Another year, another offseason, another set of roster overhauls–the League Championship Series is getting a fresh start in 2021. Sixteen new players will make their LCS debut next Spring Split. It is a diverse mix of true North American rookies, newly resident Oceanic players, and imported players from Latin America, Europe, and Taiwan. Six of the ten teams are responsible for signing these players, demonstrating the breadth of change to the league.
*Note: This list only contains players who have played three or less games in the LCS.
Bjergsen and Doublelift, two of North America’s longest-tenured and most successful players, both announced retirement at the end of 2020. Other long-standing veterans, including Xmithie, Meteos, Froggen, sOAZ, and Apollo are seemingly out for at least the beginning of this season. This veteran exodus combined potentially with the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on the National Basketball Association is forcing LCS organizations to change their roster-building strategies. Ssumday is the only player who has three or more years with the same organization. The LCS is waiting for its next generation of franchise players. Here is the newest batch of recruits to North America.
North American Rookies
- Most Recent Team(s): FlyQuest Academy (2019-2020)
Revenge joining Immortals was not a move anyone predicted this offseason. The American top laner has a year and a half of Academy experience under his belt, but that is all. FlyQuest Academy finished between eighth and tenth while starting Revenge, and individually he performed in the bottom half of Academy top laners. This move to LCS is a big jump for him, but Immortals must see some untapped potential.
- Most Recent Team(s): Maryville University (2019-2020)
While Niles’ name has been out there a while, College League of Legends is the highest level at which he has competed. The American top laner has played for Maryville University for two years under a full scholarship. During his time there, MU won the 2019 CLOL Championship and qualified to the 2020 North Conference Playoffs, which were unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, MU’s team won a series of amateur events, including Risen Champions League, UCLA Esports Invitational, HUE Invitational, and Upsurge Premier League. Most recently, Niles competed at the 2020 Scouting Grounds with Team Cloud.
- Most Recent Team(s): Maryville University (2019-2020), Supernova (2018-2019)
Following a similar trajectory, Iconic joins Golden Guardians alongside Niles. The American jungle, formerly known as Zoun, played for Maryville University from July 2019 onward. Prior to MU, Iconic jungled for Supernova, an amateur organization that started back in 2016. While Iconic was on the roster, Supernova placed highly in several UPL tournaments, as well as other amateur circuits. The MU duo joining the LCS together is reminiscent of University of Toronto’s Ngo, Erry and JayJ, who joined FlyQuest Academy in 2018.
- Most recent team(s): Golden Guardians Academy (2020), TSM Academy (2018-2019)
Ablazeolive has been a North American mid lane mainstay in the Academy League since 2018. He has seen various levels of success, finishing sixth, seventh, first, third/fourth, seventh and fifth/sixth across six splits and two teams. Seeing previous teammates like Grig, MikeYeung, Spica and Tactical get their shots at LCS, it seems like 2021 is Ablazeolive’s year. He could really make a name for himself on a fresh Golden Guardians lineup.
- Most recent team(s): Cloud9 Academy (2020), Golden Guardians Academy (2019), OpTic Academy (2018)
It’s always encouraging to see a pro player with a steady upward trajectory. Palafox’s Academy League results have risen from eighth/ninth to runner-up to champion each year with each new team. As the mid laner for Cloud9 Academy’s dominant back-to-back 2020 championships, the LCS is his next logical step. Like Ablazeolive, Palafox joins a rather green team in 2021–FlyQuest. And while FLY’s competitiveness is to be determined, Palafox will play a major role regardless.
- Most recent team(s): Cloud9 Academy (2019-2020)
Diamond is joining FlyQuest alongside Palafox, hopefully bringing a level of synergy with them. While the Canadian support has played in amateur leagues and Challenger Series stretching back to 2012, he’s really made a name for himself in recent years. During Diamond’s tenure, Cloud9 Academy has finished second, third-fourth, first and first in the last four splits, respectively. This is a stellar track record that few Academy players can match. Diamond will certainly be a key player in any FlyQuest success in 2021.
- Most recent team(s): Cloud9 Academy (2020), MAMMOTH (2019), MAMMOTH Academy (2019)
Unlike Finn, Fudge has had a relatively short and hot pro career thus far. He started in Oceania’s Challenger Series in Summer 2018, before joining MAMMOTH Academy in 2019, splitting time with Topoon on the OPL roster that summer, and becoming sole starter during their Playoffs win to qualify to Worlds. Cloud9 Academy picked him up for 2020, where he helped them sweep the league as back-to-back champions. Fudge and Coach Reignover will promote to the LCS roster for 2021, hoping to fill the shoes left behind by Licorice and Coach Reapered.
- Most recent team(s): Legacy Esports (2020), Chiefs Esports (2016-2019)
Another Oceanic bottom laner joins North America, following the likes of k1ng, Lost, and FBI. Raes has been one of the hottest OPL players in recent memory. He has not placed lower than fourth domestically since 2015, and lower than third since 2017. Raes’ team, Legacy Esports, completely swept 2020 with first-place finished in regular season and playoffs for both splits. Legacy continued their great performance at Worlds 2020, finishing second in their Play-Ins group. Raes is arguably the most talented player starting for Immortals in 2021.
