Scouting the Scouting Grounds
The Scouting Grounds is a new event coming up in November that will be hosted by Riot at their studio in an attempt to showcase upcoming North American talent to professional organizations. Riot will invite the four highest ranked players on the North American ladder from each role for a total of twenty invited players. The requirements to qualify are as follows:
- You must respond to the survey when it’s sent out in October.
- You must be 16 years of age by the start of the Challenger Series 2017 spring split.
- You’re very interested in playing LoL professionally.
- You have not played in more than two professional LoL matches in any league.
- You cannot be under contract by any professional team including Challenger teams at the time invites go out.
- You’re a North American resident as determined by the Interregional Movement Policy.
- You can pass a player behavior check, similar to what Challenger and LCS players must pass. This check includes a review of in-game behavior, Terms of Service violations, and looks at previous bans or suspensions.
In this article I will attempt to preview some of the talent that could qualify for the Scouting Grounds in November based on the player requirements above and my brief knowledge of the Amateur scene that many of these players will be coming from.
Fallenbandit – 1,047 LP – The former Team Checkpoint top laner currently sits comfortably at number four on the ranked ladder. He is definitely a carry player, preferring champions like Gangplank, Gnar, Fiora Kennen, and Irelia. With Team Checkpoint, fallenbandit placed first at the Dreamhack Montreal LAN tournament back in August and also went undefeated in group stages in the September Carbon Invitational, taking strong wins over Frank Fang Gaming and Team Arsenal.
Licorice – 983 LP – The new top lane player for Cloud9’s new Challenger team holds multiple spots on the challenger ladder, currently owning the #12, #36, and #73 ranks. Another carry player, Licorice prefers Gangplank, Rumble and Gnar with a recent addition of Jayce to his carry champion pool. Being on C9C means he may not actually attend the Scouting Grounds, but by all means he has earned the opportunity to make an impact there.
Rahulk/Dhokla – 797 LP – Rahulk has two accounts on the challenger ladder at the moment. He climbed to high challenger to about 800 to 900 LP on his RAHULK account early in the season playing Fiora and Irelia along with Zed and LeBlanc and deferred a lot of games to a secondary account, Dhokla, which sits around 500 LP. Recently he played in the September Carbon Invitational for Team Arsenal and was previously a member of Flash Point eSports Water in the Initial Championship League.
Bobjenkins – 708 LP – With 543 ranked games this season, Bobjenkins has played Kennen in 494 times to a tune of a 57% winrate. Besides Kennen, he has 20 games on Lissandra and Riven each. As far as traditional one-tricks go, Bobjenkins has been very successful, climbing to 750 LP on the Challenger ladder playing almost exclusively one champion.
Rohammers – 633 LP – The former Tryndamere one-trick pony has expanded his champion pool in recent years, with a plethora of games on Gangplank, Ryze, Fiora, Ekko, Poppy and Maokai this diverse season. Rohammers was previously on Team Frostbite, which played in the NACS Open Qualifiers earlier this year and lost to Team Liquid Academy.
C9 I Shadow I – 610 LP – Shadow is an aggressive Yasuo main who manages to maintain a high winrate across multiple champions despite lackluster K/D Ratios based on the pressure he exerts in the game. When he isn’t on Yasuo, he plays Fiora, Graves, Renekton and Jax.
Sexyminou – 600 LP – One of the more interesting top laners in this preview, sexyminou has Illaoi, Gangplank, Irelia and Rengar in his champion pool. Not the best champions to translate into competitive play, but it would be interesting to see them in action if sexyminou qualifies for the Scouting Grounds.
Predictions: Licorice, Fallenbandit, and Rahulk should be pretty secure in their spots for the Scouting Grounds assuming they accept the offer. After them the list gets a bit trickier to predict, as Bobjenkins is a Kennen one-trick who may choose to defer and Rohammers is pretty close to passing him on the ladder as well. Because of their short amateur competitive experience, Licorice, Fallenbandit, and Rahulk should be able to show some promising skill during the Scouting Grounds.
