LCK Power Rankings: How will Korea’s elite stack up in 2021?

The LCK season is back in action, with a new twist of franchising and playoff changes in the midst to really liven up the competition. To catalog those changes, we’ve developed a comprehensive LCK Power Rankings list that takes into account early season form as we predict the best ten teams in the division for 2021.

With a slew of new stars returning to the league (Khan, Peanut, Bang) this year of LCK has a nice blend of rookie talent and retro all-stars to keep the competition at a break-neck pace for the entirety of the year. To countdown the best teams in the region, we will look at current roster strength and what emerging talent is available on each roster as they compete for LCK glory in a newly franchised league.

10. Fredit BRION

In our 10th spot for the LCK Power Rankings, Fredit BRION find themselves at the bottom of this list due to their lack of promise with rookie signings, as well as their lack of composure with the veterans on their team. The most senior members on this roster (Lava and UmTi) have been on underperforming LCK rosters for a majority of their careers, and this kind of rookie talent will not be able to take them over the hump considering what we’ve seen thus far.

The one beam of light on this team seems to come from the bot lane as Delight (formerly named Crescent) joins Fredit BRION from Gen. G academy and T1 Academy. While those accolades on a resume don’t mean much to top-level teams, this is the kind of player that can shine on a lineup of not too many stars once the season is underway.

9. DRX

Thanks to the absolute trainwreck of upper management at DRX, four of the five players who competed for Worlds have gone to greener pastures with Pyosik being the sole talent to stay loyal to the team. To supplement those departures, DRX promoted heavily from within as mid, AD and Support have all been replaced by DRX Academy talent.

In spite of these promotions, the prospects for success on DRX aren’t all too high considering how young this roster is. No matter how much he learned in year one, Pyosik cannot do everything to catch his team up to speed against regular LCK opponents week in and week out.

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@DRX

The best hope for DRX is ensuring that this season isn’t a complete disaster. If they develop one or two quality rookies over the course of the year, then this season will be productive towards their future chances if they can produce or sell talent that gets them back to winning regularly.

8. Nongshim RedForce

On paper, it seems like Nongshim RedForce don’t have much name recognition outside of Peanut, but digging deeper into their roster you start to notice room for potential. While Peanut didn’t have the best showing during the KeSpa Cup, his only real negative performance was against the likes of Canyon, which happens to most players in the league regardless of skill.

Accompanying Peanut on the rift is Rich in the top lane, who has been touted as a promising talent since his days behind CuVee subbing in for Gen. G. Deokdam and Kellin join Nongshim from the former Team Dynamics roster that was blown up at the end of the 2020 season. With the right coaching and infrastructure, this team could potentially beat out teams like Afreeca or kT for playoff spots. But at the moment, they are just on the outside looking in.

7. KT Rolster

For fans not too privy to Korean Challenger players, this kT Rolster lineup may have slipped under the radar for roster strength. While Blank was a high-profile name that was added to kT this offseason, the real jungle prodigies at the organization right now are Gideon and Bonnie.

Kingen returns to the LCK this season after a gap year playing in China as a member of Bilibili Gaming. While he didn’t enjoy a fruitful spell of success in China, returning to a familiar setting in kT Rolster may help him get his career on the right track.

Adding to that talent, HyBriD has been a name on fans lips for a few splits now due to his intense hyper carry AD play style. Adding in a veteran like Blank to pilot this team from a mental perspective will be crucial to their chances of success behind the scenes. Over time, this could be a roster that competes for bottom level playoff spots. At the moment; they are on the outside looking in for the LCK Power Rankings 2021.

6. Afreeca Freecs

Afreeca Freecs are noticeably lower on this LCK Power Rankings list in comparison to other years, but that has more to do with the depth of competition in the region than their own failures as an organization this offseason.

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@AfreecaFreecs

In any other year, retaining the services of Kiin and signing a former multi-time World Champion to your roster would be enough to boost your chances, but Afreeca have fallen in other categories where other teams have made marked improvements.

Afreeca are in a position to be playoff gatekeepers this season with the way their roster is structured. If you’re able to consistently beat this squad, your chances for playoffs are suddenly within reach. However, beating Afreeca is still easier said than done considering the sheer amount of years that all these players have been at the top of their game.

 

5. Liiv SANDBOX

Not many fans of Korean LoL would rank SANDBOX at number five in their LCK Power Rankings, but there are a few caveats as to why SANDBOX are actually in a pole position to succeed this year compared to others. For starters, former DWG coach Travel has taken roster formation into his own hands as he’s decided to build the roster around the carry potential of FATE.

