21 July 2015 - 18:31

Who is the Most Valuable Player in the LCS?

Few things are as fun in sports as arguing about which player is the best
Dot Esports
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Few things are as fun in sports as arguing about which player is the best. Entire industries have grown around developing metrics to measure player performance. Hundreds of thousands of words are wasted debating whether one player is better than another and why.

So let's waste some more. With one week left in the League Championship Series (LCS) season, it’s a great time to look at the top contenders to win this season’s Most Valuable Player award.

North America

With five teams in striking distance of first place heading into the final week of the season, there are plenty of candidates to earn the LCS’ top season award. But it might take the final week to finally figure out who truly deserves it.

Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Mid, Team SoloMid

Why he’s the MVP:

He’s always the MVP.

Bjergsen is the Michael Jordan of the LCS, and even during one of SoloMid’s weakest seasons since he joined the lineup, Bjergsen is playing like it.

The Danish dynamo leads the league with 101 kills and 725 DPM. No team relies on a single player more than SoloMid and Bjergsen—he’s dealt a whopping 40.8 percent of SoloMid’s damage, really showing that the team lives up to the name.

Why he’s not:

While he’s putting up another statistically superb season, it’s also one of Bjergsen’s worst. His 4.5 KDA is just 19th in the league, not what you normally expect from Bjergsen, and that’s reflected in the team’s record—though that may be more his teammates’ fault, and not his own.

Johnny “Altec” Ru, AD Carry, Gravity Gaming

Why he’s the MVP:

In a season where AD carry is sometimes a forgotten position and players of that position are lamenting the weakness of their role, Gravity Gaming is leading the league on the back of Johnny “Altec” Ru as their primary and often sole carry.

Ru leads all AD carry players this season with 600 DPM and has dealt 32.1 percent of his team’s damage, the only player to lead his team in that statistic from a spot outside the mid lane. His 85 kills rank third overall in the league.

He’s not a flashy player. His biggest talent is his teamfight positioning. But that’s perfect for Gravity Gaming, especially when all their foes know they are relying on the AD carry to deal damage.

Why he’s not:

Last season David “Cop” Roberson put up similar numbers on Gravity Gaming, a team that traditionally sets up team fights for their AD carry to shine. With mid laner Lae-young “Keane” Jang often playing disruptive mid champions over carries, Ru is set up to do more work than any other AD carry. Ru is in many ways a system player—you could plug in any solid AD carry and they’d likely perform well.

Michael "Bunny FuFuu" Kurylo, Support, Gravity Gaming

Why he’s the MVP:

Coming into the league as a supposed one-trick pony, a Thresh god, Bunny FuFuu has taken over as shot caller for Gravity Gaming this season and led them to the top of the standings. Their strength is thanks to the team’s impeccable macro play, so a lot of the credit has to go to their in-game leader.

Plus, Bunny’s continued to make plays from the support position. He’s carried a couple games thanks to his playmaking and often garners bans

Why he’s not:

It’s hard to really judge how much of the team’s macro success is on Kurylo’s shoulders versus, say, rookie of the year candidate Kang “Move” Min-su and his impeccable vision control from the jungle.

Kim “FeniX” Jae-hoon, MiD Laner, Team Liquid

Why he’s the MVP:

As a rookie in the Spring Split, the refrain after every FeniX game was “if only he’d do what he did in scrims.” In the Summer, he’s emerged as a force capable of single-handedly winning games. His Azir has quickly become one of the most feared champion and player combinations in the league, and with players like the one-on-four quadra kill against Counter Logic Gaming, it’s easy to see why.

The stats back up his success. His 618 DPM ranks fifth in the league, and he deals 32.9 percent of his team’s damage, second among mid laners on playoff teams. His CS differential at 10 minutes sits at 6.4, third in the league, showing that FeniX has dominated his lane more than any other mid this season save Bjergsen.

Why he’s not:

FeniX's rise is certainly pivotal to his team’s success, but he’s not even the best player in his role in the league—Bjergsen is.

Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin, AD Carry, Team Liquid

Why he’s the MVP:

In the Spring Split, Piglet struggled to acclimate to America and Team Liquid struggled with him. It took the full season to right the ship leading to a great run in the playoffs. This split, he picked up where he left off and that’s led to even more success for the team.

Piglet leads the league with a 10.8 KDA, one of those bright and shiny MVP-like stats. He’s died 17 times, the lowest mark for any full time player in the NA LCS. His 574 DPM ranks second among AD carry players behind Altec. Team Liquid likes to skirmish and sometimes leave their players to their own devices, and that’s perfect for Piglet, who has shown he can use his impressive mechanics to win battles solo other players wouldn’t dream of fighting.

Why he’s not:

Altec’s season is slightly stronger statistically, and he means more individually to his team. Piglet is surrounded by other strong carries, like mid laner FeniX, who in his sophomore season is putting up numbers just below Bjergsen’s. FeniX’s MVP case is just as good as Piglet’s, a testament to Liquid’s skill as a team.

Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae, Jungler, Team Impulse

Why he’s the MVP:

Team Impulse has once again put together a late season surge with a seven-game win streak that’s move them to a tie for second in the league. And Rush is one of the main reasons why. Since the meta has shifted away from tank junglers, his playmaking skill has allowed Impulse to wreck teams in all phases of the game.

He’s the most impactful jungler in the league, posting the highest damage score with 302 DPM, one of the top three KDAs with 5.1, and the most kills with 55. He outfarms his opposing junglers, and it isn’t even close—through 10 minutes, he averages over a 200 gold lead over his counterparts.

Why he’s not:

Team Impulse struggled early this season in large part due to the Cinderhulk promoting the tank jungle style, mitigating most of the impact Rush had as a player. His inability to adapt to that meta shows he isn’t a complete player, yet, even if he’s insanely good at what he does best.

Europe

One team is putting the finishing touches on a historic season in Europe, and only two other squads have seemed to rise to challenge them.

Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, Support, Fnatic

Why he’s the MVP:

The captain and shot caller of the undefeated Fnatic, YellOwStaR has led his team to a historic season. While he’s surrounded by the best talent in the league, he’s managed to pull a bunch of rookies together into a team that’s not only the best in his region, but is dominant.

That’s not even mentioning his individual play, which has shown him to be one of the strongest initiating and playmaking supports on the planet. YellOwStaR’s posted a whopping 15.4 KDA so far this season, a mark that threatens to set the LCS record should he maintain it. He’s died less times—14—than games he’s played in the season, while putting up a whopping 205 assists to lead the league by 30.

Why he’s not:

The entire Fnatic team could be considered the best in their individual position in the region, which makes it tough to call any one of them the most valuable cog in the machine.

Isaac “PePiiNeRo” Flores, Mid, Giants Gaming

Why he’s the MVP:

Giants Gaming are in the thick of the playoff race instead of heading to auto relegation solely thanks to the contributions of PePiiNeRo, a man who has redefined the meaning of a 1v9 carry this season.

The Spanish mid laner leads the league with a ridiculous 813 DPM, which would be an LCS record for a full season since the stat’s been recorded. He accounts for 36.7 percent of his team’s damage and his 9.4 CSPM is second in the league among all players. No player is more important to his team’s success: when Giants Gaming wins, it’s because PePiiNeRo carried the game.

Why he’s not:

Leading a team to a 7-9 season isn’t exactly great. Giants Gaming may not even make the playoffs, and that’s certainly not a recipe for an award-winning season.

Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez, Mid, Origen

Why he’s the MVP:

Like Bjergsen, xPeke already has an MVP to his name. And he may well add another trophy to his case this one.

While Origen has solid players through their lineup, they’re definitely a mid lane focused team, and xPeke has taken them to an 11-5 record as the primary carry. His 6.0 KDA leads all mid laners, and his 684 DPM is only behind PePiiNeRo. He deals 33.9 percent of his team’s damage, the third highest number in the league, scoring 72 kills while doing it.

Over one year ago Alex Ichetovkin left the LCS to join a Challenger team, and he’s still trying to make it back. When xPeke did the same, he not only carried his team into the LCS, but to the top of it.

Why he’s not:

Like Team Liquid, Origen’s lineup is stacked with skilled players. Rookie of the year candidate Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen, for example, ranks second in the league in KDA with 10.2. And while his numbers are great, he doesn’t stand ahead of his fellow mid laners like Bjergsen. Players like PePiiNeRo, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten have put together similar seasons statistically.

Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu

Why he’s the MVP:

Fnatic’s Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon may be a more flashy top laner, but Odoamne is more important to his team, and in many ways more versatile. Odoamne put up 491 DPM compared to Huni’s 503, but he’s done it with a champion pool that includes more tanks. He’s also accounted for 24.1 percent of H2k Gaming’s output, the highest among all top laners.

Odoamne may not be flashy, but he’s the best tank player in the game and capable of carrying when necessary. H2k Gaming wins through their steady macro play, and Odoamne is their rock.

Why he’s not:

It’s easy to argue that the flashier Huni is a better top laner and similarly important to his team’s success.

Raymond “kaSing” Tsang, Support, H2k Gaming

Why he’s the MVP:

The catalyst to H2k Gaming’s success in the Spring, kaSing picked up where he left off in the Summer, leading the team to another solid season as support and shot caller. H2k Gaming is primed to qualify for worlds with a solid playoff in large part due to kaSing.

The numbers are solid. His 6.4 KDA ranks fourth in the league. His 172 assists are third. His 74.2 kill participation is sixth. H2k Gaming wins from the top and bottom lane, and kaSing’s contributions, along with the play of Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss, a star in his own right, are a primary factor.

Why he’s not:

This season may be the best of YellOwStaR’s career, so it’s hard to place another support ahead of that paragon of the position.


The favorites heading into the final week of the season must be Bjergsen and YellOwStaR. If SoloMid doesn’t blow their final two games, it’s hard to give the award to anyone else considering Bjergsen really is a huge outlier in terms of performance—he’s just that good. And in Europe, a legendary captain is leading his team to a historic season with a historic season of his own 

Photo via Riot Games/Flickr

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