With the new season now underway and many leagues having already kicked off, the start of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) 2022 spring split is right around the corner.
With the new season now underway and many leagues having already kicked off, the start of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) 2022 spring split is right around the corner. Lining up the region’s top ten organisations, the split offers multiple chances of silverware along with a much-coveted Mid-Season Invitational spot.
LCS Lock In Unlike most other leagues, the LCS does not head straight into the regular season table. Instead, the NA season begins with the LCS Lock In tournament, a warm-up competition similar to the likes of the KeSPA Cup and Demacia cup that have long been held in Korea and China respectively.
The LCS Lock In starts with the group stage, splitting ten teams into two groups of five that each play out a best-of-one, single round-robin. The top four from each group then go to the knockouts, a single-elimination bracket played out by best-of-threes in the quarter-finals and best-of-five series in the semis and grand final.
|Group A||Group B|
|100 Thieves||Counter Logic Gaming|
The group stage begins with TSM against 100 Thieves on Friday 14th January, with the rest of the matches taking only a few days to complete before wrapping up with Evil Geniuses taking on Dignitas on Friday 21st January.
The quarter-finals are then held from Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23, with the semi-finals taking place the following weekend on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th and the grand final then crowning the second-ever LCS Lock In champion on Sunday 30th.
LCS Spring Once the Lock In is concluded, the LCS then moves on to the season proper. This begins, as usual, with the double round-robin, best-of-one regular season that is used to determine playoff places. The regular season is set to begin on Saturday 5th February and run for eight weeks, followed by the playoffs getting underway on Saturday 2nd April.
In 2021, the LCS introduced the Mid-Season Showdown for the first time, aimed at putting greater importance on winning the spring split which was often undervalued due to its limited Worlds qualification implications.
Only the top six teams from the regular season made it through, compared to the top eight which were able to compete in the 2021 summer playoffs, and these six went into a double-elimination bracket. All matchups were decided through best-of-five series.
Seeds 1 to 4 began in the upper bracket while 5th and 6th started in the lower and each continued onwards until there were only two teams left. These two would compete in the grand final for the Mid-Season Showdown crown and the MSI spot that goes with it.
While Riot has not yet confirmed whether the playoffs will be labelled as the Showdown in the same way as last season, an update back in November confirmed that the format will, at least, mirror that used in 2021. Included in this was the long-awaited announcement of the return of live events, with lower bracket and grand finals to be played at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th April respectively.
While almost all teams made new signings during the off season in the hopes of making a challenge for an LCS title in 2022, a few sides clearly stand out from the rest when it comes to the strength of their rosters.
Firstly, the only side to keep all five members from the last split, summer 2021 winners 100 Thieves are clearly looking to build on their LCS success rather than re-engineer it. The side has promoted top laner Tenacity from their academy side to share the spot with veteran Ssumday, while one of the game’s greatest thinkers Mithy has also been brought into the team’s coaching setup.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cloud9 has made some of the vastest and most shocking moves of the off season. Their biggest signing was undeniably the capture of LS as head coach. The innovator has been a huge member of the scene for a number of years, mainly as a streamer and analyst, and was embroiled in controversy in 2020 when rumours circulated that he was on the verge of becoming a coach for Korean organisation T1.
With LS now at the wheel for C9, he brings with him Korean firepower in the shape of bot laner Berserker and top laner Summit, with Fudge roleswapping to mid to free up the spot.
Another side making statement signings was Team Liquid, none more outlandish than the pickup of TSM legend Bjergsen in the mid lane. The six-time LCS champion made the decision to come out of retirement after spending the last season as TSM’s head coach, however despite being a part owner in the organisation, the Dane chose to exit his partnership in order to play elsewhere.
He’ll be paired with incoming top laner Bwipo who is moving back to the role after spending last summer as a jungler for Fnatic, while bot laner Hans Sama also signed for the organisation after running down his contract with Rogue.
Despite the strength of Team Liquids new start-studded lineup, 100 Thieves’ strong finish to 2021 (particularly once mid laner Abbedagge joined from FC Shalke) and minimal changes into 2022 means that they really should hit the ground running heading into the LCS Lock In.
The side have now brought in former Fnatic and Cloud9 head coach Mithy to join Reapered, Freeze and Lustboy in the teams backroom staff and the organisation looks set to go from strength to strength this season.
Their stiffest competition is likely to come from either Cloud9 or Team Liquid, though the former may still be building synergy during these opening stages of the season while TL will be unable to field their entire starting roster before the regular season starts while they await CoreJJ’s green card.