Tarzaned – 1,274 LP – No. 1 on the North American ranked ladder, tarzaned carries a reputation about him that questions whether he will pass the behavioral check for the Scouting Grounds, but if he does it sure will be interesting to see. A Graves aficionado, tarzaned also plays all of the meta junglers well and has even had success playing some Wukong at times this season
Wiggily – 877 LP – Wiggily has bounced around a couple amateur teams in the past few months, but in my opinion is one of the most competitive-ready junglers out there on the ranked ladder. His favorite champions are Elise and Rek’Sai, but his champion pool includes all competitive-meta junglers
GangstahSwerve – 800 LP - One of the few players in this preview that I don’t have much supporting information about, GangstahSwerve is a jungler who trends towards early game, gank heavy junglers (Elise, Gragas, Rek’Sai, Hecarim). He’s a consistent performer on the ranked ladder with little-to-no competitive experience and could really take advantage of the Scouting Grounds opportunity.
OmarGod – 742 LP – Another former Team Checkpoint player, OmarGod has seen great success at the amateur level already. The advantage he has over the other junglers listed here is his experience in competitive and a team environment. He’s played with the same five players for a solid amount of time now and has built up a good amount of synergy with his group.
LHHS – 719 LP – LHHS, formerly known as Z Y Xydra previously played for Astral Authority in the 2016 NACS qualifiers. LHHS has a 72% overall winrate with high K/D ratios on Nidalee, Rek’Sai and Lee Sin, and little games on any other junglers.
BestGravesCnMA – 649 LP – As the name indicates, this guy plays Graves. With Graves being banned so frequently he may not have as many games on the champion as he would want, but it is still his most played. Some of the other junglers he plays include Elise, Rek’Sai and Nidalee.
Silas Kroeger – 641 LP – From all indications, he doesn’t really play anymore, but he still technically qualifies for the Scouting Grounds as long as his LP doesn’t dip too far. He played Cinderhulk junglers all season, even when Nidalee and Graves were previously strong, preferring Rek’Sai and Zac as his main junglers.
Predictions: Whether or not tarzaned can pass the “behavioral check” for the Scouting Grounds really could open up the rest of the invites. Players like BmxSpecks (545 LP), Vladfire 1BG (554 LP), and Gahlin (605 LP) could really take advantage of the lower bar for fourth place and grind up during October to catch up. I hope to see Wiggily, GangstahSwerve and OmarGod in the Scouting Grounds when all is said and done as I think they have a lot to offer as players.
Tuesdayy – 937 LP – Tuesdayy saw pretty good success in the amateur scene playing with Flash Point, most recently finishing third at Dreamhack Montreal, finishing second in the Initial Championship League to Hip Grabbers (led by Akaadian) and winning the Imperial Pro League. He’s a control mage player at heart, preferring champions like Viktor, Syndra, Cassiopeia and Taliyah.
Butler Delta – 681 LP – An Anivia one-trick, Butler Delta has 60% of his games this season on the champion. When Butler Delta isn’t on Anivia there are a lot of support champions in his games played, so it makes me question whether he will try to attend the Scouting Grounds at all.
Sweaty ASol/Quantum Fizzics – 665/541 LP – On his Aurelion Sol only account, Quantum Fizzics has amassed a 70% winrate and 6.71 KDA across 140 Aurelion Sol games this season. Besides some Ekko and Fizz games, the rest of his champions don’t seem to be midlaners but the Aurelion Sol stats can’t be ignored.
Linsanityy (Sky) – 614 LP – The Sky mid-laner just finished second in the September Carbon Invitational, losing out to Akaadian’s Hip Grabbers in the finals, but defeated the new Cloud9 Challenger team 3-0 to get there. With exceptional 70% winrates on Twisted Fate and LeBlanc this season in ranked, Linsanityy’s champion pool is highlighted by roaming mages who impact the rest of the map. In competitive, however, he leans towards Cassiopeia, Lissandra, Vladimir and Ryze for the teamfight impact.
