The League of Legends offseason is nearly over, with the LCS and LEC on the verge of returning for the 2021 season. Now all the rosters have been locked in, Dexerto takes a look at the biggest winners and losers of LoL free agency.
The 2020/21 offseason may have been one of the biggest in League history. A number of high-profile veterans, including Bjergsen, Doublelift, called time on their storied careers, and dominoes fell across both North America and Europe in a massive roster reshuffle.
In the LCS, nearly every roster looks different; only the Golden Guardians core lineup actually stuck together, and even they will be flying a different banner.
Two of the biggest shifts in power were sparked from G2 Esports.
The first was letting eight-time LEC champ Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković leave for North America. The second was their move to replace him; the perennial winners lured Fnatic’s Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsen to the black and silver heading into 2021.
Here’s our picks for the biggest winners & losers of the 2020/21 offseason.
For a team that so often “loses the offseason” — at least according to LoL fans — Spring 2020 champs Cloud9 have done quite well coming into the 2021 season.
The perennial LCS heavy hitters actually only made two changes to their starting lineup, but they were big ones. Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer and poster boy Eric “Licorice” Ritchie out, boom top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami and Perkz, the self-appointed king of Europe, in.
And that’s all Cloud9 needed to “win” the offseason this time around.
We can be quick on Fudge. He’s a rising star, and moved from Australia last year. He’s been tearing up Academy, and is expected to do the same in the LCS.
Then there’s Perkz. His record speaks for itself; eight LEC titles, one Worlds final, and semifinal finishes either side. The only question about the Croatian is the fact he’s played ADC for most of the last two years. A clear ‘winner’ for sure.
Funnily enough, G2 Esports are another big winner from the 2020/21 offseason, despite losing Perkz to Cloud9. Simply put, losing a role-swapped mid laner playing ADC, and picking up Europe’s best bot laner in his place, can only be a positive for the team.
The defending LEC champs are losing their spiritual leader and captain, but Rekkles has never been one to drag down his teams.
If he can bring the same rock-solid performances he dished out for Fnatic over the past seven years, while the rest of the G2 Esports lineup do what they do best — sow chaos — then G2 should win another title in 2021.
Nadeshot’s red and white 100 Thieves are my pick of the litter for offseason winners. The Golden Guardians roster from 2020 was well-equipped to go to Worlds, and but for one small slip-up against Team SoloMid, they would have made it too.
Now, heading into 2021, they’ve kept the core together, and been handed a monster upgrade in the top lane to boot. Can ‘Closer’ Çelik, Victor ‘FBI’ Huang, Tanner ‘Damonte’ Damonte, and Choi ‘huhi’ Jae-hyun have all made the move to 100 Thieves on long-term deals.
Add in Kim ‘Ssumday’ Chang-ho, and that’s a killer LCS lineup.
Expect 100 Thieves to be challenging for their first North American title by the end of this season. With so much upheaval in the LCS, to have four of the same lineup together off the bat will prove key, and Ssumday is just the cherry on top.
The final winner may be an outside pick for some: SK Gaming. The German org overhauled its 2020 roster, and picked up a number of exciting young European Masters stars.
This gets a big green tick of approval on our end. These aren’t names many people will have heard of in the wider League of Legends community but boom rookies like Ersin ‘Blue’ Gören, Jean ‘Jezu’ Massol, and Kristian ‘Tynx’ Hansen are aiming to impress.
Treatz and Jenax are more known quantities, but blending this big mixing pot of young European talent together should be an exciting rollercoaster for SK Gaming fans. Dexerto has a good feeling SK should make playoffs with a burst, like MAD last season.
The only concern might be a similar flame-out, like the MAD Lions suffered at Worlds in late 2020, but with Jenax and Treatz bringing experience, it should all work out okay.
If 100 Thieves were one of the biggest winners of the offseason, then Golden Guardians have to be one of the losers. It makes sense, with owners the Golden State Warriors pulling back funding in 2021 to deal with the NBA’s crowdless situation, but is still a loss.
As mentioned before, GGS came very close to Worlds last year. Without double elimination, they basically would have been a shoo-in. Instead, they had to watch from home as TSM flew to Shanghai in their stead, then they lost that star-studded roster to boot.
There’s little to love about the new lineup too. Academy pickups like Ablazeolive are interesting but, unfortunately, fresh faces won’t win titles this year.
It’s kind of hard to lower expectations after you ran aground in tenth, but Astralis have managed to do it. Picking up youngsters is a good idea, but when your veteran core is Nukeduck and promise it’s hard to get excited.
Astralis were picked clean by Team Liquid, Fnatic, and Immortals in the offseason. They look like they’re just trying to make up numbers in the LEC again this year.
Jeskla could be a bright spot, but there’s question marks over the Swede until he plays, and having promisq as support won’t help anything. Astralis excel at CSGO, sure, but looks to have missed the mark again in League of Legends.
Now, on paper, Fnatic haven’t done too badly. Elias ‘Upset’ Lipp is regarded as a solid European ADC. Nisqy could be an upgrade over Tim ‘Nemesis’ Lipovšek. Any offseason that sees you hand your best player off to your rivals is a loss, however, and one that Fnatic knows all too well.
Since the LEC veterans gave G2 Esports their mid laner, Caps, they’ve lost four seasons in a row to their arch-enemies. Now they’ve let Rekkles go too, and neither of their new signings should bridge the gap that just got even bigger.
Fnatic may have upgraded overall, and could be a clear second-place team if everything goes according to script. The odds are against them to break that mold.
And so we get to TSM, and their 2021 roster. This could well be a coinflip lineup, and the defending North American champs could well have been dubbed “winners” if the team’s rivals hadn’t recruited so well. There are some issues though.
The first is Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon. The South Korean top laner has a list of achievements any League star would be proud of, including a Worlds final and multiple domestic titles, but is far from his glory days coming into 2021. To most, he’s a bad pickup for TSM.
This is especially stark when Licorice and Impact were available.
TSM also lost two of their greatest ever stars, Bjergsen and Doublelift, ahead of 2021. That in itself makes the new season a tough ask, as they look to find their feet in a new era. Only jungler Mingyi ‘Spica’ Lu remains from the 2020 lineup in a massive overhaul.
Tristan ‘PowerofEvil’ Schrage, Hu’ SwordArt’ Shuo-Chieh, and Lawrence ‘Lost’ Hui are all solid. Whether they work together, well, that we’ll see.
So there you have it; all the winners and losers from the LCS and LEC heading into the new year. Europe’s premier competition is set to begin on Jan. 22, while the LCS begins a week earlier with their preseason “Lock In” tournament on Jan. 15.