The 2021 LCS Summer Split has seen an unprecedented number of substitutions start on main rosters. Who has performed the best and proved that they are LCS ready?
The 2021 Summer Split has been fraught with roster substitutions, from both top-of-the-standings teams and those struggling to hit the playoff cutoff. The motivations behind the replacement of active players has occurred for a variety of reasons.
The longer Summer Split which features a triple round robin has given more time for teams to experiment. Other roster changes however have come from internal conflicts that have bubbled to the surface. No matter the reason, we have gotten to see more academy players on the main stage than ever before. After several weeks in the spotlight, who can we consider 'LCS ready?'
Jenkins - The substitute superstar
Thomas "Jenkins" Tran is undoubtedly one of the most talked about substitutions in the LCS, coming from both the rationale behind his entry and his performance itself. After only a single game, Jenkins found himself on the main roster and largely exceeding expectations.
Among toplaners, Jenkins has shown that he is clearly an LCS calibre roster player. Jenkins currently heralds the second highest KDA among toplaners (3.8) and is first in damage per minute (545). Jenkins has also proven a strong laner, ending with positive differentials in GD@10 (+53) and CSD@10 (+1.5) after his 11 games.
On hard carry picks such as Akali, Jenkins has shown his incredibly high mechanical potential while putting the team on his back. Out of the current substitutes, Jenkins appears like the most likely to continue his career on a starting roster. (Read more about Team Liquid's big roster news here!)
K1ng - An academy legend falls on an LCS roster
Calvin "K1ng" Truong has been a top ADC in the academy scene for several years and was handed a golden ticket to prove himself as an LCS caliber bottom laner. One the first substitutes of the season, K1ng's LCS debut was announced before the split even began. K1ng however had a very tumultuous start transitioning to the main roster. Often times, K1ng's poor laning led to him having minimal impact in the mid to late game. K1ng had all negative laning stats after his 9 games.
Most notably, K1ng fell massively behind in GD@10 (-151) and DPM (520), landing in the bottom echelon of ADCs. In most games, K1ng had moments of brilliance but largely failed to make an impact during pivitol moments, in part leading to Cloud9's middling 4-4 start. K1ng's time in the LCS will likely result in another split in the Academy system.
Contractz - The one-hit wonder
Juan "Contractz" Garcia had a single game in the LCS but may have shown the best isolated performance of any substitute so far in the split. With an absolute carry game on Diana, Contractz now has one of the best stat lines in the LCS. Contactz ruled over both lanes and the jungle, finding 94.7% kill participation, 8.5 CSPM, and topped both Evil Geniuses' damage share (35.4%) and kill share (31.6%).
Despite only playing one game, Contractz might have found his way back onto an LCS roster. Now dominating in both the academy scene and in the LCS, Contractz may make his return to the LCS after nearly two years. Perhaps better than he's ever been, Contractz has shown he has come a long way since his 2018 stint on Golden Guardians.
"Juan has consistently been the best jungler (if not the best overall player) in Proving Grounds play in 2021, with several impressive carry performances for EG Academy," said Evil Geniuses on Twitter ahead of his LCS debut. "We believe he deserves his opportunity to play on the LCS stage, and are excited as an org to see how he will do."
Yusui & Akaadian - What are DIG's LCS roster trobles?
Dignitas' roster moves were perhaps the most sudden and unpredictable of the Summer Split. Dignitas found unprecedented success since their re-entry into the LCS, finishing 2nd during the regular season. Early on in the season, it seemed like Dignitas was using their record cushion to experiment in their roster. Now, it seems like their LCS roster substitutions are here to stay. (Read more about Dignitas' roster fallout here!)
David "Yusui" Bloomquist and Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham have largely failed to recreate the mid and jungle synergy of the past iteration of Dignitas. Granted, the two have had relatively few games to cultivate a cohesive playstyle. Dignitas' standings freefall is rapidly placing them near the bottom, and the success of their substitutes will be instrumental to their recovery.
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