Strompest – 599 LP – Long removed from the days of playing Veigar and Udyr in Trick2G subwars, Strompest has become a solid Challenger player who likes to stick with a small champ pool to retain champion effectiveness. He’s played Fizz and Azir as his go-to champs in the past, but now has added Ryze and Malzahar to his pool of favorites as well. He recently played in the Carbon Invitational with Team Insomnia, but couldn’t find success in a difficult group, going 1-4.
Godrjsdnd – 528 LP – Not quite a one-trick due to the rest of his champion pool, godrjsdnd has a ton of games on Gangplank in the mid-lane this season. With over 2,000 total games, 25% of them have been on Gangplank. When he isn’t playing Gangplank, godrjsdnd finds himself going to a plethora of champions including Ekko, Ryze, Viktor, Cassiopeia and Syndra.
Sudzzi (Zenith) – 457 LP – The Zenith mid-laner has been up-and-down on the ladder recently, but was as high as 800 LP earlier in the season. With the brevity of this mid lane list, he won’t have to make it all the way back to 800 LP to secure a spot at the Scouting Grounds. A lane dominant player at heart, Sudzzi finds himself on Ekko, Cassiopeia and Syndra recently while also playing Azir, Taliyah and Viktor when they were in the meta.
Predictions: After Tuesdayy, the mid-lane list gets pretty shaky. When considering the two one-trick-ponies it creates even more chaos. Personally I’d like to see Tuesdayy, Linsanity, Sudzzi and Strompest make it to the Scouting Grounds, but anyone could put the work in the upcoming month to make a splash.
xPecake – 925 LP – xPecake has been on the come up for a while with a couple attempts to qualify for NACS in the past few years, but now has the opportunity to further himself by attending the Scouting Grounds. Earlier in the season he crowded the top of the ladder with accounts, but due to unfortunate circumstances only one account remains. He plays a lot of Lucian, but can play Jhin, Ezreal, Jinx and Sivir as well.
Zaganox – 867 LP – Another former Team Checkpoint player, Zaganox may be familiar to some popular stream viewers for his deadly jungle Twitch. Normally you’ll find him on Lucian or Jhin in the botlane with the occasional Ezreal or Caitlyn pick. His success on Team Checkpoint could carry over into a strong Scouting Grounds performance.
Loken – 613 LP – Leaning towards smurf on this one because of the low games played and low frequency of games, but on stats alone this account has to be included. Besides a chunk of games of Lucian and Sivir, this player shows a diverse champion pool with at least a few games played on most AD carry champions.
Sky Fear (Sky) – 568 LP – Fear put up a solid performance in the recent Carbon Invitational tournament, at which his team fell just short and finished in second place. He’s most comfortable on his Ezreal pick, but can also play Jhin, Sivir, Ashe and Caitlyn. During the Carbon games, he was able to survive laning phase and transition into a well-positioned carry during the mid-game fights and was reliable in that regard.
deftIy – 548 LP – An up-and-coming AD Carry talent, deftly has bounced around a couple amateur teams in the past year and even made a short appearance in the NACS in two games for Eanix. While deftly has a majority of his games on Lucian, he also has a solid amount of games on Ezreal, Jhin and Sivir. He’s definitely one of the most hyped players coming into Scouting Grounds and should be able to make an impact if he qualifies.
iKingVex (Zenith) – 520 LP – Another new talent in this scene, iKingVex has little competitive experience especially when compared to the other players in the preview above. Vex has played 30% of his ranked games on Lucian this season, by far his most preferred champion. He isn’t just a Lucian player though, with additional experience on Jhin, Ezreal, Corki, Ashe and Sivir this season. One of the more reliable laners, Vex will lane safely and accrue small advantages into the mid-game where he positions decisively in fights.
