The first LCS Lock In tournament is right around the corner, but which teams are the most likely to win?
For the first time ever, the LCS will be playing a warm-up tournament before starting off the season for real. This is done through the LCS Lock In, where the winner won’t only start out the season with confidence but also go home with $150,000. The tournament seems to be timed perfectly as all teams have made changes for the season, some more than others.
Ahead of the LCS Lock In, everyone is talking about Cloud9 and Team Liquid. The two North American giants have spent big money in the offseason, acquiring some strong new players. For now, it looks like the two will be battling for the trophy but it’s already hard to predict who will be the strongest.
C9 has gotten the most attention this offseason, as former G2 Esports star Luka “Perkz” Perković has joined as the new mid laner. This is arguably one of the biggest roster moves ever seen and the expectations for Perkz and C9 are incredibly high. C9 will also be fielding rookie top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami who impressed everyone on Cloud9 Academy in 2020. Fudge will be a bit of a question mark going up against some very experienced players, but the potential of the young Australian top laner is big.
If anyone is taking down this C9 squad right off the bat, it’s Team Liquid. Liquid upgraded its roster in the offseason by adding former Origen top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris and picking up Lucas “Santorin” Larsen from FlyQuest for the jungle. On paper, Liquid is the squad to challenge Perkz and C9 but it will likely be hard in the LCS Lock In.
The reason why Liquid will enter the tournament with a big disadvantage is because of visa issues. Santorin is still stuck in Denmark due to visa issues, resulting in him being delayed for at least the first week of the tournament. Replacing him is former Team SoloMid jungler Jonathan “Armao” Armao. While Armao, formerly known as Grig, has some experience under his belt, he’s not an effective replacement for Santorin. The Danish jungler was pivotal in FlyQuest’s performance in 2020 and looks to be just as important for Liquid. Until Santorin arrives in North America, C9 is looking to be the clear favorite.
It’s never safe to count out TSM and this year is no exception. Even though TSM was hit by the retirements of both mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and bot laner Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng after the 2020 World Championship, the management has built another strong roster.
Replacing the two retired legends are former FlyQuest mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and the young bot laner Lawrence “Lost” Hui. These seem like solid replacements but there is a lot to prove and big shoes to fill. As if those two changes weren’t enough, TSM has also changed its top laner and support. The biggest pickup is former Suning support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh.
SwordArt recently played in the Worlds final and will be the make-or-break player for TSM in 2021. If SwordArt ends up performing in the LCS, TSM could reach great heights and challenge C9 and Liquid. For the LCS Lock In, it’s hard to predict which version of TSM will show up as only jungler Mingyi “Spica” Lu remains from the 2020 lineup.
TSM will be a team to keep an eye on for this tournament. They may end up winning the whole thing, or may need more time to build up synergy.
While the favorites for the LCS Lock In are clear, there are several teams that could end up surprising. The biggest dark horse seems to be 100 Thieves, which has picked up four players from the 2020 Golden Guardians roster. Paired up with top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, 100 Thieves will likely have a big edge in synergy as the majority played together last year with success.
Also in the running are FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses, who both managed to gather solid squads in the offseason. FlyQuest is fielding an exciting roster with jungler Brandon “Josedeodo” Villegas, while Evil Geniuses has picked up former world champion top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-young. Both teams have enough talent to post upsets in the LCK Lock In tournament, but will likely need this tournament to build up synergy before the 2021 LCS Spring Season starts on February 5.
The LCK Lock In tournament is a new initiative introduced for the 2021 LCS season. Leading up to the season, it was announced that the LCS would get a new format in 2021 and the LCK Lock In is a part of that. The two-week tournament was made as a warm-up for all 10 LCS teams to try out their new rosters and the brand new patch. This will hopefully increase the level of play when all LCS teams enter Summoner’s Rift when the 2021 LCS Spring Season starts on February 5.
The tournament will run over two weeks, with the final being played on January 31.