2021 LCS Spring Split Power Rankings: Big Spenders and Rebuilds
The 2021 LCS Spring Split is right around the corner, which means it’s time for our 2021 LCS Spring Split Power Rankings! The goal was quite simple: to gauge and estimate the strength of each competing team and, in doing so, attempt to predict the way things will resolve once all is said and done. These 2021 LCS Spring Split power rankings are by no means set in stone, and there’s only so much we can predict with confidence at this point in time. After all, this is a brand new season, a brand new meta, and nearly all ten organizations have undergone immense change throughout the last couple of months.
So, it’s fair to say that they’ll compete on somewhat even footing, at least early on. For the first couple of weeks, anything can happen. Twists, upsets, mind-boggling fiestas, and everything in between. Eventually, as the split progresses, the standings will stabilize, and the biggest favorites should, by all means, ascend to the very top where they belong.
This time around, two of the biggest League freaks at EsportsTalk — social media/uploader Isaac and I — have combined our individual 2021 LCS Spring Split Power Rankings and have come up with the following list. Each entry is accompanied with somewhat thorough explanations.
So, with that out of the way, let’s begin!
2021 LCS Spring Split Power Rankings
1. Cloud9 — The Laid-back North American Titan (20pts)
Isaac (1st) — The team made a major firepower upgrade in the mid lane signing G2 star Perkz to the roster, who along with the returning members of the line-up, will give any team in the league a run for their money. The only concerns I have are if Fudge and Reignover can handle their roles as top laner and head coach, respectively, at the LCS level. If they rise to the occasion, this C9 roster could be even more dominant than the 2020 squad was through the first half of the season. Let’s just hope we don’t get another back half collapse.
Petar (1st) — Putting Cloud9 any lower than first or, at worst, second, would feel like a severe crime against good logic and reason. There’s just no way they’ll finish any lower with such a star-studded roster, led by none other than Luka “Perkz” Perković. He’ll have an immense team around him, too, so there’s no reason to doubt Cloud9’s long-term potential and ability to challenge for the LCS throne. The only question mark pertains to Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami — as in whether he’ll be able to compete at a high enough level — but if C9 thought he’d be a good enough replacement for Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, then who are we to argue otherwise? After all, they’ve made so many ingenious moves in the past that it’s downright impossible to doubt their judgement. In any case, Cloud9 has all the right tools to hoist the LCS trophy at least once in 2021.
2. Team Liquid — The Four-Time Champions Want Their Throne Back (18pts)
Isaac (2nd) — Team Liquid came roaring back in the second half of the 2019 season, and most of the starting line-up returns with two major exceptions: the replacement of Impact and Broxah with Alphari and Santorin. Alphari was one of the top tops in the LEC, and Santorin had one of the best showings of his career last year. My biggest worry is how Santorin will hold up on this roster honestly. FlyQuest felt like a team whose strength was greater than the sum of its parts, and I need to see if he can still hold up without that squad around him. Make no mistake, though, if this team clicks on all cylinders, it’ll be challenging C9 all the way to both of this year’s finals. If not, though, they still have the components to fight for a top 2-3 finish.
Petar (2nd) — Being a Team Liquid fan must feel nice. No matter the problem, they have both the right coaching staff and the financial backing to find (or create) a solution in record time. And they’ve done just that, by bringing over Barney “Alphari” Morris and Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, two exceptional veterans who are still at the top of their game. Heck, they’re so good it doesn’t even make sense. Santorin, in particular, has been dominant beyond reason, even though he’s been competing at the highest of levels for what feels like an eternity. And sure, he’s had his ups and downs, but his performance throughout 2020 has been nothing short of mesmerizing.
Will these two signings be enough? Well, on paper the answer is almost definitely a resounding “yes” but we still need to see this version of TL in action. Having exceptional players isn’t always enough — they need to “click” as a five-man unit and come up with a unique identity to call their own. And that, in short, is about as hard as it sounds. Their mechanical prowess and individual talent alone, however, will be enough to secure them a spot in the Top 3.
