With the LCS summer split on the horizon, it’s time to make some pre-season predictions based on each team’s spring performance, roster adjustments, and midseason training. Six of the ten LCS teams have changed their rosters, with the most changes being made by Immortals and Cloud9 at three. 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, and FlyQuest have not made any roster adjustments.
While CLG’s completely new roster debuted at 8th in the spring split, their position was not entirely well earned. TSM, who held the 9th place spot, faced a series of internal issues and made multiple questionable roster decisions throughout the split. The instability of the organization during this time produced an environment where winning was nearly impossible; however, when those issues were resolved and the roster was stable, TSM accrued a winning record and even beat CLG. Immortals, who held last place spot, have made major roster changes in the midseason. With CLG making negligible roster moves by promoting Dhokla to the top lane, the 10th place spot is all but secured for this unimproved, young roster.
Make or Break Player(s): Dhokla
9. Golden Guardians
This is one of the more controversial and difficult placements of the split predictions. Golden Guardians managed to reach as far as 3rd place going in week 4 of the spring split; however, ultimately fell to 6th by the end. While their roster was incredibly effective at accruing early leads, their inability to close games was their biggest downfall. Now losing their ADC to Immortals, Golden Guardians have promoted a seasoned and effective veteran from their Academy team. Despite having a tenure history with both CLG and GG, I feel that it is unlikely Stixxay will significantly improve this GG roster. The only advantage GG holds over the teams below them is team chemistry. With every team below 6th making roster changes, it feels as if GG is the one of the weakest, above only CLG.
Make of Break Player(s): Stixxay
Dignitas finished 7th at the end of the regular split, narrowly missing out on playoffs. While Dignitas is an incredibly competent team thanks to their new jungler River, FakeGod’s performance in the top lane made a playoffs run nearly impossible. DIG have since replaced him with 100T Academy and former LCS player Gamsu; however, it is unlikely that they will find much more success than they did in the spring split. Had they acquired someone with more recent success in the LCS, I would have put them much higher; however, Gamsu is a wild card. He performed incredibly well in the NA Academy (LCS Academy) in the spring, but I’m not totally convinced he is going to be the game changer Dignitas need to be a top tier team.
Make or Break Player(s): Gamsu
Coming from last place, Immortals were quick to make major roster adjustments. Opting to retain their top laner Revenge and mid laner PowerOfEvil, Immortals scrapped the rest of their roster in favor of more promising players. Signing IgNar from Evil Geniuses, Lost from Golden Guardians, and Kenvi from Academy, Immortals are in a position to earn as high as seventh place. Coming off of a last place performance, a seventh place finish would be monumental considering the level of talent and money the top teams have. This is all contingent on the performance of Kenvi, a rookie fresh out of the Academy scene. If he is able to perform, Immortals can be good this year. Otherwise, they will find themselves in a position similar to Spring.
Make or Break Player(s): Kenvi, IgNar, and Lost
This is where the standings get tricky. While FlyQuest has chosen to retain their roster, a decision I firmly believe in, the players they have simply aren’t at the same level as the top five teams. While they managed to go toe to toe with the top four teams in spring, beating each team once, there is a lot left to be desired from this roster. They have the potential to be good, but losses to teams they should beat (like Immortals in week 8 and CLG in week 6) make it hard to see them as a consistent contender. As the only team able to take a game off of EG in the playoffs after their relegation to the lower bracket, FlyQuest have potential to break the top five, but need to be a more consistent performer in summer to really make an impact: toucouille needs to be on his A-game reliably and Johnsun and aphromoo need to be a more impactful duo in the bot lane.
