First of all, I would like to say that this list is completely subjective and based on my personal observation on the growth of each player. My observations are on individual play and the impact a player has on his team. I have set a limit to three players per region and will be including the North America, Europe, China, and Korea regions. This first edition will include my choices for the North American LCS and the Korean LCK. As always I would love to hear feedback.
3.) Nicolaj “Incarnati0n”Jensen
He was supposed to be Cloud 9’s saving grail, after Hai retired the wounded team looked towards one of biggest talents to play the game. It was a big gamble since he had just finished his ban issued in 2013. The start was ugly, everyone remembers his first game against Bjergsen and Incarnati0n falling behind almost 100 cs and looking completely powerless against the other Danish player. It wasn’t only one time he fell short from expectations. This occurred during most of the summer regular season until Hai came back to the team as the Jungler. After that with the help of the veteran, Incarnati0n proved that the he is not just a Solo Queue star. He was a big part of the team’s Cinderella run from being the 7th Place team in the NA LCS and ending in the Group Stages of the World Championship.
2.) Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin
Despite being a previous World Champion, the year started bad for Piglet. Following his move to Team Liquid, he faced a lot of problems with cultural shock and communication problems to the point where he was benched in Week Five of the NA LCS Spring Split and did not come back until Week Seven. However, the NA LCS Summer Split was a completely different story, once he got used to the new system, he came back strong and delivered helping put Team Liquid in First Place of the Summer Split Regular Season standings.
1.) Adrian “Adrian” Ma
With only a little bit of Challenger experience under his belt, Adrian was basically a rookie going into the Season 5 NA LCS. He became a member of the melting pot team, as some called Team Impulse at the time, with two Koreans, two Americans, and one Chinese player this team looked like a crazy mix; however, it worked. Mainly due to the fact of the presence of Super-Star Korean Jungler Rush but also because of Adrian. His engage play on the likes of Leona is superb and currently leads the NA LCS on vision control with an average of 1.48 wards placed per minute as well as on when and where to lay down vision. The rumors of him going to Team SoloMid may be true! A vision driven support with a great sense of engage could be exactly what Bjergsen and Doublelift need to explode their carry potential.
3.) Shin “CoCo” Jin-yeong
CoCo has shown and has been known to be a dominant player ever since Season 4. He stuck though the Korean exodus with CJ Entus and had his best year in Season 5. On the good side he lead the Korean LCK during the regular season with 199 kills the highest of any Mid Laner and also in Kill participation with an amazing 74.8%! CoCo has been on fire and has put on his carry pants on multiple occasions. He has been performing very well as an individual player despite his own team not qualifying for the Season 5 World Championships. Surrounded by older and possibly washed up players, CoCo is the sole reason CJ Entus has been on the upper half of the Korean teams. There has been some talk about him going to compete in China; however, from the looks of it, CoCo plans to stay and continue to be loyal to CJ Entus.
2.) Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-Hwan
He was supposed to be a similar story to Faker’s, coming into an SK Telecom Team (at the time SKT T1 S) as a hyped Solo Queue player ready to destroy the competitive scene. It wasn’t like that at all, SKT T1 S was called by many “The most boring team in the history of the game.” MaRin was an average player and most of the time he was inconsistent. This lead to the lackluster play style of the SKT T1 S team where games were stretched out and not being completely dominate in a quick play style. Coming into Season 5, MaRin joined Faker in the main SKT T1 team and the majority expected him to move back into being a tank player to let Faker shine. Instead, he became a new carry for SKT T1 on champions such as Rumble and more recently the new Fiora leading SKT T1 to an almost flawless win on the 2015 World Championship and rightfully earning the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament as the new Captain of the team.
1.) Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho
Smeb was an average player at best before Season 5. He started with Incredible Miracle back in Season 3, it was rough always failing the group stages of the OGN tournaments. The same thing occurred in Season 4 as he was known as a loser in the Korean scene who maybe deserved a better team but still wasn’t impressing pretty enough people. His best highlight was a Solo Kill he got against Impact from SKT T1. Season 5 was a complete turn around as he emerged as the big carry for the KOO Tigers with the second highest kill participation in the LCK with 70.3%! Smeb proved to be a true carry with his signature champions Riven and Fiora. He came from the laughing stock of Top Laners to the best in the World in just one year. He guided the KOO Tigers all the way to the Finals of the World Championship.
This is all for the First part of this series, Next week I will do my choices for Europe and China.
Written by Wannabe
Edited by Williaf