With the regular season wrapped up for the NA LCS, Riot will soon announce the Summer Split awards. Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Split, Coach of the Split and the All-Pro teams are up for grabs, with the broadcast team and chosen third party media casting ballots. Playoffs are later this week, so, before those kick off, here are my choices for each award.
Third Team All-Pro
Huni– Although Huni dies a lot, he provides undeniable pressure for Echo Fox. Teams rarely shut him down completely, and fans treasure his “take no prisoners” attitude. Whenever Gangplank is meta, Huni tends to look really good, currently carrying an 80 percent win rate on the champion. Darshan and Hauntzer may have less variable performance across the split, but Huni’s ability to pull the trigger, successful role-swapping during the early-split experimental gold-funneling and high pressure, even when behind, make him more appealing as a valuable top laner. Huni this split has been kind of like a less restrained Ssumday.
Xmithie– Team Liquid have not won the regular season this summer through sheer individual skill. They mostly have better decision-making and a certain clutch factor that most other North American teams lack. It is hard to not associate that part of their success with Xmithie. While not generally going for the flashy mechanical outplays, Xmithie’s strength lies in his coordination with the rest of the team. He seems to be the piece that completes TL’s puzzle, where, if you slot in another jungler, the team would probably suffer. TL has high statistics around neutral objectives, and, statistically, Baron Smite fights are never 50-50 with Xmithie.
Damonte– The third team mid laner is difficult to pin down. The top two mids feel pretty clear cut, but Damonte and Bjergsen are a tight third-fourth. Bjergsen ended the split on a high note, but Damonte felt more consistently present over the course of the split, while also dealing with a new bottom lane. This choice may be biased against Bjergsen, because he and TSM should have performed much better this summer. He will probably provide a stronger performance during playoffs, but Damonte feels like he consistently provides what FOX needs in mid lane more than Bjergsen provides what TSM needs.
Cody Sun– 100 Thieves’ entire strategy revolves around Cody Sun. When the wheels are greased properly, Cody Sun will roll over his opponents. Therefore, 100 Thieves’ success more-or-less rests on Cody’s shoulders. If he dies, then the Thieves die. Cody Sun plays his part in most games, but it rarely feels like he is the impetus for the team. He still seems to have something keeping him within the range of safe play, while his teammates really bring the pressure. As he mentioned in the interview following 100T’s tiebreaker win for third, playing more “loose” and less nervous allowed Cody Sun to carry on Jhin and score a Pentakill. If he can activate that style more often, then he may rise through the ranks.
Smoothie– The Summer Split has not been fantastic for Smoothie, but he is still playing stronger than most supports in the league. He successfully traded from Cloud9 to Echo Fox, and has gelled with Lost pretty quickly. Along with Dardoch, Smoothie enables his carries as best he can, even if it means losing his own life. Honestly, several key supports felt underwhelming this split, including Hakuho, Mithy and Olleh, which makes it difficult to choose third place. Smoothie brings the second most assists, while tying for third fewest deaths, which is pretty incredible considering Echo Fox carries the highest deaths per game of any team.
Second Team All-Pro
Licorice– Throughout the Summer Split, Licorice has proven his value. He never loses lane, even against counter match-ups. Despite Cloud9 losing most of their games in the first half of the split, Licorice frequently ended the game with the most gold on the team. He has shown map awareness and trust in his teammates with Shen, powerful solo performances split-pushing with Fiora and Irelia, and tank play with Poppy and Mundo. If Jensen and Sneaky had not re-joined Cloud9, and they ended the split in similar fashion, then Licorice would undoubtedly be an MVP candidate.
Santorin– Remaining objectively minded, and only focusing on the 2018 Summer Split, Santorin deserves the second jungler spot. Every major media outlet ranked FlyQuest eighth or lower heading into the split, stating “bringing Santorin onto the roster looks like a quick patch to a larger problem,” and “this team is rudderless.” Only MarkZ publicly expressed the summer meta might benefit FlyQuest. However, Flyquest held it together and scraped into playoffs. Santorin has felt more in control of the early game on Trundle and Sejuani, often sacrificing his own farm for early ganks and skirmishes. He might not work on any other team, and he might not be a superstar, but Santorin has made a splash in the LCS this split.
