With the regular season of the Spring 2017 split coming to a close. many find themselves looking towards the end of split awards, and the highly coveted Most Valuable Player award leads as the most hyped up. While the MVP is typically awarded to a midlaner, this spring, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has performed at a level that puts him deep in the conversation for the award. Although there is a seemingly inherent bias towards mid lane players in League of Legends, Hauntzer has had a split worthy of taking the role bias and stomping on it.
During the split, Hauntzer has played 11 unique champions, and among those champions, there is a fair mix of both tanks and damage dealers. The meta this split, especially in the early weeks, highlighted carry junglers and ranged poke-oriented supports. Due to this, it meant teams were more likely to select tank champions in the top lane to round out their team compositions.
With the release of the new Courage of the Colossus keystone mastery, tanks with hard crowd control were very strong. Hauntzer was primarily put onto Maokai and Nautilus to fill this tank role. Hauntzer made the most of these two champions by not only engaging and peeling for teammates in fights, but Hauntzer’s roams and teleport plays have also been strong this split. In the week 1 matchup against Immortals, Hauntzer roamed down towards the mid lane where he, Svenskeren and Bjergsen dove enemy midlaner, Pobelter, to secure the 6 minute first blood. By grouping up with Svenskeren and roaming mid Hauntzer, was sacrificing time in lane to help Bjergsen gain advantages in the midlane. This allowed Bjergsen to get further ahead of Pobelter, which in turn enabled Bjergsen to then be able to choose whether he would roam and make plays across the map or pressure in Pobelter in an attempt to take his tower.
Hauntzer did this and still was able to maintain a CS lead over Flame at the 10 minute mark. In the week 8 matchup against FlyQuest, Hauntzer made a teleport play to assist his bot lane that changed the outcome of a 5 minute gank from Moon from an almost certain double kill for FlyQuest into TSM, only losing one member and getting a double kill for himself. Now, these plays sure looked nice, but what do impact do they have on the game? By making these plays early in the game, Hauntzer was able to create advantages for not only himself, but for his teammates as well. These roams and teleports made throughout the split contributed to first blood gold, helped teammates gain advantages and subsequently win their lanes. It also got himself ahead of his lane opponent even more, which allowed him the freedom to keep making plays around the map to lock down the victory.
With the cross map plays Hauntzer was making during the split, it would be fair to assume that his laning statistics suffered as a result of him leaving lane frequently. Hauntzer was able to still maintain a positive CS difference at 10 minutes and also lead all top laners in average XP difference at 10 minutes. When compared to Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, the well respected top laner for Cloud 9, there is a substantial difference in the percentage of team gold earned statistic. Hauntzer gets a little over 2% more of his teams gold than Impact does. So, the question is, does Hauntzer do more with the gold he is given? And the answer to that question is yes. Hauntzer leads all LCS top laners with a kill participation percentage of 68.1% and deals a higher percentage of his team’s damage than any other top laner, checking in at 23.3%. Why this is important is it means that Hauntzer is able to contribute more to his team than other top laners, while also managing to stay ahead of them and win lane.
Another metric to look into is total player of the game awards during the split. In the LCK, this is the sole determinant of who is to receive the MVP award. In this category, Hauntzer finished the split with 11 total player of the game awards, putting him in 2nd place, only one award behind the leader Dardoch. With a high impact carry like Bjergsen on his team, for Hauntzer to have earned 11 player of the game award shows how valuable he is to his team.
After Doublelift stepped back from the roster, many thought the shotcalling duties would fall back solely onto mid laner Bjergsen, who had been sharing the task with Doublelift. But fairly early into the split, it was learned that Hauntzer had stepped up and began to take on a larger role in calling along side Bjergsen. While some players' micro level play and personal performances can adversely suffer, Hauntzer has taken his increased role and continued to perform at the highest level in the NA LCS. Whether Hauntzer will be selected as MVP or not is yet to be seen, but his body of work for this split certainly puts him in serious contention for the award.
Photo Credits: Riot Games
Statistical Credits: oracleselixir.com
The author may be found on twitter @xRel1c_