The League Championship Series 2021 Championship takes place on Sunday, with Cloud9 and 100 Thieves battling it out the day before to determine which of the 2021 World Championship qualified teams will get the chance to fight Team Liquid in the grand final.
Ahead of the event, the Upcomer’s Tyler “Fionn” Erzberger, Nick Ray, Parkes Ousley and Danny Appleford sat down with C9 Amateur jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu and 2021 LCS Proving Grounds Spring champion Aidan “5fire” Reckamp to share predictions and set the stage for Worlds.
What are your predictions for the weekend?
Fionn: I’ll go with Cloud9 to take out 100 Thieves in five games before getting the rematch against Team Liquid that they’ve been waiting for since they got dunked on to open the playoffs. Though a redemption story for C9 would be poetic after such a rocky season, I believe this Team Liquid team, at its best, is probably the strongest North American team we’ve ever seen in the LCS. They’re a well-built machine, and as long as the parts are humming and the core is intact, TL should hoist their fifth domestic title on Sunday.
Parkes: Cloud9 have a higher ceiling than 100 Thieves, but unless they made incredible progress this week, 100 Thieves will defeat them 3-1. C9 still have issues with mid and jungle, and the 100 Thieves bot lane should find advantages over Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme. Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho shouldn’t lose to Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, at least not hard enough to lose a whole series.
If 100 Thieves doesn’t prep well for C9, they could find themselves in play-ins, but if they handle their business, they’ll find themselves in a rematch against Team Liquid in the finals. There, it’s anyone’s game. Team Liquid have been solid this whole playoffs, but since it’s such a recent increase in play, it’s entirely possible for 100T to take them down this time around. Overall, Liquid should 3-2 and head to Worlds as the first seed — but they’ve still got plenty of work to do.
Ray: I’m in agreement with Parkes here, even just due to the simple fact that 100 Thieves are working with more information going into their matches and have been able to match both TL and C9 in the past. Well, also because it’s the spiciest pick. We’ve seen time and time again how much of a difference good preparation has made in these playoff series.
C9 absolutely get props going into Saturday. Even though it went to five games, they beat TSM pretty handedly and got to flex their top-of-class adaptation skills. Team Liquid will be a tougher opponent, especially considering how clean they’ve looked in playoffs and their favorable lane matchups across the board. But 100T have gone the distance against TL in a best-of-five series once before, and they can do it again. I’m feeling like a lot of fans wearing blue will be very salty after this weekend.
Appleford: Out of the three remaining teams (Team Liquid, Cloud9 and 100 Thieves) the Thieves are the obvious underdogs. I think they have the potential to take down C9 in their matchup but, it will take all five games to do it. However, I don’t think 100T will overcome TL the second time around in the finals. They were close in their earlier matchup but had too many mistakes that needed to be corrected. If TL face 100T in the final (just like back in the 2018 spring split), I think TL will reign victorious once more. They just appear to be more put together as a whole when compared to 100T, which makes little sense considering 100T have been together all summer long while TL have switched out several parts throughout the split.
1st seed TL— Yongin Jo (@TLCoreJJ) August 23, 2021
2nd seed 100t
3rd seed C9
Happened in 2018
Will happen again
5fire: I think that grand finals will be a rematch of TL and 100T. 100 Thieves were barely able to beat Evil Geniuses but really took it to TL in the upper bracket final. I think they really showed what they can do as a team because TL looked dominant in playoffs up until that point. With C9 struggling a little bit against TSM, I don’t know if they’re really in quite the same form this late into playoffs, so I think it’ll be 100T.
Team Liquid have had a lot of time and they will have seen the lower bracket final between the other two teams, so they’ll have more games to prep on. And TL have a really strong staff, so they’ll be able to make good use of that. In the end, I think TL are going to win it out.
C9 eXyu: I think between 100 Thieves and C9, I’m a lot more confident saying I think C9 will win. But in the actual finals, I think it’ll be really close. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went to five games, and hopefully, when it goes to five games, C9 will edge it out.
How does each team win summer?
