On Friday Jan. 14, the LCS pre-season tournament, the LCS Lock In, began. This tournament, which has no bearing on the regular season, functions similarly to the Kespa Cup in the LCK and the Demacia Cup in the LPL.
The ten teams in the LCS were sorted into two groups, drafted by the number one and number two teams from last split, FlyQuest and TSM, and they’ll play a single round robin to determine which team from each group won’t make the bracket stage. From there, it’s a relatively standard bracket system to determine which team wins, and the winning team gets both a monetary reward and donation by the LCS to a charity of their choice.
This new pre-season tournament will continue next weekend with the last games of the group stage and the quarterfinals, and conclude on the weekend of Jan. 29 with the semifinals and the grand finals. This leads into the LCS Spring Split, which begins on Feb. 5, less than a week after the tournament ends.
The biggest value of the tournament for viewers, beyond getting to watch their favorite teams compete three weeks earlier than they would’ve otherwise, is seeing how the changes their teams made impact their performances. It also gives rookies and newer teams a chance to build up synergy before playing games that impact their overall record in the LCS.
The favorites going into the tournament were Cloud9 and Team Liquid, although since every LCS team made roster changes heading into this split, some surprises were more expected than others. Visa problems also plagued some teams; Team Liquid’s jungler Santorin had visa issues that delayed his arrival and CLG struggled with getting their new top laner Finn and jungler Broxah into the country.
Cloud9, who signed star midlaner Perkz during the offseason, found themselves in a group with Evil Geniuses, Dignitas, Immortals and FlyQuest. Despite it not being the most difficult group in the world, the favorites still managed to drop a game to Evil Geniuses on Friday. They bounced back on the weekend with strong performances from their bot lane allowing Vulcan and Zven to lead victories over FlyQuest and Immortals.
Evil Geniuses currently lead that group with a 3-0 record. One game remains against FlyQuest who are currently 0-2 and most in danger of being eliminated. Sitting in the middle of the group, both at 1-2, Immortals and Dignitas haven’t exactly had a dominant tournament. However, beating FlyQuest does ensure that they have a decent chance of making it through the group stage.
Things are a little closer in the group currently led by a three-way tie. 100 Thieves, Team Liquid and TSM are all hovering at two wins and one loss, while Golden Guardians hover behind them at 1-2. Behind all four of those teams is CLG, who are already mathematically eliminated. It’s not the most ominous sign for CLG heading into the regular season, since they are still missing two members of their team and did at least manage to scrape by a win over 100 Thieves, but it is a disappointing result.
Looking ahead, Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses will be looking to cement their status as the top teams in Group B, while everyone in Group A is continuing to jostle for positioning going into the bracket stage. Only time will tell which teams are genuinely the strongest and which cannot sustain their current success.