Worlds has entered its knockout stages. Even though the west is having its best showing ever, NA is nowhere to be found. As a result of this , we can most likely expect NA to import even more people in their bid at making a deep run at S6 worlds. Unfortunately this also means that NA talents and the foundation of the region is getting further shutdown. The argument is often “We are not as big a region as EU so we have less talent”. But is this really the case? and what will happen if nothing changes?
Back in the days of Season 1,2 and 3 teams more or less where region locked. The regions attending worlds consisted of rosters with players from said regions(or players who had a different background but grew up in the region). The pride of the regions where on the line. Today that has changed, and especially NA and China have taken to mass importing which has put much of the local talent on the sidelines. Today we can only speculate what would happen if Riot enforced a region lock. But how did all this start?
In the small Cologne studio of the newly formed LCS sits a small frightened looking boy. He has just turned 17, the age required to play in the LCS. While he might look small and fragile, he turns into a complete beast on the rift. His name is Bjergsen. His team Copenhagen Wolves have been losing over and over in the LCS, this changes with Bjergsen in the lineup. A few weeks into his LCS debut he makes a penta kill with Syndra agsint aAa, now everyone is taking notice of the young boy. He gains an almost overnight fame and people start talking about this kid being a top european mid player. Bjergsen continues to show form, which catches the eye of NA Titans TSM. After having had a miserable Season 3 worlds, Reginald decides to step down as a player, instead they pick up young Bjergsen. Ever since Bjergsen set foot in the NA LCS he has dominated the NA mids. Beating Bjergsen for an NA player is like beating Faker for koreans. However, this transfer also opened peoples eyes to the potential strength of imports. Today Bjergsen is highly regarded as one of the best mids in the world.
Whats that Chinese team doing here?
During Season 4 a new team had arrived. The complete chinese roster of LMQ had come to America in the hopes of securing an easy spot for worlds. The fact that this move was possible does in my opinion show a complete lack of Riots regional policy. The thought that SKT could go to NA or EU and win every tournament under that banner is absurd, almost pathetic. Nontheless, LMQ swiped through Challenger and knocked out XDG in the promo series and went to S4 worlds as NAs 3 seed , meaning that of the 15 players representing NA, only 8 where actual Americans. How´s that for talent?
Le Toucan has arrived
When Team Liquid managed to land former world champion Piglet , it seemed as if they where on the fast track to worlds. However, Piglet did initially not deliver and challenger adc Keith was called in to replace him. While Keith was no superstar, he certainly did what could be expected of him. He showed talent, AND at the time played better than Piglet. Here the major problem comes in. Had Piglet not been Piglet but just some dude called RainbowSheeps from SoloQ he would have been instantly benched for good. But due to the Piglet name he came back in for good. Keith was back out in the cold. Piglet might be the current best of the two but the thing is, Piglet has peaked and Keith has not. There is room to grow Keith. Instead he realizes that teams are set in their current ways and departs for college. NA basically throws away raw talent.
But we have no talent, our region is small!
I hear that statement over and over. It is simply not true. If this was the case then how does LMS , a way smaller region than NA manage to have talent? Simple, they grow the talent they have. They give them a chance. Of course it is nice to have a Bjergsen or Incarnation, but somewhere in the NA SoloQ im certain there is a guy who can be just as good. Keith, LOD, Sheep, Shrimp and Moon are just some players from this seasons Challenger teams that would currently be easy pickups for LCS teams with the possibility to make them really solid players. Instead we can look forward to imports everywhere cause noone dares to take a chance. Look at Febiven, not too long ago he was a one trick pony Riven. Now he is a worldclass player. All people need are a chance.
With 3 spots open on TSM and a brand new Immortals team, it is my hope that they will stack these spots with some raw NA talent that can blossom over the comign season. The thought of “must having imports” to win is a state of flawed logic. Looking back, the NA teams who have done the best at worlds has usually been the all american team. The situation surrounding NA reminds me of the world handball championship in Quatar. For those who dont know the story: Quatar felt their players werent good enough. So they went out and bought some players who werent from Quatar but happened to have a grand grand grandfather who was, hence enabling them to play for the team. My point is, full import teams will never be popular with the people of said region. It would be a shame to see Season 8 having 15 players playing for a region which none of them a from. Step up the talent game or NA players will go extinct. Picking up imports sends the wrong message to the people of the NA soloQ. I know many people wont agree with me, but personally i hope that we get to see alot more players representing their actual region in the future!