Make that three Summoner’s Cups in the last four years for the LPL. EDward Gaming finally raised the trophy befitting China’s most historic League of Legends organization at Worlds 2021, and unlike every other team in the LPL, didn’t make a single change to its roster. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
If the 2022 LPL season is half as exciting as the offseason was, fans are in for yet another incredible year of games. Just a few months after an epic flameout at Worlds, FunPlus Phoenix’s legendary roster is no more. Doinb is on LNG, Tian has moved on to Top Esports, Crisp is now a part of Bilibili Gaming, and Victory Five/Ninjas in Pyjamas came out of nowhere and surrounded support ppgod with some top-tier talent in Karsa and Rookie. And to top it off, Uzi is back.
There are innumerable other storylines to track across the 17 teams in the wonderfully chaotic LPL this year. Who will be this year’s eStar or Victory Five? What LDL talent will put the world on wide-eyed notice with his mechanics? What preseason giants will make us all look dumb in a few months’ time? The answers to those questions will come throughout the season. But for now, here’s how the teams in the LPL look going into the new year.
|2)||Royal Never Give Up||—|
|16)||Oh My God||—|
The bottom of the barrel: Oh My God, ThunderTalk Gaming
The 2022 LPL season might not be starting out with a whimper for these two teams, but it certainly isn’t starting with a bang. Oh My God and ThunderTalk Gaming will lead viewers into a brave new year for Chinese League. TT came unanimously last in our power rankings to start off the year, and OMG right above them. Some—including one of our power rankers—may argue they’re placed too low. If nothing else, they should get off to a strong start because they have something few other teams this low in the rankings have: low roster turnover. Every player except top laner New is back from an OMG squad that consistently punched above its weight last year after adding Creme and Able for the Summer Split. The highs were very high for those two, and extended playing time will only help their case.
TT probably won’t go 0-17, but they have been labeled as the worst team in the LPL by all of our rankers. TT did bring over Puff and Southwind, the former Invictus Gaming bottom lane, who, lest we forget so soon, won the 2020 Spring Split regular-season crown, while Puff was voted All-Pro First Team. The obvious issue is that a lot has happened since then. Puff and Southwind’s forms dropped off precipitously, along with iG’s as a whole in 2021. By the time the year was over, the duo had been on the outs for almost an entire year. New top laner New joins TT from OMG and, along with the bottom laners, could bring a stabilizing factor to TT. Jungler frigid is a rookie, while 2020 LDL champion mid laner Captain will start his second year as the hopeful face of TT. It’s going to be a wild ride.
…Wait, they have who?: LGD Gaming, Anyone’s Legend, Ultra Prime
Far outside of the playoff shot are three teams that have consistently finished near the bottom of the LPL. With few meaningful changes to their rosters and the consolidation of other teams’ talent near the top of the standings, there is little hope for these teams to see any progression.
Ultra Prime added its former mid laner Cryin back to the roster after an eventful year on RNG. The mid laner’s old team has been on a downward spiral ever since his initial departure, with the squad hovering around the bottom three in the LPL throughout 2021. Unfortunately for the team, the addition of Elk, Aliez, and Kelin provides little promise.
Formerly Rogue Warriors, Anyone’s Legend will most notably reunite former Flash Wolves teammates Betty and Maple. Though this duo may infuse the roster with slightly more life, AL retained a core that struggled immensely throughout 2021 and ultimately landed them the organization’s first last-place finish in the LPL.
LGD had difficulty in finding domestic success ever since its 2020 Worlds berth. The mid lane position for the team will be significantly weaker in the coming split after losing Xiye. While Kramer may give the bottom lane more priority as a win condition, LGD will only continue its downward trend into 2022.
Outside the playoff shot: Team WE, Invictus Gaming
Some teams in the LPL are just full of rookies, and it could be safe to assume these squads may not make it to the LPL Playoffs because the competition is way too fierce for them.
Team WE came sixth and seventh in the last LPL Spring and Summer Splits, and they are a mid-table team at best. Veterans beishang, Shanks, and Stay, the most experienced players on the squad, will have the heavy burden of steering the team on their shoulders. The lineup consists of nine players, so they could be experimenting with substitutions from time to time to figure out their best combinations.
