LCS 2023 preseason power rankings: How the North American teams stack up

by Brian Bencomo

The 2023 League Championship Series (LCS), the top-tier North American League of Legends circuit, returns this week. The LCS spring split kicks off Jan. 26 after another eventful offseason filled with roster shuffles, new players arriving from overseas and rookies getting promoted from the academy (now challengers) circuit.

Hope springs eternal right now as all teams start 0-0. However, through the prism of the 2022 season and the various moves made by the 10 teams this offseason, it’s possible to roughly sketch out how the teams stack up. This ranking is heavily weighted toward how the teams appear right now, not how they might look by the end of the year. In addition to ranking the teams No. 1 to No. 10, the teams have been grouped into tiers (S Tier being the best and D Tier being the worst) to better capture how good they appear to be relative to each other. Here’s where all 10 LCS teams stand heading into the 2023 season, starting from the bottom.

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D Tier

There aren't high expectations for either of these two teams. They each made offseason changes, but nothing that really moves the needle relative to where they finished in 2022.

10. Immortals

Photo credit: Riot Games

None of the moves Immortals made in the offseason inspire confidence to say this team will be much better this spring than the ninth-place finish they achieved last summer. Kadir "Fleshy" Kemiksiz is an interesting addition, as he was the best support in the TCL, Turkey’s regional league, last year. However, he’s probably not set up for the same success in North America. Plus, Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage, arguably the team’s best player last year, is gone. Since rejoining the LCS in 2020, Immortals have frequently placed ninth or 10th, and it feels like the most likely scenario for the team in 2023 too.

9. TSM

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s hard to believe it was less than two years ago that TSM were the best team in the LCS for a split. However, the team composition drastically changed in 2022, and TSM really bottomed out. TSM did show some fight in the LCS Championship last summer, so perhaps holdovers Colin "Solo" Earnest -- the LCS Everyman -- Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang and Jonathan "Chime" Pomponio will carry that forward and the team ends up being better in 2023. Lee "Bugi" Seong-yeop is a decent addition in the jungle, but losing Mingyi "Spica" Lu appears to be a downgrade. On the other hand, Toàn "Neo" Trần should be an improvement over Edward "Tactical" Ra in the bot lane. Unlike Immortals, there’s reason to believe this team could be a mid- rather than bottom-tier team.

Read more: LCS 2023: All 10 North American teams’ rosters

C Tier

The two teams in this tier are a cut above the two teams in the D Tier, but that’s where the similarities end. One team clearly looks like a mid-tier team, while the other might actually belong in a higher tier. The range of outcomes for these two teams is quite wide.

8. Golden Guardians

Photo credit: Riot Games

The Golden Guardians have finished lower than eighth in a split only once in the last four years. They also have never finished higher than fifth in either a split or playoffs. There weren’t enough changes to the roster this offseason to believe they can improve upon that this season. However, adding a player with experience like Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun, formerly with 100 Thieves, to this roster does raise the bar for them a bit. It's a reunion for huhi with Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes. The two previously played together on CLG. Kim "River" Dong-woo has had success overseas, and after a year of adjustment to life in North America, he might bring more to the rift this year than expected. Golden Guardians should definitely be better than the two teams below them in this ranking, but probably are no better than a mid-tier team.

Read more: Golden Guardians’ new facility influenced by Warriors’ own new center

7. Dignitas

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s hard to put this team higher on this list because of the potential of the teams just above them in this ranking, but Dignitas could very well be a B Tier team. While most other teams have gotten more youthful in the offseason, Dignitas has taken a different approach. However it’s not like these players are washed up; many of Dig’s offseason pickups have had success in recent years. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has a streak of eight consecutive years going to Worlds, and İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek comes to North America on a streak of four straight years going to Worlds. Although Dignitas might not have the youthful upside that many of the teams above them in this ranking have, this team should very much be in the mix for playoffs and international play. Dig will be a dark horse team to watch this year in the LCS.

Read more: Who are the LCS import players in 2023?

B Tier

These are some of the most interesting teams in the LCS this season because they are bubbling with potential. All three teams made splashy offseason moves, bringing in stars from overseas, promoting young NA talent and one even coaxed a former LCS star out of retirement. There was too much roster turnover on these teams to christen any of them as elite, but they all have the potential to emerge among the best teams in the league and represent NA internationally this year.

6. 100 Thieves

Photo credit: Riot Games

100 Thieves presents an interesting roster juxtaposition to start this season. On the one hand, you have two LCS superstar veterans in Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and the recently unretired Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng teaming up again. On the other, you have two young players getting called up to compete in the LCS in Alan "Busio" Cwalina and Milan "Tenacity" Oleksij. In between these two sides of the team, there’s Can "Closer" Çelik, who’s the only remaining player from 100 Thieves’ highly successful 2021-22 roster. It's a similar roster construction to what Evil Geniuses did last year combining youth and veteran leadership with great success. There’s obviously lots of talent and potential on this team, but it might take a split for all the pieces to come together in a coherent way.

