New split, new reasons you tell yourself to get excited about North American League of Legends.
After a disappointing showing at MSI from Cloud9, it feels like fans are out for blood. With rumors of import restrictions being changed put to rest, the community can breath a sigh of relief, for now. So rather than being nice and optimistic, it’s time to feed into the drama and the disappointment.
If your expectations are low, it might be easier to achieve.
Not every team can win the summer split, so why not put it out into the world why every team probably won’t win the LCS.
Golden Guardians +10000
Once again Golden Guardians find themselves projected to finish dead last in the LCS. Despite having arguably one of the best minds in North America at the helm, it doesn’t look good for the organization. The team has made two adjustments to their roster — bringing in veteran Colin “Solo” Earnest to provide a sense of stability in the top-lane and bringing a fresh support Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio.
While two positive changes for the organization, the team’s struggles were much more than a feeding top-laner and a support player that at times looked completely lost in the games.
Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson ranked last among North American junglers in kill participation (59.3%), KDA (1.9), first blood percentage (17%) and damage per minute (240). But he did have the lowest percentage of his team’s deaths (14.6%). Coach Nicholas “Inero” Smith has had the luxury of working with aggressive junglers who already had some time on the competitive stage. And while he does have an excellent history of player development, we haven’t necessarily seen it in the jungle role.
Golden Guardians appear to be on the right track with the recent changes but it simply doesn’t feel like enough. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes looked fairly decent in the spring split but it could be argued that he should have been able to do more. It is yet to be determined if a new support can change that — especially given the fact that Chime’s previous partner did a lot of the heavy lifting on Golden Guardians Academy.
Counter Logic Gaming +3300
Despite improvement towards the end of the spring season, Vegas doesn’t have much confidence in the team. This seems to be for a good reason – the team really doesn’t have that one great player to take them over the top. Having one of the best floors when it comes to teams in North America, the potential peaks of the team don’t necessarily seem that high.
To make an American football reference, CLG are the team that manages to earn a wildcard spot and make it to the playoffs but have zero chance of making it to the Super Bowl. More specifically, the mid-2000s/2010s Cincinnati Bengals. They were good enough to not lose games but not great enough to pull off outstanding victories.
CLG has an excellent top-laner in Finn “Finn” Wiestål and a great new coaching staff, it is now just finding the right talent to get them over the edge in key skill positions.
In contrast to Counter Logic Gaming, FlyQuest have a fairly high peak given some of the raw talent on their roster. Cristian “Palafox” Palafox and Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas both had moments during the season where they lived up to the hype.
But their floor is so low.
FlyQuest’s coaching staff struggled to put the team in a position to succeed. Despite creating level one strategies, the team rarely was able to capitalize on them. Their 50% first blood percentage is admirable — tied for fourth-best for the spring split. It’s just not necessarily the expected result given the investment into their early game. It is even worse when you factor in their -929 average gold deficit at 15 minutes and 28% first turret rate.
The team didn’t see improvement over the split. They had five straight weeks of going 1-2. And their coaching staff has not necessarily shown an ability to react and grow. You can call it a “beginner’s slump” but in reality, it appears to be a much deeper underlying issue within the construct of the organization.
They might be a lot better than people think.
Immortals quietly had an active off-season. They brought in two key pieces from No Org that could potentially find their ways into the starting line-up sometime in the summer split. Omran “V1per” Shoura and Andy “AnDa” Hoang looked outstanding battling against amateur and academy teams during the spring, showing North American teams that they were mistaken in discarding.
They aren’t in the starting line-up to start the season.
The main roster is still looking to define themselves. André “Guilhoto” Pereira Guilhoto continues to be an underappreciated mind in the space but hasn’t necessarily found the right formula. Having a more conservative approach to League of Legends has been great in bringing younger talent up to speed. The problem he’s witnessed in several of his teams is what to do once everyone is on the same page.
Their three carries all showcased what is potentially possible. Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura and David “Insanity” Challe both showed that they can hang in the LCS if given proper resources. Quin “Raes” Korebrits showed that they can play through the bottom side of the map and be fine. Its now just figuring out what Immortals want to be.
