrifying coming into the 2021 season. There's a ton of firepower with these players and not many downfalls to this roster. Star talent means a lot for winning titles, and TL has a lot of it right now.
Where to start with so many talented players? Perhaps with the two new signings, Alphari and Santorin. Alphari is hopping over the pond after abandoning ship on Astralis in the midst of a disappointing 2020. Many pointed to Alphari as a standout player on the former Origen roster even when it crumbled around him. Now, on TL, he has a real chance of breaking out and dominating the scene. Santorin is also joining with him, bringing the jungler who found great success on FlyQuest an even better place to shine.
The rest of the roster, as we know, is solid too. Jensen has been on form in 2020 and is certainly still a world-class mid laner. In the bot lane, CoreJJ and Tactical pair very well with each other too, though there's no doubt the support is the star of the team as he's the best support in the entire region and arguably the best player. These three pieces already showed what they can do together, and this year TL will be searching to retake the LCS throne, make another appearance at Worlds and hopefully make a deep run there. With these pieces, they're more than capable of doing so.
- Top: Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami
- Jungle: Robert "Blaber" Huang
- Mid: Luka "Perkz" Perković
- ADC: Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen
- Support: Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme
At the number one spot is, without a doubt, Cloud9. They've kept most of their roster from 2020 and added Perkz, the most accomplished Western LoL player of all-time. Although C9 had a disastrous second half of the 2020 Summer Split, their first half and entire Spring Split was immaculate and something this iteration can replicate.
The first name that comes to mind with this roster is Perkz. And it has to be. If SwordArt's signing wasn't the most important one for NA this year, it's definitely Perkz's. Formerly of G2 Esports, Perkz has found himself competing at the highest level of play in the LEC and internationally for years now. Simply put, he's an unstoppable carry and a huge boon to C9. Some other mid laners might be able to hold their own against him, but Perkz is far and away set to be a dominant force in the mid lane.
While there's a lot of hype for Perkz, the rest of the roster is exceptional too. The Zven and Vulcan bot lane duo has already shown us once how far ahead of the league they can be. If they find the same level of play, almost no other bot lanes can withstand their pressure. Jungler Blaber is also another staple of aggression in the league, and he has been great for the team and will most likely keep being so.
The only question mark here is Fudge. It's not one to be too concerned about though, as he was phenomenal in Academy and trained a lot with Licorice. He should more than suffice as serviceable but could prove to be much more than that. Should he be, he's well on his way to claiming titles with this C9 lineup.