Two weeks ago, Cloud9 took a highly contested best-of-five series win over Team Liquid in the League of Legends Championship Series' Mid-Season Showdown tournament finals, making them the sole representatives for the North American region at the Mid-Season Invitational.
The first half of the 2021 season saw Cloud9 run the gauntlet early on in the Lock-In tournament, playing 17 total games which gave them the experience to never let go of first place in spring. It also saw Team Liquid dominate Lock-In, later on stumbling in the middle of spring only to be one game away from taking it all. It saw teams like Team SoloMid and 100 Thieves constantly battle to stay in the top four. And it saw a Dignitas team take everyone by surprise and claim themselves as the gatekeepers between the upper echelon and the bottom of the LCS.
With that being said, here are five things to know ahead of the LCS' 2021 summer.
1) Cloud9's Performance at MSI
At the time of this article, Cloud9 is set to have North America and the LCS' name on their backs as they will face the representatives from regions and leagues around the world. Similar to last year's spring performance, Cloud9 took this year's spring by storm — never letting go of first place. The team had a rocky start to the season beginning with the LCS Lock-In tournament but went through a gauntlet from start to finish. This netted them a 17-game experience advantage over their counterparts going into the spring's start.
Expectations for this team are high as many — including Cloud9 themselves — were left with a sour taste in their mouths as they couldn't showcase their skills at MSI due to the pandemic.
With poor recent international performances from the North American region in the past couple of years and the massive amount of spending and investment the region as a whole has done, Cloud9 has a lot on its shoulders.
2) Repeared and Abbedagge Become Part of the 100 Thieves Heist
Although a solid start to the 2021 season with strong performances in the Lock In tournament and a top-four finish in spring, the Thieves are still yearning for more. It's been almost three years since they last made the World Championships and they are determined to go back. With the mid-season pickups of former Cloud9 head coach, Bok "Repeared" Han-gyu and mid-laner Felix "Abbedagge" Braun from the League of Legends Championship's FC Schalke 04. The team is looking to not just break into the top two, but to go to Worlds as well.
3) Team SoloMid Needed Time to Gel
As one of the staples of the league, and the most winningest organization in LCS history, Team SoloMid was one of the teams to look out for the most going into the 2021 season. Add the fact that both longtime mid laner and superstar, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and legendary North American AD Carry, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng retired. Many will want to know what will become of the team.
Alongside 100 Thieves, this team went for a near-complete overhaul of its roster, only keeping jungler, Mingyi "Spica" Lu. The team grabbed former and current superstars across the LCS such as top laner, Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and former FlyQuest mid-laner, Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage. But the most eye-widening pick up of all was the signing of former Suning Gaming support and last year's Worlds finalist, Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh. SwordArt was paired up with Lawrence "Lost" Sze Yuy Hui from TSM's Academy team.
To start the season Team SoloMid lacked all kinds of synergy, their play showcased that. They played like a team that never played with each other — that's what they were. Once in spring, the team began clicking taking themselves from the bottom of the standings to the top three. Once in the top three they never let go, finishing at second place and earning themselves a bye going into MSS. At MSS they fell to eventual runners-up, Team Liquid, which put them in the losers' bracket. Once in the losers' bracket they punched through every opponent until they once again faced Team Liquid in Winners' Finals, but yet again fell.
Going into the 2021 summer Team SoloMid's performance will be on everyone's radar. They had their time to synergized and were rewarded with a third-place finish, now it's time to perform.
4) Dignitas' Role Within the LCS
Dignitas became the gatekeepers between the upper half and bottom half of the LCS during the spring. They took the whole league by surprise after many had them in the bottom half of their power rankings for the LCS' 2021 season. Dignitas started off poorly in the Lock-In tournament but kicked it up a notch with different angles once in spring. Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett's seemingly endless jungle pool, surprise performances from their solo laners and carry performances from their bottom lane netted them a solid spot in the top five of the standings.
Unfortunately, their surprise run ended after they faced the team directly above them in the standings, 100 Thieves, in Round 1 of the Losers' Bracket in which they fell 3-0. Going into the summer, Dignitas is one of the teams to look out for. Can they repeat that surprise performance or was it a fluke?
5) The Bottom Half of the LCS
The bottom half of the LCS finished as follows: Immortals at 7th, FlyQuest at 8th, Counter Logic Gaming at 9th and Golden Guardians at 10th. Outside of FlyQuest and Counter Logic Gaming, not many had high expectations for all four of these teams. Golden Guardians were a team full of fresh players from both Academy and Collegiate apart from AD carry, Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes. While Immortals had their own fair share of names but none that stood out.
On the other hand, FlyQuest had some big names from Academy such as mid-laner, Christian "Palafox" Palafox and support, David "Diamond" Bérubé. They also had notable names such as Eric "Licorice" Ritchie and former Liga Latinoamerica jungler, Brandon "Josedeodo" Villegas. While Counter Logic Gaming was filled with veteran players, such AD Carry, Jason "WildTurtle" Tran, support, Andy "Smoothie" Ta and mid-laner Eugene "Pobelter" Park. They also had former LEC top laner from Rogue, Finn "Finn" Wiestål and Team Liquid jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen
Counter Logic Gaming's impressive early-game play but failure to convert once in the mid to late. Lackluster performance's from FlyQuest's stars and Immortals lack of identity all contributed to the common theme among these four teams. They all left the league, its fans, and the rest of its teams wanting more. Summer is the time for them to perform better and correct their past mistakes.