Except for All-Stars, the 2016 League of Legends season has ended. Teams have withdrawn from Intel Extreme Masters en-masse because forward-thinking organizations are already considering roster changes for 2017, and vacations have been declared. All-Stars remains the final outpost, the party that brings closure, levity and celebrates the season.
When voting for All-Stars representatives for each region, fans don’t just consider the body of work the players of their choice provided over the year. They put emphasis on recent form at Worlds, history, charisma, and general gut feeling. The players who go to All-Stars won’t always be the ones who performed the best that year, but they deserve acknowledgement as well. Garnering votes from fans is a skill unto itself as the fanbase will favor players who have done well internationally and devoted time to cultivating a media presence.
To close the season of the European League of Legends Championship Series, I thought it only fair to reward both the best performers of 2016 and describe the difference in best performers and the All-Stars votes I cast. Many overlap, but there's some divergence due to All-Stars restrictions and the way I think about them.
For the best performing players, I value perceived individual game impact, role-based decision-making, versatility and consistency throughout the year very highly. For All-Stars votes, I value very similar criteria, but since international performances or immediacy (play toward the end of the summer split) are weighted heavily by fans, that will also be considered. All-Stars choices are also restricted by a two player per team limit, while player of the year awards are not. Some factors like storyline for the player throughout the season are also considered in the case of tie-breaker decisions.
2016 Award: Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu
Odoamne’s sheer consistency in lane and value to H2k-Gaming — he's willing to play both a carry and a supportive role — as well as his overall impressive showing at the World Championship, make him an easy choice. While Odoamne struggled with teamfight engage synergy with his teammates at times, and he over-extended in lane enough in the summer for me to give Martin "Wunder" Hansen the top of the regular split award, Odoamne was never far behind.
Odoamne managed to remain near the top of the EU LCS all season. Even with H2K’s struggles in semifinals, Odoamne made himself reliable overall. I’ve already attested to Odoamne’s values and his flaws extensively, so I won’t belabor it here.
All-Stars Vote: Odoamne
Odoamne hits all the check-marks for both top of the season and the All-Stars vote.
2016 Award: Kim "Trick" Gangyun
As with Odoamne, Trick remained at the top of the competition for his region. The efficiency of his actions during the EU LCS regular season made him one of the strongest junglers in the world at farming, ganking and warding. Some of this synergy with his team suffered, and G2’s lack of team play cost them at Worlds significantly.
Even at Worlds, however, Trick at least had impressive mechanical showings and applied pressure top lane well. Going forward, G2 will do well to retain their asset and work on his ability to coordinate overall with multiple lanes.
All-Stars Vote: Trick
Trick’s form definitely suffered in the second week of the World Championship, and with Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski’s stunning international performance, it makes one debate whether he’s worthy of the All-Stars vote. As MVP for both EU LCS splits, however, and domestic showings that easily made him the best all year, Jankos’ final surge will certainly make the future interesting, but it doesn’t edge out Trick for a Barcelona appearance.
2016 Award: Chres "Sencux" Laursen
Unlike top and jungle, there isn’t a clear candidate who performed well all 2016 season. Veteran mid laners retired or struggled, the crop of rookies fumbled to find footing in various metas. Two different rookie mid laners rose in Spring and Summer to take the clear award for the regular split in Luka "PerkZ" Perković and Na "NighT" Gunwoo, but Perkz didn’t grasp the meta well in the summer split and NighT didn’t play in the EU LCS in spring.
Sencux, a third rookie mid laner, struggled with stage fright in the spring split, but made steady improvements throughout the season. Though his laning never dropped jaws, his ability to react and capitalize in the late game as well as his ability to pick up meta champions easily in the summer split rushed him to the top of the short list of mid laners performing well.
Add in a convincing World Championship performance, and Sencux’s steady rise makes him the best mid lane success story of the year. Here’s to an increased rate of improvement for him in 2017.
All-Stars Vote: Sencux
Sencux not only has improving form over time, but the story of finally breaking through his stage fright to make him enigmatic. He’d be an excellent pick to go to Barcelona.
2016 Award: Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen
I’ve gone back and forth all year with the question of Zven or Konstantinos-Napoleon "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou as the best European AD carry. FORG1VEN performs well in milking his laning phase skill and having an impact later in the game, but Zven feels incredibly well-rounded and only slightly bows to FORG1VEN during laning phase, especially considering the synergy with his impressive support, Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez.
Zven performed reasonably well at the World Championship, but not to standard. Contrasting with FORG1VEN’s world class performance and ability to show the strength of his laning internationally, and it almost makes one forget that FORG1VEN hardly played during the EU LCS summer split.
What could be a more intense debate between the values of Zven and FORG1VEN ultimately gets settled by a technicality. But with any luck, next year the war will continue.
All-Stars Vote: FORG1VEN
This is the one vote I cast that won’t match the 2016 Season Award, largely because the restriction of sending only two players per team to All-Stars, but also because fans will heavily weight FORG1VEN’s impressive run in the playoffs of EU LCS summer as well as his Worlds performance. Even if Zven could be sent to All-Stars along with Trick and mithy, there’s a strong case to be made for FORG1VEN receiving the Barcelona vote anyway, and I'm willing to make it.
2016 Award: mithy
I already spoiled this one, but mithy was relatively uncontested in Europe in form this season. Raymond "kaSing" Tsang and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov came close in spring because of kaSing’s roam play, and Hylissang’s versatility, but mithy still excelled overall, and no one could touch him during the summer split.
mithy’s strengths are in synergizing with Zven and the 2v2. Historically, he’s had a good sense for roaming, but some of G2’s one-dimensional style this split made this less obvious. In teamfights, however, mithy can both zone and engage, and when he does roam, he does so efficiently with few moments of indecision.
mithy’s black mark is his lukewarm showing at Worlds and apparent inability to work out an efficient system with Trick, but not even the other World Championship supports outshone him.
All-Stars Vote: mithy
It’s hard to improve upon what I already said. Though mithy’s popularity in the wake of the Origen breakup and a poor Worlds showing likely mean he won’t make the trip to Barcelona, I don’t think I could make a convincing case for a different support this year. Even out of sentiment for his retirement, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim doesn’t earn the check mark.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.