The 2022 LCS Lock In starts on January 14, kicking off North America’s major league competition. Like last year, the 10 LCS teams were divided into two groups–nemesis-drafted by Team Liquid and 100 Thieves, as finalists of the 2021 LCS Championship. TL heads Group B, which also includes Evil Geniuses, Immortals, CLG and Dignitas.
These would be fairly even groups, except several teams have already announced obstacles to starting their intended players. TSM’s Chinese imports and Cloud9’s Korean imports (including LS, apparently) are lagging behind in the visa process. Dignitas also announced they would start their Academy jungler due to visa issues for River. Luckily, Lock In results do not count towards season standings. However, these substitutions do theoretically skew Group B to become more competitive.
This will be Bwipo and Hans sama’s first professional matches in North America. This will also be the first look at Bjergsen in a new jersey since 2013. In Group B, this new TL squad gets their first shots against Inspired, Jojopyun and Vulcan on EG; Blue and Biofrost on DIG; PowerOfEvil and Wildturtle on IMT; and the whole new CLG lineup (Jenkins, Contractz, Palafox, Luger, Poome).
Group B Teams
EG is the obvious rival of the group. Sophomore bot laner Danny was turning heads last year coming straight off of EG Prodigies. Jojopyun will look to do the same in his rookie split. Inspired joins off of his LEC MVP split in Summer 2021, and multi-split All-Pro support Vulcan starts alongside Danny. Impact was on a tear during last year’s Lock In tournament. This team definitely has the firepower to compete with TL.
Do not underestimate Immortals with PowerOfEvil and Wildturtle. These two hard-carried plenty of games while playing together in FlyQuest’s Worlds-qualifying 2020 run. Revenge got his Alphari solo kill at Lock In last year. Xerxe and Destiny have a bit more to prove, but when they hit they hit hard. This will still be the coinflip IMT that set early gold lead records last year, except now they have true late-game insurance in mid and bot.
CLG and DIG took drastically different routes in roster building this offseason. CLG scraped together some underutilized talents to see if they can punch above their weight, while DIG took risks on two-time Worlds qualifying jungler River from the PCS region, Turkish resident turned LEC mid laner Blue, and beloved ex-TSM support Biofrost. Fakegod and Neo remain standard North American talents with some upside. Who knows what to expect from these two teams?
Overall, Team Liquid should be the favorite to win the group. From there, they most likely face a resolute 100 Thieves team that remains essentially unchanged, as well as TSM Academy, hybrid C9-C9A, Golden Guardians or FlyQuest. Considering Darshan, Zven and Isles are the substitutes for Cloud9, they could totally pull through. Golden Guardians could also surprise, as they build off momentum from last year after acquiring Licorice. Now they bring in Pridestalkr, who has been making waves in Europe’s Regional Leagues, Lost from last year’s TSM, and Olleh, another long-lost support player who found success years ago. Maybe magic happens?
On paper, 100 Thieves looks to be the greatest threat to TL in the 2022 LCS Lock In. They snapped Liquid in two in last year’s LCS Championship Finals, and kept the same members (except maybe starting Tenacity top). Meanwhile, TL’s star power has the highest ceiling at this point, but the question remains if they will gel from the start. Also, CoreJJ may not start if his green card is delayed, in which case Eyla would start as support. This would drop the team down a peg, but Bwipo, Santorin, Bjergsen and Hans sama bring plenty of leadership, flexibility and experience to nab TL another Lock In title.