Even with the downtime that comes with the mid-season, that’s still a large question to ask.
Evil Geniuses +2000
Evil Geniuses also had an active off-season. Re-structuring the bottom lane across all three of their League of Legends teams is a huge move during the middle of the season. The surprise is that they have promoted their Evil Geniuses Prodigies marksman Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki all the way up to the main roster. The mechanically gifted marksman is replacing the marksman that didn’t do enough.
But Matthew “Deftly” Chen wasn’t the worst part of that team.
Deftly did the job expected of him. Quietly, he had the second-highest damage per minute and had lowest percentage of his team’s deaths among marksman in the spring split. He did this while also not necessarily having a ton of his team’s economy — only making up 25.8%.
Danny is a good sparkplug addition but a lot of Evil Geniuses’ success will depend on the performance of Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro. It’s relatively straightforward — Evil Geniuses are winning because of Jiizuke and are losing because Jiizuke is running it down. Deftly was a great foil to allow for the ‘Italian Stallion’ to roam. Danny may require an additional amount of resources and attention.
Peter Dun now has the luxury of being in North America after partially being remote for the spring season. But from a strategic perspective, Evil Geniuses were relatively sound. He has also been a public supporter of Jizuke’s aggression – signaling that we’re still going to see the same Evil Geniuses from the spring split.
Their sixth-place regular season finish was disappointing for an organization with a ton of hype in the spring but it doesn’t feel as if the changes they’ve made will boost them towards the top of the standings right away. Instead, it feels like another move for the future.
Can Dignitas keep getting away with it?
The team that surprised most of North America with their fifth place regular season finish finds themselves with the fifth best odds to win summer split. Most personalities were quick to call it a fluke, confirming their suspicions with Dignitas’s early exit from the playoffs. Relying on excellent team-fighting and the mistakes from the opposition can only get you so far.
Despite almost all of their members playing above expectations, their lack of progression in finding early game leads is a huge hurdle to overcome. Toàn “Neo” Trần is now on everyone’s radar. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black proved they still have a lot left in the tank and should be taken seriously.
We saw what was possible when Dignitas was playing at their best and it got them towards third place. With a lot more attention on the team, they could be ready to crumble. Jimmy “Jimmy” Harrison — who is an incredibly underrated coach in the scene — had some head-scratching drafts against 100 Thieves in their playoff series.
For Dignitas to win the summer split, a lot has to go right. Even with their luck, it doesn’t seem plausible.
100 Thieves +900
Christopher “PapaSmithy” Smith may potentially be managing for his job.
One of the most well-respected figures in the competitive League of Legends space hasn’t been able to find the formula for success for the 100 Thieves roster. After bringing in four critical pieces of the successful Golden Guardians squad in 2020, the roster would be plagued by mismanagement from the front office. Two high-profile mid-season moves appear to be giving fans and analysts confidence that the organization can turn things around.
The approach to their struggles has been questionable at best. They’re bringing in a new head coach who while fantastic, his core values don’t necessarily align with the talent. In an interview, Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu discussed his vision for every single member on the roster to shine. While in theory it sounds amazing, star marksman Ian Victor “FBI” Huang has shined when he is the center point. 100 Thieves succeed when putting FBI in a position to succeed and struggled when they didn’t.
The team also signed Felix “Abbedagge” Braun for a pretty penny despite not necessarily being a sure thing. Moments of brilliance from Abbedagge were contrasted with disappearing acts. His style of play, while reflecting what 100 Thieves was searching for in the spring split from their mid-laner, may not be successful with other components of the team.
100 Thieves continues to fumble with one of the best young cores in North America. It begs the question why didn’t they just purchase the contract of the previous mastermind. Buying the individual players but attempting to create their own vision feels like a waste..
They spent $6 million on a support.
TSM recovered fairly well towards the end of the spring season after what was an incredibly concerning start. Thanks to improved performances overall from Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrag and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh along with Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon stepping up in wins, the team was relieved with their spring performance given the circumstances.