Make or Break Player(s): toucouille, Johnsun, aphromoo
Quite possibly the most controversial team on this list, TSM are a top tier team. While their spring performance might not have shown it, TSM have been at the forefront of the LCS since its inception and the talent is still there. With 2021 summer split MVP Spica remaining in the jungle, an incredibly consistent Huni staying in the top lane, and an elite ADC Tactical in the bot lane, TSM have three core pieces to success ready to go. With a competitive system in place to play the best of three supports between Yursan, Mia, and Shenyi, their bot lane will be competitive this split. From there, the weight of performance falls to their new mid laner Maple, who is a proven performer. He had an outstanding showing at Worlds 2021, and LCS’s relatively weak mid lane pool makes him all the more threatening. While I don’t see them making Worlds this year, they have the components to be successful in the future.
Make or Break Player(s): Mia/Shenyi/Yursan, Maple
While they finished second in the spring split, the Cloud9 roster imploded following the highly exploited performance of their MVP top laner Summit. Making three roster moves this midseason, C9 have returned Fudge to the top lane, signed Jensen to the mid lane, and role swapped Zven to support to help facilitate the growth of elite Korean ADC Berserker. C9 has made all the right moves this offseason. They have built a roster made for NA dominance with all but one of their laners having a history of top-notch performances; however, the biggest concern for C9 comes in the ability of these players to return to form. Fudge was a monster in the top lane, bringing a rise to the highly touted “Fudge Factor” that changed the tides of games. Jensen is one of the best performing mid laners domestically and internationally, and Zven is an elite ADC. The biggest issue is that Jensen and Fudge haven’t played their respective roles professionally since summer 2021. Zven, on the other hand, is also an elite player, but has never played support. If each of these players is able to perform like they have in the past, C9 will be a competitor for the Worlds 2022 spot. If they are not, C9 will likely still finish in fourth or fifth, but a World’s appearance would be nearly impossible with the level of teams at the top.
Make or Break Player(s): Zven, Jensen, Fudge
3. 100 Thieves
Boasting the longest running stable roster, 100 Thieves have made back-to-back playoff finals appearances. They are undoubtedly a top three team and could easily fill any of the top three spots. Their biggest flaw is inconsistency. They are known to go into periodic slumps where they drop games to teams that have no business winning: most notably Immortals in week 2, FlyQuest in week 3, and Dignitas both times in spring. If 100T can beat Dignitas, a team they are currently 0-4 against in Lock-In/spring, they are poised to be a first place contender. Had they managed to beat DIG last split they would have been tied for first with Team Liquid in spring. Ssumday was a top performer in spring, but has not historically been so dominant. If he retains this form 100T can be successful, but it’s a tossup considering that he is no longer competing with Tenacity for a starting spot. Huhi and Abbedagge are the team’s biggest wild cards. If neither of them are able to consistently perform this split, they will likely be replaced, so the pressure is on them for the team to succeed.
Make or Break Player(s): Abbedagge, Huhi, Ssumday
2. Team Liquid
As the only team that managed to beat EG in the playoffs and the reigning Lock-In champions, Team Liquid has the best chance at dethroning Evil Geniuses. Team Liquid will make Worlds this split, but their biggest goal should be to take down EG. As one of the most consistent teams in LCS history, this TL roster is no different. Retaining all of their players, they will continue to be dominant this split. I cannot see Team Liquid placing lower than second.
Make or Break Player(s): Bwipo
1. Evil Geniuses
This EG roster is one of the best the LCS has ever seen. Although unable to show much during the regular split, EG demonstrated that they were far and away the best team in the LCS during playoffs. Winning 3-0 against each of the top three teams in playoffs, EG made it clear that they had no serious threats in spring. Fresh off of a 4th place MSI finish, EG’s biggest weakness is historical precedent. The teams that return from MSI have historically performed very poorly in the opening weeks of the split. This is mostly due to the lack of rest between training, and a severely shortened midseason break. While the other teams were resting, EG was still at MSI. If they are able to catch up and return to form, EG will likely hold first place in summer. The LCS trophy is theirs for the taking; however, they will have to beat precedent first if they want that top spot.
Make or Break Player(s): Danny, jojopyun