We’re two-thirds of the way through the 2021 LCS season and the race for the playoffs is finally kicking off. Teams are settling into the Summer Split and the top squads of the league are all jumping into one of the most high-leverage playoff races in LCS history.
After a split full of inexplicable roster changes, LCS teams will also be forced to lock their rosters ahead of the final playoff push, so we might finally be able to see which teams are truly dead set on being contenders toward the end of the season.
You have to give the LCS credit where it’s due, though. Among all major leagues across the world, North America is easily the most stable. The LEC, LCK, and LPL are seeing their standings shift intensely week in and week out. But in the LCS, things are relatively tame—and that concept is definitely reflected in this week’s rankings.
With all that said, we asked our League of Legends writers to rank the teams of the LCS heading into the final stretch of the 2021 regular season. Here are our LCS power rankings after five weeks of play in the Summer Split.
One of these teams is making the playoffs whether you like it or not: CLG, Golden Guardians, FlyQuest
In all major sports across every major league, fans can easily separate the “rebuilding teams” from the contending teams. In the LCS, that’s not the case. The three teams that are in a definitive rebuilding phase are also in contention for the league’s last playoff spot. And with nine games left to be played, any one of them has a realistic shot at securing it.
If we had to pick any of these three inevitable first-round exits to squeak into the playoffs, though, it would have to be CLG. The team has shown that it can go toe-to-toe with some of the best squads in the league, especially as of late. Remember when they nearly completed a perfect game against 100 Thieves?
In terms of personnel, CLG has made it clear that they’re still looking to compete, considering the team’s roster full of experienced veterans has a bit of an edge on squads like FlyQuest and Golden Guardians, who are making an honest attempt at preparing for the future. In fact, Golden Guardians and FlyQuest made a trade with each other this past week centered around veteran top laner Licorice, who will leave FlyQuest and spend the rest of the season with Golden Guardians, effectively jumping from one sinking ship to the next. Still, if both of these teams feel that they have enough developmental projects in the tank to potentially string together some sort of run in 2022, it’s a good sign that they’re putting in the groundwork now.
Getting used to each other: Dignitas, Immortals
These two teams have been getting very comfortable with one another. And it seems that from this comfort stems complacency, which won’t help them move from the bottom of the pack.
Dignitas and Immortals have both been struggling to find their footing over the past five weeks—and that isn’t reflecting well within the LCS standings at this point. Luckily for Dignitas, a roster swap that brought Akaadian into the jungle helped them secure a huge win against TSM, proving once more that the current Summer Split standings are more fragile than ever.
This win against TSM was the most dominant that Dignitas has looked throughout the entire split. But outside of this game, there hasn’t been much else to say about the Dignitas squad compared to the top of the standings, so they’ll be remaining in sixth place in our power rankings this week.
Immortals, however, did take down Dignitas on the final day of week five, stopping DIG from securing their first 3-0 weekend of the split. They couldn’t stop TSM like Dignitas, though, or their other opponent in C9, rendering Immortals victims of yet another negative-scoring week.
Right now, Immortals are missing the spice they need to shine. They have an incredibly talented roster of new and veteran talent, but when mixed together, this concoction just doesn’t taste good—not yet at least. Only Destiny possesses the stats to compare to the top LCS players at the moment, sporting a 53-percent win rate across all 15 games thus far and 79.9-percent kill participation to boot, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Though one player performing well isn’t enough to speak for Immortals as a whole.
Immortals are definitely ahead of the competition behind them in CLG (by an astounding six wins), but their movement up in the standings is being halted predominantly by potential that has yet to be showcased. They stay neck-and-neck with Dignitas in our power rankings this week, but both teams still have time to show us their true colors.
Movement in the middle: Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid
Since the Spring Split, this particular power ranker thought that Evil Geniuses had the highest ceiling of any team not named Cloud9, TSM, or Team Liquid. That was before 100 Thieves got Abbedagge, but the point still stands. EG have won five in a row and are rounding into form as a legitimate team with a strong identity. And don’t look now, but they’re only two games behind C9 and one game behind Liquid. Week five was relatively easy for EG since they beat the three teams that are lowest in the standings, but taking care of business is what good teams do. Immortals, 100 Thieves, and C9 await this week. That’s when we’ll learn what this team is really made of.
Liquid have had more on and off-the-Rift turbulence than your average cross-country flight—and that’s partially to blame for their woes. The thing to always remember about Liquid is that this is not their ceiling. The team that came within one game of beating C9 3-1 and going to MSI isn’t even either because Santorin wasn’t there. Statistically, and to the eye test, they’re languishing in mediocrity and are in danger of becoming a gatekeeper team, beating the squads above them and losing to the ones below them. If Santorin and Alphari are back by the playoffs and the team can put whatever dysfunction polluted the atmosphere behind them, they’re a Worlds-caliber team.
C9 being in third feels wrong, but the fact of the matter is that TSM and 100 Thieves are simply playing better League right now. In head-to-heads this split, C9 are 0-4 in their games against the top two teams in the LCS. No one else seems to pose a tremendous challenge to them, but the wins have still been far from flawless. That being said, as the meta has expanded, so have C9. And while that will likely benefit them in the long run and in the playoffs when they can hone in on a style following the experimentation that the 27-game split affords them, you might see some bumps in the road along the way.
Playoff bound: 100 Thieves, TSM
Over the past three weeks, 100 Thieves have quickly become the hottest team in North America, taking control over first place decisively with an eight-game winning streak, including two big victories over Liquid, a statement against C9, and a smattering of wins against lower-seeded squads.
Their early game has been destructive throughout the first half of the season. Their average difference of 1,800 gold at 15 minutes, according to Oracle’s Elixir, is proof of how great they are at finding advantages early and crushing their opponents from the first minute.
Here’s another incredible Summer Split fact if you still doubt 100 Thieves’ dominance: FBI, Closer, Huhi, and Abbedagge all lead the LCS in KDA, in that order, through 15 games. No longer are these Thieves trying to sneak into the vault where the LCS trophy is because they’re coming to the heist with bundles of dynamite in their hands.
Across the Rift, however, TSM are still showing plenty of life as the second seed in the region. They did lose against Dignitas last week, but they were able to bounce back with a strong win against Immortals and a hard-fought victory over C9. They seem to know exactly how to play around their strengths as a team, which lies more in their mid-to-late game teamfighting and decision-making. TSM don’t look scared to press their advantages and they’ve shown enough restraint around their limits based on the team compositions they’ve built.
Luckily, this week will be the litmus test to see which team is at its peak in the second half of the summer. 100 Thieves and TSM will clash on the third day of week six—and it should be a blast to watch.
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