On a side note, they do have one huge benefit over C9, and that’s the fact that they have no question marks. Each and every member of this Liquid line-up has been incredibly dominant and consistent. Cloud9, on the other hand, had imploded beyond reason in the second half of 2020. Was that just a one-off occurrence, or a sign of a much larger issue they’ve yet to tackle? If Cloud9 don’t get on the same page (and become a lot more consistent), then Team Liquid will have a clear path towards the LCS throne.
3. 100 Thieves — A New Challenger Approaches (16pts)
Isaac (3rd) — 2020 Golden Guardians is evolving… it turned into 2021 100 Thieves! After a phenomenal run in Summer that saw them come within arms reach of their first ever Worlds appearance, 100 Thieves lived up to their name and grabbed almost the entire roster for themselves. The only change to this team is the replacement of Hauntzer with Ssumday, a huge upgrade for the top side that could see this team taking games off of C9 or TL if they’re not careful. Could this be the squad that finally takes 100 Thieves back to the international stage? If they keep up their form from last year, I’d feel confident betting on that.
Petar (3rd) — Everyone loves a good underdog. This incarnation of 100 Thieves, however, only has the semblance of one so don’t let it cloud your judgement. They are, by all means, a bona fide challenger, and they stand a very concrete chance of not only beating Cloud9 and Team Liquid, but perhaps even contesting for the LCS throne.
Of course, this is very lofty praise, but it’s well-deserved, especially after the way they’ve performed at the 2020 LCS Summer Split playoffs. Had they peaked just a week or two earlier, who knows what would’ve happened. They would’ve probably beat Team SoloMid for the second time, and then there’s no telling who’d emerge as the Summer Split champion. In any case, with a huge upgrade in the top lane, they’ll have all the right tools to upset the long-established LCS stat squo. Whether it’ll happen or not still remains to be seen, but keep an eye on 100T — they’ve more than worthy of your undivided attention.
4. FlyQuest — The Biggest Winners of the Off-Season (13pts)
Isaac (4th) — After losing their entire roster this offseason, I was really worried for FlyQuest, but with this roster I’m actually incredibly excited! Not only did they win the NA top lane lottery with the signing of Licorice, but they also managed to grab DIG’s best player in Johnsun. Paired with LLA star jungler Josedeodo, they already have an incredible core to build around, but my biggest concerns are the rookies and the team’s new coach. We don’t know how Palafox and Diamond will do at the top flight, and while they both have experience from C9 in working with Licorice, they’ll have a lot of tough competition in their roles they’ll need to overcome if they don’t want to become liabilities.
Coupled with Kanani’s rather meager showing on SK last year, and in general in top flight regional leagues, this team’s going to have their work cut out for themselves breaking past the 4th place spot. But FQ has surprised me in the past, and I could see them doing it yet again.
Petar (5th) — Whether you like FlyQuest’s 2021 roster or not is less important at this point in time because their talent and potential are undeniable. Will that be enough to warrant them a spot at the top? That still remains to be seen, but I’m not entirely convinced they have the right skillset to challenge the upper echelon of the LCS. They’ll come darn close, that’s for sure, but it feels like they’re lacking at least one more proven superstar to actually break through. If they perhaps had a mid laner who was a known quantity, maybe I’d be more inclined to believe in their potential miracle run, but as things stand right now, I don’t see them climbing any higher than fifth place once all is said and done. And, frankly, that’s far from a bad thing given the fact that they’ve lost their entire roster in what felt like a split of second.
In any case, they’ll no doubt become one of the most exciting and beloved North American line-ups of 2021.
5. Team SoloMid — Frankenstein’s Monster (12pts)
Isaac (6th) — This was not a kind offseason for TSM, and if it weren’t for FQ and GG losing their entire rosters, I’d say this was the biggest loss for a team in the offseason. Losing Bjerg and Doublelift, two of NA’s biggest stars, to retirement is going to be a major blow for this team, and while the former is coming back as the team’s head coach, he’s completely untested as one.
Coupled with the bizarre signing of coin flip legend Huni in the top lane, and a eye-watering high purchase of SwordArt from the LPL, who will need to quickly get his English up to par to communicate with his team, and I can’t comfortably put them above here for now. This team could be a top 3 contender if all the pieces work out, but they’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot needs to go right for that to happen.
