Team Liquid Wins the First-Ever 2021 LCS Lock-In Tournament
After three action-packed weeks, Team Liquid have managed to stand above the rest and have become the first-ever LCS Lock-In champions! And, frankly, they’ve dominated about as much as everyone expected. Simply put, this is the most stacked and talented League of Legends line-up ever assembled on North American soil. They’re not perfect, mind you, but given the fact that they’ve only been playing for two weeks as a five-man unit, it’s impossible not to stand in awe at how cohesive and clean they’ve been overall.
Barney “Alphari” Morris had only landed in Los Angeles two days prior to the tournament, whereas Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larssen was only able to join the team after the first week of play had concluded. So, on paper, Team Liquid didn’t have all that much going for them. Synergy is paramount at the start of the season, and this line-up wasn’t supposed to have much of it given the way things had developed. But, even if that was the case, you wouldn’t have been able to tell based on their performance. For Team Liquid, both Alphari and Santorin were “plug and play” solutions. It really goes to show just how good their fundamentals are — not to mention their sheer amount of talent and experience. Scrimming with the team remotely and doing VOD reviews is great and all, but it pales in comparison to playing under one roof. And yet this Team Liquid line-up made it look easy.
There were a couple of fumbles along the way, but it was nothing that they couldn’t fix in a couple of days’ time. Much like everyone else, this Team Liquid bunch was experimenting, trying to figure out the best and most optimal way of playing the game. And, sure enough, they found their most potent picks and the rest, as they say, is history.
An Exciting Finale
A grand finale worthy of remembering simply has to go the five-game distance, and Team Liquid and Cloud9 did not disappoint. Not in the slightest. Game one started off with both teams trading heavy blows right from the very get-go. There wasn’t any caution to speak of — they wanted to set the tone right away and dictate the pace of the game as much as possible. Team Liquid, however, was always faster on the map. They were quicker to react and punish, and after a fairly early Baron their killer instinct rose to the surface. They only needed mere minutes to close things out after securing the objective. It was a spicy game, but as it developed it became more and more one-sided.
Game two was much of the same. Cloud9 started out strong before making numerous mistakes in quick succession around the seven-minute mark. That’s when things went awry, and they never recovered. You give Team Liquid an inch and they’ll take a mile without hesitation. It was an absolute masterclass from everyone involved, with Alphari perhaps shining the most. He received a whopping four bans and yet still found a way to dominate beyond measure with some of the best Gnar play we’d seen thus far. By the same token, Santorin was a silent performer but a vital one nonetheless. He wasn’t as flashy but he was always at the right place at the right time, getting his laners ahead and pushing Team Liquid towards victory.
Game three, however, was the turning point. All signs were pointing towards a fairly one-sided sweep in favor of Team Liquid, but Cloud9 had other plans. TL was still faster to react with some amazing cross-map play, but it wasn’t long before Cloud9 clawed back and — thanks to a team comp that was easier to execute — completely obliterated TL team fight after team fight. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Robert “Blaber” Huang were once again hardcarrying Cloud9 like their lives depended on it, with Luka “Perkz” Perković finally “coming online” with a couple of key Zoe bubbles.
Cloud9 took that unexpected burst of success and carried it straight into game four. They gave Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami priority in the draft and he definitely delivered with his impeccable Irelia play. Of course, he was far from perfect, but he delivered when it mattered most and eventually helped C9 crush Team Liquid in fairly dominant fashion. Liquid simply didn’t know how to respond — it was as if they were as surprised at Cloud9’s vigor and determination as much as we were.
Game five, therefore, was the be-all and end-all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a competitive affair, with Alphari annihilating Fudge in the top lane. Liquid then simply snowballed from that point onwards and created too big a lead for Cloud9 to come back from. It was a clinical beatdown in every way, shape, and form and a true testament to Liquid’s vast experience and mental fortitude. Santorin’s Udyr also deserves a shoutout — he was the one who got the ball rolling and eventually “slapped” Cloud9 in the most important moments of the game.
In the end, there wasn’t any doubt left: Team Liquid was the best and most capable team throughout the first-ever LCS Lock-In, and their Best of 5 against Cloud9 was the final stamp of their incredible run and a fitting conclusion.
Once the dust had settled, one player managed to stand out the most, and it was none other than former Origen top laner Alphari. This obscenely talented Welshman wasted no time in making the world take notice. We’re just three weeks into the 2021 season and yet he’s already universally deemed as the best top laner in North America. The outlook is bright for Team Liquid, to say the least!