FATE’s profile has grown in the last couple of seasons and many fans think this is his year to make a name for himself as a formidable mid laner amongst a sea of strong players already.

Adding Effort from T1 is also a great move to facilitate that growth as he was constantly a proactive member of T1’s roaming style. Building players with a concrete identity is Travel’s forte, and with the right amount of time, he can bring SANDBOX into a new era of prosperity with this team.

4. Hanwha Life Esports

Hanwha Life took the best aspects of DRX’s roster from last season, paired them with three relatively unknown rookies, and are looking to finally break the playoff curse with this iteration in 2021. Hanwha Life slightly pip Afreeca in our LCK Power Rankings because they possess their best players on the most impactful roles with Mid and ADC being piloted by Chovy and Deft respectively.

Chovy has continued to perform at a break-neck pace since his debut on Griffin just four years ago. Since then, there’s no doubting his impact as one of the most aggressive players to come out of Korea’s mid lane since the early days of Faker.

While Chovy and Deft are plenty enough to get your team into a playoff spot, Hanwha can exceed expectations if their rookie Top laner starts to develop into the talent his management believes him to be. Morgan returns to LCK via World Elite due to finding a roster opportunity that worked for better for him on home soil this offseason. Hanwha Life are a few degrees away from being considered one of the best LCK teams, but their foundation is solid so far.

3. T1

T1 is high on this list due to their squad depth and they will look to build on that burgeoning talent they scouted last year into 2021. Last year, Clozer dominated the headlines as he started replacing Faker for a few games towards the tail end of the 2020 season, but it was Gumayusi that has taken over T1 fandom in recent weeks with his performances.

The 18-year-old ADC main has regularly replaced Teddy as a starter this year and his performances on champions like Aphelios and Kai’ Sa have drawn praise around the world. For T1 to take themselves to Worlds once again this year, players like Ellim and Canna need to become more consistent in wins as well as defeats.

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@TI

T1 were quite strong last year when versing opponents that were noticeably weaker on paper, but overcoming the odds against players of equal or greater strength will be the only way for them to really make an impact on the international stage with this deep roster. Of course, adding a top three Support like Keria will also do wonders to boost chances of success once he’s able to synergize with Gumayusi or Teddy effectively.

2. Gen. G

Gen. G is one of those rosters that made minimal changes in the offseason with good reason. Despite crashing and burning against G2 at Worlds, Gen. G were a persistent force domestically and internationally leading up to that point and it mustn’t be overlooked. At this moment, Gen. G rank higher than T1 on this list due to the fewer number of roster questions on Gen. G in comparison to their long-time rivals. Gen. G have well-established carry roles and every player on this team has a function to achieve their win condition.

The main carry on this team remains to be Ruler. Last year, Gen. G lived and died by the bot lane as their sole win condition against opponents of equal or higher skill. In order for Gen. G to reach the next level, players like Rascal and Clid need to come into their own and provide enough utility in order for Bdd and Ruler to take over the rest of the game with late-game damage. Thus far, Gen. G have gotten off to a good start in that regard as Rascal has achieved multiple MVP performances in spite of receiving little help from his team.

When all players on Gen. G are performing well and self-sufficient, there are few rosters in Korea that can compete with their talent. For that reason, they take the number two spot on our LCK Power Rankings 2021 despite their razor-close margin to T1. With time and perseverance, Gen. G could have what it takes to become the best LCK team in the region if other teams falter.

1. DWG KIA

The reigning World Champions arguably got even scarier this offseason despite the high-profile departure of Top laner Nuguri to China back in December. In his absence, DWG picked up legendary Korean top laner Khan who swapped his place on FPX for a return to LCK action. The Top lane mercenary has been on many fabled rosters from SKT, Longzhu Gaming and multiple teams in China.

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@LCK

While Khan is definitely a high-profile addition, the heartbeat of DAMWON remains around jungle and mid. ShowMaker proved time and time again he is a cut above the rest during Worlds. This year will be no different for the Mid lane standout as he looks to solidify his place amongst Korea’s elite for another year running. With the level of talent on this roster from all angles, it’s hard not to make out DWG as the best LCK team in the region from the outset.

While the meta shift has been considerable this season, DWG KIA are off to a great start as they won the early season encounter against T1. Although they didn’t leave the match unscathed, DWG KIA showed they have retained their level of sharpness over the offseason. With the early season showing thus far, it’s hard to not bestow DWG the number one spot on our LCK Power Rankings given their strength across all lanes. Every member on their team is a top-three talent within the league, and their top side of the map regularly fights for MVP plaudits every year.