Petar (4th) — Team SoloMid’s 2021 line-up is at once both fantastic but also woefully assembled. It signals one thing, though: they had a much better idea in mind, and things just didn’t pan out as expected. Still, they’ve done admirably well given the fact that they’ve lost two of the biggest and most revered LCS veterans around. Rebuilding after such an unfortunate series of events is mighty hard, and TSM did about as good as they could (give or take). Their mid laner and support are downright spectacular, and if Mingyi “Spica” Lu steps up much like he did last playoffs, TSM will no doubt be able to compete with the very best teams the LCS has to offer. Whether Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui will evolve into the next Edward “Tactical” Ra, however, still remains to be seen.
And no, let’s please not talk about their top lane situation. Some like it, most don’t. Personally, I’m leaning towards “apocalyptic,” but that’s just me.
6. Evil Geniuses — Pretty Solid Overall (11pts)
Isaac (5th) — EG must’ve felt annoyed at their middling finish to last season, as the team has dropped all but Svenskeren and Jiizuke from their starting lineup, grabbing new players across the rift, including a brand new head coach. While Impact will be a nice consistent factor in the top lane for the team, and Peter Dun has a proven track record in the LEC, the move for Deftly is a big question mark to me. He’s had some good times in Academy these last few years, putting up some top 4 finishes and even a win with C9A back in 2019 Summer, but this all came after a rather brutal beating on Golden Guardians prior to that.
He’s looked better since his GG days, and he is truly a good role player, but I just don’t see him as the big carry the team’s going to need. Coupled with rumors that the team was really hoping to grab Johnsun instead, and it’s feeling less like EG really believes in Deftly and more they needed to fill a hole in their roster. Having IgNar down there to help him out will help keep the team afloat in rougher match-ups, but with a role player in ADC and top, it’s going to be on Svenskeren and Jiizuke to carry EG in a lot of these games. Given the latter’s rather coin flip history across multiple squads, I can’t see this team really placing higher than this.
Petar (6th) — The only member of this year’s EG squad I truly believe in is Peter Dun, their head coach. And, talented and experienced though he is, he can only do so much with a line-up that’s as inherently inconsistent and volatile as this one. It’s just a bad stylistic match, is all. Evil Geniuses’ 2021 line-up is comprised of a consistent, low econ top laner, an aggressive playmaker in the jungle who failed in every which way last year, a coin-flip mid laner with spectacular highs and dreadful lows (the latter of which are more frequent and prominent), an unimpressive marksman who — arguably — isn’t worthy of playing on the LCS stage, and a very talented support who’s only been able to shine under the right circumstances.
Not exactly a recipe for success.
Individually, they range from great all the way to acceptably mediocre. They encompass the entire spectrum. As a team, however, there’s just nothing to get excited about. This line-up is flawed much like the one from 2020. They’re not bad, mind you, but they’re just not good enough to compete at the highest of levels. At best, they’ll get an upset win or two, before stabilizing as a severely flawed mid-tier gatekeeper.
7. Counter Logic Gaming — An Incremental Improvement (7pts)
Isaac (8th) — Another year, another set of strange CLG roster moves. The signing of Finn and WildTurtle? Excellent moves, these are much needed upgrades, though maybe not as much as fans would want. Keeping Pobelter? An okay move, he’s a solid mid laner who can pop off when needed. Signing Broxah and keeping Smoothie? That’s the odd part. Smoothie looked like one of the worst supports in the league last year, and Broxah had a career poor year in 2020 that had many questioning if he could still compete at the top.
This could be a roster that could surprise higher up teams, but it’s got so many odd and mismatched parts that I’m not sure if it ever will be able to. Don’t know what to say beyond that. Hopefully new head coach Galen, formerly jungler Moon, can make things work here, but I’m not really excited to watch this squad play, and could see some more dark times ahead for CLG fans.
