On Sunday, August 29th, 100 Thieves and Team Liquid played the final games of the LCS Championship to determine which of them would go directly into the group stage at the World Championship later this year and which would have to go through the playins.
It was the rematch of the 2018 Spring LCS finals when the two teams faced off in Florida and Team Liquid claimed their first LCS win and a 3-0 victory. It was the start of the rise of Team Liquid, the rise which culminated in four straight LCS victories, second-place at MSI and two Worlds appearances.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the way the LCS has been running that just one player who played in that series is still on their team, Ssumday, the 100 Thieves toplaner, and even that comes after a 2019 stint in the Academy league, still for 100 Thieves.
It is perhaps more concerning that out of the ten players who played in the finals, only Tactical, Team Liquid’s botlaner, is from America. While both teams have three players with North American residency; Team Liquid’s Jensen and Santorin are both residents and 100 Thieves has two imports-turned-residents in Ssumday and Huhi, while their ADC, FBI, has residency due to being from Oceania.
Even including Cloud9, just three players are North American; Tactical, Blaber, and Vulcan. If any other major region had just 20% of their Worlds players from their own region it would be a cataclysmic event but this has become something of the troubling legacy of the North American league.
On Sunday, 100 Thieves made sure the story was different than three years ago. They pulled out a dominant 3-0 win to not just make a statement, but completely reverse the legacy of the last finals the team made. This time, they made a dominant statement of intent as the number one North American team heading to their second World championship.
Closer, the team’s Turkish jungler, claimed the Player of the Series award for his impressive play on champions like Viego and Lee Sin. In the three games, he amassed a 19-2-21 record for a +38 KDA en route to 100 Thieves becoming just the fifth team ever to be LCS champions. They join Tsm, Team Liquid, Cloud9 and CLG as the only organizations to ever lift the LCS trophy, the first new organization since Team Liquid beat them in 2018.
Now, all three LCS teams will be looking toward the biggest stage, Worlds, but also historically for North America the most embarrassing. The last and only time 100 Thieves went to Worlds they won just two games against the LMS’s G-rex. Last year when Team Liquid went they did win three games, but still fell short of a spot in the bracket stage.
And while Cloud9 has had some of the biggest highlights, such as being the only North American team to make it to the top eight in the history of modern Worlds, has also had huge failures since that success. They failed to make Worlds last year despite winning the Spring split and in 2019, their most recent appearance, they won only two of their six group stage games.
Perhaps the only positive of this legacy for the players is that there is no room to go down. There is perhaps no way to embarrass the LCS and their region more than they have already been embarrassed and so all those teams can do is go out and try to be better than their predecessors. The worst they can do has already been done.