The 2021 LCS Spring Season closed out last weekend, with Cloud9 winning the Mid Season Showdown to secure the title. League of Legends looked a little different this year for North America. The season kicked off with NA’s first Lock In tournament, followed by a six-week regular season which included three games per week for each team, and finally the Mid Season Showdown to crown a champion leading into Mid Season Invitational. Alongside these format changes, the LCS saw 16 new players enter the league: rookies, OCE players (now considered residents) and true imports. Here is a brief review of the 2021 Spring Season imports after their first split in North America.
C9 Perkz: A
Fans may have started the season nervous, as Perkz and Cloud9 had some shaky matches during the Lock In tournament. However, Perkz slowly showed his true colors over the course of Spring Season. He rose to prominence within the first few weeks of the regular season and maintained consistent enough play to earn 1st Team All-Pro. During Mid Season Showdown, Perkz proved vital to Cloud9’s championship title, culminating in gutsy Sylas play in Game 5. Considering C9’s acquisition of Perkz was one of the biggest roster moves of all time in western League of Legends, the mid laner’s first split absolutely made good on the decision.
TL Alphari: A
Similarly, Alphari made a huge splash in his first split joining Team Liquid. He had a bit of an opposite trajectory to Perkz, as Alphari came up huge in Lock In tournament, followed by consistently dominant play throughout the regular season, and a rough Finals of Mid Season Showdown to lose to Cloud9. Overall, though, he was a stellar performer in the top laner and crucial to Team Liquid’s success so far this year. Alphari won 1st Team All-Pro, and even secured the second most Honda MVP votes behind Blaber.
CLG Finn: B-
CLG had a rough split, dealing with Finn and Broxah’s visa issues early on. Considering the circumstances, Finn performed decently well. He rarely stood out like the best top laners, but Finn almost always played weak-side top laners, such as Sion, Ornn and Gragas. The few games he played Aatrox, Kled or Irelia, Finn showed he is capable of carrying some games when needed. CLG’s top laner generally started with small leads at 10 minutes, despite the team generally starting at a deficit. Finn did not necessarily make a good case for using CLG’s import slot, but he showed some upside and a solid floor.
IMT Xerxe: C
Unfortunately, Spring 2021 was not a good look for Xerxe. The European jungler never seemed to find his footing in this Udyr-Hecarim-Olaf meta with the rest of Immortals. As the most experienced major league player, Xerxe should have been a focal point for the team. Revenge struggled in most of his games, while Insansanity quietly scaled and stayed consistent. Raes and Destiny mostly slowly lost their lane, and Xerxe rarely made much impact in the early game. It’s not all Xerxe’s fault, but considering he occupies an import slot, Spring was mostly unsuccessful.
TSM SwordArt: B
SwordArt might have been the most divisive first-split import player, as far as ratings go. Phreak railed on him for mechanical misplays and issues uncharacteristic for such a veteran support. There are many moments throughout the split that look like griefing from the outside. But, on the other hand, SwordArt had some amazing moments that tended to overshadow the lows. By the end of the split, TSM looked best when SwordArt was unlocked on picks like Alistar, Gragas and Rakan. Considering the price point and value SwordArt should have brought to team, he did not quite reach as high as Perkz or Alphari.
FLY Josedeodo: B-
Josedeodo was in an interesting position coming into 2021, being a hyped import from a minor region joining a team that completely rebuilt from their best year ever. At the same time, FlyQuest brought in two rookies in mid and support, as well as as Johnsun in his sophomore year and Licorice as his first time off of Cloud9. This team seemed very high variance, and Josedeodo kind of embodied that. Being that Lee Sin is his signature champion, the meta and major region competition seemed to limit Josedeodo a bit, but he played approximately to preseason expectations. He may not have hit high enough highs frequently enough to justify a full B rating.
GG Newbie: B
It’s very difficult to reasonably rate individuals on a team like 2021 Golden Guardians. Not everyone can play like Alphari on Origen, winning 1st Team All-Pro on a last place team. Support players, in particular, are going to look even weaker on a weak team. That being said, Newbie had a pretty good first split in LCS. He came away with a 78.5 percent kill participation, highest in the league during the regular season, while also having the lowest death share of any support. Newbie averaged 8 assists per game, despite GG only averaging 7.5 kills per game. Looking past the poor performance of the team overall, Newbie did pretty well for having the lowest expectations of any import player on this list.
This year’s imports into the LCS generally elevated the league, but not all of them necessarily justify the expensive buyouts and occupying an import slot. Josedeodo and Newbie represent imports from minor regions that North America has left generally untapped, while Perkz and Alphari continue to prove why European imports continue to dominate the LCS. SwordArt, Xerxe and Finn showed this spring that one individual import might not make that big of a difference if a team is dysfunctional. Keep in mind, this has only been one split. One month from now, Summer Split starts back up with more weeks, more games, and more teams in playoffs, so look for these players to peak later in the year.
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