Coming into the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, North American fans are once again hoping for glory. After a disappointing showing in 2020, League Championship Series teams made several investments in big-name players. The region now hosts a swath of talented and experienced players. However — like all, there are noted points of improvement for each of them. Here are Inven Global’s points of improvement for every LCS player to find success at Worlds 2021.
Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami — laning
This point comes straight from the horse’s mouth. Upon losing to 100 Thieves in the LCS Championship, Fudge stated, “I think if I'm not sh*tting on NA top laners in lane, then it's going to be really hard internationally. So I need to get a lot better in lane basically.”
Although Fudge showed strength throughout the LCS split, the C9 top laner wasn’t dominating much against the likes of 100 Thieves top laner Ssumday when it came time to face him in the penultimate match of the LCS Championship. This is not going to be easier when he starts having to face Royal Never Give Up top laner Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao and DWG KIA top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha.
Robert "Blaber" Huang — caution
Amongst his domestic competition, Blaber has many times proven himself to be the strongest jungler in the region. With an MVP award in hand, he was on top of the world this spring. However, he sat up there a little too comfortably. Many times his decision-making would not be the strongest, but the disparity in skill compared to his opponents usually let this go on unchecked.
At MSI, this wasn’t the case. All of sudden, the C9 jungler led the opponent to many easy kills on his team. This continued as teams like 100 Thieves got stronger in summer. It will only continue going into this tournament if Blaber doesn’t do something about it.
Luka "Perkz" Perković — restraint
Perkz's individual talent is undeniable. He's the most accomplished Western player of all time, and while he has his been inconsistent as much as the C9 team as a whole, he's carried many a game for the squad, especially in the 2021 LCS Championship.
Perkz's fix is a simple one: stop dying. Perkz had the second most deaths of any mid laner in the LCS Summer Split and led mid laners in deaths in the post-season. This is oftentimes not due to mispositioning individually as much as it is a miscommunication which results in Perkz flanking or engaging where his teammates are unable to back him up. Perkz is used to this do or die style from his time on G2 Esports, but if C9 can't match the pace, he has to reign it in for Worlds 2021.
Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen — late game positioning
It's hard to find a weak spot when looking at Zven's stats in the 2021 LCS Championship. His Summer Split stats are hard to evaluate due to him only playing as C9's starting AD carry for half of the games, but in the LCS Championship, he was arguably the best marksman in the post-season despite his team only finishing 3rd place.
If there's one thing Zven can do better, it's something seen by the eyeball test since he came to NA: random deaths in the late game. This isn't a case of poor teamfight positioning — when Zven is prepared, he's second-to-none in teamfights as far as the LCS is concerned, but when he's caught out randomly in the late game on a pick it can spell disaster for Cloud9. Zven has been self-admitting of these mistakes throughout the years, but he will have to tighten it up further at Worlds.
Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme — synergy
Vulcan still has not caught a break. During the Spring Split he was on top of the world—Zven and Vulcan were far and away the strongest duo in the league. Since then, the C9 support had to juggle partners, playing with Calvin "k1ng" Truong for the first half of the Summer Split
Even returning with Zven, his synergy has not looked as strong as it once was. Compared with the bottom lane duos of 100 Thieves or Team Liquid, Vulcan and Zven just do not look on the same page. Hopefully they’ve taken this time to work back into form with one-another, a form that can hopefully turn heads at Worlds.
Barney "Alphari" Morris — weak side execution
Alphari's case is similar to Zven's: he was benched for part of the Summer Split, was definitively the best performer in his role in the 2021 LCS Championship, and his statistics show very little weakness. If anything, Alphari's only improvement could be his execution on weak side.
When playing without an advantage, Alphari can lane fine and has always proven to do so since his early years on Misfits, but on TL, his Teleports and teamfights overall have been out of sync with his teammates. When Alphari is in a position to carry, he can do no wrong. If TL can't consistently put him in that position internationally, however, the squad as a whole suddenly has far fewer fangs.
Lucas "Santorin" Larsen — flexibility
Santorin came back valiantly from a time away from competition following the Summer Split due to chronic migraines, but showed up big in the post-season for Team Liquid. However, his finals matchup against 100 Thieves revealed a weakness that had been there all along: Santorin has simply avoided playing magic damage-dealing junglers since his return to competitive play.
While TL was able to get away with this due to a superior level of individual skill in multiple roles combined with Santorin's prowess on pocket tanks like Sejuani and Trundle in addition to prominent meta junglers like Lee Sin, but against 100, TL had to ban Diana regardless of side selection. Regardless of how strong Santorin's main champions are, teams will be far less forgiving against TL should its jungler not patch the holes in his champion pool.
Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen — adapting
Jensen has been essentially de-clawed throughout 2021. Team Liquid has a tendency to either play through top lane or the occasional bot lane carry strategy, which has left Jensen in a low-resource role more often than not. His damage per minute and gold share are down from previous years, but when Jensen is able to play a relatively uneventful early game, it usually spells victory for TL, especially if an advantage has been gained elsehwere and Jensen is on a scaling pick like Orianna.
However, Jensen had the third most deaths amongst all mid laners in the LCS Championship. While some of this can be attributed to the amount of games TL played in the post-season, Jensen died almost as many times as Perkz without voluntarily putting himself in a playmaking position.
Whether it's a matter of Jensen wanting to do more than his resources let him, or a matter of miscommunication between him and his teammates, Jensen can certainly adapt to low-resource role further to maintain his world-class status as a mid laner.
Edward "Tactical" Ra — surviving
It’s looking scary for Tactical coming into Worlds. The team’s performance against 100 Thieves was not promising, and the player often seen as one of the weaker links of the team did not help in that way at all. Tactical needs a plan for survival. Stat.
If CoreJJ is going to continue to roam, Tactical is going to have to face some of the most talented and experienced bot lanes in the world. Duos that are completely comfortable making the most of a 2v1 situation. The Team Liquid AD carry may be able to do it, but it’s going to require enormous discipline, without cowering behind a turret at all times.
Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in — vision
CoreJJ being phenomenal has become par for the course in the LCS, and this season was no different. Despite an up-and-down summer from TL, CoreJJ improved on his already impressive spring form and solidified himself as the best support in the league once again despite a 5th place finish by TL in the regular season.
The only statistic looking abnormal from CoreJJ's perspective was his warding. His wards cleared per minute was still stellar — second highest in the LCS Summer Split amongst supports — but his warding was outside of the top amongst starting supports. If CoreJJ wants his roam-heavy style to continue to succeed internationally, his frequency in warding will have to come closer to his frequency in clearing his opponent's vision.
Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho — carrying
Ssumday finally won his NA championship, but in a different fashion compared to his glory years. The veteran top laner has strayed away from his carry days and usually takes more of a back-seated approach on the team. Looking ahead to Worlds, he will need to make sure that he is capable of putting his team on his shoulders when they need it.
Though Abbedagge, Closer, and FBI have been able to take that responsibility in most games, this year, chances are their hands will be full at Worlds. If Ssumday can reliably fulfill that role, they’ll be in a far stronger position.
Can "Closer" Çelik — carrying
Closer has had a stellar season. Along with Abbedagge he was probably the most responsible for his team’s success. On an individual level, he was more than capable of carrying games himself.
However—in comparison to someone like Santorin—his playstyle isn’t as suited for an international event. Warding is a game-aspect many times overlooked by NA junglers, and if Closer can emulate the frequency of someone like Team Liquid’s jungler, he’ll be in a far better position to bring his team success.
Felix "Abbedagge" Braun — versatility
After an impressive debut LCS split this summer, Abbedagge continued to prove his value for 100 Thieves in the post-season. Abbedagge can seemingly perform on any type of champion that 100 Thieves needed to and can manage to create his own advantages to ensure the carry potential of his jungler Closer. Abbedagge manages to gain a lot of CS regardless of the proximity of his jungler and averaged 8.9 CS per minute despite negative splits in laning stats against his opponents.
This isn't necessarily an individual failing of Abbedagge, but if 100 Thieves needs him to continue to provide the same level of value without consistently getting resources, the mid laner and his teammates must be aware of international teams' ability to exploit cracks in the armor far better than the domestic competition of the LCS.
Victor "FBI" Huang — early lane presence
FBI and huhi established themselves as one of the strongest bot lane duos in the LCS, particularly through their unparalleled synergy which led to many a 2v2 kill in the laning phase. 100 Thieves often put FBI in a position to carry, but sometimes, he and huhi were able to generate an advantage all by themselves due to a link in playstyle developed over the better part of the past two seasons.
However, FBI and huhi looked far more tame in terms of conventional laning when unable to kill their opponents, and FBI sufffered a CS and experience defecit at 10 minutes in the LCS Championship due to opponents becoming wise to the duo's kill threat. If FBI and huhi can't keep up with the laning of international opponents, there's no amount of playmaking that will allow them an advantage, let alone an opportunity to carry 100 Thieves on the Worlds 2021 stage.
Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun — versatility
FBI and huhi were impressive during the Summer Split. The duo finally developed into what can only be considered the strongest 2v2 lane in the league. No matter who they were up against, the two 100 Thieves boys were able to square off well. However, they were usually only found in the bottom lane. Compared to someone like CoreJJ that could excel both in lane and while roaming, huhi almost always stayed put in lane.
Hey, what isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed, right? Maybe for the LCS, but without more versatility from the support position, 100 Thieves will look one-dimensional against teams from other regions at Worlds 2021.
All images by: Riot Games
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