What to expect from the new LCS rookies

Originally published at: https://esportsone.com/blog/deep-dive-expectations-from-lcs-rookies/

NA talent is a hot topic right now, and the LCS has been fortunate over the past two weeks to see a couple of new rookies finally make an appearance, after a Spring split that mostly continued the trend of North America’s shortsightedness and underinvestment in developing new local players.

Tactical is thriving on Team Liquid, after getting a cup of coffee in the Spring split, and now Insanity has been called up to start for Immortals in the mid lane, while Poome will be appearing for 100 Thieves in week 4.

I’ve been watching the Academy scene fairly closely for the past year, and I’m always excited to see players move up. Kudos to IMT and 100 for making these moves.

Now we need to see what we’re going to get from these players. Here’s a review of their play in 2020 so far, and idea of what to expect.

Immortals Insanity

Insanity is among the crop of aspiring NA mid laners who have always hovered just outside of the LCS, bumped down by the league’s heavy crop of mid lane imports. Along with players like Yusui, Ablazeolive, and Palafox, Insanity has so far failed to convince LCS management teams that he is worth investing in and grooming through stage experience, though some of the coaches and analysts I’ve spoken to in the Academy scene hold up Insanity as having the highest skill ceiling among that group, with consistency being his biggest issue.

With the challenges faced by Immortals in 2020, Insanity has finally found his opportunity, and he came on in week 3 with a pair of control mage games and acquitted himself reasonably well.

Insanity Stats, 2020

Summer 2020 (LCS) 11.0 57.9% -1,352 439 9.2 28.0%
Summer 2020 (Academy) 3.4 77.2% -378 500 8.7 26.6%
2020 Spring (Academy) 2.7 69.7% -71 459 7.1 20.6%

Stats reflect regular season

Last week, Insanity helped to defeat Golden Guardians before falling, like every other LCS team, to the Cloud9 juggernaut, in a game that saw Insanity hold up against Nisqy far better than Xmithie held up against Blaber, all things considered. He has more to show, but honestly it was enough, for his debut, that he didn’t feed.

What can we expect in general from Insanity in the coming weeks, assuming he holds onto his spot and doesn’t let Eika take it back from him? Look for measured, low-mistake control mage play, with his ability to carry being dependent on how many resources his team gives him in jungle coverage and farm.

In the Spring split, IMT Academy played much more heavily to their side lanes, particularly sacrificing Insanity’s farm to boost Allorim’s CS%P15 to 28.4%, 1.5 percentage points higher than the next-highest Top laner (CLG Deus at 26.9%). That wasn’t necessarily the best context for Insanity to shine, and he struggled to stand out.

Insanity’s play in Academy this split has been characterized by controlled, back-line team fighting. He is more likely to follow an opponent’s roam reactively than he is to create a roam for himself, and his best moments are split between offensive and defensive plays. He has played a lot of Azir, Orianna, Zoe, and Corki this split, offering CC and damage rather than map pressure or immediate kill threat. Good damage and kill participation numbers show that this has been a pretty comfortable role.

In Summer, Insanity has been prioritized more highly, receiving a more average share of the farm, getting involved in more kills, and outputting more damage. But his laning stats have been the weakest of any Academy Mid, despite having Xmithie’s veteran experience alongside him instead of the young Potluck who was with him in Spring.

100 Thieves Poome

Much has been discussed already of Poome’s rapid advancement, from playing with the 100 Thieves Next amateur team in spring to joining 100 Thieves Academy for Summer and now being called up to the LCS after only a few short weeks. That’s a great story for Poome, undoubtedly, but the organizational depth ahead of him at the Support position wasn’t the most stellar, honestly, with Breezyyy showing flashes of potential and Stunt struggling all year (though I’ve personally been more positive about Stunt than most, I believe). Poome still has a lot to prove, and setting sky-high expectations right off the bat isn’t going to do him any favours.

As an aside, though, it does great credit to PapaSmithy and the 100 Thieves organization that they were willing to create their amateur branch and invest in advancing talent from it so quickly. Players need to receive investment in them, in the form of opportunities, coaching, confidence, and a long enough runway that they can realize their potential before their team panics and replaces them with a more “stable” veteran option. I hope more orgs will take a cue from 100T and offer this level of investment, and I hope that 100T will show an appropriate level of patience with Poome.

As for Poome’s performance, given my lack of easy access to amateur scene VODs and stats, we can only look at what he has done so far in three weeks of Academy.

Poome Stats, 2020

Summer 2020 (Academy) 3.1 64.4% 25.4% 1.28 0.39

Stats reflect regular season

In six games so far, Poome has played Nautilus, Taric, Thresh, Sett, Tahm Kench, and Bard. Up until that most recent game, there was a clear preference for tanky champions, skewing towards defensive toolkits, which seems appropriate given that Prismal is the primary carry of the team and Contractz has always liked taking a carry role from the jungle.

Poome’s stats line up pretty well with that champion pool: a slightly high death share, modest KDA, and league-leading wards cleared per minute. On the downside, with so much team fighting strength in his pool, and a job of providing setups and protecting for the team’s main carry, you’d want to see a higher kill participation number.

Poome has shown a willingness to play unselfishly, for example by sacrificing a death to delay the opponents from contesting a Baron sneak. He also has some playmaking flair, and has worked pretty well with Contractz to roam around the map early and create engages. Poome has also pulled the trigger unwisely a few times, without available followup, and gotten himself in trouble, but that’s a natural occurrence for a player who is thinking proactively.

My biggest question for Poome will be how well he can work with Cody Sun in 2v2 laning. The Prismal Poome duo has not fared well in the laning phase, though that is partly due to Contractz placing more of his focus on boosting himself and his solo lanes. Now that Contractz has Ssumday in the top lane and will have to help cover for Ryoma mid, Poome isn’t likely to get any more jungle help than he was getting in Academy. It will be fine if Cody Sun and Poome can play “weak side” effectively, but I’m a little concerned that teams will target the bottom lane and punish hard if there is too much weakness.

Overall, Poome definitely has potential, especially given how little competitive experience he has. I don’t expect him to take the LCS by storm, but with some seasoning and good coaching, he can definitely stick in the LCS this split and possibly find a spot for 2021, as well.