Many of the teams in the LCS are off to a rough, uneventful start. After one week of play, six of the 10 teams in the league are under the 0.500 mark and only a handful of squads are making good early impressions on the North American scene as a whole.
After the Lock In tournament, we all knew that the LCS was going to be slightly top-heavy in 2021. But week one might have showcased that this league could be a bit tighter at the top than previously intended. There are still 10 whole teams in North America, though, and eight of them make the playoffs in the end.
With that in mind, we asked our team of League of Legends writers to rank the LCS squads as they stand. Here are our power rankings for the 2021 LCS Spring Split after one week of play.
Early-season longshots: Dignitas, CLG, Golden Guardians
The first game of the season had to feel good for Neo. Amidst all the talk about seemingly every new shiny toy in the LCS in a year with unprecedented rookie investment, the Dignitas ADC was a footnote in most, if not all, of those conversations. But through three games, he and Aphromoo have proven that the rookie ADC plus veteran support formula is a good one.
Neo has the highest kill participation of any LCS ADC at 83.9 percent, according to Oracle’s Elixir. And behind him, in order, are Lost, FBI, and Johnsun. He showed a high mechanical ceiling in his Kai’Sa game against CLG and held his own on Xayah against arguably the best bot lane in the region in TactiCore, despite his team getting absolutely dominated on the macro side of things. Through three games, which also included a showdown against the 100 Thieves bottom lane, he never seems to be the reason it all goes downhill for Dignitas whenever it does. And you can do a lot with that.
They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and for CLG, step by step, their roster seemed to be taking shape. And then some mid lane controversy hit and Pobelter was swapped for Academy mid laner rjs. To his credit, besides a couple of massive question-mark-ping plays, rjs looked pretty good. They played 100 Thieves and TSM, though, and given the talent on this roster, there’s no reason they shouldn’t turn it around. But whether it’s a lack of synergy or cohesive scrim time, big veteran egos, or what have you, something is making this team look bad when they look bad.
It feels weird to have Golden Guardians three spots below a team that they beat in week one in Immortals, but here we are. They gave Cloud9 their longest match of the week (only 30 minutes), but the individual fundamentals are all right, the macro play is there, raw talent is abundant, and no lane is getting consistently pushed in. So what gives? Part of it is that CLG will get a bit of a pass until they get Broxah back, Neo finally popped off, and Immortals beat Liquid and their new pieces look strong, especially that bottom lane of Raes and Destiny. Reducing it down to a lack of an “it” factor especially when Niles and Iconic are looking like they’re likely going to split votes for Rookie of the Year feels cheap. And maybe it is. But for now, the writers have spoken and GG are in 10th. We sincerely hope to be proven wrong.
Rocky starts: FlyQuest, TSM, Immortals
There are a collection of middling teams sitting in the LCS right now and many of them haven’t shown much improvement since we saw glimpses of them at the 2021 LCS Lock In tournament.
FlyQuest and Immortals aren’t too surprising to see in this tier of our power rankings. The former had two tough opponents in the first week of the Spring Split in Liquid and Evil Geniuses but were able to beat TSM. The latter, on the other hand, has struggled to find much synergy with its roster, even though they did manage to take down Liquid.
These two teams are still growing into their own with a collection of rookies and they already have a couple of surprising victories under their belts. Now, it’s up to them to be able to develop the budding LCS starters that are under their wing.
TSM, on the other hand, is the big story that most people are following. The perennial LCS champions have been disappointing for many fans to watch thus far. Many analysts expected the team to kick off the new year with a slow start since they were coming in with a new roster and coaching staff. But that excuse can only be taken so far.
With the amount of money the team dedicated to its roster, there shouldn’t be a lot of leeway for this organization’s experienced lineup. They aren’t the only team that has to deal with new environments and playstyles, and yet they’ve looked like a bottom-three team in the league. They’ll look to bounce back when they face off against GG, Liquid, and Immortals this week.
Early glimmers of greatness: 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses
It’s rare for teams to have a shot at shaking up the landscape of the LCS just two weeks into the season. But for 100 Thieves and EG, the chance to do exactly that is on the table this weekend.
100 Thieves and EG are sitting in ties for either first or second place after one week of play, respectively. Just one game could tip the scales and throw these two teams above Liquid and C9 in the standings. For EG, that opportunity will be alive and well this weekend. The team will have a chance at a direct hit on C9 tonight, with relatively mismatched games against Immortals and Dignitas to close out the weekend.
100 Thieves, in particular, could creep up into the highest tier of teams with another strong showing this weekend. The team stands as one of two squads in the league to remain undefeated after one week of play—and an encore performance could catapult the squad straight to the top of the LCS.
But it won’t be easy. Matchups against Liquid and C9 this weekend could turn out to be immense roadblocks that keep 100T a step below the LCS’ highest echelon for weeks to come if they come out on the losing end. But, on the flip side, those games could be definitive factors that boost 100T straight to the top of the LCS—no questions asked. Early-season tone-setters against the two teams that are universally perceived as the “best” in North America would be strong boosts to 100T’s résumé.
It’s almost unfair to use the term “must-win” during the second week of the season, but if 100T want to be respected as a team that can hang tough at the top of the league for months to come, they’ll need to topple past the two major obstacles standing in their way.
A foot race to the finish: Team Liquid, Cloud9
C9’s 3-0 start to the season places the team squarely at the top of the LCS. Liquid stumbled out of the gate with a loss to Immortals on opening night but quickly bounced back with two wins of their own. And while it might be easy to look at the one-game difference between these two teams and immediately pin C9 over Liquid, it’s important to remember that Liquid had C9’s number in a best-of-five less than two weeks ago.
It’s rare to get best-of series so early on in the year, but thanks to the Lock In tournament, fans should have a decent gauge on which teams might have enough juice in them to propel their squads into and through the playoffs. But that situation won’t arise until months from now.
In the case of Liquid and C9’s early-season battle at the top of the league, it’s only fair to place Liquid at the top of these rankings considering they own the head-to-head with C9 in 2021 by a score of 3-2—as strange as that might sound just one week into the regular season. As long as Liquid and C9 are at least close to each other in the standings, that Lock In series is going to be the best temperature checker we’ll have to measure these two teams until they face off again on Feb. 20.
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