The 2022 LPL Spring Split is fast approaching. The competition is scheduled to kick off on Monday, Jan. 10, and 17 squads will clash over the next nine weeks to determine the qualifying teams and the seeding for the Spring Split Playoffs.
The LPL is one of the most competitive regions in League of Legends esports, boasting three world titles and countless memorable international appearances. From Uzi to TheShy, the LPL has cultivated some of the most well-known talents over the years.
Moving into the 2022 season, there are countless players to keep an eye on after the offseason consolidated the talent and created several rosters that could easily contend for the domestic title. Legends are set to return, reigning champions will look to defend their titles, and upstarts are bound to make their mark.
Despite the five total starting players, only one can claim the top spot in their respective position. These are the best players in their roles—and a few honorable mentions.
Top lane—Bin (Royal Never Give Up)
Despite Suning’s poor performance in 2021, Bin’s individual excellence cemented him as one of the league’s best top laners. The former Worlds finalist is one of the most mechanically gifted solo laners in the world, repeatedly outclassing his competition and maintaining his high level of play. Thriving in split push metas with champions such as Camille or Fiora, Bin has proven he can one-vs-one even the strongest competition. Combined across the Spring and Summer Split regular seasons, Bin boasted a 4.0 KDA with 257 total kills, ranking only behind stars like Flandre and Xiaohu. Supported by Royal Never Give Up’s steadfast core, Bin is a player to watch now more than ever.
Honorable Mention—Ale (LNG Esports)
Ale had a breakout year in 2021, contributing to LNG Esports’ topside that led to the organization’s first international appearance. Ale has shown his prowess on mechanically demanding champions, finding an 83.3 percent win rate on Gwen across eight games and a 100 percent win rate on Fiora across the entirety of Worlds 2021. An ever-present win condition for LNG, Ale aims to follow up his incredible year on LNG with a similar performance.
The Griffin alumni transitioned to the LPL in 2020 but truly came into his own in 2021. Living up to his moniker, the king of the jungle has shown himself to be both a lane-enabler and carry threat. During the team’s miraculous playoff gauntlet run, Tarzan played a major role in nearly all the team’s winning fights, finding the second-highest kill participation (73.1 percent) and the second-highest KDA (4.08) among junglers. With another dominant solo laner added to LNG in Doinb, Tarzan will be even more of a threat in 2022.
Honorable Mention—Jiejie (EDward Gaming)
As part of the 2021 EDward Gaming squad, Jiejie played no small role in the team’s World Championship win. The jungler potentially had one of the most impressive plays of the season, stealing two consecutive Barons from RNG in the Worlds quarterfinals. Defending both the domestic and World titles in 2022, EDG have a clear asset in the jungle.
Mid lane—knight (Top Esports)
The 21-year-old mid laner has long been the single most individually talented player in the LPL, though he has received relatively few chances to prove it internationally. Even in an off year, after Top Esports failed to qualify for Worlds 2021, knight had an incredible regular-season performance. During the Summer Split, the mid laner led the entire league with 221 kills. Performing incredibly well with assassins, mages, and flex picks, knight found a staggering 6.2 KDA as LeBlanc, Viego, and Sylas occupied his top-picked champions. With a newly renovated Top Esports roster, it’s only a matter of time before the gifted mid laner gets to flaunt his skill on League’s biggest stage once again.
Honorable Mention—Scout (EDG)
The Faker understudy has come into his own right on EDG, but 2021 made this even more apparent as Scout claimed his first world title. Scout had been outperforming world champion mid laners all year long, showing off his incredibly high skill ceiling. The Worlds MVP will play a vital role in EDG’s 2022 season if the team hope to repeat a Worlds-caliber performance.
Bottom lane—Viper (EDG)
In Viper’s first year in the LPL, the bottom laner won Rookie of the Split, found his way onto the LPL First Team, and became a World Champion. EDward Gaming won countless games playing through the bottom lane, and Viper quickly rose as a premier ADC in the LPL. In his first split, Viper found the third-highest KDA (6.3), third-highest damage percentage (28.6 percent), and the third-highest total kills (189) among ADCs.
While Viper played a more passive role in the Summer Split, the South Korean bottom laner showed his ability to play both as a carry and on the weakside. Following his incredible domestic season, Viper and Meiko were the strongest bottom lane duo going into Worlds 2021 and played an integral role in EDG’s first world title. The addition of Viper contributed significantly to EDG’s rise in 2021, and will only continue to do so as the team hopes to defend its domestic and international titles.
Honorable Mention—Huanfeng (Weibo Gaming)
The 20-year-old ADC is entering his third year as a starter in the LPL and already has amassed an impressive record. Huanfeng was chiefly among the best bottom laners in 2021 throughout the regular season, finding 190 total kills and the highest KDA (8.5) among ADCs in the Spring Split. As Suning rebrands to Weibo Gaming, the organization hopes to rekindle the flame that brought the squad to the 2020 World Finals. Huanfeng will be a vital element to this roster’s resurgence.
Ming has been a staple on RNG for over five years and played alongside some of the LPL’s most illustrious figures. The star support player is just as vital to the team as he was when he first joined, acting as the team’s primary engage threat and playing an integral role in the development of rookie ADC GALA. The two-time MSI champion had yet another standout year in 2021, finding the most assist in Spring (386) and second-most in Summer (366). As Ming enters yet another year leading his team, the veteran firmly holds the position as the best support in the LPL.
Honorable Mention—Missing (JD Gaming)
Team WE had a rough end to 2021 after the team’s losses to EDG, RNG, and LNG dashed the hopes of making Worlds 2021. The bottom lane was a high point for the squad, however, with Missing contending against the best duos in the LPL. In the Summer Split regular season, the support led the league for total assists, finding the most assists (394)—topping even Ming—and providing the team with an intangible but integral presence. Now a part of JD Gaming, Missing will need to recall his breakout performance if he hopes to lead his new team to its former glory.
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