A core consideration in building a League of Legends roster is creating flexibility in the team’s game plans. Where will the resources go—the jungle pressure, the draft priority, the gold—and where will the damage come from each game? On the best teams, there are multiple viable options for investing resources. But sometimes, a team has to put all of its eggs in one basket and ask someone to be their every-game star.
Here are four LCS players who are most likely to find themselves in a “1v9” solo-carry position through the 2020 Spring split.
When they hit the Rift this season, 100 Thieves will have some interesting resource-allocation decisions to make. How much should Meteos, Stunt, and Ssumday shape their early-game movement to bring them into the mid lane area to help out ry0ma while he’s getting up to speed in the LCS? Should the team work out its drafts to emphasize the strengths of Ssumday and Cody Sun, or to make ry0ma as comfortable as possible? Should they make game plans that prioritize bot side control and dragon stacking, making Cody Sun and Stunt the strong side, or should they play more of a tower-oriented style with Rift Herald priority and strong-side Ssumday?
I suspect 100 Thieves will build their strategies around Ssumday, giving ry0ma conservative scaling champions who can farm comfortably in lane while Ssumday drafts counterpicks and bullies his opponent with lots of support from Meteos. Ssumday is by far the team’s strongest player, the one most likely to pay back a big return on the resources invested into him. He can pick his long-favoured Renekton or another team fighting bruiser, or he can pick up a dedicated split pusher. Either way, he can absolutely take over games.
I’m a fan of playing to your strengths, rather than trying to shore up your weaknesses, and giving Ssumday the reins to carry 100 Thieves will be the right call for this team. As long as ry0ma can follow Meteos’s lead and be ready to join roams and skirmishes on time, it’s a game plan that can definitely work, particularly in the early weeks as teams are still finding their synergy and relying more on mechanics and instincts.
FlyQuest made a nice upgrade when they signed PowerOfEvil as their new mid laner. Last year, they lacked a reliable star to build game plans around. Pobelter was arguably just as good as PowerOfEvil in laning—the players had very similar laning stats during 2019—but PoE is a more explosive carry in the mid and late game. He heavily outpaced Pobelter’s damage numbers, posting 536 DPM to Pobelter’s 462 in Spring 2019 and 486 to Pobelter’s 417 in Summer 2019. If FlyQuest sets him up properly, PoE will be able to carry a lot of games.
WildTurtle and V1per are both viable carry candidates, but PowerOfEvil is more capable than either of those side lanes in creating his own lead, without requiring as much outside help. Even if he doesn’t need as much help to win his lane, though, he’ll probably get plenty of it, so that he can accelerate. Santorin has strong pathing and creates a lot of successful ganks: he was one of the best early-game junglers in the LCS in 2019. And the addition of IgNar in the bottom lane could also help PowerOfEvil just as much as it helps Wildturtle, because IgNar is a capable roamer and playmaker.
FlyQuest will be wise to design drafts and game plans that pivot around PoE.
See above discussion re: Ssumday, but in some ways even more so! Huni is the prototypical 1v9 top laner, for better or for worse, and with the money Dignitas is paying him, that’s exactly the player they need him to be.
Dignitas have a weaker bot lane than 100 Thieves, which places even more emphasis on Huni to play the carry role. But while Huni’s team arguably needs him to carry more than 100T need Ssumday, it’s a little less likely that it will actually happen, because a) Ssumday will probably be getting better help from his jungler, b) DIG’s opponents will probably focus very hard on attacking and shutting down Huni, and c) DIG probably won’t win as many games as 100T.
All of that being said, the Huni+Froggen pairing is strong enough that DIG will pull off some wins, and whenever DIG does win, expect to see a huge scoreline from Huni. He’s easily a good enough player to steal some victories with his mechanics, and his teammates are aware of that, so they’ll be working hard to put him in a position to succeed.
Including Altec on this list might be reaching a little, since we haven’t seen him play professionally since he played for Echo Fox in 2018. But the makeup of the Immortals roster puts a lot of carry burden on Altec’s shoulders, and it’s not unreasonable to believe him capable of delivering, especially given the strength of the utility players surrounding him. In Summer 2017, Altec was fifth among starting ADCs in KDA, second in GD10, and sixth in DPM: respectable numbers, if not overly impressive. In Spring 2018, he was fourth among starting ADCs in KDA, but his GD10 was tenth and his DPM was seventh.
With soaZ and his weak-side play style in the top lane, Altec is sure to see his team play bot-focused strategies more often than not. His partner at support, Hakuho, is good in 2v2 laning, and typically prefers to play aggressively, pushing up to the enemy tower. Xmithie has a clear recipe laid out for how he should plan his jungle pathing, and Eika’s job will be to support that plan by contributing to river vision control and either isolating the bottom lane to let Altec and Hakuho keep shoving, or roaming down to create skirmishes or tower dives.
The Immortals might get creative and try to have soaZ or Eika wear the carry mantle, but in my opinion, they’ll be wiser to give that role to Altec. Assuming they do so, the team’s success will largely depend on whether Altec is up to that task.
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Photos courtesy flickr.com/lolesports