Biggest 2020 LCS Summer Split Winners
The 2020 LCS Summer Split had its fair share of winners and losers. This time around, we’ll focus on the former. We witnessed many months of absolute chaos, and most of it was quite exhilarating. Given how uneventful 2019 was, no one expected much from 2020. But boy were we wrong. There were twists, turns, mind-blowing surges of brilliance, and historic falls from grace. This year had it all, really, and it left no one indifferent.
For the first time in a while, we saw a different kind of status quo, accompanied with many unexpected challengers. With Team Liquid faltering, the door was wide open for a brand-new champion to rise. Weeks went by, and no one had even the faintest idea as to who had the best odds of winning the whole thing. We all had our favorites, but in the end, after a spectacular playoffs run, an age-old titan stood above the rest.
With that said, let’s focus on the biggest 2020 LCS Summer Split winners, listed in no particular order!
FlyQuest — A New Challenger on the Horizon
The boys in green and white — along with their coaching staff — deserve truckloads of praise. Heck, maybe that’s even an understatement. What they’ve accomplished in such a short time span, while being considered as nothing more than a well-rounded gatekeeper, is simply mind-blowing. This peculiar mix of veterans wasn’t supposed to be this good. They were supposed to challenge for a spot at the top but not actually succeed at reaching it. We’ve seen similar teams pop up over the years, but they always faltered when it mattered the most.
FlyQuest, however, is no such team. Maybe that should’ve been obvious after seeing their starting line-up. After all, a team with Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun simply has to leave a mark. There’s no way around it. The reason why this FlyQuest roster was able to climb the ranks wasn’t just because it consisted of exceptional players and veterans alike. Instead, it happened because they were assembled with thought and care. All five of these individuals are compatible in terms of playstyle. They want to play the game in the exact same way, and that’s rare.
Most organizations just sign a couple of players they deem good and hope for the best. But gathering a couple of individuals who share the same philosophy on how the game should be played is exceptionally rare. A similar thing happened with G2 Esports. They think alike, and when you have a team like that then there’s no idle time, no gap between their ideas in-game and execution — there’s no hesitation whatsoever. They can engage and execute in a fraction of a second. That’s what makes so many LPL teams so darn great. The fact that they don’t think twice before going for a play.
Now, granted, FlyQuest aren’t as refined and well-rounded as your run-of-the-mill LPL giant, but for their very first season as a line-up, they did incredibly well. To further prove this point, Lucas Tao Kilmer “Santorin” Larsen and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran performed well above expectations. That, in short, didn’t come out of nowhere. There’s this notion that after you’ve watched a player compete for, say, five years, that there’s very little they can do to improve. Peaks in performance exist, and they’re a well-documented thing. Furthermore, it’s hard to maintain that competitive drive when you’ve seen it all and have been competing at the highest of levels for years.
The fact that Santorin and WildTurtle wrecked house tells us a very important thing: they’re re-energized and are finally surrounded with the right teammates.
We can’t wait to see FlyQuest back in action, and fortunately, that’ll happen sooner rather than later.
Team SoloMid — Impossible to Ignore
The perennial North American titans are impossible to ignore. They’re once again at the top of the LCS, but it didn’t come easy. In fact, they had to fight tooth and nail to get the job done. In the span of just a couple of weeks, we saw many shades of this age-old giant. Fortunately, they progressively evolved, so by the time the playoffs came to an end, TSM was firing on all cylinders.
Once they’ve gotten into their groove, watching TSM play was nothing short of mesmerizing. Granted, they’re far from a perfect team, but their growth throughout 2020 deserves commendation — and lots of it. The “Bjergsen carry” meme (that’s as old as time, it feels like) was once again in full effect, but the rest of the team carried their fair share of the weight whenever they could. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng didn’t take up much of the spotlight, which allowed Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik and Mingyi “Spica” Lu to shine bright even when no one expected them to.
Now, we’ve seen what BrokenBlade can do when given the right support and agency. This talented Turkish top laner already made waves back when he first started playing on the LCS stage but has been somewhat dormant for a good majority of 2020. Fortunately, once the playoffs came around, he took little time to remind everyone he’s not to be trifled with. Spica, however, stood out in all the right ways despite being the youngest player in the LCS — all the while playing for the most revered organization around. He was as cool as a cucumber, in spite of playing the most intense games of his (admittedly short) career. There was so much on the line and Spica delivered in every way, shape, and form. The jury’s still out on his long-term potential, but if his playoff run was any indication, he’s bound to become one of the best junglers in the LCS.
