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The League of Legends Championship Series is finally kicking off its 2022 season with the LCS 2022 Lock In tournament on Jan. 14. Teams, fans and players will get a pre-season sneak-peak at what to expect when the regular season kicks off next month.

Teams are playing, primarily, for bragging rights, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything exciting happening at the event. A lot of big moves happened during the busy offseason, so here are the top five things to look out for when the LCS 2022 Lock In tournament kicks off.

The return of Bjergsen

In an offseason where many regions’ super-star mid laners moved to different teams, North America made sure to participate in their own, unexpected way — with TSM’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg moving to Team Liquid. During his long career on TSM, Bjergsen stood at the very top of the mid lane mountain until he retired in 2021 to coach for his longtime team. And now that he’s surprisingly back on Summoner’s Rift, his return may be the most anticipated event in the history of the LCS.

To drive the point home more, Liquid also spent the offseason building a superstar roster around Bjergsen. The team brought in former League of Legends World Championship finalist, Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau as top laner and they still have Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in on the roster. If everything goes according to plan, Bjergsen will make his debut at the 2022 LCS Lock In tournament with one of the strongest rosters NA has ever seen.

Fudge in the Mid lane

Although Bjergsen stole the spotlight for his return to the mid lane, Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami made some noise when he and Cloud9 announced his swap from top to the mid lane. This is big because Fudge established himself as one of the best players in the LCS throughout 2021, so his continued development should produce some interesting results.

Fudge took home the Most Improved Player award as well as the first team All-LCS pro team spot for top lane. Cloud9 also made some massive shake-ups to their roster over the offseason, which was led by the acquisition of new head coach Nick “LS” De Cesare. Cloud9 then picked up Park “Summit” Woo-tae as their new top laner with the agreement that Fudge will move mid.

The new starting roster won’t be fully together in the 2022 LCS Lock In tournament, but Fudge will get his first reps in his new role. And spectators will get a chance to see if last year’s MIP can prove to be one of this year’s top mid laners.

100 Thieves runback

100 Thieves captured their first LCS title in 2021 after making a mid-season change in the mid lane. But heading into 2022, they aren’t making changes to the mid-lane.

However, they did bring their all-star academy top laner Milan “Tenacity” Oleksij to the main roster, meaning he will compete with Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho for the starting spot. In an offseason where many of the LCS teams cleaned house, 100 Thieves keeping things relatively stable stands out. With every team playing catchup ahead of the 2022 LCS Lock In, all eyes are on the Thieves to see whether making no moves was the correct one.

Counter Logic Gaming revamp

After 100 Thieves won the 2021 LCS Championship, they became the fifth different franchise to win an LCS split. Counter Logic Gaming is one of four other teams to have done so multiple times, though it has been some time since they were contending for that title.

After a very successful 2016 and 2017 campaign, CLG have made big roster moves that ended in failure. But after years of mediocracy, CLG finally decided to do a complete wipe of their front office, their LCS team and their team philosophy heading into 2022. CLG are no longer the team desperately trying to grab a big-time free agent. Instead, they are now a team that wants to focus on growing for the future, and their 2022 roster reflects that.

During the offseason, CLG put together a roster that may not have big-time players driving excitement — but they do have lots of young talent with potential. The 100 Academy bot lane duo of Fatih “Luger” Güven and Philippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere are now on the CLG starting roster. And after a successful 2021 season with Team Liquid, Thomas “Jenkins”  Tran will start full-time in 2022. Finally, after reviving his career with big-time moments down the stretch with Evil Geniuses, Juan “Contractz”  Garcia looks to play the veteran leader for CLG.

This team will get a chance to show what they are made of when the Lock In tournament kicks off.

Academy teams in the 2022 LCS Lock In tournament

Speaking of young talent getting promoted, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for a lot of teams across the world to get their starting rosters together before the start of their respective seasons. The LCS is no different.

In fact, they may be the region that has been hit the hardest. TSM already announced that they will field their entire academy roster for the LCS Lock In tournament and Cloud9 also said they will be fielding some of their academy members.

Dignitas QNTMPAY’s new academy jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu will make his big-league debut before playing a single game in academy due to issues with getting their new jungler Kim “River” Dong-woo from Korea.

So while the LCS 2022 Lock In tournament will feature some of the region’s best players, it will also give young academy players some time in the spotlight and fans a look at what the future could hold for them.

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