NA Riot Scouting Grounds – Will it Work? – Riot’s Goal and a Review of North American Talent
League of Legends has solidified itself as a staple in esports, and has contributed greatly to the growth towards the industry as a whole. Riot Games has continued to validate professional League of Legends through acts of a closed, player salary and season based system. During the fall stretch of the 2016 season, Riot Games has extended their hand to the player-base aspiring to compete within the professional scene. Their rules state that the top four players from each role will be invited to boot-camp with large organizations such as Liquid and the recently formed Echo Fox. The context surrounding this move stems from the perception of the ever so thinning North American Talent that participate yearly throughout each season. Ever since integrating Edward into Curse back in 2013, organizations within the LCS have not hesitated to find players around the world, and giving up on the remaining talent pool within North America.
Once the integration began, I have questioned whether many of the changes have improved the NA LCS on an International standpoint, or if the level of NA competition remained the same. In terms of International success, North America alone has made little strides as the competition rose within China and Korea during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Despite LMQ’s world qualifying performance, teams that have transferred to NA for quick success, have been met with a different fate within the scene.
From Locodoco’s Quantic Gaming fiasco, to Winter-fox’s brief existence, one might suspect that team owners and players alike are jumping the gun when it comes to recruiting talent from other regions. Local talent may be denied prematurely, under false pretenses of underperforming NA players. With little knowledge from the general public, all we can do as bystanders is “take the word” of the current pool of players and team owners. Writing NA talent off as bad, or unable to understand League from a teamwork perspective, despite the result being the opposite in recent years. CLG and C9, both as organizations lacked any imports when first finding their success within the league, with C9 taking IEM titles over International opponents. (Note: Xmithie, was born in the Philippines; however, started and competed on the NA ladder). Even recently, CLG has taken a spring split title for themselves as a team of four North American solo queue players, and one import, Huhi, who was deemed to be the weaker link during that time. For perspective, the spring championship has been off the back of a forgettable performances from most of the imports that currently exist within the league, such as Procxin, Alex Ich, Pieran, and even the Midlaner for NRG, GankedByMom (GBM), who was known as a passive, but a highly performing Midlaner within the LCK. Despite the massive amount of imports, and the scarcity of midlaners in the NA LCS, the performance from these teams has not been outstanding in the slightest, and seem mediocre at best when it comes to improving as a team.
It is Not the Player, but Where They Go, and Who They Play With
Yes, Imports such as Bjergsen, Lustboy, Jensen, and Piglet (debatable) have buffed teams in the past. However, other imports such as Amazing and Santorin have left with a bad taste in the League communities’ mouth, with Svenskeren and YellowStar being in sight for their next victim, until the integration of NA’s Biofrost. The most funded and popular organizations are able to cultivate talent because of their money and current success in the NA LCS. It is obvious that the best organizations (C9, CLG, TSM) are going to receive the players who are willing to practice all hours of the day, and improve on every scenario to win. However, it seems different for teams such as NRG, and even NV, who lazily decide to pick Pantheon mid, and lose in embarrassing fashion in game four against C9 in the quarterfinals.
This is where Riot Games is trying to step in. By giving an incentive for North American players to improve their teamwork and understanding of the meta, they are forming teams that can compete with organizations who seemingly hop into the scene, and perceptibly flop in expecting results. This is not just a tryout, but a boot-camp and tournament, to give players a sense what it means to be a professional player. The scouting system currently is very vague and unclear to the public eye. Players and owners alike may have old bias, and preconceptions that certain players will perform well under the NA LCS lights. With this system, organizations will able to train, and see constant action from League of Legends players, to determine a real candidate and competitor.
In my opinion, as a spectator, this will work in volumes for scouting new North American talent. Organizations have simply not tried hard enough in cultivating local talent, and resort to the easier route in using their current money to bring in any other professional import to perform well. By using money as a motivator, the lower tier teams, ever since the LCS started, have found mediocre to no success at all. This will also help bring a complete closure on the actual current state of North American talent, instead of just taking a professional player, or popular figure’s word for it.
Written by Nduka Bandicoot
Edited by Williaf
Featured Image provided by Riot Games