Read more: LCS 2023 rookies: Players who got promoted from LCS Academy

5. Team Liquid

Photo credit: Riot Games

After assembling a European superteam last year, Team Liquid hit the reset button in the offseason and has assembled a Korean superteam, maybe. Let’s start with the two young players Team Liquid promoted from Team Liquid Academy: Harry "Haeri" Kang and Sean "Yeon" Sung. TL Academy won two championships last year, and these were two of the best players in the academy scene. Yeon will get paired with world champion Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, who’s the only holdover from last year’s TL roster, in the bot lane. Yeon should only grow and improve even more as a result of that relationship. As if having one world champion weren’t enough, TL signed Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon, who won Worlds with DRX last year. He’ll roam the jungle for Team Liquid. Last but not least, the team brought Park "Summit" Woo-tae back to North America. He was the LCS MVP last spring with Cloud9. Like 100 Thieves, Team Liquid have a lot of talented players who probably just need some time to unlock their full potential.

4. FlyQuest

Photo credit: Riot Games

This is a team that many analysts and longtime LCS watchers have picked as potentially the best team in the league this year. I’m taking a more cautious approach, at least early on, because we don’t know how all these players will synergize. On paper though, the talent on this team is undeniable. FlyQuest snatched the LCK Rookie of the Year, Lee "VicLa" Dae-kwang, and brought in another talented young Korean player, Lee "Prince" Chae-hwan. They signed old man Jeong "Impact" Eon-young for the top lane and the underrated young player Mingyi "Spica" Lu to man the jungle. At support, FlyQuest signed Bill "Eyla" Nguyen, arguably the best player from Team Liquid Academy’s championship roster last year. More than just a good academy player, he demonstrated he can compete with the best in the world when he emerged as the top player in Champions Queue during Worlds last year. Oh, and this team was built by Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith who has a proven track record of success. He built the 100 Thieves roster that won an LCS championship in 2021 and went to Worlds in both 2021 and 2022. FlyQuest has never won an LCS championship, but this team has the potential to be even better than the 2020 FlyQuest team that went to Worlds.

A Tier

These teams were successful last summer and made little to no roster changes in the offseason. As long as there’s no dropoff, either of these could emerge as the top team in the LCS this year and should be in the mix to represent NA at MSI and Worlds.

3. CLG

Photo credit: Riot Games

Trust the process. That was famously the Philadelphia 76ers’ mantra and applies well to CLG who didn’t make any changes in the offseason. General manager Jonathon McDaniel and head coach Thomas "Thinkcard" Slotkin told Nerd Street last year that they wanted to give the roster they built time to grow and develop. Last summer, CLG emerged as one of the better teams in the league and finished fourth at the LCS Championship. If they take another step forward this year, they are contenders to win a championship and compete internationally. Evil Geniuses proved you can win with young NA talent, and 100 Thieves proved you can have success by maintaining a roster core for an extended period of time. CLG has both of these elements. They have a high floor heading into 2023.

2. Cloud9

Photo credit: Riot Games

The reigning LCS champions only made one change in the offseason, bringing in young European player Dimitri “Diplex” Ponomarev to replace the LCS veteran Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen in the mid lane. Diplex has big shoes to fill, but he doesn’t have to be a star on this team that’s already full of them. Robert “Blaber” Huang and Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami are no strangers to success with C9, and with Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen having another split to adjust to his role as support, this team has elite potential. But if Diplex does have star aspirations, he can look over at his teammate Kim "Berserker" Min-cheol, a young import player who arrived in North America for the first time last year and emerged as one of the best players in the league.

S Tier

There’s only one team left, and it belongs in the S Tier heading into the season. It wouldn’t be surprising if this team wins the LCS in the spring and/or summer and goes to both MSI and Worlds. Another team could supplant them as the best in the LCS later this year, but for now, they’re the cream of the crop.

Photo credit: Riot Games

1. Evil Geniuses

It’s easy to put Evil Geniuses at No. 1 heading into the spring split after being one of the best teams in the LCS last year. Despite some roster turnover in the offseason, there’s not much to critique on this team. EG have a new bot laner in Victor “FBI” Huang and top laner Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho. With these new faces, Evil Geniuses shouldn’t drop off much from their peak last year and could be even better. Jeong “Impact” Eon-young was a rock in the top lane and Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki was a superstar AD carry, but FBI and Ssumday were great on a 100 Thieves team that was the second-best team in the league throughout 2022. The only thing that needs to be seen is how well the new players mesh with a proven championship-caliber roster. With a generational talent in the mid lane in Joseph Joon “Jojopyun” Pyun, the summer MVP Kacper “Inspired” Słoma in the jungle, and a reliable support in Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme, Evil Geniuses are stacked. From top to bottom, EG should be the best team in the LCS heading into the 2023 season.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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