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Andrew Kim: Explaining my NA LCS All-Pro selections

Explaining Andrew Kim's NA LCS All-Pro selections
Flame was a surprising first team All-Pro NA LCS pick by Slingshot.s Andrew Kim. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

The All-Pro teams for the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) were released Wednesday, as were the ballots of every voter. As one of the selected media members awarded a vote, I felt it would be in the interest of transparency to explain my picks.

Starting off with my first team choices, I went for :

  • Lee “Flame” Ho-Jong – Top lane
  • Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo – Jungle
  • Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg – Mid lane
  • Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng – AD Carry
  • Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black – Support

These I think are some of the least controversial choices that I’ve made. Starting with Flame, he had an amazing run after joining Immortals. Although he had some troubles in the spring split with a split identity of a carry top laner trying to play a tank, Flame adjusted beautifully in the summer. I thought that his ability to change over the course of two splits was enough to net him as my top choice , and I expect him to continue his solid performances in the playoffs. His active communication and shot-calling in game stood out to me, while he also demonstrated his work outside of simply game mechanics.

LirA as my top jungle choice was something of a continuation I had since the spring split. He was the lone shining star in a struggling Team EnVyUs during the spring, and his aggressive style was still effective enough for his team to have a surge earlier in the summer. As a member of a team that can consistently secure a lead — despite not being able to close out with the lead it secures — it’s worth pondering how effective he would be on another team that could reliably get the snowball rolling. I also thought that he performed admirably despite the inherent disadvantage as a Korean player adjusting to North America.

Bjergsen and Doublelift are purely based on their performances and results. I wasn’t convinced for a second that Team SoloMid was going to settle for anything less than coming in first place — or at least tied for it — because that’s what TSM does most of the time. The performances of the mid lane and AD Carry have been solid throughout the split, which is kind of scary. When consistency meets good results, it has to translate to great play, which Bjergsen and Doublelift proved repeatedly.

I thought really hard about my top support pick, but I eventually went with aphromoo for a couple of reasons. One is Xmithie’s departure. When one of CLG’s leaders left, the team’s oldest veteran had to step up, and aphromoo did. Individually, his performances as Rakan also took my breath away earlier in the split and left a strong impression. Aphromoo is an ever-adaptable player with his champion picks as well and was especially strong in that regard this summer.

My second team choices were:

  • Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho – Top lane
  • Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung – Jungle
  • Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun – Mid lane
  • Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi – AD Carry
  • Kim “Olleh” Yoo-sung – Support

To get the first elephant out of the room first, I made a mistake in entering my vote for the mid laner. I intended to vote for Huhi but accidentally entered Hai “Hai” Du Lam, and for that I apologize.

The second elephant is still about the mid lane, which is probably going to be why I put Huhi in as my second choice instead of someone else. To be honest, my choices were heavily influenced by the circumstances of Huhi. I’m not going to say that Huhi was mechanically the second best player in the NA LCS this split, but I can say that he did the absolute best with the hand he was dealt. To put it in perspective, Huhi had been playing with Xmithie since he joined CLG, and that means they had something built together as the crucial duo of jungle-mid lane.

Now let’s take that synergy and throw it out the window, since Xmithie was traded for Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett before eventually being replaced by Omar “OmarGod” Amin. And still, Huhi and aphromoo managed to lead the team into the playoffs. Huhi should be rewarded for his part in that.

In the jungle, I ended up going with MikeYeung. He was a fairly new player thrust onto a team that struggled for the entire split. Still, he managed to keep up with some of the best junglers in his region and showed off an amazing amount of potential. I looked at his team as a kind of an inhibitor for him, arguably giving him less room to really shine as a jungler in comparison to, say, Cloud9 or TSM.

Ssumday is a no-brainer. His mechanical prowess has grown an impressive extent, and he was undoubtedly the driving force of Dignitas’ summer split revival. Not to mention he gave TSM’s top laner Hauntzer, — who is regarded as one of the best in NA — a run for his money, beating TSM twice, a feat only Dignitas managed this split. He knows how to use a lead and play from behind whenever he needs to, and is almost always there to back up his team. He is undoubtedly the best player on his team, and once he reaches Flame level of communication with Dignitas, he’ll be near unstoppable.

Sneaky is not a carrying AD Carry, but he’s consistent. His play is so reliably clean, and regardless of what anyone else might have to say, he’s still in the running for the title of best AD Carry in North America in my eyes.

Olleh was also a very close second, as he had shown an immense amount of growth along with Flame. His hyper-aggressive, kill happy support style is pretty much a signature now, but with the added benefit of improving a lot in the summer. Working on some initial difficulties he had with his AD Carry, Olleh has turned into a top-tier support with the added benefits of his play style. He does die quite a bit, but it works out because more often than not he’s already secured a lead for the bottom lane. Also like Flame, his communication has improved leaps and bounds.

My third choices are:

  • Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell – Top lane
  • Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia – Jungle
  • Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen – Mid lane
  • Cody “Cody Sun” Sun – AD Carry
  • Vincent “Biofrost” Wang – Support

Let’s address the likely main objection: why is Jensen so low? He’s the first if not the second choice for a lot of people and I can see why. His numbers are just really impressive. Individually I can’t dispute Jensen’s performance, but I have my doubts about his impact on the team as a whole. Jensen is untouchable in the laning phase for sure, but there are some meta-game decisions that make other players like Bjergsen stand out a bit more. I don’t think his vision game is as solid as Huhi, and his team-fighting isn’t as great as Bjergsen. What makes a great player even greater is his ability to make things happen, not just for his own lane, but for the whole team, and that’s what kept Jensen just one step behind my previous choices.

Contractz was my MikeYeung in the spring split. He was a great rookie talent who had to fill some sizable shoes, and he exceeded expectations. The summer split showed a slight downturn in his performance, but not by much. He is really a good supportive jungler for his team, and his mechanical ability is certainly high. But he simply wasn’t as strong as he looked in the spring split, and he was clearly going through an adjustment period. Granted, as he becomes more acclimated to professional play and finds a clear voice in the team, I think he’ll become of the great NA junglers, but he does need more time.

Cody Sun is perhaps the best improvement story from the spring. After an extremely difficult spring split, Cody Sun turned into one of the highest KDA AD Carries of the summer, capitalizing on mistakes and working in sync with his support.

Hauntzer and Biofrost have always been safe go-to choices and had solid of unspectacular performances during the summer for the team tied for first place.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games

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