For many aspiring professional League of Legends players in North America, the path to the big stage isn’t exactly clearly outlined compared to other regions. While other countries are teeming with opportunities for amateurs to get seen, many NA players might not have the same chances.
Over the past couple of years, one team that’s dedicated plenty of time to discovering and developing new talent is 100 Thieves. The organization has put a ton of effort into discovering new players and giving them the tools to succeed in their career with growing programs in the Academy and amateur scenes.
Scouting for new, upcoming talent can be a daunting task with the multitude of players on the ranked ladder vying for a spot on a pro team. But according to 100 Thieves’ general manager Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith, the team has a system that helps the staff pick the best players from solo queue for the right level of play.
“When we’re looking at 100 Next, solo queue I think is one of the best possible places to detect new talent,” PapaSmithy said during a recent LCS press conference. “It’s very much a case of just cold reaching out to players and being like, ‘Hey, is this a smurf account or who is this?’ kind of thing. That’s one of the few ways you can find these 15, 16, [and] 17-year-old players who haven’t already been on an amateur team or networked extensively.”
Solo queue is a great place for the management to scout out potential LCS players as well. Their individual skill is important, but their approach and mentality toward solo queue is just as crucial to whether they’ll be considered for the spot.
“Your hope is that they use solo queue for a very specific goal,” PapaSmithy said. “Mindlessly playing a lot of games versus mindfully playing a certain amount of games is definitely a sort of balance that you want to kind of probe and ask questions around to make sure there’s actual intent behind the solo queue practice.”
100 Thieves’ head of strategy and analytics Joseph Jang also said that the team has a rubric that figures out the characteristics of what makes a player actually good for the LCS, Academy, or amateur squads.
He said, for example, that for potential Academy players, they usually have some documented experience on YouTube, Twitch, or in the Academy scene that the staff can use alongside an in-person interview. By using these different aspects, they can decide whether that player would be a good cultural fit for the roster.
When it comes to amateurs with no professional experience, however, things are a bit harder to judge. As a result, the scouts must lean on their performances and reputations in the solo queue scene—which has happened before.
“I think a really good example would be Canna from SKT,” Jang said. “I know that’s a story that we talk about in our coaching staff, where he was a random Diamond I one trick before he was the professional top laner for SKT. He was literally picked up because one of the junglers said, ‘Hey, this guy is hardstuck D1, but he has the characteristics to be a really, really good player.'”
Ultimately, solo queue is still a great resource for teams to start nurturing the next class of young, budding stars in NA League.
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