The LCS is finally ready to kick off its regular season now that the month-long preseason Lock In tournament is in the rear-view mirror.
And although the games of the Lock In tournament won’t count for anything in terms of long-term standings (sorry, Team Liquid), the League of Legends tournament still served as a reasonable indicator of teams’ relative strength across the board. With certain squads getting upset in the bracket stage and others failing to advance past the group stage altogether, the Lock In gave LCS fans an early taste of things to come in 2022.
Still, even with all that in mind, some teams have yet to play their full hand. Several LCS-level starters who didn’t play in the Lock In tournament—such as TSM’s reigning MVP Spica; Cloud9’s newcomers Berserker, Winsome, and Summit; as well as Golden Guardians’ full starting lineup—will make their 2022 debuts this weekend.
While this week’s power rankings show our League writers’ perspective on the teams of the LCS after the Lock In, keep in mind that early impressions of teams could change once rosters start to come together and the games actually count. Here are our LCS power rankings ahead of the 2022 Spring Split.
Starting at the bottom: Golden Guardians, FlyQuest
Despite the fact that both of these squads made it out of their Lock In groups, they find themselves at the bottom of our rankings to start the Spring Split. Golden Guardians come in as one of the bigger question marks in the league because, like other teams, they weren’t able to field their intended roster. But after the hot streak Golden Guardians ended 2021 on, this team could punch far above its current ranking. Licorice is the bedrock of this team in the top lane and Ablazeolive is the most slept-on mid laner in the LCS. Both of these players have a shot to make All Pro teams (unlikely, but possible). Lost and Olleh in the bottom lane and how import Pridestalkr integrates in the jungle will be what decides whether this team swings up into an all-of-a-sudden very crowded top six in the league.
Aside from 100 Thieves in the 2019 Spring Split, a team with aphromoo as its support has never finished lower than eighth. This FlyQuest squad might see another blemish added to that statistic, but don’t be surprised if it holds up. In his long career, aphromoo has been the poster child for the term “floor raiser” and is as consistent as they come. He’s reunited with Johnsun and should continue to provide late-game insurance in the bottom lane. Mid laner toucouille has a higher ceiling than some will give him credit for and jungler Josedeodo has to prove he’s LCS material this year after an uninspiring 2021. It will be an uphill battle for FlyQuest this year.
Show us more, please: CLG, Immortals
CLG and Immortals fielded their intended starting lineups throughout the entire Lock In. And even though the sample size is small, early returns from both of these teams suggest they’re trending in opposite directions. While CLG started out in the nine hole ahead in our pre-Lock In power rankings, the team finished above our expectations in the tournament. Strong preseason performances from rookie AD carry Luger and veteran jungler Contractz should bode well for the team moving into the Spring Split.
As for Immortals, the team’s five veterans failed to win a single game together in the group stage, joining TSM as the only team to not advance to the Lock In’s knockout bracket. And while four ultimately meaningless games shouldn’t hold too much sway over an experienced roster like this one, the questions of chemistry and cohesion are still present and likely won’t be answered until Immortals capture their first victory of 2022.
Playoff hopefuls: Dignitas, TSM
Dignitas’ success was undoubtedly one of the most surprising stories of the LCS Lock In. The team unexpectedly dethroned the reigning LCS champions, 100 Thieves, in the first round of the playoffs in decisive 2-0 fashion. Perhaps the most jarring part of it all is that the full starting roster had only played together for approximately three days before the upset win. Still shaking off the jet lag, River put on an impeccable performance in his LCS unofficial debut, enabling his laners and facilitating most winning fights.
All of Dignitas performed on point in their later performances, with Neo and Biofrost similarly exceeding expectations. This isn’t the first time Dignitas have shown promise, however. The organization hovered near the top of the standings throughout the 2021 Spring Split. After a short-lived playoff run and a roster collapse, Dignitas were only a shadow of themselves in the summer, though. To avoid another crash and burn, Dignitas will need to build upon the early momentum this new iteration of the roster has already found.
There isn’t much we can take away from TSM after the Lock In, considering the org fielded its Academy squad for the entirety of the tournament. One thing we can analyze is TSM’s prospective competition. Originally, there seemed to be a clear divide between the top and bottom-tier teams. But after 100 Thieves’ shortcomings and Dignitas’ and Evil Geniuses’ rise, it’s clear that the competition is stiffer than initially expected in the LCS.
Top-half contenders: 100 Thieves, Cloud9
Cloud9 were hit hard by visa issues that plagued most of the field in the Lock In, forcing the squad to play without three of their players and their new head coach. In their stead, members of the current C9 Academy roster, including veteran LCS talent like Zven and Darshan, attempted to maintain the team’s hold on success. Though C9 powered through to the semifinals, the fact that this iteration of C9 isn’t the one starting the Spring Split raises many questions regarding what exactly we’ll see from them in the coming weeks.
100 Thieves lay in a vastly different situation. As the pick from the overwhelming majority of fans to win the 2022 Lock In, they were usurped in a surprising 2-0 sweep by the new Dignitas roster in the quarterfinals. After troubles securing objectives in game one, 100T completely fell apart in game two, which was uncharacteristic of the 2021 LCS champions who have been known to stride in deficits—if there even was one. In doing so, they gave way to the rise of both Liquid and EG, simultaneously making their start to the Spring Split unclear.
Both of these teams, possessing previous championship victories in their own rights, have a lot of expectations to live up to when the Spring Split begins. While both teams maintain room for growth heading into the start of the season, these hefty expectations may be too much to handle.
Unquestionably strong starts: Liquid, Evil Geniuses
This past month might have only been a teaser of what’s to come in the 2022 LCS Spring Split, but Liquid and EG’s strong starts to the year should provide fans with some confidence for how strong these two rosters will be moving forward.
On one end, Liquid showed off their dangerous potential with multiple carry threats like Bwipo, Hans sama, and Bjergsen all having their time to shine during the event. This superteam had the most kills of any squad in the Lock In, while also leading in multiple objective control percentages like first-blood rate, first-tower rate, dragon-control rate, and Baron-control rate, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
On the other side, EG’s epic undefeated streak might have come to a crashing halt, but losing to Liquid’s star-studded lineup should motivate this young squad to become even hungrier this coming season. Through the LCS Lock In, Inspired ripped up the jungle with a role-leading 34 kills, Jojopyun kicked off 2022 with the most kills and the best early-game stats of any LCS mid laner, while Danny dealt the second-most damage among ADs, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
Both rosters were scary good during the month of January and should be top-three contenders by the time April comes around and the playoffs begin.