Biggest 2021 LCS Spring Split Takeaways
The 2021 LCS Spring Split has officially concluded and there are many interesting takeaways worth talking about! Much like over in the LEC, we witnessed numerous mind-blowing twists, which, in turn, resulted in one of the most thrilling and action-packed splits in recent history. In other words: we were entertained beyond measure, and even though things eventually resolved in a fairly predictable manner, the road towards that point was far more competitive than any of us could have imagined!
Moreover, one could argue that the level of play in the LCS increased, at least ever so slightly. Now, we can never really say such a thing with confidence until we witness these teams compete on the international stage. Still, there was a noticeable influx of talent (most of which was imported and a couple of native standouts), which elevated the region almost by default.
Granted, most of these exceptional individuals ended up signing for the biggest and most recognizable brands, but the point still stands. Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Team SoloMid all have championship-worthy lineups. It’s fair to say that North America should, by all means, be a bit more effective (i.e., successful) at this year’s World Championship, barring any unforeseen twist for which the region is generally known for.
Either way, we were entertained beyond measure. Even the mid-tier gatekeepers and bottom-tier dwellers had their moments. All in all, LCS fans have a lot to be happy about. If things pan out as expected, the upcoming Summer Split should be even more entertaining!
An Incredibly Competitive Affair
Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Team SoloMid — three of the biggest and most competitive North American giants — deserve a ton of praise for the level of play they’ve maintained throughout the split. They were far from perfect, of course, but they delivered when it mattered most. Furthermore, we saw the many ways they grew as time went on, which made the whole split all the more entertaining.
An LCS that is fun and competitive needs to have more than “just” two great teams. Cloud9 and Team Liquid were pretty much on top of everyone’s predictions coming into 2021. There’s a very good reason why — they had the most synergy and the best players, but Team SoloMid wasn’t that far off. Heck, one could argue that they deserve a lot more praise than the rest of their top-tier peers precisely because their initial starting position was so much more unfavorable. The boys in black and white had to build synergy from the ground up, whereas Team Liquid and Cloud9 already had stellar foundations on which they continued building upon.
In the end, though, only C9 and TL emerged as true championship-worthy contenders, but TSM, if they continue growing at the same pace, should be able to compete on even footing come Summer Split. In true TSM fashion, this lineup brings a little extra something to the Summoner’s Rift. They have ample potential, but they still need a bit of time to get on the same page and learn how to best harness their inherent strengths.
Incremental Improvements, But Improvements Nonetheless
North America, as a region, isn’t exactly proficient when it comes to talent development. Heck, we’re putting it mildly here. The 2021 Spring Split, however, gave us a foretaste, a short glimpse into a future most of us have been dreaming for years — to see so many (“many” by LCS standards) new faces pop up and deliver was a huge surprise. Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui, Aaron “FakeGod” Lee, Max “Soligo” Soong, Toàn “Neo” Trần, Matthew “Deftly” Chen, Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura, and David “Insanity” Challe all performed above expectations. Some, of course, stood out more than others, but the point still stands.
These individuals had to fight tooth and nail to get our attention. To their credit, they succeeded admirably. Now, granted, most of them had been competing in Academy for ages (and a couple of them had prior LCS experience as well). It’s impossible to consider them as rookies in the truest sense of the word, but they still managed to trade blows with their more seasoned peers.
This, at the very least, is further proof that investing in young, “unproven” talent can indeed pay off. Well, at least more often than not — the potential reward far outweighs the risk. It’s more a matter of talent development than anything else; that is the key area most LCS organizations need to work on. It’s not just about finding the right individuals but rather providing them with the right tools to work with and someone who can guide them towards success and make sure they don’t stray too far off. Cloud9 has already been doing this for ages. Now, it’s about time others followed suit.
Dignitas, to their credit, has made some huge strides as well — the fact that they reached Top 5 without even a single import is worthy of the highest praise and commendation! Hopefully, other teams will take note. The odds of it happening are slim, but at least we can hope!
Cloud9 & Team Liquid — Bona Fide Titans
Watching these two teams trade heavy blows throughout the first half of the season has undeniably been one of the top 2021 LCS Spring Split takeaways. They’re packed to the gills with talent; it’s baffling. These really are some of the best and most stacked lineups in Western history, and even though they still need a bit of time to shore up a couple of weaknesses, they’ve nonetheless given us a glimpse of their long-term potential. We were not left indifferent.
Watching them play has been an absolute pleasure from start to finish. Now, make no mistake: they’re flawed (both individually as well as five-man units), but they’re actively working on their issues and should, by all means, be able to give the best teams in the world a run for their money come October. They have it all: the right players, ample mechanical prowess, more than enough flexibility, along with a ton of veteran presence. Whether they’ll leave a mark come Worlds remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there.
These two organizations have invested an obscene amount of money in bringing in some of the best Western players of all time to North America, and, fortunately, none of their signings backfired (not yet, at least).
Team SoloMid — Credit Where Credit Is Due
Despite coming up short, the boys in black and white deserve a section of their own. Their decision to bring in five players (without any synergy between them) and pair them with a veteran player-turned-coach who has never led a team before (not in this capacity, at least) is an experiment of sorts that could’ve easily backfired. Fortunately for this perennial North American giant, they eventually found a way to ascend the rankings and solidify their spot as one of the best and most capable teams in North America.
Now, no one expected Team SoloMid to implode or anything — that was never an option given just how much experience and talent they had under their banner. Still, a somewhat slower start seemed inevitable, given their lack of cohesion. Regardless, once the stars aligned and they drafted well and executed to the best of their ability, this five-man lineup had exceptional moments of brilliance and games that left us in a state of awe.
They had a 2-0 head-to-head record with Team Liquid and were able to tie Cloud9. They were, by all metrics, a top-tier challenger worthy of its staggering pedigree, and the fact that they ultimately failed to ascend the throne should in no way diminish their valiant efforts.
Their overall record (12W-6L) will also carry over to the Summer Split, which means Team SoloMid will have quite a respectable starting position. If they continue playing this well — and shore up a couple of their most egregious flaws — they’re pretty much a shoo-in for the World Championship. And who knows: maybe they’ll overtake Cloud9 and Team Liquid in a couple of months? The odds aren’t on their side, but stranger things have happened in the LCS, so don’t count them out just yet. Either way, they’re a respectable “dark horse” and are more than worthy of everyone’s undivided attention!