But a lot of things regarding their spring split still don’t sit well. More specifically, the performance of Mingyi “Spica” Lu. Expected to be the face of the new generation TSM, we didn’t see his face at times during the spring split. Outpaced and outplayed by other junglers, Spica really took a step back. He would have the second-lowest first blood percentage (17%), second-lowest damage per minute and participate in the fourth-lowest among of kills (60%) among junglers. Given just how bad junglers on Team SoloMid have looked, the community was quick to give praise to Spica for simply not sucking.
The way the roster is currently constructed, TSM is asking a lot from two historically inconsistent members in Huni and Lost. A green head coach in Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg hasn’t been able to figure out the right balance just yet. It was a tough ask to expect Bjerg to be able to lead this type of roster. It is a little confusing why they haven’t made any main roster changes. Consistency woes will still follow them this season. As a result, it could mean they are on the losing end of some upsets.
Team Liquid +180
Team Liquid were more than likely going to be the winner of the Mid-Season Showdown if Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen doesn’t fall ill. A split that nearly saw top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris win the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’ instead ended in disappointment. The team was left to spend most of the downtime thinking through everything.
Their series against Cloud9 brought a lot of questions to the line-up. The team would noticeably (and understandably) be frustrated during that evening’s press conference. Alphari would be on the receiving end of a ton of early game pressure. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen would look outclassed in Game 5. A moment that could have let Edward “Tactical” Ra show the world that he was deserving to be on one of the best teams in North America didn’t happen.
The organization struggles to build distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. They have good players, the coaching staff has proven that they should be recognized as some of the best, its now just finding a way to establish themselves as the best.
But given how it hasn’t happened, maybe it is time to re-evaluate what is going on with the team.
Once again, Cloud9 are the favorites to win the regular-season split. Even though they struggled at MSI, they still were the LCS representatives.
Their 13-5 record earned them a first-place regular season spot however it was the worst first-place record since Team Liquid’s 12-6 performance in Summer of 2018. They didn’t necessarily feel the pressure from other organizations when they would takeover the top spot in North America in week three. TSM and Team Liquid had slow starts while Dignitas and 100 Thieves would crumble in the final weeks.
It was relatively understandable that Cloud9 would want to make changes. The organization, however, isn’t necessarily used to the amount of changes they have been going through. It was one of the initial charms to the organization – they work things out.
Luka “Perkz” Perković hasn’t had the best entrance into the LCS. Despite earning first-team All-Pro honors, Perkz wasn’t the key reason for Cloud9’s victories. At moments during the season, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to forget that one of the most important figures in western competitive League of Legends was playing on Cloud9.
Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami also didn’t live up to expectations. While having moments of brilliance and redeeming himself at MSI, there were the moments of him crumbling when pressured by the enemy team. A similar pressure issue impacted junger Robert “Blaber” Huang who simply fell flat at the first international event of the season.
The one thing that seemed to be consistent was the bottom lane of Cloud9. While people would point out moments where Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was nonexistent, it could be connected due to issues outside of the bottom lane’s control. While replacing Zven with Calvin “K1ng” Truong feels like an immediate mechanical upgrade, its an unneeded ripple.
And then there is the big elephant in the room that Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez is a head coach once again.
The man that stepped away from head coach duties due to pressure has been put back into a role of head coach because Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin couldn’t handle the pressure.
Can’t make that up.
Mithy has been on the receiving end of criticism for his drafting tendencies and even though he is reunited with Marius “Veigar v2” Aune to help assist, only two coaches can be on the stage. Mithy is an excellent analyst but that is only one part of the job of being a head coach.
Cloud9 was able to get by for most the season relying on the pure talent of the roster. It is why they were so dangerous when they had an early game lead in the regular season — it allowed for them to be proactive and find holes to take advantage of. At MSI, teams did a really good job at halting any potential early game aggression from Cloud9. More film out there on Cloud9 does a lot of harm to the line-up.
Thinking that Cloud9 will be able to repeat isn’t outlandish — especially with the names on the line-up. It is just going to be incredibly difficult when the target on their backs. While a great regular season, it wasn’t necessarily convincing. Perkz will have to step up, Fudge will have to be able to find consistency, Blaber will need to shake off the flame.
“From Our Haus to Yours”