2021 looks like it is going to be a big season for the LCS. Many teams have rebuilt their entire rosters or made moves to acquire big stars in the wake of another year in which not a single LCS squad made it out of the group stage at the World Championships.
With big changes come different expectations. Some teams are looking to break into international competition with a splash with domestic success already considered a given, while other teams are playing the long game, trying to improve domestically before reaching for the moon. Still other teams just want to sneak into the postseason with less celebrated rosters.
Since the dust has settled and teams have locked in most of their starting spots, what are the expectations for each team in the LCS?
Teams in this category are expecting to dominate the league, or at least make a deep run in the playoffs to garner an international invitation. These are organizations that did their best in the offseason to bolster their roster for the challenge of competing for the best in the world.
Topping this list is Team Liquid, who only added two new players, but those players are definitely upgrades. Signing top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris and jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen is a clear sign that the organisation wants to make it deeper internationally and should have fans expecting nothing less.
TSM and Cloud9 are also in this category. Both teams spent a lot of money to bring in imported players that will not just want to win the LCS, but also make a statement outside of the league. With a change in coaching staff for both teams, expectations for performance are at an all time high as well.
The last team in this category is Evil Geniuses. The organization bolstered its roster from last season with the addition of Jeong “Impact” Eon-young and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun. Along with its former MVP jungler, this team should have higher goals than improving on its previous season.
This category is for teams that want to make deep runs into the LCS playoffs and potentially upset teams in the tier above for a spot in an international competition.
A team firmly situated with these expectations is CLG with its eclectic player combination and general level of experience at each position. While its roster does look a bit strange on paper, it should be vying for a top spot in the regular season and a decent playoff run.
100 Thieves and FlyQuest are also expected to be at this level of competition. 100 Thieves because of its acquisition of four fifths of a Golden Guardians playoff roster from last season, and FlyQuest with its smattering of former Cloud9 players that have either competed for titles or are thought to be of that caliber.
Teams with these expectations are ones that are rebuilding and have players that should develop over the course of the next season. The organisations would be overjoyed with a high playoff seeding or an international appearance, but likely do not expect it with the rosters they have constructed.
The two most obvious developing teams are Golden Guardians and Immortals. The Golden Guardians roster was completely overhauled in the 2020 offseason and the organisation has doubled down on domestic talent by starting two players who come from the collegiate scene. Immortals is looking to improve on last season’s success with rookie David “Insanity” Challe by pairing him with a vetean import jungler and two other LCS rookies in 2021.
The last LCS squad that fits into this box is Dignitas. The organisation is going to be starting three players that were in LCS Academy last season and are to be mentored by two LCS veterans that have been in the league for over five years.
The 2021 season looks like it is going to be a seminal season for the LCS. Organisations have taken the lessons from the league’s international shortcomings and are seemingly planning for the future. With so many rosters, and the diversity of expectations beyond staying in the top half of the table, the season looks rife for excitement.