Evil Geniuses League of Legends players jojopyun and Danny holding microphones as they get interviewed on stageEvil Geniuses League of Legends players jojopyun and Danny holding microphones as they get interviewed on stage

Five storylines to watch heading into 2022 LCS summer split

by Xander Torres

The Mid-Season Invitational break is over and North America League of Legends teams are gearing up for another action-filled split. Top finishing teams in the League Championship Series (LCS) are entering the summer split with largely unchanged rosters, but legacy teams like Cloud9 and TSM felt the need to shake things up with old and new faces joining the mix. North America has a lot of flavor this summer and these are the storylines to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.

Can Cloud9 bounce back in summer with a huge roster shakeup?

Photo credit: Riot Games

Cloud9 were the second strongest team in North America for most of the spring split, but failed to win a single game in the spring playoffs, losing 0-3 to both 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses before being eliminated. Top laner Park “Summit” Woo-Tae was a star for Cloud9 all season, but his side lane heavy play was promptly picked apart by both teams as C9 tumbled from the top. Following their playoff exit, it was announced that Summit, alongside Jonah “Isles” Rosario and Kim “Winsome” Dong-keon, were set to depart the team.

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This summer, Cloud9 has almost fully departed from the roster set in place by their previous coach Nick “LS” De Cesare. Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami is returning to the top lane while AD carry Jesper “Zven” Svennigsen rejoins the starting roster as a support. Most importantly, mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen returns to Cloud9 after spending three years on Team Liquid. By definition, the changes are a large departure from what made Cloud9 successful last split, but in reality, it’s a reallocation of personalities that were essential to Cloud9’s past domestic and international success. What remains to be seen is whether or not the roster shakeup itself will provide a higher ceiling once the summer playoffs roll around.

Gamsu makes his return to the LCS

Photo credit: Activision Blizzard

Dignitas top laner Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin returns to the LCS on the team that initially brought him to North America in 2015. After a couple of years with both Dignitas and Fnatic, Gamsu went on to compete in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League where he was generally regarded as one of the best tank players in the esport during his three-year stint in the league. Following his final year with the Shanghai Dragons in 2020, though, Gamsu decided to return to League of Legends and eventually received the opportunity to prove himself on 100 Thieves Academy.

Read more: 10 players who have been successful in multiple esports

After a year of impressive play on 100 Thieves Academy, Gamsu will be back in the LCS to provide a much-needed veteran presence for Dignitas on the top side of the map. Dignitas hardly lacks for talent between jungler Kim “River” Dong-woo, mid laner Ersin “Blue” Gören and AD carry Toàn “Neo” Trần, but Aaron “FakeGod” Lee’s unstable top lane performances often compounded the team’s general inability to identify proper win conditions. Gamsu won’t solve all of Dignitas’ problems overnight, but his future in the LCS hinges on his ability to change a team with all the talent to succeed.

TSM sticking with LPL talent and sign mid laner Maple

Photo credit: Riot Games

Mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang is most well-known for being a crucial part of the Flash Wolves core that dominated the League Masters Series (LMS) from 2016 to 2018. Since then he has gone back and forth between being a mediocre mid laner in China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and an instrumental part of PSG Talon’s past dominance in the Pacific Championship Series (PCS). Maple’s mechanics and overall potential have rarely been an issue, but he often struggles to maintain the poise and consistency of a top-tier mid laner at the highest level. The reality is that Maple himself is far from the player that was once revered as the fearsome mid lane carry on an exciting Flash Wolves team.

For TSM, Maple is a more established talent that will likely stabilize the team’s overall performance. Zhu “Keaiduo” Xiong often performed poorly but also lacked experience competing at the highest level. At the very least, Maple has years of experience competing against some of the best teams in the world both domestically and internationally. If he yo-yos toward a positive performance swing, Maple and TSM might be a match made in heaven as both parties seek to earn respect after their respective downswings. It’s hard to get worse than Maple’s 13th-place finish with Anyone’s Legend in the LPL and TSM’s ninth-place finish in the LCS last season.

Can Team Liquid finish the job this summer?

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT

Team Liquid practically held their form together for the entirety of the spring split as they looked every bit of the part as North America’s latest superteam. The star-studded roster headed by the return of legendary mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg had the perfect balance of bottom lane dominance, mid lane control and top lane consistency that often forms champion teams. Despite all that, it was Evil Geniuses’ killer instinct (and Jeong “Impact” Eon-young’s immaculate top lane play) that ended their season in the lower bracket of the spring playoffs.

Unlike most teams, Team Liquid doesn’t have to change much of anything to reach the heights that the general manager and organization imagined when putting the roster together. The key to their success this split will be tightening their side lane play around Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau, who was a strong top laner but often was left alone both in the draft phase and in game.

Will Evil Geniuses level up even more?

Photo credit: Tina Jo / Riot Games via ESPAT

Evil Geniuses won the whole league, but that doesn’t mean their work is done. Despite being a relatively inexperienced team on the international stage, they managed to make plenty of statement games at the Mid-Season Invitational this year, including a dominant win over South Korea’s T1. It’s a tall task to build on that type of success in a weaker domestic league, but analyzing the way they won games and how that both helped and hurt them gives them a strong foundation.

Read more: How Peter Dun channeled Evil Geniuses’ aggressiveness to become champions

Teamfighting is the name of the game for this team, and that’s easy to rely on with star carry Kyle “Danny” Sakakaki, whose Jinx highlight plays practically own the internet at this point. The problem for Evil Geniuses is that they rely on late game front-to-back teamfighting far too often. It’s good to know your strengths as a team -- and straying too far away from that in the name of improvement is hardly helpful -- but being able to find different win conditions that utilize those strengths is the key to long-term development. Evil Geniuses want to dominate North America and show the LCS that their championship was more than catching lightning in a bottle.

Lead photo credit: Marv Watson / Riot Games via ESPAT

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