With Riot Games revealing their latest LCS Summer Split 2016 awards — for MVP — theScore esports sat down to break down our votes.
Marcel "Dexter" Feldkamp — Fnatic's Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon
With how Riot decided to patch the game, it turned into a very team oriented meta game. Junglers always play the biggest part of dictating the early game flow and getting a tempo advantage through either ganks or pressuring the other team. In my opinion it was very easy to determine who really deserved the MVP award: a jungler.
The two obvious choices for the MVP award in the jungle role are in my opinion Spirit and Kim "Trick" Gang-yun. Trick has been the previous split's MVP and is not showing any sign of slowing down his dominance. But arguably in a far worse position has been Spirit. His atrocious drafts from his team often put him into a really big disadvantage as a jungler because he often had very limited resources to pressure the map and had to force plays to put his team ahead. Teams often decided to just ban two of the most pressuring junglers from Spirit to neutralize him, but sadly his team did not capitalize on such sub-optimal ban choices from the enemy team.
Trick on the other hand had the best bot lane in the entire LCS. Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez and Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen could easily play two-on-three most of the times and were really smart about when to pressure and how but Expect was often not pulling his own weight requiring Trick's assistance to get going.
I put Spirit first because of the enormous weight he had to pull not only for him but also for his team. Even though sometimes it backfired, he was one of the only people showing the willingness to take risks and win the games whereas Trick had an already successful system and laners behind him and could just play his usual pressuring style. I don't want to take away from Trick's achievement or in-game talent but as a Most Valuable Player award I would put slightly more value on Spirit.
Last but not least I put Na "NighT" Gun-woo as my third choice simply because of how hard he carried games for his team in the early split. His performance was very consistent and he did not have any extremely bad games where he would be a liability. I just want to homage a good player performance with this vote even though junglers were clearly the most dominant and important role.
You could even make a case for Martin "Wunder" Hansen as a MVP choice with how far ahead he pulled of other top laners, but that only became clear in the later stages of the split or playoffs.
Honorable mentions: Trick, NighT
Kelsey Moser — G2 Esports' Kim "Trick" Gang-yun
How is Kim "Trick" Gangyun a bad player? That's a much more difficult question to answer. He seems to farm, gank and teamfight more efficiently than almost anyone else in his position. Perhaps I think he may adapt slowly to necessary changes in where he has to position himself on the map, but he does adapt. G2 had difficulty this split figuring out how to play more around side lanes when Ki "Expect" Daehan required more jungle attention, and more carry potential came from the bottom lane, but G2 did adapt, and it kept Trick the star.
When Trick plays, he seems to create time to continue to take the actions he takes, often doubling his opponents' decisions in the early game. His style can be relatively selfish, and these are situations where G2 will fall behind early, but this is where Trick has to prove he's a worthy investment. In most of G2's team fights, that has been the case, but if the meta remains more early game pressure focused, this will be the opportunity to see just how deep this jungler's bag of tricks goes. Based on the Unicorns series, he still has more to show us.
Honorable mentions: NighT, Mikyx
Tim "Magic" Sevenhuysen — Fnatic's Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon
Imagine a world where Rekkles and Yellowstar hadn't thrown away multiple games and multiple points in the standings by making dumb calls in the first five minutes. Imagine a world where Gamsu had rewarded Spirit's attentions more consistently, where Fnatic hadn't been forced into a disruptive late-season roster change. Imagine a world where Fnatic stuck with Kikis instead of randomly trialing Werlyb and giving up a game to Roccat, costing themselves two points.
In this world, Fnatic could have easily finished third, with a shot at second if their late-season match against Splyce had gone differently. Under those circumstances, your perspective on Spirit at the close of the regular season would probably have been very different, despite the fact that Spirit himself would not have changed anything.
And don't mislead yourself by using Fnatic's dud of a quarterfinal to justify criticizing his individual play. This is a regular season award, and was voted on prior to the start of playoffs.
Spirit did virtually everything a jungler can do to be successful. He owned both sides of the jungle, he ganked and tanked and carried, and he did it all despite uncharacteristically poor contributions from all three of his lanes. There's a fair argument to be made that he could have been less selfish, spending less time farming and more time ganking to cover the weaknesses in his teammates' early game play. That argument justifies placing Spirit a spot or two down the MVP rankings, but it does not, in my opinion, justify leaving him off the ballot entirely, and excluding him from all three votes.
If Spirit's performance in the regular season wasn't worth recognizing on a ballot, or if it was completely overshadowed by arbitrary win-rate cutoffs, then either I'm crazy, or the world is.
Trick was my runner up, and a worthy alternative. While he didn't carry as hard as Spirit, and had much better help from his teammates, he deserves a lot of credit for being the main pivot point of G2's team concept.
I rounded out my MVP ballot with a third jungler, Trashy. He was the biggest standout on Splyce, in my opinion. He created so much value with small, smart, unnoticed contributions, and was glue that brought Splyce together to become greater than the sum of their parts.
Honorable mentions: Trick, Trashy