For the last few years Scouting Grounds has been the way for high level players who are not necessarily all that well known to get noticed. Teams have used it well as they have normally filled a lot of their academy teams with the talent from them. Players like Robert “Blaber” Huang have made their way through the ranks to the main stage thanks to Scouting Grounds. In an interview with TGH, LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley, confirmed that Scouting Grounds 2019 will be happening and there should be an announcement before Summer Split, which is only a couple weeks away.
Before the official announcement comes out, here are three ways that Scouting Grounds could be improved.
1. More Teams
While basing it off of the four elemental drakes is a nice touch, having four teams limits this opportunity in a lot of ways. Keep in mind it is definitely not inexpensive to fly all of the talent out to LA and put them up for the time they are there. The teams and the LCS foot that bill, but having only 20 players to pick from does not really show the potential breadth of talent available for them to scout. This seems to especially hold true considering there are a few players who have returned to the Scouting Grounds multiple times.
Having even five Scouting Grounds teams and allowing for two LCS teams to coach them wouldn’t be a bad idea as it would bring out five more players. Ideally though to help develop more talent for NA, each team would have their own players they coach. Because they already do a draft before Scouting Grounds to see which players are on what teams, this would allow teams to each have their own plan in mind. They could scout talent before with their own individual strategies in place instead of having to work with one or two other teams to decide who they want to look at.
This individual work would not only lead to more top talent getting better but, it would also allow the teams to really start building a rapport. The teams would have a better idea of who they wanted to sign or draft (see point three) once Scouting Grounds were over. It is a win-win for everyone involved.
2. Work with Colleges and High Schools Directly
The age requirement to play professionally in the LCS is 17, but players can sign at 16 as long as teams don’t actually have them play until they are of age. This means that many kids this age will be in their second or third year of High School making it a prime area to draw talent from.
As more High Schools and Colleges adapt to esports and start more programs, young players will get the necessary training in teamwork much earlier on. This will allow them to grow with a much different mindset than they would if they only solo-queued. It is important to note as this is an integral part of becoming a pro. Being able to switch off the solo-queue mindset and playing more team oriented is something that a lot of people struggle with. It is for this reason that so many teams focus on this aspect when coaching during Scouting Grounds.
Also Colleges and High Schools will make it easier for LCS teams to have a better idea of who players are before they get them. This was seen with players like MistyStumpey, who was seen playing in the Collegiate Championship with Columbia College before getting noticed and invited to Scouting Grounds. Having a better scouting report on these players not just with their skills but even with their personalities and recommendations from coaches will help the LCS even more.
It is for these reasons that the LCS should continue to dive deeper into their relationships with schools at these levels. There are plenty of other benefits but that is for a later piece. For now they could be the best place to draw talent from in NA.
3. Bring Back the Draft and Improve Upon It
Last year Scouting Grounds just gave out awards and the teams could sign someone if they chose too. This made it feel more like a showcase than anything else. While this is not a bad thing, having a draft is much better for a few different reasons.
The first and easiest is that it helps the players. They are more likely to sign if they get drafted. Maybe the LCS will put in place that if a team drafts a player they have to be signed.
The second is that it would help the teams get the players that they want guaranteed. This is especially helpful for teams who struggled in the previous season. Having them pick by overall placement would make it so that lower level teams could get the best available talent. The parity of the League would get better and the competition in theory would also get better as more talent would be spread throughout the league.
Lastly, they could make it a true event and something exciting to watch. The NFL draft is arguably as big as some playoff games for football fans. The first round is especially huge. There are millions of people who watch who their team will draft and what needs they have. It creates intense discussion for so many people. It would be a no-brainer to really advertise for it and just make it a bigger deal. One round for the 10 teams is great and all but since they seemingly have similar roster sizes as the NBA, at least two rounds would definitely make it more interesting.
With Scouting Grounds coming back and seemingly being here to stay, it is a great opportunity for the LCS to truly grow their esport. While players like Peter “Doublelift” Peng and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg are important to focus on now, looking towards the future is arguably more important. Now that these teams are franchised and funded with a significant amount of money, the LCS needs to really invest in the future. Doing so would not only help the LCS player base but an improved Scouting Grounds could add a whole new level of fan engagement and excitement.
“From Our Haus to Yours”