Petar (7th) — I really like CLG’s 2021 roster. In fact, it’s about ten times better than what I thought they’d end up with. We’re talking about a line-up with numerous seasoned veterans, even though a couple of ‘em might be past their prime. Still, by CLG’s standards, this is a spectacular list of players, and a highly welcome improvement after years of subpar line-ups and underwhelming results. Will it challenge for a spot at the top? Heck no. Not even close. But they’ll surely surprise a lot of people. All five players have a chip on their shoulder, so they’ll no doubt work around the clock to prove the haters wrong (of which there are many).
8. Golden Guardians — One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back (5pts)
Isaac (7th) — Poor Golden Guardians. After years of dwelling in the bottom half of the league, their roster development finally paid off with the breakout success of their squad last Summer, with the team a game and a series away from making Worlds for the first time. Sadly, they couldn’t afford to keep the roster going into 2021, and had to sell it all off to 100 Thieves. As such, they’ve gone into a rebuilding phase this year, signing 3 rookie players for top, jungle, and mid, along with some heavily experienced players in bot with Stixxay and LLA support Newbie. I’m not excited to see Stixxay here given how he’s performed the last few years, but Newbie is a fantastic signing given how much he dominated in his home league.
Like most of the rosters here and below, this team isn’t rated here because I think they’ll be bad, but because they have incredibly young and inexperienced rosters that aren’t here to win this year, but to develop talent for the future. GG is the strongest looking of that bunch.
Petar (10th) — Frankly speaking, there’s just nothing positive to say about this year’s GGS line-up; the mere fact that GGS is trying to nurture native talent and, potentially, create the superstars of tomorrow is, of course, highly commendable. But if we ignore that bit — and we really should because this is a competition — it’s fair to say that they’ve assembled a line-up that’s underpowered in nearly every possible way. I don’t see them climbing any higher than ninth place, and even that feels like an optimistic stretch.
9/10. Dignitas (4pts)
Isaac (9th) — Both Immortals and Dignitas are in full rebuild mode this year, looking to develop talent for future runs for the title. These aren’t going to be bad squads, but they certainly aren’t rosters meant to make deep runs in 2021. Dignitas has the better of these two, keeping Dardoch and Aphromoo to train their young players in FakeGod, Soligo, and Neo (formerly Asta). These three haven’t had strong showings in the LCS in the past, but given the problems the rosters they were on had, I’m willing to give them a chance and see how they do (they also weren’t the worst parts of those teams so that’s a good sign)
Petar (9th) — It’s depressing to see Dignitas regress to such a degree from last year’s line-up. Now, the Dignitas of 2020 was by no means a Worlds-caliber roster, but at least they had certain strengths and virtues on which they could build upon (a rather optimistic prognosis, as it turned out). This year, however, they have even less to work with. If you’re a Dignitas fan (do they even exist by this point?), temper your expectations because 2020 will not be an easy pill to swallow.
9/10. Immortals (4pts)
Isaac (10th) — Someones got to be at the bottom of the barrel, and for 2021 it’s sadly going to be Immortals. Grabbing veteran jungler Xerxe from EU’s Origen, where he had a rather dreadful season, along with Destiny and Raes from OCE (the former also coming off a rough summer on OG), to go along with new top laner Revenge and the shining spot of last year in rookie Insanity, this team feels like it’s here just to build up Revenge and Insanity in hopes they pay off. I could see Raes staying past this year, but Destiny and Xerxe are likely a one and done deal. Not much to say on them beyond that, just hoping they show growth throughout the year (unlike last season’s Immortals).
Petar (8th) — Immortals are pretty much in the same boat as Dignitas, although I’ve got a bit more trust in their ability to eventually become somewhat competitive. I still haven’t lost trust in Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, and Quin “Raes” Korebrits showed enough promise at last year’s Worlds, so at least they have something to work with. The rest of the team, however, ranges from “dreadful” to “underwhelming,” and neither end of that spectrum is what you want if you’re sporting an IMT jersey.
That’s it for our 2021 LCS Spring Split Power Rankings! Make sure to tune in to the first-ever LCS Lock-In tournament that’s scheduled to begin this Friday! If things pan out as expected, we should be in for one heck of a ride!