After a blistering month of shocking acquisitions, the 2020 LCS free agency period is finally cooling down. All of North America’s professional League of Legends teams having officially locked in their starting lineups for the upcoming year.
NA teams have always been scrutinized for their abilities to build a cohesive and effective roster, but this year was interesting for NA supporters. Across the league, organizations have gone all-in with their pickups, splurging on some of the biggest available prospects.
Some teams, on the other hand, have opted in for a slow, steady rebuild by loading up with some up-and-coming, promising rookies. For the first time in a while, NA fans will get to see new faces on Summoner’s Rift that are ready to prove themselves under the bright lights of the LCS.
Here are our grades for the changes every LCS team made in the 2020 offseason.
+ Perkz, Fudge | – Nisqy, Licorice
When you sign one of the greatest Western League players of all-time, you’re bound to get a good mark in our grading system. C9 has done it once again, snatching the hottest free agent of the 2020 offseason in former G2 Esports superstar, Perkz.
With his addition, Perkz will bring a massive amount of firepower to a roster brimming with talent. The pressure he’ll bring will be felt throughout every game C9 plays, though. And with Fudge coming in as one of the top talents from the NA Academy league, this roster has become the team to beat in the LCS.
Team Liquid: A
+ Alphari, Santorin | – Impact, Broxah
Since Santorin’s return to the LCS in 2018, the 23-year-old veteran has quickly become one of the most reliable junglers in the league. His ability to activate his laners with smart pathing and timing helped lead FlyQuest to back-to-back LCS finals appearances in 2020. And with Liquid’s star-studded cast, his contributions will be that much more explosive.
Alphari, on the other hand, had a rough 2020 LEC Summer Split with Origen, coming in last place in the regular season. But this might have just been an off split for one of the better top laners from Europe. The 21-year-old has a rather wide champion pool, which should give Liquid some flexibility that they might not have had with Impact.
Overall, Liquid has formed another team that looks championship bound again.
+ Huni, PowerOfEvil, Lost, SwordArt | – Broken Blade, Bjergsen, Doublelift, Biofrost
The League community is still reeling after both Bjergsen and Doublelift decided to retire during the offseason—and TSM fans are probably still shell-shocked as well. Four players have been changed around for TSM, and this time, the roster is completely unrecognizable.
But the incoming talent that will be leading TSM into a new era doesn’t look bad at all. PowerOfEvil was a star for FlyQuest last year and looks like a worthy candidate to take the mantle from Bjerg, while Lost and SwordArt could be an incredible combo in the bottom lane, similar to Liquid’s Tactical and CoreJJ.
The only thing that TSM fans should be wary about is the performance of Huni in the top lane. The 22-year-old veteran is known to be a bit of a coin flip in terms of consistency. But if he can channel his old Fnatic-Immortals-SKT self instead of his Clutch Gaming-Dignitas form, TSM could be a challenger for the NA throne again.
100 Thieves: B+
+ Closer, Damonte, FBI, Huhi | – Contractz, Ry0ma, Cody Sun, Poome
100 Thieves might have pulled off another daring heist by acquiring four players from Golden Guardians. This core had flashes of brilliance throughout 2020. FBI and Huhi, for example, quickly became one of the best-performing bottom lane duos in the summer and Closer had many exciting moments as an aggressive, decisive jungler.
The only big question mark around this team lies in how well Damonte will perform in the mid lane in 2021. The 22-year-old wasn’t too consistent for GG last split and with heavy carries like Ssumday, Closer, and FBI, this team’s success will depend on how well he can hold his own against the stars of the LCS.
Evil Geniuses: B+
+ Impact, Jiizuke, Deftly, IgNar | – Huni, Goldenglue, Bang, Zeyzal
Although Evil Geniuses only technically acquired two new players this offseason, they did part ways with multiple big names. The roster looks very different, and on paper, they do seem well improved ahead of 2021.
Impact, for example, is a huge pick up in the top lane since Huni was unreliable in his stint with the team. His experience should help EG thrive because he’s proven to be a solid rock for most teams to lean on when things get rough.