Predictions: The marksman position will be a highly contested spot in terms of qualifying for the Scouting Grounds, especially if the two players I believe are smurfs actually are alternate accounts. xPecake and Zaganox should have their slots secured pretty safely while deftly, Fear and iKingVex fight for the last two slots. I think out of those three, deftly and iKingVex will end up in the top four.
Ntz Leopard – 916 LP – Leopard’s champion pool is pretty hard to follow. He has a mix of marksmen, support, jungle, and even top lane champions in his ranked history. From what I know, he’s listed as Team Sky’s substitute support player, so that is why I am putting him under support. He’s got games on Thresh, Janna, Bard and Braum this season.
JayJ – 746 LP – The former jungle player turned support is just barely the second highest ranked support player on the challenger ladder, down just 8 LP to Team EnVyUs’s Hakuho. JayJ opts for lane dominant champions in ranked, choosing Thresh, Karma, Bard and Janna most frequently. Most recently JayJ has played jungle and support for the University of Toronto League of Legends team in the Initial Championship League and Imperial Pro League.
CatVomit – 581 LP – The former Team Maelstrom top laner has recently converted to almost exclusively playing support on the ranked ladder and has climbed to be one of the highest supports on the ladder. CatVomit's champion pool includes, but is not limited to, Thresh, Bard, Karma and Braum.
Zeyzal – 566 LP – Zeyzal has role-swapped a couple times early in his career but seems to have stuck as a support player, recently playing with Cloud9’s new Challenger team in the Carbon Invitational. Known as a decisive shot-caller in game, Zeyzal has the potential to be a team leader in the future. A deep champion pool, he favors melee supports like Alistar, Trundle and Braum, but can play most supports well.
Sweetie Pie – 488 LP – With over 550 games played in Season 6, Sweetie Pie has amassed 365 Janna games this season. The Janna main’s champion pool only includes mage supports, rounding out the list with Soraka, Nami, Lulu and Morgana.
Winter – 447 LP – Winter’s experience is limited to a couple amateur teams and his champion pool includes Karma, Morgana, Thresh, Blitzcrank and Sona.
Vulcancer – 335 LP – Another former Team Checkpoint player, Zaganox’ partner in the botlane could join his teammate in the Scouting Grounds with a little bit of a ranked grind. With Thresh as his most played ranked champion, Vulcancer also offers Braum, Bard, Karma, Alistar and Tahm Kench in the support role.
Swifte – 223 LP – Swifte is a Thresh one-trick who recently played with Akaadian’s Hip Grabbers in the group stage of the Carbon Invitational. He also has some games on Karma and Morgana this season, but has room to grow as a player as he opens up his champion pool.
Predictions: As tight as the marksmen qualifiers are, the support qualifiers are pretty wide open. You can attribute some of it to the difficulty of climbing the ranked ladder alone as a support player, but it isn’t impossible. Whether Ntz Leopard qualifies as a support or a different role could expand the opportunities of some of the lower ranked support players. JayJ, Cat Ears, and Zeyzal should all make their way to the Scouting Grounds but that last spot could be up in the air.
Other Thoughts: One rule that I believe was not in the original Scouting Grounds post was the exception that players can’t be under contract with any LCS or NACS organization and also compete in the scouting grounds, in addition to the “only two matches” rule. This could potentially make players like Licorice and Zeyzal unable to participate in the Scouting Grounds depending on their situations. This rule could also affect players like Viper, Yusan, and bobqinxd because of their association as substitutes for Team Liquid, but it’s impossible to know as an outsider.
This should be a great opportunity for up and coming North American players to really try their best to show professional organizations what type of skills they have and showcase their potential as rising players in the competitive scene.
Thanks for reading this far and I hope you’ve learned a bit more about some of the upcoming players in our North American scene!
Photo Credit: Riot Games