Season 5 of the League of Legends competitive scene has turned out to be heavily influenced, or even dominated by the top lane. In a league that puts so much emphasis on strong teamfighting and impactful champions, such as Rumble, Hecarim, Gnar or even Maokai, when it comes to signing top laners, it pays to have a good one. While it’s fair to criticize North America on their many flaws, one of their strongest assets as a region is it’s top lane talent. North America has a couple of clear-cut superstars in Dyrus, Quas and Impact or ZionSpartan, (if Hauntzer continues to perform he easily makes that list as well,) and it is standard for a region to have a few standout performers, but even below this top tier of players, the names do not fall off too hard. Gamsu, Seraph and the formerly mentioned Hauntzer all make up the middle tier of solid, reliable skilled top laners. With this lineup of top lane titans multiple analysts have stated that, outside of a few exceptions (looking at you Huni and Odoamne,) North America’s top lane talent appears stronger than that of the European LCS.
Looking Towards the Future, and the Issues Ahead.
Now obviously, in the moment having such strong top laners is undoubtedly a good spot to be in. Simple Logic states that, the better players are available, the better teams will be, competition will rise and so forth. However this article is not here to sing praise of all the good things NA top laners are doing, in fact, it was written to discuss an issue with North America’s top lane talent in the future. The problem is that, the gap between NA LCS top laners and NA CS top lane talent is enormous, and this article will later use Coast’s top laner Cris to demonstrate. This gap has been created due to two main issues. One being that NA as a whole is atrocious at developing and scouting talent, and the other being that LCS teams do not see a need to try and replace their top laners, as most of them are at the very least proficient in their role.
Now finally to where Cris becomes relevant in this article. Cris is infamously known by most LCS fans as the player with the worst ever win loss record in LCS history, (a whopping 4-37), or more simply as the one who suffered repeated well-below-average performances on both Velocity and Coast. However what most casual fans do not know about Cris is that he is currently tearing up the Challenger scene with the highest KDA among top laners at 10.29. This is not the first time Cris has performed in the NA CS either. Back on Curse Academy, before being replaced by Hauntzer, Many people regarded Cris as one of the best top laners in the scene.
To show the gap I have collected stats from both his days in the LCS with Coast, as well as stats from his recent matches in the Challenger League.
Obviously the Challenger scene’s talent is going to be weaker than the LCS, however to see a player go from being easily the worst player in his role, (barely being able to sustain a KDA over 1), to going and dominating the level of competition just below is worrying to say the least about any future NA talent. This gap becomes even more worrisome when you look at the age of all the North American top laners. The observation to be made is that many of them are veterans in the pro-scene, and are at the end of the average career length, if not beyond it already. I am not saying North America is going to lose 5 of their top 6 top laners by season 6, but it is quite possible that 2 of the top six will call quits, and retire. At the moment there is no one in challenger is ready to fill those super-star shoes.
Lastly, to more fully support my claim of Cris performing substantially better in the NA CS, I have created graphs of his performances throughout the first 3 weeks. I unfortunately do not have any deeper stats from his LCS games, however I feel the basic stats should give a decent basis for his LCS performances.