2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown Preview: Only Three Teams Remain
There are only three teams left in the 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown, and it’s the three most of us thought would end up on top: Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Team SoloMid. Their roads towards this point, however, couldn’t have been more different.
Cloud9, for instance, didn’t struggle all that much. In fact, they made it look relatively easy — an indication of their depth and overall talent (not to mention stellar coaching staff). The former four-time LCS champions Team Liquid, on the other hand, had huge swings in performance and had barely managed to correct course in time for the playoffs. It wasn’t a particularly stellar regular season run, but they won when it mattered most and are still as feared and admired for their proficient and dominant play as ever. Then we have Team SoloMid — the biggest question mark of the bunch. They’ve had spectacular moments of brilliance and more than just a couple of dreadful showings and gut-wrenching defeats. They were good and bad in equal measure, which means no one was ever too sure how high to rank them. Still, their potential is undeniable, even though they might not realize it in time to actually challenge for the LCS throne.
Three North American giants who’ve traded places atop the LCS for what feels like an eternity. It’s no coincidence that they’ve met yet again — they have the best players and the most money to work with, after all. And the fact that they’ve reached the pinnacle of competition for the millionth time tells us that there are multiple avenues for success, and noticeably different roads that all lead to the top. Team SoloMid, in all fairness, took a bit longer to blossom and develop into the contender who’s now before us, but they’ve made it regardless.
A Spectacular Finish
Be that as it may, the North American playoffs are always a load of fun. You can never be too certain who’s going to win and how which makes things all the more entertaining. Right now, there are only three burning questions left:
- Will Cloud9 go all the way now that they’ve seemingly “cracked” the Team Liquid puzzle?
- Did Team Liquid simply fumble, or was their lopsided defeat a sign of the things to come?
- Will Team SoloMid double down on their strengths and actually challenge for a spot in the finals?
Answering any of these questions is extremely hard if not impossible. Cloud9 has looked nigh unstoppable against nearly all of their peers, but they struggled mightily whenever they faced Team Liquid. Well, that statement was only true up to last Saturday. Right now, though, it is no longer viable intel; the way they outclassed the former four-time LCS champs left no one indifferent. It was a shellacking in every sense of the word and a testament to their long-term potential and staggeringly high skill ceiling.
Then again, even the best teams in the world have “off” days, moments in which they fail to execute and mount an offensive. We know for a fact that Team Liquid is better than what they had shown.
Team SoloMid, on the other hand, has solidified their spot as a top-tier challenger, but they’ve yet to deliver against Team Liquid or Cloud9 in a Best of 5 — that’s the biggest test of skill, endurance, and depth. Thus far, they had always made a mistake or two in the most crucial moments of the game or failed to execute as well as they should have or lost on an individual level, which eventually resulted in too big of a deficit; there was always something.
Still, if Cloud9’s dominant win over Team Liquid proved anything, it is the fact that a top-tier team can, in fact, grow in an extremely short period of time (given that they have the right guidance). Such is the nature of competitive League: it is a volatile beast, one that doesn’t always unravel the way we expect it to. We can only gather so much based on empirical evidence and all the things that transpire before our eyes, but that is but a fragment of the bigger picture — something that we cannot fully grasp until it is laid before us.
These are some of the most talented (and hard-working) players in the West. They’ve all grown immensely throughout the last couple of months and should, by all means, be able to stand on equal footing. They’ve also had more than enough time to strategize and prepare for their upcoming opponents — they know darn well what and whom they’re up against. That doesn’t mean they’ll ultimately succeed, but there’s nothing unknown for them to tackle.
That’s precisely why these two Best of 5s are an absolute must-watch — they’re tremendous showdowns between some of the best teams North America has to offer. We’re talking three perennial giants and some of the best players who have ever stepped foot on the North American stage. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping nothing else will.
In all fairness, Team SoloMid vs. Team Liquid isn’t as enticing as the Best of 5 that’ll follow it, but it’s still a heck of a good time — especially if the boys in black and white come out the gates swinging. If they play as well as they did against Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves, they might even stand a chance. Stranger things have happened on North American soil, that’s for sure, and Team Liquid is obviously far from infallible. The fact that they had already beaten Team SoloMid doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to do it again, although they are favored given whom they have competing under their banner.
Cloud9, on the other hand, will have the upper hand regardless of whom ends up triumphant the day before. They’ll observe their opponents, keep their cards close to their chests, and strategize without any pressure. Whether that’ll be a big enough advantage to push them over the finish line on Sunday still remains to be seen, but the odds are certainly stacked in their favor.
Either way, you definitely have a reason to tune in!