Every split contains teams that struggle and teams that soar. It then often becomes an unfortunate reality that the fault for under performing is often assigned to a single player by the fans who don’t know the full picture. Who else would be a better judge the actual value of a player than a professional in the scene?
Slingshot asked nine North American League of Legends Championship Series pros who they think are the most underrated players in the region. The answers are below:
Alex “Xpecial” Chu, Team Dignitas: I think Hauntzer (Kevin Yarnell) could be a big one. I think he’s kinda recognized now as a stronger top laner, but considering the strength of the top laners this split, he’s been doing extremely well, and obviously he works well with his team, and a lot of it comes down to that he can speak the language very fluently. He’s just somebody who is underrated compared to Bjergsen (Søren Bjerg) and before that Doublelift (Yiliang Peng) as well. Now he’s kind of really shining and being a really strong pillar and tank player for his team, and he does really well.
Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, Counter Logic Gaming: I guess Cody Sun (Sun Li Yu). He has improved like a ton from where he came from, and I think he’s one of the stronger laners in LCS right now. I think people overlook him all the time. People look at him and go like “How did people possibly lose to Cody Sun?” But he’s actually really good. People should look out for him more.
Austin “Gate” Yu, Echo Fox: I personally think Hakuho (Nickolas Surgent) from EnVyUs is very underrated. Just from playing against him, he has a good understanding of the laning phase and he’s like a core of his team. Even though EnVy is in last place right now, I think he’s really performing, and if they were to go up in the ranks, it would be mostly because of him.
Derek “Zig” Shao, Phoenix1: I think actually Cody Sun is pretty underrated. I like Cody Sun, and people shit on him all the time on Reddit, but I played competitive when he was in the Challenger scene, and he’s like a thoroughbred NA talent and definitely deserves more recognition. AD Carries for this season, it’s been really hard to make adaptations to playing properly and stuff. You can see, (Jung “Youngbiin” Young-bin) just came in (temporarily) as like as a mid main that switched to AD for like two weeks, and Cody absolutely crushed him. So I think he isn’t getting as much credit as he deserves, and he’s definitely a rising star. Especially because this is his rookie split in the NA LCS too and he has to work on a team that’s support isn’t really great with English, and there’s communication barriers. I think he’s making the best of a situation while getting shit on by Reddit, and that’s definitely something that’s under appreciated right now.
Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia, Cloud9: I think Keane (Jang Lae-young) from Dignitas is actually really underrated. People put him in the bottom of the standings for mid laners, but I think his performance this split has been pretty good compared to a lot of the mid laners of the LCS. He always performs (well) usually, and people don’t expect him to do well, but he’s been making a name for himself again in the LCS, I think.
Galen “Moon” Holgate, FlyQuest: I’ll probably go with a jungler. I think it might be LirA (Nam Tae-yoo). I think it’s LirA. I don’t know if people respect him that highly because I don’t read Reddit threads or anything but I think he’s last place or something, but he’s definitely not the last place jungler. He’s really fucking good and he showed it today. He played very well.
Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, Counter Logic Gaming: I think right now it’s Darshan (Upadhyaha) because he was considered the best top laner before, and right now people think that he’s just really bad. There’s a lot of memes like “Darshit,” stuff like that. The thing is, when a player is not performing well, it’s not his fault. The team, when we pressure the bottom side, obviously top side will look bad. He has his own job when we’re playing the bot side, which is playing it safe, losing CS, losing his matchup, so it just looks bad to a lot of people. Especially the crowds or viewers, there are a lot of viewers who don’t really understand that kind of macro decision because it’s behind the scenes. They just judge players from their score or them just dying, so that’s why it looks bad. I’ll say Darshan is the most underrated.
Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, Echo Fox: It would have to be someone from the bottom teams to be underrated because if you’re on a top team people automatically think you’re good regardless of how you’re actually playing. I don’t know if people underrate him but LirA is really good. That’s probably who I’d say. I don’t know if he’s underrated or if people think he’s good or not, but I think he’s pretty good.
Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, Cloud9: Dark Meteos. (laughs) I mean, I don’t really know. For a full legit answer, Meteos has been doing pretty well. He hasn’t been really playing much of the game recently so I’m glad to see him coming back strong. Hopefully he can win more games.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games