PowerOfEvil– A case could be made for PowerOfEvil to be First Team All-Pro mid laner. This guy put on several solo carry performances. PoE has the best laning stats in the league for mids, and he is not afraid to try non-meta champions, including Viktor, Talon and Ziggs. OpTic even let him try the Kai’Sa funnel early on. If OpTic finished higher in the standings, then PoE would probably be first, but when they lose, some of PoE’s antics come across as unpracticed or unrefined.
Sneaky– Sneaky is a good example of what Cody Sun would be if he took charge in more of his games. Despite Licorice, Goldenglue and Zeyzal showing up big in the first few weeks, Keith could not step into Sneaky’s shoes. When he returned from Academy League, the entire team felt revitalized. Of course, he was joined by Jensen and Blaber initially, so it is difficult to parse apart their individual contributions completely. But Sneaky’s presence has turned Cloud9’s split around, holding an 83.3 percent win rate over 12 games. A few caveats could count against him: fewer games than other ADCs, skipping the funnel meta, poor laning stats. Sneaky still feels like the second strongest overall marksman this split, though.
Aphromoo– Aphromoo is incredible. He is such a pivotal player for 100 Thieves, and it shows on stage. It never feels like Aphromoo loses the game for his team. He seems to understand the limits of every champion, from Pyke to Rakan to Braum. 100 Thieves can trust him with the trigger, or with the shield. He can set it up, or he can knock it down. Aphromoo consistently trades his life for his teammates, but still packs the highest average assists per game (8.5). Although he was Spring Split MVP, Aphromoo did get dethroned this summer as best support in NA.
First Team All-Pro
Ssumday– Does this choice really need explanation? 100 Thieves could never have finished this split in third place with another top laner. At least two of their wins were saved by Ssumday’s outplays. He put on clinics with Darius, Aatrox, Jax and Mundo. This guy is constantly winning in side lanes, while entering the fray at just the right time to capitalize. His value to 100 Thieves this split has been undeniable, and any team would probably benefit from Ssumday’s presence. Not to mention, he tied Doublelift (six) and doubled Licorice (three) for the most Player of the Game awards (six) with fewer overall wins.
Dardoch– The jungle role is arguably most reliant on team synergy for success. Communication, coordination, and other factors play into how a jungle works within a team. This is why some junglers can look god-like on one team and noobish on another. Some fans may remember lots of low moments for Dardoch over the course of this split, but he has also been the life-blood of Echo Fox. Almost every position, including coach, swapped at some point, and they even called for role-swaps the first few weeks. Just like Licorice on Cloud9, Dardoch remained an anchor for the team. He played 14 different champions, from Braum to Graves to Trundle to Evelynn. Most other junglers could not handle so many changes and keep the team in high playoffs contention.
Jensen– Although he had a brief hiatus in Academy League, Jensen returned to LCS with a vengeance. His Zilean combined with Blaber’s Kindred completely took over games. Jensen finished the season with an 81.8 percent win rate, higher than any other mid laner with more than three games. He also showcased Leblanc and Fizz in his last two games, complimenting his previous supportive play. Most importantly, Jensen always feels like a threat, and he plays well with the other members of Cloud9.
Doublelift– By far the most outstanding bottom laner this summer, Doublelift deserves first team. He is the major win condition on the first place team. Other than the mage experiments, Doublelift maintains pressure during laning phase, around objectives and during fights. His team purposefully gives him all the gold he wants, because they know he will pull through. Where 100 Thieves’ roster sets Cody up, and Cloud9 revolves around Jensen, Liquid leans on Doublelift unlike any other individual in the league. And, although this is a regular season LCS award, Doublelift was one of the few North American players to show up at MSI and Rift Rivals.