Much to the chagrin of TSM haters, all it took for this org to reclaim its long-lost throne was to bring Bjergsen and Doublelift back together. It might seem like a simple formula, but it still works, so why change it?
Team Liquid — Every Inch a Top-Tier Team
2020 was the year the Team Liquid dynasty crumbled. Not only did their reign end, but it concluded in one of the most unexpected ways imaginable. To call it a “fall from grace” wouldn’t even begin to cut it. They still had all the right pieces of the puzzle and yet nothing seemed to work. But that was Spring. Once Summer came along, Team Liquid rebounded in grand fashion — an indication of a top-tier team with a top-tier coaching staff.
They didn’t reach the heights they once occupied, but a spot in the Top 3 after finishing ninth in Spring is still a darn good achievement. Liquid has many issues, and it’s hard to predict whether they’ll ever fix them without making ample changes to their starting line-up. Still, they’ve secured a trip to Worlds and will have the luxury of competing against the best teams in the world, given that they go through the Play-In stage.
That’s quite an accomplishment given how bad 2020 started out. This isn’t the four-time LCS champion Team Liquid we’ve become accustomed to, so we need to adjust our expectations. With that in mind, a finish near the very top is the best they could’ve hoped for. Not as impressive as winning the LCS two years in a row, but still commendable.
Golden Guardians — Slow and Steady
The Guardians are arguably the biggest surprise of the year. FlyQuest definitely comes in second, but at least they had multiple seasoned veterans and players who’ve been known quantities for years. The Golden Guardians, on the other hand, weren’t supposed to make much of a splash.
Fortunately, no one on GGS got the memo.
For the most part, 2020 has been standard fare for the GGS bunch. They’ve been a solid, middle-of-the-pack challenger for years, but this time around they actually punched way above their weight class. And their bottom lane duo consisting of Victor “FBI” Huang and Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun? Spectacular. By the end of the Summer Split, FBI and huhi were the most feared bottom lane in the entire region. Just writing such a thing makes one feel strange, as if it’s a joke of sorts. And yet they’ve dominated beyond measure despite the fact that no one believed in them.
The Guardians are a strange mix, but they’ve found a way to make it work. They’re still rough around the edges with very distinct strengths and (most importantly) weaknesses, but it’s impossible not to be smitten by their dedication and grit. This is what we all want to see: a talented team that’s working around the clock to join the upper echelon. Whether they succeed or not is less important — it’s the effort that counts.
Naturally, after giving the best LCS teams a run for their money, their stock went through the roof. Now we’re all just waiting to see whether they’ll stay together for 2021 and go for yet run at the title or, perhaps, use this new-found (and pretty unexpected) “fame” to sign for other teams and higher salaries.
Regardless of what happens, we just hope that FBI and huhi stay together; if their recent performances are any indication, this duo could definitely go places!
Cloud9 — A Draining Rollercoaster
You’re probably scratching your head right now. How could Cloud9 possibly be deemed 2020 LCS Summer winners after such an incredible fall from grace? Well, if we view things in a vacuum, then sure, Cloud9 failed. If, however, we observe the bigger picture, 2020 has been a fairly successful year for the boys in black and blue.
First, and most importantly, they’ve once again lifted the LCS trophy. That, in itself, is absolutely huge. The last time this happened was in 2014 Spring. That’s quite a while. In fact, six long years is an eternity in esports terms. Coming into 2020, Cloud9 had an incredible roster with a ton of potential and they hit the ground running. We witnessed one of the most dominant single-split runs in LCS history, and even though it came crashing down just a few weeks later, at least it happened. For a team that has consistently hovered near the top for years (without ever breaking through), this was an important moment — a welcome reminder that Cloud9 is still one of the best teams around. The fact that they failed to defend their throne in no way diminishes what they’ve accomplished throughout the first six months of play.
Furthermore, this fascinating line-up will stay together for 2021, and if they shore up a couple of weaknesses they’ll be prime and ready for another solid run at the title. This is a “formula” that works, and it only needs to be tweaked and tuned ever so slightly (perhaps with a new head coach) and it’ll probably work as intended come 2021.
Cloud9 missed out on Worlds for the first time in the organization’s history, but at least they’ve soared as high as ever back in Spring, so perhaps it all evens out. They’ve kept what they deem as the most important pieces of the puzzle and they’ll get another shot at redemption in a couple of months’ time. If they come prepared (and hungry for success), we should be in for quite a ride!