The Next Big Talent for LCS Teams

Every great League of Legends team has its superstar. A face of the team who can seemingly do no wrong and constantly lead his team to domestic or international accolades. Star Horn Royal Club had Uzi, the first ever world champions Fnatic had xPeke and SK Telecom over the last several years has had Faker, widely considered the greatest League of Legends player of all time. Since the inception of the North American League of Legends Championship Series, countless names and faces have fluctuated in and out of the league. Over the last offseason, Bjergsen and Doublelift, arguably the two best North American players, retired. Out of the unknown, LCS teams all seek the next big talent to shape and define their team indefinitely. Through two weeks of the regular season, those images are starting to take shape.

1.       100 Thieves (5-1)

100 Thieves has cruised to a 5-1 record so far this year, in no small part due to mid-laner Tanner Damonte. He constantly draws multiple early bans to his Twisted Fate and Galio picks to hinder his ability to support his team, but that has not stopped his success. 100 Thieves has been sloppy in their games, leading to many of the season’s most entertaining matches thus far, but the one constant they have been able to rely on is that if the game lasts long enough, the clock hits “Tanner Time,” a moment when he takes over the game. It’s a clutch gene rarely seen in such consistency in the league and it makes it surprising that just a year ago people were speculating over whether or not he even deserved a roster spot.

2.       Cloud9 (5-1)

Robert “Blaber” Huang is a frontrunner for the MVP award and for good reason. He has no breaks in his aggressiveness and will force advantages for himself and his team. It’s hard to sustain but in five of their six games, C9 has taken the advantages and ran away with the lead. It’s a level of straight-up personal dominance over the opposition that is very reminiscent of the greats. Most roles have players like that in the history of League of Legends, but in the jungle position Blaber might just be in a league of his own.

3.       Team Liquid (3-3)

Joining Blaber in the MVP discussion is star support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. The consistency with which he has proven to be the best support in the league over the last couple of years is staggering. In every Team Liquid victory you can trace the game back to one or two spectacular plays by him on whatever champion he chooses. Once a failed ADC player for Dignitas in 2014, he role swapped to support, won a world championship in 2017 with Samsung Galaxy and returned to NA with Team Liquid, where he won MVP twice. With Bjergsen and Doublelift gone, few current LCS players if any can claim the same level of overall success that CoreJJ has.

4.       TSM (4-2)

If TSM plays at the level they did this past weekend, they will be unstoppable. Mid-laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage was the foremost contributor to that level of play, earning himself “Player of the Week” honors. His creative style of play put his name in headlines for years, dating back to 2014. On the then-unknown Unicorns of Love, he faced TSM in the semifinals of IEM San Jose, famously 2-0ing the North American powerhouse. He’s been a staple of the scene ever since and appears to be playing the best he ever has with TSM.

5.       Dignitas (4-2)

In an era where the League of Legends meta tends to restrict itself to five or six good picks per role, jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is bringing unprecedented diversity. In 10 games this year, he has played 10 different champions, some more successfully than others. They’re not always high points, like his Rengar game where he was executed by minions. In others, he’s taken a fringe pick and dominated an entire team with it. Kayn is largely associated with miserable failure in North America, but Dardoch brought it out and dominated Evil Geniuses to cap off Week 2. There’s no telling what he plans on playing any given week, but you can guarantee that it will be exciting.

6.       Evil Geniuses (3-3)

Top-laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-young is an anomaly in League of Legends. After winning a world championship with SK Telecom in 2013, he came to NA in 2015 and has carved out one of the most successful North American careers ever noted. The most startling part is that he seemingly hasn’t lost a step. His tenure with C9 introduced his famous “top die” remark, noting the difference in talent he held over his opposition. In his three-year with tenure, he’s won the LCS four different times. He’s won all-star accolades in both Korea and North America. He’s the quintessential North American superstar and he wasn’t even born in America.

7.       Immortals (2-4)

Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura was a long-time prominent name on the North American ladder before joining Immortals last November. He made his name beating the best players in the league on his signature Riven pick and is just now getting a chance to play professionally. In his debut game in the Spring Split, he took the fight to Team Liquid and led Immortals to an astounding upset victory. Even in the competitive scene where only the best players are allowed, Revenge can not only hold his own but overpower his opponents. This was the chance he deserved to have and he’s making the most of it.

8.       FlyQuest (2-4)

Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas came over from Latin America last November to get his first chance in a major league. He was always considered a star by his peers in Argentina, managing to climb the ranked ladder in multiple regions. He finished season 7 as the top ranked player in the Brazil server, made top two in season 10 on the North American server and even reached the highest rank of Challenger in China’s coveted super-server before last year’s world championships. Despite the team’s lack of success so far this year, Josedeodo has single-handedly turned games in his team’s favor, making aggressive early plays to set the pace. He’s probably a top three jungler in the region already, and there is quite the competition.

9.       Counter Logic Gaming (1-5)

It would be unfair to not use this opportunity to talk about jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen. The Denmark native played in Europe from 2016 through 2019 before playing the 2020 season on Team Liquid. His European career, mostly with Fnatic, was capped by a quarter-final appearance at the 2019 world championship. He hasn’t even played a game this year, but CLG desperately needs him. He finally has his visa intact and is set to make his debut game this year soon, and he will have to find some way to turn around the tragic start to CLG’s season.

10.   Golden Guardians (1-5)

Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes might be the truest definition of a player to watch. At his peak, he is a top two bot-laner in the league, but at his worst he’s making plays looking down on infamy. Maybe it’s those plays that cause people to assume he doesn’t have what it takes anymore, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance even this year. After all, it was him who led CLG to a North American title back in 2016 and then to the best performance a North American team has ever had at the Mid-Season Invitational tournament, making it to the finals before losing to Korea’s SKT.