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League of Legends: Has Scouting Grounds Been a Success?

NALCS Scouting Grounds 2018 just finished up. They did not have a draft this year and instead have a top five prospects list. What this shows is that this year’s Scouting Grounds were more of a showcase than the previous two. Is this better or worse for players and teams? Was last year’s draft a success? Lets dive into Scouting Grounds as a whole and see if it has worked as intended so far. We will focus on the ones since franchising as the league fundamentally changed from the 2016 Scouting Grounds

NOTE: As of the writing of this article, none of the 2018 Scouting Grounds players have been signed.

The Basics

Courtesy of: YouTube

All three years have brought in 20 high level players who were drafted onto four drake-inspired teams. Unlike this year, only four LCS teams actually participated in actually helping the four teams in 2017. This year, oddly, only Echo Fox was not involved and they were not involved last year either.

As stated before, 2017’s Scouting Grounds ended with a draft of ten of the players. Of these ten players drafted, eight are still on Academy or NALCS rosters. Of the eight drafted players on LCS rosters, five are still on the team that they were drafted by. Lastly, of the ten players not drafted, only four were in the LCS in any form in 2018 with three still currently on teams.

This means that 12 of the 20 players from this were in the LCS at any point last season.

The Players That Are or Were in the LCS in 2018:
  • PiecakeLord
  • Shiro (previously League)
  • Blaber (previously Blaberfish2)
  • Fanatiik
  • NintendudeX
  • Spica
  • Palafox
  • Linsanity
  • Ablazeolive
  • Eclipse (previously Ash)
  • Vulcan
  • Winter
Teams that Currently Have 2017 Scouting Grounds Players in Their Org:
  • 100 Thieves- 1 (Linsanity)
  • Cloud9- 2 (Blaber & Shiro)
  • Clutch Gaming- 1 (Vulcan)
  • Counter Logic Gaming- 0
  • FlyQuest- 0
  • Echo Fox- 2 (NintendudeX & Spica)
  • Golden Guardians- 0
  • OpTic Gaming- 3 (Eclipse, Fanatiik & Palafox)
  • Team Liquid- 0
  • Team Solo Mid- 2 (Ablazeolive & PieCakeLord)
2017 Scouting Grounds Players in 2018 Scouting Grounds:
  • Julien
  • Primal
  • Winter

Did the Players Benefit from Scouting Grounds?

Just like in any showcase or professional draft, not everyone is going to succeed. That being said, it is hard to look at last year’s Scouting Grounds and think it was anything but extremely beneficial. It gave players a true opportunity to work with teams and get noticed more than ever before. There are many great stories and examples of this.

Courtesy of: LoL Esports

Lets start with NintendudeX getting drafted. This man had been in the LCS after going through a gauntlet to get there and couldn’t play well due to health issues. Then he was given the chance to be seen again in the new system and not only was he drafted but then he got picked up by Echo Fox Academy and was on the team for the entire season. While he may have had a rough season, he was still able to play and benefited greatly from Scouting Grounds.

From the 2018 Scouting Grounds, MistyStumpey was truly given an incredible opportunity. Columbia College gave him a chance and then he went out and showed that despite his disability he was not only good enough for Scouting Grounds but also that he was a Top Five prospect at it. Hopefully he is picked up by a team this season and given a real opportunity to not only break barriers but succeed.

eye in the sky part 5
Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr

While NintendudeX’s and MistyStumpey’s stories are fantastic, the player who has benefited substantially is Blaber. He was the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, Cloud9’s third and last pick. The desk said it was likely that his talent was too much to pass up, and this was clearly true as he pushed Wiggly, who was on the desk, off the team.

What is most important, though, was that Blaber helped to bring a Cloud9 team from last in the NALCS to semifinalists at Worlds in 2018. He may not have played much in Worlds but, he was a major reason they even had the opportunity to get there. Without Blaber, it is possible that Cloud9 would have finished at the back end of the NALCS. He was on their team and noticed because of Scouting Grounds.

Did the Teams Benefit from Scouting Grounds?

Courtesy of: Clutch Gaming

Franchising really changed the perspective of Scouting Grounds as all the teams were locked in and could look more towards the guaranteed future. When looking at the basic data, six of the NALCS teams actually have players on their roster and four of them have more than one. Only two, Vulcan & Blaber, made it into the NALCS this year. For both of the players that made it, one had a major impact: Blaber. The other played in two games: Vulcan.

Just looking at the success of Blaber may not be enough for teams to ultimately call Scouting Grounds a success. While he was a major part of the Cloud9 run, he was the only one who played any significant time in the NALCS. But was this the ultimate goal of Scouting Grounds? Were teams expected to actually find players who could be starters at the highest level in year one?

As the desk analyzed, this was probably not the case. Most of the teams were looking for talent to fill out their Academy rosters that they could develop over time. While many people may feel differently, Scouting Grounds was definitely beneficial to the teams in this case. With 12 of the 20 players getting at least a chance at Academy, the objective was achieved.

This is not uncommon in many traditional sports drafts as well, though. While the NFL does not have a minor league, it does have 53 spots on a roster that need to be filled. As for the MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS, there are a multitude of lower leagues, some connected to major league teams and others not. They all have drafts or showcases in order to help bring in new talent.

All teams will have players who under-perform, retire, or leave for some reason. They will need to fill these spots but their only options are normally either players with no experience or players who may not be top-tier but have played in the league. The problem that many teams have faced is that their players haven’t had the time necessary to go from top level solo-queue play to being in the LCS. With Scouting Grounds, they get that and it allows teams to properly go through scouting and prepping these players for the next level.

Has Scouting Grounds Been a Success?

Courtesy of: YouTube

The simple answer here is, yes. Diving into it a bit more it is obvious that both players and teams have gained quite a bit from this process. Between getting players who are more LCS ready, allowing the league to do the scouting for them, and the players getting the opportunity to really gain necessary experience, Scouting Grounds has so much to offer.

We will have to see if the 2018 class is as fortunate as the 2017 class. The draft made it more likely for players to officially get drafted as teams had to at least negotiate contracts with whomever they drafted. This time, the Top Five prospects are nice, but it is possible that it won’t matter since most Academy rosters are mostly filled now.

With free agency already showing us that anything can happen, it will be interesting to keep track of the players from the 2018 class. How many will get spots? Could they even take spots from the 2017 class? Also, how many from this class and even last class will make it into the LCS this year? All of these questions should be answered soon as we head into another year of franchised League of Legends.


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