The 2022 LCK Spring Split starts tomorrow, Jan. 12, and 10 teams are ready to battle it out for the title.
Korea is one of the most dominant regions in League of Legends esports and there are some offseason narratives that should make the upcoming Spring Split exciting for fans. After winning several Worlds titles and coming in as the runner-up at last year’s World Championship, the Korean teams will be looking to go all out this year.
Some of the questions heading into this season will be if Gen.G’s superteam can dominate as many expect, if DWG KIA’s new roster additions can help them reclaim the Worlds throne, or if T1’s young team can make bigger strides under the quality leadership of Faker, as witnessed at Worlds 2021.
LCK group stage matches are best-of-three series and the top six teams qualify for the playoffs. There should be plenty of cutthroat competition in this region, but some players, in particular, made a significant impact last year.
Here are just a few of the LCK players you should keep an eye on during the 2022 LCK season.
Top lane: Rascal (KT Rolster)
Even though Gen.G fell short of winning the LCK in 2021, Rascal’s impressive performances in the top lane caught the attention of spectators across the globe. He had a phenomenal performance as a top laner in both LCK splits, where he remained the player with the most kills (113 and 140) and maintained a strong KDA of 3.1 and 3.8, respectively, according to League stats site Oracle’s Elixir. His aggressive playstyle in the early game, vast champion pool, and incredible game sense to outplay enemies are qualities that make him special. Rascal’s champion pool mostly consisted of Camille, Renekton, and Lee Sin last year. But he didn’t shy away from bringing out quirky champion picks to surprise his opponents.
Gen.G did well internationally and lost a close series in the Worlds semifinals to EDG, the current world champions. Rascal was a big reason for their success last year, though, performing brilliantly on the international stage. After Worlds, he moved from Gen.G to KT Rolster and he’s the oldest player on that team with a lot of potential. This year, viewers will keep an eye on him to see if he can continue to produce one-vs-two outplays in the LCK.
Honorable mention: Doran (Gen.G)
Doran has been one of the best top laners in the LCK for quite some time now—and he performed phenomenally last year. Typically, viewers would assume that a top laner would have plenty of fancy solo kills and outplays to their name. But Doran is much more than that. He’s a complete team player and the team doesn’t have to invest many resources into him.
Doran makes sacrificial plays and puts his team above everything else. Apart from being a team player, he does well in counter top lane matchups as well. Last year, his most popular champion picks in the LCK were Gnar, Gragas, Irelia, and many more. He’s also known for sneaky objective steals in the Korean league, like his Baron steal with a Gragas ultimate against Hanwha Life and Rift Herald steal against DRX with a Gnar boomerang.
While on KT Rolster, he soared high when he produced the third-most kills (135) of any top laner in 2021 LCK Summer Split, according to Oracle’s Elixir. In 2022, he’ll be playing for Gen.G with an incredibly strong team to complement his playstyle.
Jungle: Canyon (DWG KIA)
Don’t let his appearance fool you. The friendly “polar bear” is a literal mastermind in the jungle.
Canyon is arguably the best jungler in the world right now due to his impeccable gank timings, sense of teamwork, and a lot more. DWG KIA won the world championship in 2020 and the jungler hasn’t looked back since. In combination with the excellent players on DK, his jungling patterns are unparalleled. His champion pool is versatile and he’s always ready to pick an off-meta champ to surprise his opponents. In 2021, Canyon boasted the highest number of kills (55) and a KDA of 5.4 at Worlds as a jungler, according to Oracle’s Elixir. He excels at finding picks on the enemy team, which helps him snowball matches. His prominent champion picks were Graves, Qiyana, Hecarim, and more.
In 2022, Canyon is sticking with the DK roster. The org’s revamped lineup features several changes, but Canyon should play the role of a veteran on the team and continue to impress the world.
Honorable mention: Peanut (Gen.G)
Peanut has been one of the most underrated junglers in the LCK but has earned some credit for plenty of reasons. His gank timings and map awareness are tremendous. His champion pool is small compared to other junglers in the league, but he’s skilled at the champs he plays on stage. His champion pool included Hecarim, Diana, and more in 2021. His performance peaked in the 2021 LCK Summer Split when he had the most kills (135) at his position with a massive KDA of 4.8, according to Oracle’s Elixir, overshadowing all of the other junglers in the LCK.
His impressive streak of performances landed him a spot on Gen.G’s superteam this year after spending the past season with Nongshim RedForce. Fans should expect to see more of his remarkable strategies this year.
Mid lane: ShowMaker (DWG KIA)
ShowMaker is just a no-brainer for the top mid laner in the LCK right now because he dominates every match he plays. Whether he’s getting a stylish solo kill or being the main anchor of a teamfight in clutch moments, ShowMaker is always in the headlines.
