When interviewing Splyce owner Marty Strenczewilk the other day, one of the most interesting topics he mentioned was the makeup of Splyce’s League of Legends team. Splyce is a very young team, with players aging from 17-20 years old who are all from the same country. On top of being a young squad, most of the players have little or no professional experience. Compare Splyce to a team like Immortals, another new team on which every player is a longtime pro player.
There’s no surprise that Immortals is sitting in first place in North America with an undefeated record, while Splyce is tied for seventh in Europe at 4-8.
There is something I noticed about Splyce even before talking to Strenczewilk, though. After each loss, Splyce’s players didn’t look devastated at all. The morale on the team appears to be good — far better than to be expected, at least — and its play has slowly improved since the early part of the season.
“It goes back to the idea that if I put the right face on the company, if I treat them properly, it’s so much better,” Strenczewilk said.
Immortals and Splyce are opposites when it comes down to the team building philosophy. Splyce is young with a lot of room to improve, and Immortals is a team of veterans thrown together expected to instantly succeed.
There’s nothing wrong with what Immortals, or even Origen, has done. They’re just simply different philosophies. Building a team requires a lot of work and time. Strenczewilk is taking the long approach and said he sees the results being long and fruitful careers for his players.
“I don’t think that’s a wrong philosophy. It’s just different,” Strenczewilk said. “Especially since I have two 17-year-olds who are just starting their careers. If I were doing what [Immortals] were doing, I’d ditch those guys and get players with three or four years experience. But like Sencux has had flashes of brilliance, we just need it to all come together. We are talking about a player that can become potentially a major star.”
Splyce is very much taking the road less traveled in professional League of Legends. Immortals (and to a lesser extent, NRG Esports) were expansion teams put together with a lot of well-known players. Team SoloMid also entered the season billed as a “super team,” and the amount of rapid movement in the offseason definitely continued the shift toward the “win now” train of thought.
At the same time, Fnatic last week announced the launch of a Challenger Series team. Team Liquid Academy already has one, which has produced Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, everyone’s favorite future NA mega star.
League of Legends is also still very much in its infancy. The LCS is only four years old, and that factor (and perhaps even uncertainty about the game’s future direction) could have people eager to see results to justify their investments.
So where’s the balance? Can a team with a long-term plan be successful in professional League of Legends? We’ve seen some highly successful teams come out of Korea, like SK Telecom, with Bae “bengi” Seong-ung and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok winning their second world championship last year with the same team. Will we see one in the West?
Strenczewilk and Splyce seem to be committed to their strategy, so we’ll see if Splyce can stick around long enough to see a payoff for its plan. Nevertheless, the execution of staunchly different philosophies is extremely fascinating.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.