(This is part 2 of a 2 part article. Part one can be found HERE)
Alan 'Kiwikid' Nguyen - Dignitas Support
If there was an award for being the most liked, underperforming player in the LCS then Kiwikid would win for sure. Here’s a player that could be considered one of the worst in his role according to the majority of the fanbase, yet remains a starter for a team that claims to be competing for the top spots. So how does Kiwikid get away with this?
Firstly, the criticism of Kiwikid as a player has reached a point that’s almost absurd. While perhaps starting as legitimate, the way Kiwi is talked about seems to be overblown to the point where people don’t even watch Dignitas games anymore, and just assume that he played badly. While yes, he isn’t the best support player in the LCS, he also isn’t the worst. Regardless, if Dignitas really do claim to be competing for the top spots in the LCS, Kiwi is one of a number of players that need to step up.
This season (or at least this split), Kiwi will be laning with a former OGN AD Carry in CoreJJ. Okay YES, this guy did only play 6 games in OGN and YES, he did lose all of them. Dignitas have been on the edge of mediocrity for a very long time, I can only hope for their fans that if certain players continue to underperform they will make some changes. Kiwikid is on watch for me, while I personally feel that he is a little underrated, you can’t ignore fans, experts and fellow pros when they say that he’s not up to scratch.
Erlend 'Nukeduck' Holm - ROCCAT Mid Lane
Returning to a Summoners Rift near you, fresh out of Riot jail, here comes Nukeduck! The Norwegian suffered a major career setback when Riot deemed him too ‘toxic’ for competitive play and banned him from the scene for 6 months. As a prisoner works out, a banned LoL player returns to solo queue grind to prepare for his comeback into competitive play.
ROCCAT were the ones that decided to jump on the opportunity to sign the player considered by many to be top 3 in his position. Nukeduck had even played at Worlds with the mechanical super team ‘Lemondogs’. While it’s hard to judge a player who hasn’t played competitively for over 6 months, the feeling amongst the upper echelons of the European scene seem to suggest he’s had no problems in finding his form.
2015 is a big year for Nukeduck for a couple of reasons. For one he spent the entire of 2014 stuck either in the Challenger Series or in Riot prison. After the success of 2013, these troubles effectively stalled what could have been his path to greatness and dominance within the region, and possibly the west. The only question is whether or not he is ready to pick up where he left off and return to his position as one of the great EU mid laners.
Konstantinos 'Forg1ven' Tzortziou - SK Gaming AD Carry
Another one back from an Esports prison of a different kind. Forg1ven had been locked into a contractual obligation to not participate in the Summer split after leaving Copenhagen Wolves. In that time the Greek player has made claims that he wouldn’t have signed for any team unless he believed they were capable of making Worlds. Apparently the SK Gaming lineup of Fredy/Svenskeren/Fox/nRated convinced him of that possibility.
Forg1ven was always known as the mechanical asset of Copenhagen Wolves, and when he left is was clear that the team lost their key player. These contractual complications meant that Forg1ven had to sit out the Summer split, playing for Greek side ‘Different Dimension’. When the time came to return to the gloried lands it initially looked like he’d be making a switch to sunny California to link up with Curse Gaming, however when the team, now known as Liquid, chose to go with Piglet, Forg1ven was left without a home.
SK Gaming quickly jumped on the suddenly free agent and snapped him up to replace the departing Candypanda. It seemed as though Forg1ven was confirmed in the role rather quickly so it seems as though he still has the killer edge he had while on Copenhagen Wolves. It is crucial that Forg1ven performs in this LCS split, especially after claiming that he would only play for a team that is good enough in his eyes to make Worlds. You can’t make statements like that and underperform, but I get the feeling that this is one player who will back his words up with performances.
Ryu 'Ryu' Sang-Wook - H2K Gaming Mid Lane
The fall of Ryu has been a widely documented story of woe. The once great player very well could have been the best in the world had it not been for the prophet Faker himself. Ryu was looking for salvation at Millenium with fellow countryman H0R0, which unfortunately never came as the team was knocked out of the expansion tournament. A stint with ROCCAT at IEM also failed to unearth the power this player once held. He now finds himself replacing Febiven at H2K Gaming, in what could be his last chance to take back any of his former glory.
Ryu and co. are against the odds as the EU LCS shapes up for its most competitive season yet. The team was easily able to dispatch of their challenger counterparts, albeit when Febiven was part of the lineup. Every member of the lineup will be experiencing their first full LCS split, so lack of experience could be a factor in their performance, though Ryu is one member who certainly does not lack experience on the big stage.
So why is it Ryu’s time to shine? Many will say he’s already had his time, and that his recent performances are indicative of his inevitable decline into mediocrity. This is effectively the last chance Ryu has to prove that he is capable of achieving anywhere close to the level he once was. Just picture the scene if he returned to form, the Ryu that stood up to Faker and challenged him when he first broke out, the Ryu that would have dispatched of any Western player that faced him. Instead we have the Ryu that struggled to face little known Spanish mid laner xPepiinero. Here’s to hoping.
Lucas 'Santorin' Larsen - TSM Jungler
Another honourary North American makes it on as the final entry to the list. When TSM and Amazing decided to call it a day, many fingers were pointed to Santorin as the replacement. Which is strange, considering the fact that the majority of fans weren’t happy with how Amazing worked out, you’d have thought they’d be against using another European imported jungler. They made the move, and now Santorin is set to join the team with the most *cough* ...passionate...fanbase in the NA scene.
Much like the European LCS, North America has stepped up for 2015 with more team looking to challenge for the top spot. The 2 way battle between TSM and Cloud 9 is over as Team Liquid rises up as a new challenger, along with many other squads with unknown factors that could make a surprise push for the top. TSM were disappointing at IEM, but it can still be said that they brag top 3 players in every position, though in the jungle that would be harder to say, considering Santorin’s lack of LCS experience.
The step up from challenger to LCS is always tough, even more so if you’re being thrown onto a team expected to challenge for the top spot. The pressure is definitely on for the young Dane, as we’ve seen before what the fanbase does to players who underperform. Amazing took the brunt of the social media abuse when TSM failed to perform at Worlds, and there’s no doubt that Santorin would receive no special treatment if he were to underperform.
If you enjoyed this content feel free to follow the author or like his Facebook page!