IgNar also showed last season that he’s an aggressive support who’s willing to jump into the action at all times. Combined with Jiizuke—who’s equally as willing to make crazy plays—and we might be looking at one of the most exciting jungle-support duos in the league.
+ Licorice, Josedeodo, Palafox, Johnsun, Diamond | – Solo, Santorin, PowerOfEvil, WildTurtle, IgNar
In another case of an entire roster getting overhauled overnight, FlyQuest made some big decisions in terms of its lineup for 2021. The team had to rebuild its starting five after losing a majority of its players to other offers and it looks like the org was willing to take some risks for next year.
Aside from Licorice, who’s one of the best top laners in the region, the rest of the players acquired don’t have much experience at the LCS level but are prospects who could blossom into stars. Palafox, Johnsun, and Diamond have the potential to become the next breakout NA-born talents, while the 20-year-old Josedeodo could become a diamond in the rough from the LLA.
It’ll take some time for FlyQuest’s new lineup to get going, but if things start to fall together, we could be looking at a piece of NA’s bright future.
+ Finn, Broxah, WildTurtle | – Ruin, Wiggily, Stixxay
Don’t sleep on CLG’s 2021 roster. It might not have the star-studded new signings that people love to see when free agency hits, but there’s plenty of experience on this team to surprise some people next year.
WildTurtle and Pobelter are both veterans who have remained consistently good throughout their careers and should continue to perform well like they always have. Broxah, Finn, and Smoothie, on the other hand, all have plenty to prove after struggling a bit through 2020.
In fact, Broxah is probably the player to watch here since he’s looking to bounce back after a bit of a bumpy debut with Liquid. If he can return to his 2019 form—when he was a top jungler in Europe—CLG could shock some fans and analysts alike.
Again, these players aren’t groundbreaking signings, but there’s enough stability and experience to potentially see this team break into the top five.
Golden Guardians: C
+ Niles, Iconic, Ablazeolive, Stixxay, Newbie | – Hauntzer, Closer, Damonte, FBI, Huhi
Similar to FlyQuest, Golden Guardians has opted into a young, prospect-filled roster for next year.
With Niles and Iconic jumping in from Maryville University, Ablazeolive finally getting a shot in the LCS, and Newbie making his LCS debut after playing in Latin America since 2016, there’s plenty of promise in many of these new faces joining the league.
At the forefront, however, is former CLG AD carry Stixxay, who will help guide these rookies into fighting shape. Together, Golden Guardians will try to introduce the world to a new era of NA-based rookies.
+ FakeGod, Soligo, Neo | – V1per, Fenix, Johnsun
Dignitas went through the 2020 offseason under a relatively low profile, having announced its new players a bit later than other organizations. The team stuck with Dardoch and Aphromoo for next year, which should be good since FakeGod, Soligo, and Neo will need some veteran guidance in their first split as full-time LCS starters.
The biggest question mark, however, lies with how Dardoch will mesh with the new members of the team. The 22-year-old has always been considered one of NA’s most promising talents, but his attitude has previously hindered his ability to connect with his teammates and coaches.
Other than that, there’s plenty of potential for growth for the new members of this roster in 2021.
+ Revenge, Xerxe, Insanity, Raes, Destiny | – Allorim, Xmithie, Hakuho
After rounding out the roster with Raes and Destiny in the bottom lane, expectations from the general League community are low for this iteration of Immortals.
Raes and Insanity have shown brief flashes of greatness in their time at the pro level and Xerxe is a veteran LEC jungler with plenty of experience. But he and Destiny had an off-year with a floundering Origen squad and Revenge didn’t look exceptionally good in the NA Academy league in 2020.
At first glance, this roster lacks pure positional firepower compared to other LCS lineups and almost all of the players had rather disappointing 2020 performances. It’ll take a lot for this team to exceed people’s expectations, but this new lineup hasn’t inspired much hope from the NA fan base.
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