The current mid lane meta in League of Legends esports is experiencing a level of flexibility rarely seen at the top competitive level of play. Physical damage dealing mid laners have become all the rage due to the relative weakness of most control mages compared to previous metas, and magic damage dealing junglers make it all the easier to play these picks and flex them around to multiple positions on the map.
Ultimately, what defines a strong mid laner has not changed much, but the way in which a player can be successful in fulfilling the role of mid laner now has many more avenues of viability. When taking all of that into account, deducing who is the best mid laner is a nuanced, multi-faceted discussion. Let's rank the 10 best western mid laners competing in North America's League of Legends Championship Series and Europe's League of Legends European Championship.
1. Rasmus "Caps" Winther — G2 Esports
2. Luka "Perkz" Perković — Cloud9
3. Marek "Humanoid" Brázda — MAD Lions
While he may have missed the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, Caps is, on an individual level, the best mid laner in the west. He led all mid laners in Damage Per Minute in the 2021 LEC Spring Split and, alongside AD carry and Spring Split MVP Martin "Rekkles" Larsson, carried an otherwise unimpressive G2 Esports roster to a top 3 finish in the LEC Spring Playoffs.
At MSI, Perkz was the entire reason why Cloud9 won a handful of games, but failed to perform on a consistently elite level usually associated with his international prowess. His flexibilty was helpful in a wide-open mid lane meta that featured more assassins, fighters, and marksmen than conventional mages, but it was not enough to stop Cloud9 from disappointing in Reykjavik, Iceland.
MAD Lions finished in the top 4 of MSI 2021, and while Humanoid had a crucial play here and there, he was hardly the star of the show for the European representative. One could point towards the play of MAD top laner İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek and support Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser, the comfort of rookie jungler Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla, or the newfound elite level of play shown by AD carry Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság at the event as far larger factors in the team's success.
4. Emil "Larssen" Larsson — Rogue
5. Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen — Team Liquid
6. Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage — TSM
Rogue has many strong points as a team, but Larssen is its sharpest spear. The Danish mid laner is often the primary carry in Rogue's team-fight focused compositions and forms a fearsome 1-2 punch with the methodically paced pathing of jungler Kacper "Inspired" Słoma. Rogue isn't the most flexible team stylistically, but its success in the style its known for is often dependent on the execution of Larssen on high-damage carries.
Jensen has not played quite to his previous level in 2021, but more concerning is Team Liquid's disappearing identity as a multi-faceted team. TL's best foot forward this season has been playing around top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris' otherworldly laning phase, and while Jensen hasn't carried many games, he hasn't been put in a position to very often, either.
PowerOfEvil's significance in TSM is very similar to Larssen's in Rogue. TSM often sacrifies early game advantages to let POE scale up on a teamfighting, high-damage pick — usually a mage — so that the team can turn the tides in the mid game with snap decision making. POE can certainly play other picks than control mages, but as far as his performance in context of TSM, it hasn't gotten the job done as consistently in terms of team success.
7. Felix "Abbedagge" Braun — 100 Thieves
8. Yasin "Nisqy" Dincer — Fnatic
In the 2021 LEC Spring Split, Abbedagge wasn't quite the monster he was in the summer of 2020 during FC Schalke 04 Esports' miracle run, but solidified himself as one of the elite European mid laners. Since joining 100 Thieves for the Summer Split in the LCS, Abbedagge has shown capability to play both supportive and hard-carry picks, and earned himself Player of the Week honors for week 2, going deathless in all three wins.
Fnatic may have lost a step to start 2021, finishing outside of the top 3 in Europe for the first time in four years, but that doesn't mean all of its players have. In a Fnatic plagued by stylistic mismatches and career low performances from support Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov and top laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau, who has since transitioned to jungle, Nisqy has been everpresent as Fnatic's most consistent member.
9. Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro — Evil Geniuses
10. Vincent "Vetheo" Berrié — Misfits
Jiizuke's strengths and weaknesses are a microcosm of Evil Geniuses' entire roster. Getting a lead is never an issue, but keeping it is another story. Outside of its most recent loss to 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses has gained substantial leads in its first 5 games of the 2021 LCS Summer Split, but has only managed to win two of those games. Jiizuke's highs and ability to gain a lead are certainly S-tier, but his inability to keep them lands him several tiers lower.
Since the start of 2018, Misfits has only qualified for the post-season twice, but the silver lining of its 7th place finish in the 2021 LEC Spring Split was Vetheo's rookie split. Vetheo, while not quite an elite LEC mid laner, has established himself as an upper-half talent through just one split at the top competitive level in Europe. Misfits road to return to competitive relevance has taken many twists and turns, but Vetheo is the clearest sign to follow that the organization has seen in years.