North American fans have reasons to rejoice as the NA LCS Lock-In begins in 10 days. As we look into the beginning of the LCS Cycle, it’s only fair we bite into the hype and make our predictions ahead of the first major esports event. Presenting our Preseason Power Rankings for the 2021 LCS Season.
Starting at 10th place is Dignitas. Dignitas had an up-and-down cycle last year. Finishing seventh and eighth, Dignitas had an unusual split with high highs and even lower lows. This year, its roster took a bit of a nosedive, losing a majority of its roster save for Joshua “Dardoch” Harnett and Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black. There are definitely some shining stars on the rosters with Max “Soligo” Soong and Dardoch still remaining as an ever-dominating force. However, there are still synergy questions by putting in rookie Toàn “Neo” Trần. The potential remains but where they end up is another story.
9. Golden Guardians
There are definitely going to be questions as to why a team predominantly made up of rookies is above LCS veterans. These rookies are the reason why we have the Golden Guardians in ninth while many consider them the weakest roster. In watching Maryland University’s games, Aiden “Niles” Tidwell is a hungry young player ready to stamp his mark among the greats. Nicholas Antonio “Ablazeolive” Abbott is a consistent carry ready to finally hold his own in the starting role and Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes is still a force to be reckoned with. However, there are definitely questions as to how this team will come together. With a bit of practice behind them, Golden Guardians could make a big splash against top teams.
Another roster with some new talent and some shining stars, Immortals, will look to improve upon its previous iterations with firepower. All eyes immediately are put on Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir. As a top jungler in the LEC, Xerxe’s presence on the map will definitely be felt. Also joining him from Origen is former teammate in Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw and Worlds participant Quin “Raes” Korebrits: two Oceanic forces ready to make a splash in North America. Immortals, like Golden Guardians, oozes with potential, but synergy may become an issue. Time will tell, however, and Immortals still has a lot to prove.
7. Counter Logic Gaming
Rounding out the lower half of the teams is CLG, which will look to snap its losing ways and hunt for a playoff position. With some newly added firepower in former TL jungler and 2018 Worlds Finalist Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, and retained Eugene “Pobelter” Park, CLG is a dark horse team and will look to make a splash against some of the top teams in the league.
6. Evil Geniuses
Starting our playoff contenders is Evil Geniuses. EG made a big splash last year with Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and is looking to repeat the same success. EG made two big signings in the offseason with Lee “igNar” Dong-geun, and World Champion and LCS champion Jeong “Impact” Eon-young. Will there be enough firepower with these changes? Most likely, but where they end up will become the question. There are still questions as to how Daniele “Jizuke” di Mauro will perform after his fall from grace in the last years. For now, Evil Geniuses will remain a stable contender for the upper bracket.
After a successful Worlds run, the entire FlyQuest lineup departed for other organizations. Now, a brand new team takes its place and it sure is an exciting one. Making their debuts from the dominant C9 Academy are Christian “Palafox” Palafox at the midlane and David “Diamond” Bérubé, two integral parts of the back-to-back titles. At the ADC helm is Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen, who will look to become another shining NA talent. However, the excitement comes from the acquisitions of Eric “Licorice” Ritchie from Cloud9 and Brandon “Josedeodo” Joel Villegas from Rainbow7, two players hungry ready for playoff glory. FlyQuest will have to rely on these two superstars to be able to finally hoist its first title.
TSM was the most hype NA organization to head into Worlds 2020, only to implode on arrival and go 0-6. The entire roster made a huge shuffle with Bjergsen and Doublelift both announcing their retirements and BrokenBlade’s acquisition to FC Schalke 04. In their places are well known names in Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. The biggest move comes from the acquisition of Worlds finalist Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh from Suning Gaming. There are a lot of questions with this team: Will SKT Huni show up or will NA Huni be in the lineup? How will Lawrence “Lost” Hui fair against some of the best bot lanes in the world? And what will a coach Bjergsen bring to the team? TSM can either reclaim its spot or implode on arrival, but we think they’ll end up just fine.
3. 100 Thieves
At No. 3, we have the Golden Thieves — err, I mean, 100 Thieves. Memes aside, four-fifths of the successful Golden Guardians roster is joining 100 Thieves with Closer, Damonte, FBI and Huhi all donning the black and red of Nadeshot’s successful brand. There’s really not a whole lot to say here; Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho is still a rock in the top lane, the successful bot lane is sticking together and the organization is ready at beck and call to challenge the top teams of North America.
2. Team Liquid
Many North American fans felt a glimmer of hope when TL took down Suning in groups, only for the door to slam on its face by G2 Esports’s implosion that day. So TL took another look at its roster and brought two of the best-performing players, Barney “Alphari” Morris for the top lane and Lucas “Santorin” Larsen in the jungle. Helmed by reigning MVP Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in at the shot-calling position, Team Liquid is ready to make its stamp on the world stage again. It can easily win the title once again as this team has no flaws and will strike fear into the hearts of NA teams.
After the sudden collapse of the dominant Cloud9 of Spring 2020, changes were unclear. At first, its roster would remain the same, but then came the change of Oceania allowing players like Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami to declare residency. After was the biggest offseason signing in League of Legends history, bringing EU Superstar and midlane monster Luka “Perkz” Perković to the helm of the roster. There is a high bounty on this roster: do well or don’t come back. And this roster has the talent to take over the competition. Perkz and Robert “Blaber” Huang could become the best jungle/mid synergistic duo of NA, Fudge has immense potential (which could also serve as a weakness for C9), and the bot lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme are still considered one of, if not, the best bot lanes in NA. Cloud9 is ready to redeem itself from last split and will be a team to watch domestically and internationally.
With the beginning of the year coming out, every team is coming up strong, but who will be No. 1? Follow Stropse for breaking coverage of the LCS Lock-In beginning Jan. 15.