The 21-year-old superstar is famous for his Zoe and Syndra plays in the LCK. He’s known for single-handedly turning teamfights, making him a valuable asset for any team. At Worlds last year, he had the most kills and assists (75/125) of any mid laner and the highest KDA of 7.4, according to Oracle’s Elixir, which shows what he’s capable of doing on the international stage.
He won Worlds 2020 with DWG KIA and lost in the finals of Worlds 2021 against EDG. Thus, he’ll likely be hungry to capture even more titles this year with a slightly revamped DK roster.
Honorable mention: Chovy (Gen.G)
The LCK is famous for big names in the mid lane, such as Faker, ShowMaker, Bdd, and more. But when people think of a prodigy mid laner, Chovy is one name that comes to mind.
His mechanical prowess is truly magnificent. He always plays the role of the carry on the team and makes sure that his squad crosses the finishing line. He plays a variety of champions, like Yone, Viktor, and more. Chovy also got a pentakill with his Akali against KT Rolster in the 2021 LCK Summer Split. In terms of statistics, he had the most kills (157) of any mid laner and a KDA of 5.4 in the 2021 LCK Spring Split, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
Chovy’s biggest burden was that he always had to carry his team or make amazing plays to put his former teams on his back. But now that he’s on Gen.G, he should get some much-deserved support from the talented team around him and have the chance to unleash his true form.
AD carry: Ruler (Gen.G)
Ruler is entering his fourth year with Gen.G and he’s been in tremendous form recently. He’s always been consistent with his plays in the bottom lane.
Ruler has a small champion pool, but his mastery of the champions that he plays is incredible. His Kai’Sa is famous, alongside champions like Aphelios and Tristana. In fact, he secured a pentakill against Fredit BRION in the 2021 LCK Spring Split with Kai’Sa. His ability to carry matches and find the important kills during a chaotic teamfight makes him one of a kind. Ruler had the most kills (183) of any ADC during the 2021 LCK Summer Split, according to Oracle’s Elixir. His performance at Worlds 2021 was impressive and he played a huge role in Gen.G’s semifinal run.
Gen.G overhauled its entire roster this offseason and just kept Ruler. With a new superteam surrounding him, viewers should keep an eye out for Ruler in the bottom lane this year.
Honorable mention: Gumayusi (T1)
Gumayusi has a lot of expectations on his shoulders entering the 2022 LCK season. During the 2021 LCK splits, his performance was decent considering some of the plays he made while sharing the ADC role with Teddy. The 19-year-old ADC even got a pentakill against DK with his Aphelios in the 2021 LCK Spring Split.
When he eventually became the full-time starter for T1, he gained a lot of confidence in his plays, which is rare for a young player. His name has been cemented as one of the best up-and-coming ADCs in the world after his phenomenal performance at Worlds 2021, where he got 49 kills and produced a KDA of 7.2, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
With Teddy leaving T1 for Kwangdong Freecs, Gumayusi has a huge responsibility to steer the T1 ship in the right direction with his decisive plays. Now that he’s gained a bit of international experience, 2022 should be the year for him to shine and continue to turn some heads in the LCK.
Support: Keria (T1)
Keria was the dark horse of T1’s success last year. He’s the one who makes critical engages to set up good teamfights and his decision-making is out of this world. That’s impressive for a player of his age (19).
His bot lane synergy with Teddy and Gumayusi was critical in helping T1’s young roster succeed. The interesting thing about his playstyle is that he makes plays, but he doesn’t sacrifice his life for the teamfight. Typically, support players die the most in a match since they have to make first contact with the enemies. But Keria has a safe way of doing things that makes him extremely reliable. To back it up with stats, at Worlds 2021, Keria only died 17 times in the 14 matches that he played while posting the fourth-most assists (120) of any supports, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
Leona and Thresh are his go-to picks for champions, but he also performed fairly well with the rare Neeko support in 2021. In 2022, a lot of pressure could be on him to consistently perform well like last year and make those eye-catching plays.
Honorable mention: BeryL (DRX)
BeryL has proved himself domestically and internationally with his array of support plays. He’s one of the best support players in the world and has won almost everything from LCK splits to Worlds 2020. Last year, in the LCK Spring Split, he had the highest total of assists (388) in the league, according to Oracle’s Elixir. This is just one of the feats that he has under his belt. His champion pool is incredibly large for a support player and he’s not afraid to use off-meta picks in high-stakes matches. But he plays well on champions like Leona, Alistar, Rell, and more.
Being on DK was likely comfortable for BeryL and playing with the region’s top players aided his skills. But in 2022, he’ll be sharing the bot lane with Deft on DRX. That should present a fresh challenge to the support player.