With the announcement of the Summer 2016 NA LCS All-Pro Team, Riot Games have released an amalgamation of the community's choices for top players in each position.
In the interest of transparency, we had staff for theScore esports that voted break down their choices and their reasoning. In NA, Emily Rand and Tim Sevenhuysen submitted ballots.
Editor's Note: Tim Sevenhuysen voted on behalf of Oracle's Elixir, not theScore esports.
Emily Rand: When considering a Most Valuable Player award, the first thing that comes to mind is the meaning of value. More specifically, how valuable of a piece each player is on their team and how many resources the team gives them to succeed. Above all, I value consistent play and efficiency.
Although all of my choices are supported by specific statistics, I weight the player’s role on their team and how well, or poorly, that team would do if said player was replaced by another. There is no statistic for “wins above replacement” in League of Legends — there are too many variables to compute and consider — but these are my thoughts on which players, by position, have been the most valuable to their respective teams in the 2016 North American League Championship Series Summer regular season.
Most of these end up coming down to an eye test, comparative value, and what I’m estimating their teams would be like without them, for which there is no tried and true method available. My end goal in writing this is not to coax agreement out of the reader, but to provide insight as to why I chose who I did, and supply a sort of grading rubric and consistency behind what I value in a League of Legends MVP. Again, those chosen may not be the absolute best players in their role in terms of mechanical skill and personal development, but the most important cog in their respective team’s machine by position.
Tim Sevenhuysen: My criteria for picking the All-Pro teams vary somewhat by position, but in general, I value players who understand what their team needs from them, and execute well within their role. That sometimes means high-resource damage dealers; sometimes it means playmakers; sometimes it means quieter, more supportive players who cover the risks being taken by their teammates. My personal preferences usually trend towards players who play cleanly and consistently, keeping their mistake count down, and those who know how to fit into a team concept, not just trying to solo carry.
NA LCS All-Pro Team, Summer 2016 Edition
Rand — Cloud9’s Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong
Hauntzer has had a breakout season for Team SoloMid. So why am I choosing Impact?
Impact has done for C9 whatever Hauntzer has done for TSM and then some. He receives the second-lowest percentage of his team’s gold (20.5 percent), the second-lowest CS after 15 minutes (23.9 percent) of any NA top laner and still manages to pull off game changing moments, especially on the likes of Gnar and Shen. He controls C9’s teamfights more than any other player on the team, allowing Jensen and Sneaky to clean up their opponents and, especially in the case of Jensen, layer crowd control of their own. Impact has made visible differences, transforming what looked like C9 losses into C9 wins thanks to timely Teleports and teamfight crowd control.
That being said, I don’t disagree with the choice of Hauntzer from others. This was my toughest choice of all the individual awards for me. Individually Hauntzer is already a better top laner than Impact is currently, but C9 needs Impact specifically more than TSM needs Hauntzer, and that, in the end, was my deciding factor.
Honorable Mentions: TSM’s Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell, Apex’s Jeon "Ray" Ji-won
Sevenhuysen — Cloud9’s Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong
Both Impact and Hauntzer performed well this split, but while Hauntzer caught more eyes with his damage output and team fighting, he was also working with more resources and a flashier champion pool, playing half of his games on Irelia and Swain.
Impact, meanwhile, was given very few resources and put in 36 games on tanks (Trundle, Gnar, Maokai, Shen). Impact’s relatively low visibility and smaller DPMs shouldn’t count against him; in my opinion, his effectiveness with so few resources made him more valuable to Cloud9’s success than Hauntzer is to TSM’s. Meanwhile, Huni continues to be as flamboyant as ever, with all of the highs and lows his play style entails, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Honorable Mentions: TSM’s Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell, Immortals' Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon
Rand — Immortals’ Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin
Reignover is the type of player who makes me wish that there was a WAR statistic in league, simply due to the fact that I’d be curious to see just what an Immortals team without Reignover would look like, and how many more games they would presumably lose.
The Immortals this split have been a team on a precipice, consistently pushing the boundaries of recklessness before usually eeking out a win. Reignover has transformed opponents’ dives into successful Immortals turret holds and has a cool head under pressure, grounding more reckless members of Immortals like WildTurtle and Huni. Reignover isn’t Immortals, but he binds their individual players together, sets up their games with strong vision, and has the power to turn a single teamfight into an Immortals win.
Honorable Mentions: CLG’s Jake "Xmithie" Puchero, TSM’s Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen
Sevenhuysen — Immortals’ Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin
Even if Reignover wasn’t quite as good this split as in spring, he’s still a tier above the rest of the junglers in North America. He’s a more consistent playmaker than Svenskeren or Meteos, has better map control and pressure than Santorin, and has better situational awareness and adaptability than Dardoch or Inori. Svenskeren comes in second because of improvements to his playmaking, but I’m worried that when it comes to international play he’s going to get out-pressured in the early game. Santorin may be a controversial third-team pick, but he overtook Dardoch for me because of his low mistake count and stronger vision game, while doing his best to carry a weak team.
