In the 2020 offseason, the LCS broke the record for the most imports added to the region in one split. While it might look like the LCS is falling back into its old patterns, these signings will almost certainly increase the level of competition in the region.
After disastrous results in the 2020 World Championship, fans wanted for a change in the LCS, and a massive change was what they received. Not only is the format for the competition changing in 2021, but every team in the LCS went through a roster change.
The changes came after the LCS announced that players coming from Oceania wouldn’t take import slots. As a result, the organizations scouted the region the get the best players available to reinforce their ranks. Quin “Raes” Korebrits and Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw are reuniting under the Immortals banner. Immortals also signed former Astralis jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomi and head coach André “Guilhoto” Pereira Guilhoto. Immortals only has two North American players, but it’s not the only organization looking predominantly international.
Impact and Svenskeren are considered residents at this point, so teams can add two imports to the roster even with the pair already on board.
Cloud9 and Team Liquid signed just one new import each, but these are high-profile names. Former G2 Esports Luka “Perkz” Perković became one of the most discussed players in the offseason when he announced his departure from G2. To everyone’s surprise, Perkz chose to travel across the Atlantic to join C9.
Team Liquid parted ways with Impact and replaced him with European star Barney “Alphari” Morris. Alphari is considered one of the best players in the LEC and is joining Team Liquid as the organization fights for a fifth LCS title.
Team SoloMid broke every record in the offseason when it signed a six million dollar contract for Worlds finalist Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh. SwordArt is the first LMS player to play in North America and he’s doing it as one of the highest-paid players in the region.
Dignitas is the only team competing in the LCS with an full North American roster.
Europe, China, and Oceania are not the only regions providing imports for North America. For the first time, two Latin American players from the LLA are traveling up north to start in the LCS. FlyQuest signed one of the most outstanding players from Worlds’ play-ins, jungler Brandon “Josedeodo” Villegas. Golden Guardians went for support Leandro “Newbie” Marcos to complete its roster. The signing of Josedeodo and Newbie is just an indication of Latin America’s growth as a region that now produces talent worthy of exporting.
Fans were hoping to see more North American talent on stage, but it will be a couple of splits before resident players reclaim the spots. Right now, the region is investing on the amateur circuit, hoping to create a talent pipeline of North American players. In the meantime, the stakes are higher than ever. The LCS starts on January 15 with the LCS Lock In a three-week tournament that kicks off the season.
There are 10 professional teams currently competing in the LCS. Each team owns a franchise slot, and partners directly with League of Legends developer Riot Games. These franchise slots are permanent, so participating teams can never be demoted from the league. The 10 teams are as follows:
Each LCS team can have two imports on stage at a time. Organizations can sign multiple imports for the team, but only two can play simultaneously. Starting in 2021, players coming from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) do not count towards import slots.
The LCS doesn’t require its players to be ranked Challenger. However, players that aspire to compete professionally must be ranked Challenger in order to be considered for the LCS Scouting Grounds.