Fionn: For TL, it’s all about not breaking down. As I mentioned before, their peak form, where everyone is at optimal conditioning, is a beast that I don’t think anyone in North America can topple.
For C9, they’re a team that runs off momentum. When everyone is happy, Robert “Blaber” Huang is in the groove and they don’t all die to the scuttle crab five minutes in, things normally go well for C9. They’re a team that, at their best, have shown they can take games off the likes of Royal Never Give Up and DWG KIA. That form, though, which I hoped could be more consistent, seems to be a rare occurrence at this point.
And for 100 Thieves, I need to see that bottom lane and Ian Victor “FBI” Huang in particular have a career-making weekend if they want to win the trophy. FBI was in the first All-Pro team, and though he hasn’t been bad in the playoffs, it does feel as if he’s been overshadowed by Evil Geniuses’ Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki and then Edward “Tactical” Ra in his most recent matchups. That can’t happen again if 100 Thieves want to take back-to-back matches and become the fifth team to ever win the LCS Championship.
Parkes: Cloud9 just have to start playing faster and playing more together. When C9 were at their best, they were in sync, playing through Blaber, foot on the pedal the whole game. If they can regain confidence and play like that for six games, they’ll take the title.
100 Thieves needs to rely on Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun’s roams and find more niche picks like they did throughout the regular season. They’re good enough individually to match most of what C9 and TL will throw at them, but if they draft normal comps and don’t punish their opponents with jungle and support roams, they’ll fall to the wayside. They can be a spicy, scrappy team, but they need to embrace that identity.
Team Liquid just need to keep controlling the game as they always have. The whole roster looks much stronger now that they’re all back together again. Lucas “Santorin” Larsen doesn’t look to be at his peak, yet, but maybe another week will get him Closer (you’re welcome Phreak). Otherwise, the rest of the team has leveled up a lot. Tactical isn’t back to his peak of 2020 but will perform fine against his two possible opponents, and playoff Barney “Alphari” Morris is the one top laner who can match Fudge this split. TL just need to play their own game.
Ray: Cloud9 lost almost every early game in their series against TSM. Maybe TSM came particularly prepared or maybe C9 are legitimately struggling to find edges pre-15 minutes, but there’s no doubt it made the series more difficult for them. If the duo of Blaber and Vulcan can consistently activate Luka “Perkz” Perković and Fudge, who are two of the most clutch players in the league, then I don’t think either 100T or TL can break them in a high-stakes match.
100T have had plenty of TL and C9 tapes to study over the past weeks, and after making whatever necessary adjustments, they should really just commit to playing their game. When it comes to best-of-five series, better mental always wins.
Team Liquid have had the most impressive showing out of the three remaining teams, and I think a lot of people are expecting them to run away with their fifth LCS Championship title on Sunday if they remain consistent.
Appleford: For 100 Thieves to win summer, they will have to look as perfect as they did when they went on an eight-game win streak earlier in the split. Outside of that, I don’t think 100T have the level of skill that TL and C9 currently do. I would like to see 100T win it over the other two teams, however, just to see a new banner hang in the halls of the LCS studio.
Cloud9 just need to recover from their earlier bumps in the summer split and come out swinging like they have been throughout the playoffs. Most importantly, they need to avoid getting stopped by 100 Thieves before Worlds if they want to continue to have the same success the organization has become accustomed to. If they can defeat 100T, I think C9 have a good shot at beating TL in the finals.
For Team Liquid, they will likely earn yet another title just off of how dominant they have looked throughout the year. Unlike 100T, who hit their stride early on in the year, teams like C9 and TL are just now doing so coming into the weekend. That is what will propel TL to another title win. I think C9 and 100T have looked good, but overall I think TL are a more polished team at the moment.
5fire: C9 did show some strong games in their lower bracket run so far, but with them struggling a little bit against TSM, I don’t know if they’re really in quite the same form this late into a playoffs. I do think both 100T and TL should focus really hard on bot lane and not necessarily on getting a winning bot lane, so that Tactical or FBI can pop off, but so Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and Huhi can pop off.
C9 eXyu: I think for C9, definitely just making sure their early game is a little more stable. I think when it comes to mid game and late game team fights, they’re always on top of their game. It’s just sometimes the early game booms a little too hard and they can’t actually play the game.