The team’s significant concerns should be synergy and consistency. However, by the looks of it, team WE will use the Spring Split to experiment and come up with a strong formation moving into the Summer Split. If they can mitigate these flaws in time, then there is a slight chance of watching them in the playoffs.
On the other hand, we have the 2018 world champions Invictus Gaming. They did have a legacy to uphold, but couldn’t reach that peak level of success again and got outshined by their opponents in the LPL. Even though there were members from the Worlds-winning squad in the team, they failed to make a difference, and the organization went downhill.
This year, after star players TheShy and TheRookie left the team, iG focused on rebuilding by promoting young players from its academy team, iG Young, to the main roster. While they performed well in the domestic circuit, these players will have the test of their lives when they face top players in the LPL. The playoffs are only a faint possibility for them this year.
Talented but unproven: Victory Five, FunPlus Phoenix, JD Gaming, Rare Atom
These four teams stand on the periphery of the league, all with talented rosters fully capable of making playoffs, but not quite favorites to win the LPL title. All of these teams made drastic alterations to their starting lineups, whether by design or necessity.
The newly minted Victory Five roster appears the most promising of the bunch. On paper, the team is brimming with talent since V5 have both veteran leadership and young upstarts. The roster is far from flawless, however. Rookie and Karsa were both stagnant in 2021, and the significantly younger bottom laner is far less experienced. The organization is also taking a risk in Rich, an LCK top laner hoping to find more success in the LPL.
V5 has countless question marks surrounding its almost entirely new roster, though could stand to be a dark horse in the LPL. The peaks of some of its most veteran players are major international feats, and though this is not the initial expectation for the squad, the experience certainly sets it apart from other middle-of-the-pack rosters.
After potentially one of the most shocking underperformances at Worlds, FunPlus Phoenix has rebuilt its roster entirely around returning ADC LWX. This new iteration of the roster features a mixture of young talent and LCK players making their debut in the LPL. Though retaining its former World Champion bottom laner, the team does not appear to plan on exclusively playing around its bottom side. The new mid lane and jungle duo of Gori and Clid are one of the most interesting parts of the new FPX and potentially the most contingent to its success.
Though FPX has several promising individual pieces moving into 2022, the roster is far too inexperienced to pose a serious threat to the LPL title. FPX’s new look may appear a shadow of its former self, but this roster will need time to truly come to fruition.
After a year of highs and lows, JD Gaming took several hits in the offseason. Losing both LokeN and Mystic, JDG will now gamble on the relatively unproven Hope alongside former WE support Missing. The team also swapped top laners with Top Esports, losing Zoom but bringing on 369. In terms of recent comparisons, JDG lost on this trade: 369 struggled with last year’s meta and showed an over-reliance on comfort picks.
Retaining both Yagao and Kanavi, JDG still boasts a strong mid lane and jungle duo. Though this is a particular strength of the team, it’s difficult to imagine this team contending for the top of the LPL considering the caliber of its competitors.
Rare Atom lost a major piece of its roster in Fofo, with the Taiwanese mid laner among the best in the position in 2021. The organization retained secondary carry iBoy, who has only continued to impress even after his departure from EDG. Though RA still has a majority of its core roster, the team was forced to make significant concessions in the positions it had to replace.
Contenders: LNG Esports, Bilibili Gaming, Top Esports, Weibo Gaming
While the teams in the tier below this one have spots of talent and a lot of what-ifs surrounding trades and new signings, the teams in this ranking have far fewer question marks. The ceilings appear slightly higher, but so do the floors. Then again, that’s what we all thought about Top Esports last year. If the LPL has taught fans one thing over the years, it’s that chaos and change are the only constants–and that’s what makes the league so special.
Fresh off a trip to Worlds that served as a coming-out party for Ale despite an early exit from the tournament, LNG Esports made a fairly unsurprising change to the roster. Former world champion Doinb will bring his wizardry to LNG, and they look the most poised to crash the EDG/RNG party at the top of the LPL. Tarzan is still the best jungler in the LPL. Doinb is as adaptable as they come and can dispense tons of wisdom to his teammates. It does look like they’re incredibly close to being able to go on a memorable run.
