A new year brought a new format and schedule for the 2021 LCS Spring Split. And with the Mid-Season Showdown looming just one week away, six teams that all sit just three games apart from one another are still fighting for five spots over the course of the last week.
Cloud9 lead the pack as expected, but they’ve lost back-to-back games for the first time all split and failed to lock in an upper bracket seed despite being the only team to have clinched a spot in the MSS. Immortals have hung around and, admittedly to a lesser degree than Dignitas, have surpassed expectations for what this team was “supposed” to do this split. With their win over FlyQuest to close out week five, they denied Dignitas and TSM’s bid to clinch and further tightened the middle of the pack.
While it’s true that there’s less potential for a miracle run, seeding is still very much up in the air. Any of the six League of Legends teams above that aren’t locked into their destinies could straight up miss out on a shot at MSI—and there are storylines aplenty to follow this weekend and throughout the playoffs.
Are DigNAtas for real?
In a year that’s seen unprecedented levels of investment into young, North American talent, teams like FlyQuest, Golden Guardians, Immortals, and Dignitas have, to varying degrees, shifted into the “development project” camp.
This same year has also seen a revival of the discussion around import rule restrictions being loosened, if not lifted altogether, among LCS team owners. It’s a move that would likely result in stifling domestic talent seemingly right when it was getting legitimate time in the spotlight. And no team has flown the NA flag higher so far this year than Dignitas.
This (literally) all-American roster sits just one game out of first and has given players like top laner FakeGod and mid laner Soligo the opportunity to revive their LCS careers after many had written them off following a brief stint at the top. Dignitas has been doing huge favors for rookies getting their first chances at the top, but they’re also the standard-bearers for those who were considered “one-and-dones.”
Rookie ADC Neo has also gone nuclear lately under the tutelage of veteran support aphromoo, most recently posting a 17/2/4 game on Kalista. His numbers continue to pile up and have seen him join the ranks of promising talent in the region in the ADC position alongside Tactical, FBI, and Lost.
The team as a whole have gotten to where they are on the back of near-unrivaled coordination and teamfighting. Their early games leave a lot to be desired, especially in terms of the laning phase. But where there might not be a lane kingdom to be conquered, Dardoch’s leadership from the jungle position has been evident in Dignitas’ objective control, calmness, and pragmatism while playing from behind.
100 Thieves’ worries
When 100 Thieves essentially took over last year’s favorite roster to play alongside franchise cornerstone Ssumday, they instantly became the neutrals’ favorite. Last year’s overachievers were one win away from putting eventual champions TSM out of the playoffs for good and they got their chance to run it back under a new banner.
An absolutely torrid start has seen 100 Thieves regress in recent games and then regress some more before comfortably landing in gatekeeper territory.
The team’s playstyle was pretty well-defined: Give Damonte a roamer like Galio or Twisted Fate, give FBI Kai’Sa and a whole lot of attention and turret plates, and let him carry you to victory. Through the first eight games of the split, the team was 6-2 with respectable losses to C9 and TSM and were riding high. Then, FBI was targeted in-game and Damonte in draft. Level three bot lane tower dives were prepared for and Tristana rose as a flexible counterpick. The losses piled up interspersed with some ugly wins and 100 Thieves now find themselves tied for fourth at 9-6.
The alarm bells didn’t start to go off for some until, prior to week five, mid laner Damonte was subbed out for Ry0ma and then ruled out for the remainder of the regular split. For such a tight-knit group bonded through an incredible run in 2020, a change this late despite a skid had some fans worried.
To their credit, 100 Thieves have for the most part beaten everyone they were supposed to and even became the first team (and still the only squad at the time of writing) to 2-0 Dignitas this split. But an 0-4 record against C9 and TSM has understandably left some of their fans worried for what could be awaiting their team in the playoffs.
The last week of the 2021 LCS Spring Split regular season will begin on Friday, March 12 at 5pm CT.
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