LCS 2021 Championship Recap

LCS 2021 Championship Recap

With 100 Thieves being crowned the winners of the LCS 2021 Championship, let's look back at the tournament and see how well results lined up with expectations!

The Results

First off, the final bracket:


Leading to these final placements:

Team Name Actual Place
100 Thieves 1st
Team Liquid 2nd
Cloud9 3rd
Team SoloMid 4th
Immortals 5th-6th
Evil Geniuses 5th-6th
Dignitas 7th-8th
Golden Guardians 7th-8th

Expectations / Predictions

Before the tournament, we had generated our predictions for how likely each team was to win overall and how likely they were to place in the top three, which would qualify them to Worlds:

Team Name % 1st Place Median Place % Top 3 Actual Place
100 Thieves 25.84% 2nd 75.30% 1st
Team Liquid 15.43% 4th 48.47% 2nd
Cloud9 23.95% 3rd 60.00% 3rd
Team SoloMid 26.37% 2nd 71.14% 4th
Evil Geniuses 8.19% 4th 37.56% 5th-6th
Immortals 0.02% 7th-8th 1.81% 5th-6th
Dignitas 0.20% 5th-6th 5.38% 7th-8th
Golden Guardians - 7th-8th 0.34% 7th-8th

TSM, who we had projected as most likely to win overall (just above 100 Thieves), underperformed by quite a bit. A first-match loss against Team Liquid and a second loss to Cloud9 in the lower bracket left them with a disappointing fourth place. Coming from the No. 1 seed and ending up just shy of making it to Worlds is a tough pill to swallow. Still, this is why these tournaments are played. We had projected a 71.14% chance for TSM to make it to Worlds, which is much more likely than not, but still carries almost a one in three chance of failure.

The big breakout from our model was Team Liquid. We predicted a close to 50/50 shot at making it to the top three, and a noticeable step below the main three contenders for first place. They managed to fight through all three of those top contenders to make it to the finals and take home second.

On the lower end of the list, we had predicted Dignitas to likely outperform Immortals. This was due mostly to the fact that they started in the upper bracket, and so had two chances to make their way out of the bottom place. Their match against Evil Geniuses was always going to be tough, and a 0-3 loss against Immortals themselves sealed their fate.


In our predictions, we generated distributions showing the probabilities of each possible outcome for each team (basically, just an aggregation of our Monte Carlo simulations). Here they are again, with each team's actual placement highlighted:

Most teams performed fairly in line with predictions. Evil Geniuses, due to their projected path through the tournament, were by far most likely to take 5th-6th, which is exactly what they did. Golden Guardians, facing either Team Liquid or Cloud9 in their first match, were almost certainly going out in the first round, and that's what happened.

From these distributions, we can generate a percentile of performance for each team. This is basically a measure of how likely the team was to place worse or equal to their actual placement. Thus, a percentile of 100% means a team did as well as they possibly could have, while a percentile of 25% means that there was only a one in four chance of them doing as poorly (or worse) than they did:

Team Name Actual Place Percentile
100 Thieves 1st 100.00%
Team Liquid 2nd 84.30%
Cloud9 3rd 63.79%
Team SoloMid 4th 32.42%
Immortals 5th-6th 85.52%
Evil Geniuses 5th-6th 44.33%
Dignitas 7th-8th 52.20%
Golden Guardians 7th-8th 91.96%

100 Thieves in first place, obviously, could not have done better. Team Liquid performed near the top of their possibilities, as did Immortals. TSM again stand out as performing near the bottom of their range.


Across the twelve played matches, we can also look at the individual predictions to see if there were any particular upsets:

match_name team_name team_name_opp pct_win pct_win_opp score score_opp winner
Upper bracket round 1 match 1: EG vs DIG Evil Geniuses Dignitas 78.00% 22.00% 3 1 Evil Geniuses
Upper bracket round 1 match 2: C9 vs TL Cloud9 Team Liquid 62.00% 38.00% 1 3 Team Liquid
Lower bracket round 1 match 1: IMT vs DIG Immortals Dignitas 59.00% 41.00% 3 0 Immortals
Lower bracket round 1 match 2: GG vs C9 Golden Guardians Cloud9 13.00% 87.00% 0 3 Cloud9
Upper bracket round 2 match 1: 100 vs EG 100 Thieves Evil Geniuses 61.00% 39.00% 3 2 100 Thieves
Upper bracket round 2 match 2: TSM vs TL Team SoloMid Team Liquid 49.00% 51.00% 1 3 Team Liquid
Lower bracket round 2 match 1: IMT vs TSM Immortals Team SoloMid 24.00% 76.00% 1 3 Team SoloMid
Lower bracket round 2 match 2: C9 vs EG Cloud9 Evil Geniuses 64.00% 36.00% 3 0 Cloud9
Upper bracket round 4: 100 vs TL 100 Thieves Team Liquid 54.00% 46.00% 2 3 Team Liquid
Lower bracket round 3: C9 vs TSM Cloud9 Team SoloMid 58.00% 42.00% 3 2 Cloud9
Lower bracket round 4: 100 vs C9 100 Thieves Cloud9 47.00% 53.00% 3 1 100 Thieves
Finals: TL vs 100 Team Liquid 100 Thieves 57.00% 43.00% 0 3 100 Thieves

This was a fairly stable tournament. Most of the matches were reasonably close, and any majorly lopsided matches went as expected. The one big upset was Team Liquid's victory over Cloud9 in round one. 38/62 isn't the biggest skew in matchup (especially when you look at Golden Guardian's 13/87 shot against the same team), but Team Liquid did go on to keep winning and take second place, so mostly they just came together as a stronger team than they looked going in, and consistently played at that elevated level.

Final Recap

Overall, this was a tournament that largely played out the way our model expected it to, with Team Liquid being the big standout overperformer and TSM as the underperformer. With two obvious tiers of teams going in, it wasn't too surprising to see everyone mostly stay in their lane, but there's still plenty of interesting analysis to be done even when things go according to plan.

We'll do similar recaps for the other major regions (LEC, LPL, LCK), so watch out for future posts!

As Worlds approaches, we'll also be doing a whole series of articles on cross-regional matchups, what to expect from group stages, and our undervalued picks.

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