- Most recent team(s): Origen (2020), MAMMOTH (2019), Chiefs Esports (2018)
The LCS will be Destiny’s third region in three years. The Australian support has actually played alongside recognizable names who have already played in North America, such as k1ng, Shernfire, ry0ma, FBI, and Fudge, and others coming to the LCS next year, including Alphari, Xerxe, Babip, and Raes. Origen failed last year, despite what looked like a superstar lineup coming into 2020. Most of those players have moved on to other teams for redemption, including Destiny.
- Most recent team(s): G2 Esports (2015-2020)
A player that should not require an introduction, Croatian superstar mid (and bottom) laner Perkz is coming to North America as one of the biggest acquisitions of all time. Adding to (potentially topping) the list of legendary European mid laners playing in the LCS, Perkz brings a pedigree that few can match. He has been with G2 Esports from the very beginning—joining EU LCS in 2016, winning EU LCS/LEC eight times, and achieving fifth, second, and first at Mid Season Invitationals, and ninth-eleventh, third-fourth (twice), and second at World Championships. Although Cloud9 is a different roster than G2, anything less than winning will be a disappointment to Perkz.
- Most recent team(s): Origen (2019-2020), Misfits (2016-2018)
Alphari has had an up-and-down career. In joining Team Liquid for 2021, ideally, he goes up compared to the down that was Origen 2020. Prior to Origen, Alphari played for Misfits, including the 2017 lineup that surprised at Worlds. Despite his teams’ varying results over the years, Alphari has consistently won All-Pro honors. He will bring a new flavor to Team Liquid’s top lane, which was Impact for the last three years. If he and newly acquired Santorin can replicate their individual success, then Team Liquid will be a powerhouse.
- Most recent team(s): Rogue (2019-2020), Rogue Esports Club (2019), Movistar Riders (2018)
While Finn has most likely remained unknown until last year for most LCS viewers, the Swedish top laner has tournament results stretching back to 2017. He got his start in Challenger Series for EU LCS and LCL, before joining Movistar Riders in 2018. From there, Finn joined Rogue, and got his first taste of the LEC splitting time with Profit across Spring and Summer Splits 2019. Going into 2020 Rogue committed to Finn as sole starter, and he helped get the organization a regular season first place, playoffs bronze, and its first World Championship appearance. Counter Logic Gaming is hoping Finn brings more of that underdog magic to the LCS in 2021.
- Most recent team(s): Origen (2020), Splyce (2018-2019), Unicorns of Love (2017)
One of three members of Origen 2020 making his their way to North America, Xerxe steps into Immortals’ jungle slot. Since re-joining the LCS, Immortals’ roster has revolved around veteran jungler Xmithie, so Xerxe has big shoes to fill. The Romanian had a rough year compared to 2019 with Splyce, where they made it out of groups at the World Championship. Xerxe has never been a champion in a major region, but he has had several top-three finishes in Europe. Depending on how he can gel with the rebuilding IMT roster, Xerxe should be more competitive in 2021.
- Most recent teams: Suning (2019-2020), Flash Wolves (2013-2018)
While most fans will know SwordArt from his recent Worlds Finals appearance with Suning, the Taiwanese support made his name and spent most of his career on Flash Wolves. During his tenure, FW went to every World Championship from 2015 to 2018. SwordArt won six straight domestic titles in the LMS. He and FW mid laner Maple joined Suning in 2019, with little success in 2019. Suning replaced several veterans (including Maple) with rookies in 2020, and they climbed from eleventh in Spring Split to third in Summer Split, winning Regional Qualifiers, and going all the way to the World Finals. This is a gigantic acquisition for TSM. SwordArt is the level of player to become another CoreJJ-type master support in the LCS, if properly managed.
- Most recent team(s): Rainbow7 (2020), Furious Gaming (2017-2019)
Hailing from Argentina, Josedeodo joins Flyquest as jungler for 2021. Prior to joining Rainbow7, Josedeodo did not make too many waves in Latin America. Furious Gaming placed seventh and fifth across 2019. However, he finished third in Spring and actually won Summer while on Rainbow7 in 2020. R7 went on to Worlds 2020, where they finished 2-2 in groups before getting knocked out by LPL’s LGD. Josedeodo made enough of an impression with his performance to make the transition from Liga Latinoamerica to LCS.
- Most recent team(s): All Knights (2019-2020), Isurus (2015-2018)
Newbie might be the most questionable offseason pickup, especially as a first-time import to LCS. His previous teams have performed well domestically, placing top three in every playoff since 2016. Newbie also won MVP of both splits in 2020. However, he has not been to an international competition in several years, which makes it hard to gauge if that will translate to North American competition. Like all 2021 Golden Guardians players, Newbie comes into next year to prove his worth in the big leagues.