Each year of League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) action brings together veteran and rookie players across the region’s 10 teams, offering players and fans alike the opportunity to see talent grow. This year is no different, with rookies standing out on championship-winning teams that have opted for complete alterations of their rosters heading into the 2022 season.
But what makes the rookies more valuable this year is how much the North American League scene has changed in just a few months. Preseason reassembled some of the LCS behemoths, and many teams compensated for valuable losses with an influx of rookies aimed at continuing the longevity of many teams. A notable amount of these rookies are entering this year’s LCS regular season from the NA Academy scene, where many of them harnessed great success for their organizations.
Though these rookies lack the experience that LCS veterans have, working alongside more accustomed players provides the ample opportunity to grow and stand out in their own right. Here are a few of the rookies entering the 2022 LCS season that fans should be paying close attention to.
C9 Isles and Winsome
Cloud9 endured one of the most notable changes this preseason. After last year’s miracle run out of the group stage at Worlds, the organization shook up its roster, losing Perkz and Vulcan to other teams and sending Zven back to Academy. In that time, new head coach LS sought to reorganize the team, bringing rookies in from the League Champions Korea (LCK) and LCS Academy scenes that he deemed ready to take on the competition in the 2022 Spring Split.
This year’s iteration of C9 includes two players in the support position following Vulcan’s departure to Evil Geniuses. Joining Berserker in the bot lane will be both Winsome, who is entering from the LCK Academy scene, and Isles, who’s stepping in from his time on C9 Academy. Though it is not currently known how the substitution between these two players will function throughout the Spring Split, it is expected both will have the opportunity to debut on the LCS stage.
Isles has been a staple of the C9 Academy roster for some time, enduring the rotation of ADCs in the past few years that included k1ng and Zven. Prior to his time in the NA Academy scene, he participated heavily in his home region of the League of Legends Circuit Oceania (LCO), formerly known as the Oceanic Pro League (OPL). With Legacy Esports, Isles triumphed through the end of 2019 alongside Fudge, who he once again joins as a member of this new C9 roster. After Fudge left in 2020, Isles helped Legacy Esports become the undisputed best team in the region across both splits, venturing to Worlds but failing to make it past the event’s knockout stage.
Though Isles is entering the LCS stage for the first time with previous international experience, his fellow support on the C9 main roster, Winsome, debuts with only first-hand Korean regional knowledge. Throughout 2021, Winsome played in the LCK Academy scene for Shadow Battlica. While the team struggled in various tournaments leading up to the end of the year, it was the last few months of 2021 where they truly shined, winning the October tournament and securing second place at the Academy Series Championship. Despite his short career, Winsome caught the eye of C9’s new head coach who brought him to the team’s main roster following the departure of their previous support, Vulcan.
This version of C9 takes a completely different direction than what the team opted for in the past, seemingly attempting to relocate the stability that they maintained in the latter part of last year. Though these rookie support players lack experience in the NA scene, the Lock In tournament will give them ample opportunity to test the waters prior to the official start of the 2022 Spring Split.
TSM lost their previous head coach, Bjergsen, to rivals in Team Liquid as he ventures back into being a player for the 2022 Spring Split. SwordArt also departed the team after one year in the LCS to head back to the League Pro League, leaving two spots open on the TSM roster. In Bjergsen’s stead, new head coach Chawy sought to fill the missing pieces of the team with two players from the LPL, both vastly different in their competitive experience: Keaiduo and Shenyi. Although Shenyi ventures to the LCS after a short time on FunPlus Phoenix, Keaiduo hasn’t been on a main stage before and comes to North America with only a year of competitive experience under his belt.
Throughout 2021, Keaiduo played for ThunderTalk Gaming Young in the League Development League, the secondary league in China. He did not find major success with this team, remaining at the bottom of the LDL standings in both splits. Despite the low placing, Keaiduo entered the scene showcasing a large champion pool at his disposal, leaning towards Twisted Fate and Syndra, though also having the flexibility to venture towards bruisers and assassins depending on his team’s composition. TSM noted that during its scouting in Korea, Keaiduo outperformed a majority of the competition, putting his tournament record in the past with the opportunity to join TSM in front of him.
Keaiduo begins his time as a member of TSM’s new roster in the mid lane, the same position where Bjergsen found ample opportunity to stand out among the mid lane talent congesting the LCS. TSM takes precedent in mid and jungle pressure, and with Spica rejoining the team, despite never having played on the LCS stage before with Keaiduo, the rookie mid laner has the power around him to overcome the competition in this new region. Standing out during TSM’s scouting in Korea was just the first part of Keaiduo’s journey; stepping into the light of the LCS is the next.
Fans will have to wait until the official start of the 2022 Spring Split to see Keaiduo debut. COVID-19 regulations resulted in both Keaiduo and TSM’s new support, Shenyi, being unable to make it to Los Angeles in time for the start of the Lock In tournament. In their steed, TSM’s Academy roster will be substituted in for the entirety of the roster, allowing fans to see who could potentially join TSM’s roster in the future, when Keaiduo will no longer be able to call himself a rookie. This new iteration of TSM is expected to make its first appearance in full when the 2022 LCS season officially begins following the conclusion of the Lock In tournament.
Throughout the 2021 season, CLG struggled to remain afloat as their competition continued to outperform them, leaving them confined to 10th place on the LCS leaderboard as the year came to a close. Heading into the 2022 Spring Split, the roster has changed extensively, with many veterans opting to search for other opportunities while other distinguished players step onto one of the oldest teams in the LCS.
One of the many players joining CLG for the first time is Luger, who also makes his LCS debut as a member of this squad. Luger cemented himself in LCS Academy history by taking full control of the scene as a part of 100 Thieves Academy in 2021. In just one year in North America, the Turkish ADC helped bring the team to the top of the standings in both the Spring Split and Summer Split, then taking the coveted first-place spot at the Summer Proving Grounds. At that point, the eyes of all LCS teams were on him and the rest of his 100 Thieves Academy teammates, with CLG opting to dive in and bet on the up-and-coming ADC for its starting roster.
Luger joins a CLG roster that combines talent from across the LCS with new faces ready to traverse the NA scene for the first time. Sharing the bot lane with him is his former 100 Thieves Academy teammate Poome, a player that was insurmountable to the success that Luger had just last year. The two stood out as one of the strongest bot lane pairs in the Academy scene, despite both never having played together prior to the start of 2021. Together Luger and Poome found multiple opportunities throughout the year to take down the best bot lanes in the Academy scene, including k1ng and Isles from C9 Academy, as well as hold their own against FlyQuest Academy’s LCS-experienced bot lane in Johnsun and Diamond.
The 2022 season will be Luger’s official debut on the main stage, barring a one-off appearance last year when the 100 Thieves Academy roster substituted for the main roster at the end of the Summer Split. With him as a part of this new iteration of CLG, Luger has the potential to prove to the rest of the LCS why he was such a prized pick coming out of Academy and Proving Grounds, and will pave the path for his future in the scene.