Which teams need to be the most worried about their team now that the LCS Lock-In is over? Power rankings are easy fodder for content, so we thought it would be high time to give it a new twist by answering this question.
And it’s not an easy question to answer, especially given all the roster turmoil that was to be found during this tournament. Teams may have out-performed, or underperformed relative to expectations, but some teams weren’t even playing with their entire rosters for part, or all, of the tournament. Some teams didn’t even field any players from their actual LCS roster.
Nevertheless, we shall be ranking every team in the LCS starting with those who should be the least worried entering the LCS and going up the "Worry Meter"
10. Team Liquid
The winners of the tournament, TL’s victory was all the more impressive given they never played with what is (presumably) their default starting five. Academy players Bradley "Bradley" Benneyworth, Sean "Yeon" Sung, and Bill "Eyla" Nguyen all got significant playtime in this tournament for TL, who cruised to win Lock-in with 11-2 record.
On an individual level, TL squashed all worries that fans might have had. Newly-acquired mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg showed no signs of being out of shape, posting an incredible 15.63 KDA. Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau showed that he was not rusty from his split out of top lane either, carrying several games on his back. Steven "Hans sama" Liv still looked to be in form from Rogue. Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in and Lucas "Santorin" Larsen looked like they hadn’t missed a beat. If there’s any worry for TL fans, it’s that CoreJJ doesn’t get his citizenship issues resolved soon so the main roster doesn’t get to express its utter domination.
9. Evil Geniuses
Despite getting swept out of the finals, it’s hard to be anything but massively impressed by EG’s performance in this tournament. Those three losses to TL (who will probably end up being the best team in the LCS this year) were their only three losses. On an individual level, everyone looked exceptional.
Hyped rookie mid laner Joseph "Jojopyun" Pyun looked incredibly comfortable in his first pro action (yes, I’m prepared to eat some crow on that prediction), out-dueling many strong LCS mids. Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong was probably the most “disappointing” player on their team, but that’s just because he didn’t have the hard-carry moments that Bwipo did. Overall, EG already look like they could be the team with the highest ceiling in the LCS.
Reaching the semifinals without 3/5ths of your starting lineup should have C9 fans feeling pretty good about where they stand. Even though C9 got the luxury of getting to play some less-than-stellar competition — including two full Academy rosters and CLG — they did exactly what they were supposed to do and looked overall solid.
One of the big question marks for this C9 team going into the regular season is still their bot lane, but Lock-In basically proved that Cloud9’s Academy team is up to the task if Kim "Berserker" Min-cheol and Kim "Winsome" Dong-keon falter. The other big question mark was Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami’s lane swap to mid and so far, he’s looked more than capable. Through 12 games, Fudge ranked second among mids for KDA, third in gold per minute (GPM), and first for damage per minute (DPM).
For a team that most people predicted would be a bottom-finish, CLG actually performed quite well in the harder of the two groups, going 2-2 before bowing out in a close series against C9. It might seem to be grasping at straws, but in all honesty, CLG performed slightly better than expected in Lock-In. Fans of their team are probably not thinking that this CLG roster is one poised for a run at Worlds, but that wasn’t the expectation for this year.
CLG do have a lot of bright spots on their roster, particularly the dynamic young bot lane duo of Fatih "Luger" Güven and Philippe "poome" Lavoie-Giguere. Their strong play, along with what looks to be an improved Cristian "Palafox" Palafox makes this team an interesting one to watch. If they can get the topside of the map cleared up, this team could be a sleeper to make a run.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag here with Dignitas. On one hand, they outperformed many analysts’ expectations, beat 100 Thieves, made it to the semifinals, and pushed Team Liquid a lot harder than they realistically should have. On the other, they still ended up losing to TL and finished the tournament with 4-5 record.
On one hand, Ersin "Blue" Gören, who was one of the most-maligned signings of perhaps the entire offseason proved to be better than most fans gave him credit for (fourth among mids in KDA, fifth in DPM, seventh in GPM). On the other, Aaron "FakeGod" Lee did not show much evidence that he might be a stable top lane pillar for DIG (fifth in KDA, eighth in DPM, 11th in GPM).
