America's champion awaits.
Welcome to the postseason, LCS fans. The North American League of Legends scene has gone through a pretty significant shift over the past two years, with a handful of different teams swiftly taking their place at the top of the league by the end of the 2022 Summer Split.
Some familiar faces are still hanging around, with teams like Team Liquid and Cloud9 right in the thick of things, and TSM barely holding onto their playoff position. But ultimately, 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses have established a firm grip over the top of the mountain as faces of the leagues new era.
Right before the start of playoffs, three of Dot Esports League writers have answered some pressing questions that should help anyone looking for some guidance when choosing a team to root for through the rest of the year.
EG ended the 2022 Spring Split as the best team in the league, and after eight weeks of play, that fact hasnt changed at all. Inspired has taken over as a leading MVP candidate with his incredible pathing and aggressive decision-making. Impact is as consistent as ever in the top lane as a reliable force who can play both tanks and carry champions. Vulcan is the teams go-button and hype man, while Jojopyun and Danny continue their skyward trajectory into emerging stars in the LCS. At this point, it feels like it’s a matter of how the Geniuses will win and not if theyll win.
Nothing has convinced me in the last three months that EG still aren’t the best team in North America, so I’m penciling them in for another LCS title. EG are never afraid to pull the trigger. Whether it comes to taking teamfights in tight corridors of the map or making a gutsy call to end a game outright, this team seemingly always has its finger on the “go” button. That “no-fear” mindset is how they beat Liquid in the Spring Split finals, it’s how they beat T1 at MSI, and it’s likely how they’re going to win a second-straight LCS championship.
On current form, 100 Thieves are the best team in North America right now, and the importance of getting hot at the right time can’t be overstated. Ssumday is back to being a difference-maker in the top lane and has played eight different champions, including Sylas and Akali, in his last 12 games. Abbedagge is also playing like a man possessed, shaking off his early-split struggles and turning back into one of the best mid laners in the league. He finished 33, 54, and 53 CS up on Bjergsen, Jensen, and jojopyun on three different champions while posting three of his four highest single-game damage totals of the split in those wins. As has looked true of the entire 100 Thieves roster, when Abbedagge wants to turn it on, he can beat anyone. Yes, it was just in best-of-ones, but the LCS let the Thieves get hot and I believe the league will reap the consequences next month in Chicago.
As one of the leading forces on EG, Inspired has quickly become the best jungler in the region and a face of the franchise. The 20-year-old phenom has taken the role of a mentor for the teams young guns, guiding both Jojopyun and Danny as they blossom into superstars in their own right. At the same time, he steps onto Summoners Rift as EGs fearless captain, leading all junglers in kills and KDA, according to Oracles Elixir. His aggressive style of play compliments the rest of the team well since they are all pretty damn bloodthirsty with 280 collective team kills.
The 2022 Summer Split has been all about AD carries, and there are none better in North America than Danny. In the Spring Split playoffs, Danny broke a 10-year-old record for the most kills by any LCS player in a single playoff with 111 kills. And with how EGs been playing, he could potentially break it again.
Danny led the league in total kills with 88 this summer, according to League stats site Oracle’s Elixir. He also led the league in damage per minute, while ranking first among all ADCs in kill participation and damage percentage this split. I fully expect EG to go back-to-back, and I expect Danny to be the primary reason why.
EG are rightful title favorites, and presumptive LCS MVP Inspired is a likely candidate to take home similar honors in the LCS Finals. But I like to approach MVP awards more through a lens of value in its most raw, literal sense. The vibes seem to be immaculate right now on 100 Thieves, and the reigning Summer Split champions are playing with a chip on their shoulder. The most stark difference between early and late-split 100 Thieves has been the play of mid laner Abbedagge, whose recent numbers I outlined above. Granted, part of the reason that the difference is so eye-catching is because he was playing very poorly at the start of the split, but that doesnt take away from the fact that he is a legitimate hyper-carry threat for a team that has shown that it can play through any part of the map. If 100 Thieves win the LCS Championship, it will be in large part because their mid laner went god mode.
100 Thieves and Liquid might have a whole gamut of veteran experience on the Worlds stage, but EG have the flair and the aggression to match some of the best teams at the tournament. LCK and LPL teams usually play with an accelerated pace that easily overwhelms NA representatives, but EG look like the type to rise to the challenge. This fiery young squad is ready to meet and match up with the best, and they arent scared of anyone who stands in front of them.
The smart, traditional answer would be Liquidthey have the veterans, Worlds experience, and all-around pedigree in the form of five players who have all made it out of groups before. But EG look like the best team in NA right now and its hard to argue against their chances at an international tournament, especially since theyve proven that they can go deep at global events when they made the top four at MSI three months ago.
Its hard not to see the triumvirate of EG, 100 Thieves, and Liquid as the three teams that will represent NA at Worlds this year. But Cloud9s ceiling is high enough to crash the party and make a legitimate run at Worlds. Zven, Fudge, Blaber, and especially Jensen have buckets of experience on the international stage, and Berserker, like Fudge at MSI 2021 and Jensen at last years World Championship, is locked and loaded for a big international coming-out performance. This C9 roster has been through a lot of adversity this year, and if they can harness it and play to their max, this is the team Im putting my chips behind to upset the apple cart at Worlds.