LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: --- during 2020 LCS Spring Split at the LCS Arena on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA.. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

Here we go. Another split of pro League of Legends and another chance to get excited. The LCS Summer Split is set to kick off today with Team Solomid taking on Team Liquid. It’s a match that people will say is important, but don’t kid yourself, no match is make or break in week 1.

So with that in mind, let’s take a moment to assess where North America is and what it means.

Who is the best team in North America?

As the 2021 Summer Split kicks off, about half of the league should be expecting to be one of the three teams that qualify for the Worlds 2021. Three more teams could be considered dark horses to make a run, and two teams are basically hopeless. If you haven’t been religiously following the Mid-Season Roster Tracker, and I don’t blame you, here’s where things stand.

Teams That Should Expect To Qualify For Worlds

Team Solomid – Excuse me, that’s TSM FTX now. Is anyone who isn’t legally obligated to call them TSM FTX actually going to do so? I doubt it.

They had a strong spring split, finishing 12-6 in second place. And they’re returning their entire roster, now with another split of time to gel under their belts. Qualifying for Worlds has to be their minimum expectation.

Team Liquid – “Wow Kali! Team Solomid and Team Liquid should expect to be at Worlds?! What great reporting. Do they pay you for this?” Okay, well I have to still mention them! They didn’t have their full roster playing together at the start of the spring, and have now had time to learn to be a team. Expect them to be better than in the spring.

Cloud9 – C9 is probably not quite as good as they were in the spring, which ultimately saw them emerge victorious before being eliminated in the Rumble Stage of the Mid Season Invitational.

They sent Zven down to the Academy Roster, calling up K1ng to replace him. I think the move probably makes them worse in the short term, but better in the long term. And I like what it really says. “Rumble Stage at MSI isn’t good enough.”

Dignitas – Dignitas has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the LCS. They’re a better team than I gave them credit for in the spring, and I think some continuity from spring to summer will do them well. They finished 5th in the Spring, and they have to have their eyes set on at least the 3rd place spot this summer.

Evil Geniuses – I’m torn on Evil Geniuses, but I think they should be setting their sights on making it to Worlds. Swapping out Deftly for Danny is a push in my eyes. Meanwhile, Svenskeren and Impact should be good for one of the scariest top sides in North America. They’ve got the pieces, they just need the focus.

Dark Horses

100 Thieves – I see a lot of power rankings putting 100 Thieves higher than this, but I don’t know. If the pairing of Abbedagge and ry0ma is better than what Damonte was, they’ll be in good shape. FBI and Huhi should be a solid bottom lane, although that hasn’t always panned out in the past. They have some unanswered questions, but definitely the talent needed.

Counter Logic Gaming – I’m certain I’ll regret this.

FlyQuest – I’ll be honest, FlyQuest goes here because I really want it to work for them. Outside of Licorice, I’m not sure I could name a player on their team if you caught me on the street. But they’re an organization that you really want to root for.

They’re charitable, they sign players to longer contracts, they give players time to develop… all the things I want to see in esports, they do. So call this my cheat pick, but I’m rooting for them.

It’s Gonna Be A Long LCS Summer Split

Golden Guardians – Much like FlyQuest, I really want it to work out for GG. They’re sourcing their talent from college, a talent pipeline which is absolutely essential to getting North American League of Legends where it needs to be.

So why can’t I put them as a dark horse? Because they’re not very good, not yet. They’re young, and in a year’s time, could be scary. But I don’t think it’ll be this summer.

Immortals – I’m sure they’ll storm out the gate to make me eat my words, but I think Immortals is primed for a last place finish this summer. Their roster does not impress me, and I don’t think another split together is the magical formula for them. Their ceiling is around 6th as far as the LCS summer split is concerned.

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games