On one hand, Kim "River" Dong-woo came in and completely changed this team’s direction, proving that perhaps he can be one of the top junglers in the LCS. On the other, the bot lane duo of Moon "Neo" Ji-won and Vincent "Biofrost" Wang was hit-or-miss outside of laning phase.
There’s a reason for optimism if you’re a DIG fan, which is more than could be said last year. There are pieces to build around. It’s just not clear how strong those pieces are.
It might seem odd to have TSM this high up in the worry rankings, considering they played their entire Academy roster. But the big issue that should have TSM fans worried is that their main roster is a huge swing towards unknown talent in Wei "Shenyi" Zi-Jie and Zhu "Keaiduo" Xiong, along with concerns about the stability of Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and Edward "Tactical" Ra, even though they have experience. Based on what we saw in Lock-In, there is no viable alternative if any of these players falter.
At no point did any of the TSM Academy players really look like they belonged on the stage with other LCS players. And, don’t forget, they were in the easier of the two groups, facing another full Academy team in GGS, a questionable FlyQuest team, C9 who were missing half of their regular roster (even though Zven and Isles might prove to be the better option in the bottom lane), and 100 Thieves. It’s great that TSM managed to win a game, but are any of these players a realistic option to call up if a player fails.
4. Golden Guardians
Like TSM, GGS played their entire Academy roster, so they’re ranked highly despite their terrible record (they won the exact same number of games as TSM’s Academy team) and the fact they technically finished “better” in the tournament than TSM.A. What pushes GGS into a higher “worry tier” is the fact that while TSM featured just about full-rookie squad, GGS had a fairly veteran team.
Players like Ethan "Ic0nic" Wilkinson, Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes, Tommy "Ryoma" Le, and even Johnathan "Chime" Pomponio have LCS stage experience, so they should have outperformed TSM. They won the head-to-head matchup, which is good, but nothing about this team should inspire a lot of confidence that GGS has any combination of players that could be anything more than an early playoff exit.
Admittedly, expectations were not that high for FLY entering Lock-In, but they were in a group that featured two teams that were fielding full Academy rosters. They actually lost to one of those teams, TSM, handing them their only win of the tournament. Even if FLY are probably at the bottom of most LCS power rankings in terms of pure strength, you’d still hope they’d be able to beat up on Academy teams.
On an individual level, too, FLY are still full of questions. Aphromoo and Johnsun together looked to be middling at best. Josedeodo made a lot of questionable decisions in terms of his pathing. The biggest question of all, mid laner Loïc "toucouille" Dubois, is still an enigma. He showed some flashes of strong play on Corki (but then again, most mids did) but was fairly underwhelming otherwise.
2. 100 Thieves
This might seem a bit odd to say that the team that finished top of Group A with a 3-1 record should be in a position to panic, but 100T fans should be very concerned by the fact that they were swept away by DIG in the quarterfinals. Dignitas certainly improved once they added River after the group stage (just ask Team Liquid), but 100T are the defending LCS champions, returning its entire starting lineup from last split. Expectations should be much higher than an early exit facing a team that is just playing together for the first time.
What’s particularly concerning is 100T's late game shotcalling. In game 1 against DIG, 100T allowed DIG to stack up dragons. After winning a fight at the third dragon, 100T were not able to secure the dragon, conceding it to DIG, and then lost fights at the fourth dragon (giving DIG Infernal Soul) and at the Elder Dragon. Despite the fact that 100T were ahead in gold at this point, they weren’t able to leverage that lead properly. You would expect a veteran team with their level of cohesion to not make mistakes like these.
Slam the panic button if you are an IMT fan, because things are not looking very good right now. Despite fielding their entire LCS roster, Immortals not only failed to make it out of the group stage, they failed to win a single game. Hell, TSM fielded an Academy roster and they were able to at least win once.
Now, in fairness, IMT were clearly in the stronger of the two groups. Group B had three of the four semifinalists and both finalists in their group. TL and EG were clearly a cut above the rest and DIG and CLG proved throughout the tournament that they were no slouches. With a team full of veterans, one would expect that IMT would at least be able to show some sign of life.
Diamond TFT Player & esports watcher.