The 2021 LPL season is set to begin on Jan. 9. And after a lengthy offseason filled with roster swaps and free agent signings, the action is all but ready to kick off.
With 17 teams in the LPL, easily the most of any professional League of Legends region in the world, the competition is sure to be robust throughout the course of the year.
Here’s how every team in China’s domestic league stacks up against each other on the eve of the 2021 LPL season.
17) eStar Gaming
An ownership change and several roster swaps have placed eStar firmly into the “rebuilding” column moving into 2021. While there’s still much work to be done before the team can be considered a genuine LPL contender, players like Rat and Insulator could develop immensely in 2021.
Like eStar, OMG will be expected to spend 2021 cultivating young talent and developing a roster that could potentially contend with the LPL’s most dominant franchises several years down the line. It’s been a while since OMG was a consistent threat at the top of the LPL, but young players like Wuming and Eric could inspire confidence as 2021 rolls on.
The organization formerly known as Dominus Esports rebranded to TT this offseason—and perhaps it’s for the best. The team went 1-15 last summer and completely revitalized its roster heading into 2021. TT is still made up of largely unproven parts, though. They have a long road ahead of them before they can be considered a contender in a stacked region like the LPL.
14) LNG Esports
LNG aren’t expected to make much noise in 2021. But with a big-name veteran in Tarzan anchoring the jungle position and a flashy young duo composed of Light and Iwandy in the bottom lane, the team might just have enough experience and developmental talent to lay the groundwork for success this season.
13) Royal Never Give Up
The age of Uzi is long over at this point. RNG has a long way to go before it can get back to where it once was just three years ago. But still, with several longtime franchise players on the roster, including Xiaohu and Ming, the team most definitely has the potential to turn heads, even during what’s expected to be a developmental season.
12) LGD Gaming
LGD lost four of the five starters that carried its roster to the World Championship in 2020 this offseason. Only veteran ADC Kramer will be returning to the lineup in 2021, where he’ll be expected to lead a roster of unproven, first-year players.
11) EDward Gaming
EDG are in a position where they might actually have a bit of an advantage. Although they’re relatively outweighed by many of their competitors in terms of raw talent, names like Clearlove, Meiko, and Viper still hold weight in the scene since they’ve all carried rosters in the past. If EDG’s premier players can perform well throughout the season, they could easily move up into the upper echelon of the LPL.
10) Rare Atom
Rare Atom, formerly known as Vici Gaming, has enough star power to crack the LPL’s top-10 teams. Respectable carries such as FoFo and iBoy have lengthy histories in the scene that can most definitely serve as the backbone of an organization that will surely attempt to climb higher and higher throughout the course of the year.
9) Victory Five
Victory Five has enough raw talent on its roster to propel the team into the midsection of the LPL. While there’s certainly room for growth on this relatively young roster, the fate of V5 will ultimately fall on the shoulders of its jungle/mid lane duo of Weiwei and Mole, who will be entering their second year of development together. If those two players—who began to look like a promising pair in 2020—can continue to flourish this season, there’s reason to believe that V5 will have a successful 2021.
8) Bilibili Gaming
Another mid-tier team, Bilibili has enough potential to be a thorn in the sides of the LPL’s top contenders throughout the season. Players like former LGD support Mark and former Vici Gaming mid laner Zeka will surely be headliners on a roster with a relatively high ceiling. Still, considering how much raw talent many of the league’s other rosters sport, expectations surrounding a team like Bilibili should be slightly tempered.
7) Rogue Warriors
Rogue Warriors have already made a splash in the overall LPL conversation. The team’s creative picks and meta-bending strategies during this offseason’s Demacia Cup were attention-grabbers. Rogue Warriors used out-of-left-field picks like Kayn, Mordekaiser, and Karthus proficiently during the LPL’s traditional preliminary tournament, making it clear that they’re not afraid to bend the rules and find success while doing so. If they can take that same level of swagger, confidence, and unpredictability into the regular season, RW might just have the potential to be a serious threat to the league’s hierarchy.
6) Invictus Gaming
A few years removed from their 2018 Worlds run, IG are still a genuine threat in the LPL landscape. All-Pro top laner TheShy is an ever-present force that could shoot the team into contention at any time, while longtime franchise player Rookie always has the tools to put IG on his back whenever necessary. In 2021, expect the team to be a firm contender near the top of the league while still being challenged by squads with more polished superstars.
Suning may have lost their main shotcaller in SwordArt this past offseason, but a strong majority of the team’s roster from last year’s run to the finals of Worlds is still intact. Headline players like SofM and Huanfeng are only going to continue to develop as time goes on, while Suning’s solo laners, Angel and Bin, are two of the strongest players at their respective positions in the league. Suning may not boast a clear-cut S-tier roster, but their performance at last year’s World Championship, as well as the expectations surrounding the team’s top players, should be enough to propel them through 2021.
4) Team WE
After a respectable 2020 season that saw Team WE finish seventh during the Summer Split, the team retooled heading into 2021. Although WE might have missed Worlds in 2020, the organization signed former OMG top laner Breathe and promoted Academy mid laner Shanks in an attempt to strengthen their solo lane presence. Additionally, a second-place finish at the Demacia Cup, which included bracket stage wins over LGD and JD Gaming, proved just why Team WE will hold weight in the conversation surrounding the LPL’s top teams in 2021. While the roster might not be filled to the brim with eye-grabbing names like FunPlus Phoenix or Top Esports, Team WE have the potential to grind out a successful 2021 season.
3) JD Gaming
After reaching the quarterfinals at last year’s World Championship, JD Gaming are poised to enter 2021 as one of the strongest teams in the LPL. This year, it’d only be reasonable to expect the team to build upon the success they found in 2020. JD Gaming’s roster is jam-packed with talent. Loken and Lvmao make up one of the most powerful bottom lane duos in the entire LPL, while Kanavi easily stands out as the strongest jungler in the region, if not the world. On top of what was already in place for JDG, the team added former LGD mid laner Xiye and former Afreeca Freecs ADC Mystic to the roster, bolstering the franchise’s depth at the carry positions. In 2021, expect JDG to be directly in the center of the conversation when it comes to securing a domestic title and competing on the international stage.
2) FunPlus Phoenix
After acquiring arguably the best top laner in the world this past offseason in Nuguri, FPX has skyrocketed back to the top portion of the LPL. Additionally, the other four players on the roster who brought the organization a Worlds title just two seasons ago are still playing for the team. With Nuguri on board and the consistently threatening mid lane/jungle duo of Doinb and Tian looking to bounce back this season, it’s obvious that there’s enough raw talent on the FPX roster to go around. With so many proven, qualified players stacked into one roster, there’s a good reason for the rest of the LPL to consider FPX as a genuine threat in 2021.
1) Top Esports
Without a doubt, TES stand well above the rest of the LPL. The team went on an unparalleled stretch of dominance at the back end of last season on the regional stage, posting a match record of 15-3 to close out the domestic portion of the season. After reaching the semifinals at last year’s World Championship, TES decided to keep its entire roster intact heading into 2021. With several All-Pro caliber players on the roster, including the carry duo of Knight and Jackeylove, Top has more raw talent in its starting lineup than any other team in the league. If they can execute as well as they did in 2020, it’d be entirely within reason to expect TES to find sustained success this year as well.
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