Honorable Mentions: TSM’s Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen, NRG's Lucas "Santorin" Larsen
Rand — Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
A TSM without Bjergsen is now unimaginable, and he’s had a stellar season this past split. His teamfight prowess on every champion he plays allow for aggressive dives from jungler Svenskeren, forgive AD carry Doublelift's occasional reckless positioning errors and keep a fight in TSM’s favor every step of the way. He also does all this and more with a lesser amount of his team’s resources than other mids in the region — he's sixth of the ten starting NA mids in CS share after 15 minutes. He's seventh of all NA mids in percentage of team's gold.
Queue up any TSM VOD and you’ll see how Bjergsen elevates TSM once it comes time for them to skirmish. His prowess allows for their aggression to go unpunished, and binds the team together en route to a probable fifth NA title.
Honorable Mentions: C9’s Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, Immortals’ Eugene "Pobelter" Park
Sevenhuysen — Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
Bjergsen is a complete no-brainer. His laning flows seamlessly into his roaming, and his plays into the side lanes set up Doublelift and Hauntzer for success while helping Svenskeren get into the enemy jungle. Bjergsen has made every player on the TSM roster look like the best in their role. The decision between Pobelter and Jensen was a tough one, but Pobelter was more consistent and did his job with fewer resources.
Honorable Mentions: Immortals’ Eugene "Pobelter" Park, C9’s Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen
Rand — Cloud9’s Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi
With many others naming Doublelift as not only their AD carry MVP but their overall league MVP, I suspect this pick will be just as, if not more, contentious as my choice of Impact over Hauntzer. Once again it comes down to what each of these players do for their respective teams. When communication breaks down on C9, it’s Impact or Sneaky who save teamfights that lead to a C9 victory.
Is Cloud9 as good of a team as TSM? No. They’re actually a worse version of TSM on the whole — a collection of strong individual talents that, unlike the 2016 summer TSM, still have problems forming a consistently cohesive unit. Jensen is a phenomenal mid laner, but he’s not quite at Bjergsen’s level and doesn’t bring the team together in the same way that Bjergsen does for TSM. Therefore, the burden falls on individuals like Sneaky to transform teamfights into C9 wins. Sneaky is smart and cunning with an uncanny ability to deal consistent amounts of damage while staying alive in and out of lane. He’s maintained this level of consistency throughout the season, even as the team rotated his supports not only between series but alternating between games within the same series.
Sneaky is rarely a liability on his team and, much like Impact, I think they’d lose far more games if he was replaced by another player, even if that player was Doublelift.
Honorable Mentions: TSM’s Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, Benjamin "LOD" deMunck
Sevenhuysen — Team SoloMid's Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng
Doublelift is going to receive MVP votes, partly for his mechanics and damage output, partly because he gave away fewer free deaths than he used to — thanks to Biofrost sitting in his back pocket most of the time — and partly because he’s become the team’s shot caller, a title that holds great mystical value. He absolutely deserves to be the first-team AD carry, regardless of whether he is or isn’t TSM’s MVP. Sneaky and WildTurtle round out my list, Sneaky because of his effectiveness as a secondary carry despite getting relatively little of the team’s farm, and WildTurtle because, boy, that guy can put out some damage.
Honorable Mentions: C9’s Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi and Immortals' Jason "WildTurtle" Tran
Rand — Team SoloMid's Vincent "Biofrost" Wang
After the failed TSM YellOwStaR experiment, the TSM support role was a desirable yet tricky position. YellOwStaR and Doublelift were obviously not on the same page for the vast majority of the 2016 NA LCS Spring split and their struggles to find a cohesive lane dynamic affected the greater team dynamic as a whole. Very few players could have stepped into this position — even with TSM’s strong spring playoff run — without trepidation or slight hesitation, nevermind a rookie player.
Yet that’s exactly what Biofrost did. TSM apparently didn’t need an all-star veteran support in their lineup to bring their team together. All it took was a cool-headed rookie willing to grow, adapt and listen. Team dynamic is a finicky, oft-impossible thing to interpret outside of a team itself. There’s no telling what exactly makes Biofrost work where others did not, but his growth throughout the split has been a treat to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing him and TSM in the playoffs.
Honorable Mentions: CLG’s Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black, Immortals’ Adrian "Adrian" Ma
Sevenhuysen — Immortals' Adrian "Adrian" Ma
Reignover’s jungle control may be the Immortals’ heart and soul, but he couldn’t do it so effectively without Adrian’s unmatched vision game and supportive play. Adrian places 39 percent more wards than aphromoo, 30 percent more than Biofrost, and his use of Soraka and Karma perfectly enables the Immortals’ forward-moving team identity. Yes, aphromoo is a shot caller and a stronger playmaker, and that’s why he’s on my list. Yes, Biofrost has done everything TSM has asked of him, even impressing me with one Alistar game that proved he can do more than just walk around feeding Doublelift shields and heals. But for me, Adrian’s all-around level of play has been higher.
Honorable Mentions: CLG’s Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black, TSM's Vincent "Biofrost" Wang