In both the NA and EU LCS, it's a big year for fresh faces. With players like MikeYeung making waves in North America, and the young roster of Misfits heading straight to Group Stage of Worlds, we sat down with EU shoutcaster and analyst Martin "Deficio" Lynge for his take on rookie versus veteran talent in League of Legends.
We’re seeing a lot of fresh teams and faces reach great debut success. You can see it in players like MikeYeung, or in entire teams like Misfits. As the league develops, how is it changing it terms of balancing new talent with veterans?
I think now that the set up around teams is more coordinated, it's actually easier as a veteran to keep playing and keep the motivation going because now there are schedules you are following, you can try to adapt your life around it, and there might be even more value of you actually teaching your younger players something, now that people have gaming houses and everything. I don't see the same situation that we had a few years ago where it felt like as soon as a player played for one or two years, if he wasn't a superstar, he was just gone and a new player was taking his place. The job security was horrible and you would constantly see new names. Back in season 3 when I was playing, some of those names disappeared after a split or two and never returned.
Now it is more established that the veterans have a place. But there's also still room for the new rookies to come in and learn, but we don't have a full rookie lineup all of sudden where none of the players have ever played competitive before. We typically get a mix of the two, which is good.
I feel that we are currently getting rid of the people who either weren't good enough or didn't work hard enough for it, and they will eventually slowly fade out and the rookies will take their spot.
Because this transition is very slow, after one split it feels like they are almost an established name already and you don't even think about them as a 17 year old kid anymore. I look at Hans Sama and I think, "Oh he's been here for a year! I followed him in challenger, yeah he's played for a long time".
And then I realize, "Oh he turned 18 today, oh shit he's still really young" but it still feels like he's already established here. So there's actually room for a new rookie to now come in that we can look at and say, "This is a new guy coming into the scene and Hans Sama, he's a veteran now". It can be that fast.
Luckily if you like the really good old players who try super hard, they are still around and they still do a good job. Look at Mithy or sOAZ. sOAZ had one of his best splits in many years and Mithy in playoffs was the best support in Europe and he's been playing since Season 3.
There's definitely still room for the veterans to be here and players like Mithy and sOAZ are good examples. The leadership and the experience they bring to the table that they can share with others is what makes some of these rookies learn faster than if they join a completely new team where no one has really picked up that much experience beforehand.
We have very unexpected, young finalist in Misfits: they have a lot of new talent in their ranks and they've already booked a direct ticket to the group stage.
Do you think the lack of experience will hurt them in the international stage? Will they be another Splyce, who went in with a lot of rookies and under performed, or are they different thanks to the veteran leadership in POE and IgNar?
For Misfits, one of the things that's hard for a new team is utilizing the boot camp beforehand and getting really good practice where you learn a lot, because boot camping is all about learning. It's not about perfecting anything, it's about learning from what everyone else is doing, figuring out what is the correct way to play the game according to the teams you're playing against, figure out whatever the meta is and just learn as much as possible.
Misfits already have experience doing that, because before they came into the LCS they went to Korea and boot camped for over a month. It's where they found KaKAO, it's where PowerOfEvil joined the team. So Hans Sama has tried it, IgNar has tried it, Alphari has tried it, Hussain, the coach, Empyre, the analyst, have tried it. They actually know what to do in a boot camp, and that is something Splyce didn't know when they did it. So I think that is definitely an advantage for Misfits over the original Splyce lineup that went.
Obviously on the big stage, if you've never played against a team like RNG before and you just get smacked around in the early game, then sure, maybe your inexperience will actually hurt you there. But there's also the chance that the Misfits can actually prepare well enough through their boot camp and hopefully they have some contacts in terms of international teams they can play and just actually show up really prepared.
I have so much respect for the coaching staff on this team. I think there are some really smart people who also work extremely hard on how to draft properly, how to play the game properly, so I think they will be better prepared than Splyce was.
Is it enough? It depends on the group. If they get in a group with some teams with insane individual talent, I can see Misfits not getting early advantages and therefore struggle. If they get in a group though with some slower teams, then I can see Misfits actually do really well.
A lot of it comes down to that draft and in how much they improve. But generally the best thing about Worlds for them is that these rookies, they will be obviously here for another four to five, six years. The fact that they will get this much experience this early on is huge, they just played a Final in front of eleven thousand screaming fans, they are now going to go to Worlds in China playing against all these teams. There is so much experience being picked up that hopefully next split they can utilize that and not in the way that we've seen from Splyce for example, where they didn't really manage to use what they learned to become a better team, since they didn't get past quarters in Spring Split. I think if Misfits keeps the lineup together and the coaching staff together and they learn a lot from Worlds, they will once again be a very serious contender in Europe.
Images via LoL Esports Flickr