"There is no talent in NA" - Addressing one of the most damaging lies in e-sports, Pt. 1
The origin of the myth and its impact
Ever since LoL has shifted from a North American dominated game to a globalized one, many North American teams have been seemingly reluctant to give rising North American talents a shot at the professional leagues. When CLG returned from the World Championships, it quickly became apparent that the team needed to make significant roster adjustments if they wanted to compete. The opposing styles of HotshotGG and Voyboy had left the team extremely weak and this was reflected in their poor performance at the World Championships. Rather than try out North American jungle players, CLG stated that they did not think there was significant jungle talent in North America. To become a World Class team, they would instead role swap star support Chauster to the jungle and bring in Korean AD Carry Locodoco to fill the support role. (For newer fans, please check the title. This is not ESEX.)
Ever since, the belief that North America lacks talented players has haunted the professional scene. Oftentimes, famous teams would look overseas or take already proven players rather than trying out local talents, oftentimes to mixed results. Curse Gaming, CLG, and TSM all opted to look overseas to fill roster holes rather than try out local talents. (Although TSM did replace Xpecial with Gleeb, the North American rookie was eventually replaced by Korean veteran Lustboy.) Likewise, Dignitas picked up tried and true names in ZionSpartan, Shipthur, and CruzertheBruzer rather than trying out rising stars such as CaliTrlolz.
The idea that the North American scene lacks talent has been similarly parroted by fans. After Amazing and Dexter left their teams to return to Europe, most fans seemed to think that the two teams were doomed to failure. In particular, fans lamented that the two "foreigner slots" for TSM have already been allocated to stars Bjergsen and Lustboy.
NA has historically not suffered from a talent shortage
A quick look at past results shows that the idea of North America lacking talent has been historically false. Let's take a brief look at the history "new" talents coming into North America (with new talent defined as players who were not well known in Season 2)
- KiWiKid tries out and recieves the Dignitas top lane position. Although KiWiKid would eventually become infamous as "The Skeleton King" for leading the LCS in deaths for two consecutive seasons, his initial play on Dignitas was met with great praise. In particular, his reliable Singed and versatile Kayle brought Dignitas several key wins in the early part of the LCS.
- Counter Logic Gaming holds try-outs for new support position. The leaders included former TSM.Evo support Nhat Nguyen, former Team FeaR ADC aphromoo, and a little known support named Bloodwater whose excellent shotcalling and playmaking gave him the nickname "Godwater". Eventually CLG decided to take aphromoo on the basis that his strong mechanical play and bot lane intuition would be a perfect fit for Doublelift's aggressive playstyle. At the same time, CLG would bench longstanding mid laner bigfatlp for versatile solo queue star Link.
- NA LCS Season 3 Qualifiers, new teams such as Vulcun Gaming and Good Game University first qualify for the LCS. Most of these teams were a mix of old teams with new players. Notably, Vulcun Gaming featured several CLG.Black members and was formerly well-known as Aphromoo's team. Likewise, GGU was a mash-up of old Team Dyamic lineups but also featured a new talent, Shiphtur, in the mid lane. (This team would eventually become Team Coast.) The other new LCS lineups included a mostly new compLexity team (also known as The Brunch Club) and Team MRN. A notable team that failed to qualify was a stacked Cloud9 lineup featuring Hai in the jungle with Nientonsoh mid and WildTurtle AD Carry. Hai's overaggressive base race call would cost his team the game against Team MRN and the promo tournament favorites would subsequently disband.
- GGU elects to replace support I Am Anjo with Azure Gaming's Bloodwater. Bloodwater would eventually leave GGU to replace veteran Muffinqt on Team Vulcun. After adding Bloodwater, Team Vulcun would begin taking games off of top teams and finished with a 3rd place finish at the playoffs. Likewise, GGU would finish in 2nd place after replacing Bloodwater with Blitzcrank afficianado Daydreamin.
- TSM would replace longstanding AD Carry Chaox with Cloud9's AD Carry WildTurtle. TSM would immediately jump from an average 4th place performance to one of the strongest teams in the LCS. They would finish the regular season with the first seed and claim first place once again at the Regional tournament.
- Cloud9, featuring an all-new line-up with top laner Balls, jungler Meteos, and AD Carry Sneaky would 3-0 compLexity on their way to an unprecedented 25 wins & 13 game winning-streak in the LCS.
- Vulcun jungler Xmithie grows into one of the best junglers in North America (and arguably the world.) His low economy style and focus on the mid lane would transform XDG from a fringe contender into the second best regular season team in North America. Although Vulcun would only claim third place in the playoffs, Xmithie, mancloud, and Bloodwater all would establish themselves as top talents in their roles.
- With the end of Season 3, Edward would leave Team Curse to return to Gambit Gaming. Curse would go through multiple supports to try and fill the gap, eventually settling on rising talent Bunny Fufuu. His infamous Thresh plays and aggressive initiations would help Curse finish fourth place in a somewhat strong field of contenders. Although he was eventually dropped down to the amateur scene, he has continued his strong play on Curse Academy.
- EG moves to America and picks up top laner InnoX and mid laner Pobelter. Although both players have struggled in the LCS, Pobelter developed much greater consistency heading to the end of Season 4 and EG looks poised to contend for a top spot next season.
- XDG support Bloodwater is benched due to internal conflicts. He is replaced with Canadian support Sheep who has gone on to make many impressive plays in the Challenger scene for Team Coast.
- TSM replaces Xpecial with amateur support Gleeb. Although Gleeb made strides as a mechanical support and a shotcaller, he was eventually benched in favor of Korean veteran Lustboy.
- Evil Geniuses bench fan favorite yellowpete in favor of young AD Carry Altec. Altec has quickly become one of the leaders of his role in North America.
- North American amateur team Team8, headlined by TheOddOne's brother maplestreet and top lane carry CaliTrololz qualify for the North American LCS over compLexity Gaming in a nailbiting 3-2. The team contains all new North American talents (PorpoisePops, Slooshi8, and Dodo8 in addition to the aforementioned players.)
To me, it's pretty clear that North America has historically had a great amount of talent. Rather than a lack of talent, it seems like North American teams are simply strangely reluctant to try out new talents. New talent has definitely bolstered LCS squads or even succeeded all on their own. C9 and Vulcun have been two of the most successful LCS teams of the past 2 years, even including Vulcun's recent and disappointing implosion as XDG. At the same time, North American stars have also risen to a World Class level. Dig's Shiphtur, C9's Meteos & Sneaky, EG's Altec are all stars who have risen to the top after LCS experience.
There have been so many missed opportunities for teams over the last few years. Just as an example, imagine if CLG entered Season 3 with Meteos or Xmithie in the jungle instead of Chauster. It seems very ignorant for teams to completely dismiss NA talent when history has shown that it clearly exists in North America. Right now, stars like Curse Academy's Hauntzer, Coast's LOD and DontMashMe, Denial's Liquid Inori, and iKennyU are just waiting for an opportunity on the big stage. The problem isn't that there isn't talent, it's that nobody is giving them a chance. Think of it this way: before Faker became a World Champion, he was just a solo queue player.
In Part 2 of this Article, I will go through the main issues hindering the rise of new NA talents.
It can be seen here: www.goldper10.com/article/271