For Team Liquid, I think they’re honestly playing really, really well. So for them to not win would require other teams to either over perform or for them to mess up. I think if everything is stable and everyone shows up the way they have been, then Team Liquid will definitely have a really good shot at winning.
For 100 Thieves, I think their mid-jungle is really, really good. So have Felix “Abbedagge” Braun and Can “Closer” Çelik show up and outperform like Blaber and Perkz, since they haven’t been doing too hot in the early game. That’s probably the best way for 100T to win.
Who would do the best at worlds?
Fionn: This might be my North American bias showing, but I don’t think any of these three teams will embarrass themselves on the world stage. 100 Thieves, unless given the true group of death, should at least win a few games and be a tough out for the better teams. C9, as we saw at MSI, can knock out the best team in the world and then lose to a team from a region Riot Games discarded.
For me, though, TL is who I’m looking at as the main player to make the region proud at worlds. This team is talented. They have veteran players at almost every position, mechanical skill that can match up with the big boys and one of the best support players on the planet anchoring them. While 100T and C9 could both fail to make it out of groups and I could perhaps find silver linings, I can’t say the same for TL. This team is good enough that they can make the playoffs, and it would be a massive disappointment if they didn’t accomplish that goal.
Parkes: Theoretically, Liquid are the best team, but Cloud9 do best at Worlds historically (and they have Perkz) and 100 Thieves have Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu.
Liquid are likely the easiest opponent to play against for stronger teams, but last Worlds, they increased their level of play more than anyone else. Cloud9’s current roster hasn’t yet performed well enough to be inspiring, especially considering their MSI performance.
So, 100 are left as the team that has a good mix of flexibility, strong individual play, and chaos. They are willing to skirmish and play faster like C9, but they also don’t take as many awful fights or get caught in a terrible macro decision as often. They aren’t quite as solid as TL, but you don’t always need the best baseline — you just need to hit your peaks more often.
Ssumday needs to reach closer to his peak, and if he does, 100T should have the best chance of escaping groups. However, it all depends on the draft, the patch and the mental stability of a possible quarantine and high stress environment.
Man I’m so happy to be back at worlds.. grateful for the boys carrying me in game 5— Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen (@Zven) August 23, 2021
Ray: This is a difficult question, but history tells us that it’s C9. And given their MSI flop, I’m willing to bet on them pulling off the redemption story at Worlds. Zven is coming back to the Worlds stage for the first time since 2017, Fudge is determined to add his name to the discussion of world class top laners and Perkz is desperately trying to get people to talk about literally anything other than how big his direct deposit is when he comes up in conversation. The narratives are there and I trust C9 to be the quickest of the three to adapt to their group.
Now, that’s not to say TL and 100T don’t have it in them to put on a good show over in Europe this year. But with time to boot camp and shape the team into their best form, Cloud9 have quite the set of expectations to live up to.
Appleford: I think that, just looking back at their performance from previous World Championships, Cloud9 will do the best. This is also based on the fact that they have the former mid laner of G2 Esports who has gone far with his previous organization at Worlds.
That being said, I also think that Team Liquid will perform well if they can keep their team together and avoid any sort of internal or external issues. If everything can stay on track from the LCS Championship to Worlds, then Team Liquid will perform the best.
100 Thieves are a complete unknown in terms of how they will perform. Last time they were at Worlds, they performed okay, but they also substituted out one of their most important players for an unknown rookie. If the team can keep things together at Worlds and not throw out the hard work their roster put in during the summer split, I think 100 Thieves will perform the best.
5fire: I would want to say TL on paper, but I think 100T and C9 both have a shot as well. I’ll give it to 100 thieves. I think they have the players with the skill and they also have some dynamic flexibility with what they can do with their team, especially around Abbedagge.
C9 eXyu: I think TL will perform the best at Worlds, honestly. They really have no weak spots on their team; every single one of them is a Worlds-caliber player. I think the same about C9, but I think C9 is just not in their best form right now, whereas I feel like Team Liquid are really hitting their stride.