The team with possibly the most noise around it in the offseason in the LPL, Bilibili Gaming, might need a week or two to gel, but the talent on this roster is promising. Uzi is back, and the “mad dog” of the LPL will likely share most of his time with PCS sensation Doggo on an otherwise relatively youthful BLG squad. Doggo is joined by 2019 world champion support Crisp in the bottom lane, which should only elevate his already tantalizingly fiery ADC play.
FoFo, on the other hand, made a statement last year with Rare Atom and a third-place Summer Split finish, and now he’s poised to firmly wedge himself into the conversation of best mid laner in the LPL. Former Team WE top laner Breathe and jungler Weiwei round out the roster in what feels like a make-or-break year for the org that has pushed a lot of its chips into the center of the table.
Top Esports might have the highest ceiling of any team in China. The team held on to Rookie and reunited him with his old friend Tian, and gave the latter a solid backup in Xiaopeng should his health issues resurface. Knight might still be the best mid laner in the league, and Zoom has been in that conversation in his role recently as well.
For them, the question is JackeyLove. The 2018 world champion has been the unwitting poster child for inconsistency in a role where the bare minimum is consistency. But when he’s on, he’s a machine. That’s the rub with this TES roster: can the team shake off their demons from 2021 and hit their ceiling consistently enough to get back to the international stage? If the Demacia Cup and TES’ reverse-sweep win over an FPX squad we might have been too quick to write off is any indicator, the answer might be a frighteningly resounding “yes.”
Weibo Gaming, formerly known as Suning, returns with the same roster that ran into the DWG KIA buzzsaw at the finals of Worlds 2020, with one notable exception: it swapped out a world finalist for a world champion in TheShy. In the last two years, Bin has performed at a higher level than TheShy. But TheShy, of course, is still TheShy. You can never say never with him, and it’s not like he hasn’t shown flashes of his former self in 2020 and 2021. There was just no semblance of consistency. But a change of scenery could do a lot for him.
The biggest change that should give confidence to Weibo fans, however, is the return of SwordArt. He and huanfeng clearly had an incredible dynamic in 2020, and they’ll need to recapture it to put a disappointing 2021 behind them for the org.
Prohibitive favorites: EDward Gaming, Royal Never Give Up
The reigning world champions EDward Gaming brought the glory back to Chinese soil, and they are champions of LPL Summer Split 2021. The squad looks incredibly strong and balanced. Even though there were many changes in the LPL teams after Worlds, the champions didn’t fancy a tweak in their ranks. Therefore, the synergy between the team remains intact, which makes them look even more dangerous.
EDG features Flandre in the top lane, who also had the sixth-highest kills in Worlds 2021. He has a vast champion pool and can pick off-meta champions to surprise the opponents. In the jungle, Jiejie is the youngest in the team, yet he surpassed some of the biggest names in the Worlds stage. He had the most assists (155) as a jungler in the tournament, which speaks volumes about his ability to support the team.
The mid lane has the experienced Scout, who has been the talk of the town with his MVP performances in the LPL and Worlds 2021. He had 69 kills in Worlds 2021, making him the fourth-highest player with the most kills. He will combine with Viper, who has also been stellar with his performances as AD carry having 73 kills in the same tournament.
Last but not least, Meiko has been the dark horse of this team and has been silently carrying the scenes and making the carries look good. In terms of stats, he has the highest number of assists in the Worlds 2021, which shows his impact on the matches. With all these brilliant players combined, there should be no doubt that they emerge as the favorite to win the LPL 2022 Spring Split.
Royal Never Give Up are also among the favorites since they have grown consistently over the years. They won the MSI in 2018 and in 2021 and took home last year’s LPL Spring Split, but failed to stay in the top three at Worlds 2021.
Bin, regarded as one of the best top laners in the LPL, is the newest member of the team. The top laner has a lot to prove after taking the place of the legendary Xiaohu. Wei is known for his aggression and counter-jungling enemies. He had the second-highest kills (53) at Worlds 2021 against the top junglers of the globe.
Xiaohu has returned to the mid lane in place of Cryin, and his form could play a significant factor in the team’s success this year. GALA and Ming have formed a potent bot duo, and their synergy is phenomenal. If the team finds their rhythm early, they can overthrow the favorites and go all out on the money.
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