The League of Legends Championship Series 2021 Summer Split makes its comeback on June 4. After another disappointing international performance at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, North American fans are itching for a reason to get excited about the LCS again.
Summer 2021 will be the first split where Spring standings roll over. That means, for better or worse, teams will pick up exactly where they left off last split. The stakes are much higher with Worlds qualifications on the line. Some teams prepared for that pressure with roster changes, and others will be running it back with the same lineup from Spring hoping to show drastic improvement. Whether the aim is domestic redemption or international hopes and dreams, these five players will be huge difference-makers for their teams this Summer.
5. Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh (TSM)
Upon making his debut in North America at the start of 2021, SwordArt was a big target for harsh criticism from fans. Toting a finals appearance at the 2020 World Championship, a storied career full of domestic success and a fat six million dollar price tag, he was expected to transform a fresh TSM lineup into contenders right out the gate.
It’s no secret that his showing for the majority of the 2021 Spring Split was lackluster for a world class support of his caliber. From frequent mechanical misplays to disjointed engages and mispositioning, SwordArt struggled to find his groove on TSM until the end of the season. By then it was too late. Between adjusting to a new country and strict quarantining procedures, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for his Spring struggles.
Between now and the start of Spring, SwordArt has had time to adjust to a new region and new teammates, as well as an offseason break to recharge. While it wouldn’t be fair to expect him to have fully adjusted to this new way of life in a couple of months, the expectations for SwordArt’s play will be significantly higher this Summer. After TSM’s winless run at Worlds 2020, they’re dead set on not only qualifying for the tournament this year but also on performing well at it. If SwordArt can’t help TSM find success in Summer, the org’s expensive experiment in the support role would be deemed a total flop.
4. Colin “Solo” Earnest (Golden Guardians)
Solo is the player that the LCS always seems to forget until they need him most. After starting 2020 without a team, FlyQuest pulled him onto the roster for the 2020 LCS Summer Split, qualified for Worlds and even took a game off of tournament favorite TOP Esports while they were there. Now, after being teamless at the start of 2021, Solo has found a home on the Golden Guardians.
GG took a risk at the beginning of this year signing Aiden “Niles” Tidwell to the starting roster straight out of a stint on Maryville University’s collegiate team. After having one of the worst individual performances for a top laner in a single split in 2021 Spring, the org is experimenting with his development in Academy. Solo steps in to take his spot, which will presumably be contested by Niles, but it remains to be seen if he can still hold up to the likes of Team Liquid’s Barney “Alphari” Morris and Cloud9’s Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami in the top lane after his break.
On an individual level, Solo will probably be fine. During his time with FlyQuest he was playing on the level of a top three LCS top laner. The expectation for Solo is for him to, in some way, shape or form, elevate Golden Guardians’ level of play and position in the standings. With so much top lane talent on the rise in the amateur scene, this could be the last chance for a player like Solo to establish himself as competitive in his role.
3. Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki (Evil Geniuses)
Climbing the ranks at an accelerated pace, @EG_Danny will be our first player promoted from Prodigies to the #LCS as our starting ADC. #LIVEEVIL— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) May 14, 2021
Get to know Danny and hear more from @pcdv8r about the change: pic.twitter.com/zqJGPzEAwn
EG started 2021 with Matthew “Deftly” Chen in the bot lane with the goal of reaching the top of the LCS. After another middling split, they promoted amateur ADC Danny to the LCS from the Evil Geniuses Prodigies roster. This move may seem linear to some, as Deftly has more experience and similar abilities on the Rift. According to EG head coach Peter Dun, the decision was more to reward Danny’s impressive play.
“He teamfights extremely well at a very high level,” said Dun. “This is one of the reasons why we’ve chosen to promote him now.”
Keep a close eye on this rookie heading into Summer, not only because of his inexperience but because there’s a chance his addition to the squad may be the push EG need to give the LCS top three a run for their money.
2. Calvin “K1ng” Truong (Cloud9)
Excited to play with one of the greatest western players of all time, international superstar and mechanical genius. + perkz vulcan blaber 🤩 https://t.co/0z8CjC1Ql8— C9 k1ng ⭐ (@k1ngYB) May 29, 2021
In one of the most shocking moves of the offseason, Cloud9’s ace bot laner Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was moved to the team’s academy squad right after a respectable individual showing at MSI. He’ll be replaced on the lineup by K1ng, who first joined C9 Academy in 2019.
Before sounding the alarms, Cloud9 has been vocal about the fact that this move was more so to reward K1ng’s hard work and incredible play, rather than to demote Zven because of his performance. Thankfully, C9 have nothing to worry about. K1ng has been one of the best, if not the best, performing ADC’s in Academy since arriving to NA from Oceania, which is in part because he has the experience to back up his raw skill.
The young ADC has five Oceanic Pro League titles under his belt and won LCS Academy in Spring 2020. He also has pre-established synergy with Fudge, having played with him on MAMMOTH at the 2019 World Championship. K1ng isn’t just some rookie getting a shot in the LCS, he’s the real deal and could easily put himself in the running for being a top three ADC in NA after a few good showings.
1. Felix “Abbedagge” Braun (100 Thieves)
Abbedagge’s move to 100 Thieves is the org’s latest attempt at patching up the mid lane issues that have been haunting them since their entrance into the LCS. Abbedagge joins 100T from Schalke 04 as one of the hottest mids in Europe just beginning to make a name for himself.
The mid lane pool in the LCS is by no means lacking, with players like Luka “Perkz” Perković, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage hanging around. As an import just getting started with his career, the pressure is on for Abbedagge to have good individual showings during his time in the LCS. If he can’t be a driving force of change for 100T, this move could be one of the most disappointing (and most damaging) roster moves of recent times.
The LCS starts on June 4 with Team Liquid facing off against TSM at 3 p.m. ET.