Over this past year, there has been a clear shift within the North American League of Legends scene. Many familiar players from the first days of the LCS have already retired or have stepped out of the spotlight, while a handful of young players from the region’s emerging Academy and amateur scenes have begun to take their place.
The next generation is already taking their first steps toward writing a fresh chapter in this league when faith in NA seems to be at its lowest. Fans and budding pros need new heroes to rejuvenate their hopes as the global League community turns towards the future, and these new stars are getting ready to make their mark on a scene looking for new leaders.
But which players should North American fans look at as the faces of the new era of the LCS? From rising stars to fiery prospects in the Academy, here are some of the most promising prospects that could help lead the way as the next superstars to explode from within the region.
As the reigning LCS MVP, Spica is a no-brainer when it comes to talking about the future of NA in League esports. The 20-year-old has already established himself as one of the premier talents in the league, and has also become the longest tenured player on TSM after the departure of veteran legend Bjergsen.
Spica had a whopping 70.5-percent kill participation rate with a 3.7 KDA across both the 2021 Spring and Summer Splits, according to League stats site Games of Legends. His champion pool was relatively diverse across the year with 19 unique picks, but his most played choices were Udyr, Lee Sin, and Olaf.
A new era has finally begun for one of the oldest teams in the esport’s history, and as arguably the best jungler in the LCS, Spica will have a whole new set of responsibilities. Not only will he be moving into a higher leadership position on TSM, but he’ll also need to elevate his own play even more as he becomes the face of the franchise.
Luckily, he has dealt with plenty of adversity while playing for TSM, including multiple early exits in the playoffs and a consistent shift of teammates. But that also means he can help guide this new roster through whatever ups and downs 2022 might bring. Spica might be young, but he has gone through a veteran’s collection of experience.
It’s only been a year, but Cloud9’s rookie top laner Fudge has gone from LCS Lock-in laughingstock to the best top laner in the league. When he entered the league, he was quick to hurl fighting words towards his opponents only to be outplayed by many of them during the event. It was a humbling experience that only served to make him stronger for the long haul.
By the end of 2021, Fudge proved to be a calm, cool, and collected individual who was ready for the bright lights of any stage you threw him on. During the Summer Split, Fudge had the seventh-most kills in the league and was the only top laner in the top 10 for this stat, according to League stat aggregate Oracle’s Elixir. Whether it was in the LCS Championship, the Mid-Season Invitational, or at the 2021 World Championship, the 19-year-old superstar was standing toe-to-toe with the best in his role and didn’t hesitate to put people on his highlight reel.
Next year, however, a new challenge awaits. Not only will Fudge be debuting in a completely new role, he’ll also have to be a leader for C9’s revamped roster as they try to regroup after losing a handful of talented veterans, like Perkz, Zven, and Vulcan.
Heralded as the next Doublelift, Danny burst onto the professional League scene with fury and fire this past Summer Split. Originally, fans and analysts questioned Evil Geniuses’ promotion of such a young player to the starting lineup, especially since he wasn’t even coming from the team’s Academy roster. He was coming from its amateur team and was only 17 years old, so when he styled on 100 Thieves in the playoffs with one of the most exciting pentakills we’ve seen, NA fans began to see stars in their eyes.
Fearless and confident in his skills, Danny zoomed forward to lead the league with 111 kills this past summer, according to Oracle’s Elixir. He had the poise of a veteran in pressure-filled moments, while showing some of the best mechanical skills in his class. With stars like Vulcan, Inspired, and Impact to help him grow even stronger, we could see the rise of Danny as one of the best players in the region.
Speaking of bursting onto the scene, EG is taking another chance by promoting its Academy mid laner Jojopyun to the main lineup. The org now has two 17-year-old prospects in the hopes they develop into leaders for this region’s next generation of stars.
Many people have hyped up Jojopyun as one of the best mid laners in Academy—and for good reason. He has a diverse champion pool with picks like Lulu, Akali, Lee Sin, and Lucian, and plays for game-winning moments. He is very strong mechanically and wants to create action whenever he gets the chance with the third-highest kill-participation percentage in his role this past summer, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Whether that’s attacking the enemy jungle after pushing in his lane, or roaming with his jungler to find a catch, you can find this budding pro pushing his limits in most of his games.
He does get a little too overzealous sometimes, which comes with inexperience. He had the fifth-most deaths in the LCS Academy last season, but with more time and tutelage from his veteran teammates, he should improve his positioning and decision-making as the season moves forward. The other problem he could run into is the nerves that will eventually come as he makes his debut into the big leagues. They should also go away with time, but it’ll be interesting to see how long that takes for him as he adjusts to a higher level of play.
He might be sharing time in the top lane for 100 Thieves, but Tenacity is another young player that fans should pay attention to in 2022. The 18-year-old is a product of the team’s blossoming developmental programs, having played for 100 Next and 100 Thieves Academy. He helped the young squad finish as a top-four team in every event they played in.
At the 2021 World Championship, 100T also brought him along to bootcamp in Europe. He was the highest-ranked bootcamper on the EUW server at one point, and was also the first to reach top 50 in the region’s solo queue ladder. His potential is limitless, and it helps that he’ll be learning from one of the best top laners in the world, Ssumday.
If he makes the most of his opportunity, there’s a chance he could become the starting top laner for the team in the near future. But for now, he’ll need to work harder than before to take on the likes of other premier LCS top laners like Summit, Huni, Bwipo, and Impact.
It’s surprising to see Kenvi not on a starting LCS roster for 2022, considering he’s one of the most talented resident players in NA. But it makes sense that 100 Thieves would not give him up. In a region where there is only three native junglers in the LCS, the 19-year-old would be a future gem for any organization.
Young, smart, and aggressive, Kenvi was the best jungler in the Academy scene over this past year. He had the second-most kills in the league in the 2021 Summer Split, a 70.3-percent kill participation percentage, and even had a sky-high average of 503 damage to champions per minute, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
He has a plethora of champions in his arsenal, like Lee Sin, Xin Zhao, Rumble, Diana, and Kindred, and is not afraid to challenge other players. But he has improved in knowing when to engage, instead of going in without planning things out with his teammates. It’s only a matter of time before Kenvi finds a team in the LCS, even if it isn’t with the Thieves.
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