Zeyzal– Along with Licorice, Zeyzal stepped up and helped Cloud9 hold it together during their rough patches and roster changes. However, Zeyzal had the harder job. As support, he has to coordinate most closely with the bottom lane carry, the jungler and the rest of the team at different stages of the game. Zeyzal played well with Keith and Sneaky, Goldenglue and Jensen, Svenskeren and Blaber. He stood out as a the best Braum this summer, but also utilized Tahm Kench, Pyke and Zilean to full effect, too.
Most Valuable Player
Doublelift– Any team in the league would improve if given a few weeks to bring Doublelift on. He feels strong at all stages of the game. Spectators can feel Doublelift’s presence on the Rift, and with a lesser carry Team Liquid would likely drop a few places in the LCS. Doublelift earned the most Player of the Game awards over the course of the split (six), and feels farther ahead of all others in his role in the NA LCS. Licorice and Ssumday are close in value. Jensen and PowerOfEvil are close in value. None of the junglers or supports stand out far ahead of their respective pack. A case against Doublelift would be tough to make.
Coach of the Split
Saintvicious– Echoing sentiments regarding Santorin, Saint deserves a lot of credit for FlyQuest’s rise this split. No one foresaw this team being close to on par with TSM, 100 Thieves and Echo Fox. Yet, this team improved a lot over these past few months. Their drafts improved. Their execution improved. And their mid-late game decision-making improved. Plenty of fans will call for Reapered to win this award, but when looking at the power of the organizations, the roster talent, and the growth from Spring to Summer Split, FlyQuest feel like the right call, and a lot of that change has to come from Saintvicious.
Rookie of the Split
Zeyzal– Another member of Cloud9 takes Rookie of the Split this year. What Licorice accomplished in Spring Split, Zeyzal accomplished in Summer. The kid entered a long-standing organization with a ton of weight on his shoulders. Not only did he show up–he shined. Zeyzal has a bright future ahead of him, whether with Cloud9, or otherwise.
He seems to be a shot-caller, as well, just like another top support North America knows and loves. Compared to JayJ or Feng, two other rookie supports this split, Zeyzal truly made a name for himself.
Blaber– Blaber’s jungle performances marked some of the most exciting parts of this regular season. He dominated on Kindred, and seemed comfortable taking the reins during his time on stage–refreshing for a newcomer. Of all the Cloud9 members, Blaber holds the highest win rate this split at 88.9 percent. It felt wrong to put Blaber in the top three for a few reasons, though. First, he played Kindred in half his games. Second, he only slotted in with Jensen, the best mid laner in the league. The junglers listed did not have the luxury of always drafting their power picks and playing with some of the best laners in the LCS. Blaber still deserves a mention for looking amazing over his nine games. Hopefully he shows up in playoffs.
Goldenglue– Goldenglue deserves some credit for some dominant games. Cloud9 was falling apart, but Goldenglue’s laning phase was unstoppable. Despite only playing seven games, Goldenglue feels more memorable than most of the LCS mid laners this summer. If he and Svenskeren can build on their chemistry for playoffs, then they could be just as threatening as their Blaber-Jensen counterpart, which is scary.
Bjergsen- TSM have had a horrendous Summer Split, but Bjergsen has been a rock in the mid lane. Other than his Talon, Akali, and Leblanc games, Bjergsen has not necessarily had higher highs than most mid laners, but he never has such low lows. He has been a reliable in laning phase, never really losing, and he never seems to make many mistakes. However, he does not have the aggression and standout performances that others on this list do. If he put in even one or two more high-pressure performances, he could have easily rose through the ranks as a top mid laner this split. Expect him to show up in playoffs.
Big– Big is the other player that deserves a mention here. He was the only other player that seemed worthwhile during OpTic’s games, and he feels like a clear upgrade over Lemonnation. While Big had lower lows than the supports named in the All-Pro teams above, he felt like a major factor in OpTic’s wins, too. Not to mention, Arrow had a particularly weak split, which reflects negatively on Big, as well.
Images: LoL Esports Flickr