Taking over Faker’s Throne – Presenting 6 LCK MVP Candidates

The 2018 LCK Spring Split is coming to an end. The playoff race is still taking place and it’s very tense. Everything is soon going to be clear, but before that happens, let’s look at the players that had the most impact on how things went throughout the whole split.

While judging every player I first looked at their importance in their team and then analyzed their performance along the way taking consistency and impact on the games as two main factors.

6. Park “TusiN” Jong-ik

TusiN was the primary source of engage for Afreeca Freecs and made them a very decisive force. Photo courtesy of Inven Global Flickr

Coming in sixth place is TusiN – a former jungler that roleswapped to support hoping to find a place for himself. Known for very good Thresh performances, the player has evolved from a solid support last year to a major playmaker this season. TusiN is not afraid to go for the big plays and it usually pays off – his good teleport usage (thanks Summoner’s Spellbook) and the proficiency in engaging fights for his team made Afreeca Freecs one of the most decisive formations in the LCK. It would not be an overstatement to say that he was the best support in the League in Spring, and what can be said for sure is that he definitely was one of the most impactful players!

5. Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk

Ruler’s teamfight positioning was the saving grace of KSV. Photo courtesy of Inven Global Flicker

It is not an unusual situation in Korea for a World Champion to have a shaky split after winning the Championship. It has happened many times in the history of the region, but the way almost every single member of KSV (ex-Samsung Galaxy) suddenly started underperforming is unsettling. There are a lot of reasons and analysis to be done, but instead of cracking the team’s problems I wanted to focus on Ruler. The AD Carry has maintained the level of play the whole world admired him for last year. His teamfight positioning is unmatched by any other marksman and if there was one player that kept KSV so high in the standings considering their form, it definitely was Ruler.

4. Han “Peanut” Wang-ho 

Peanut’s current form and playstyle on Kingzone DragonX is reminiscent of his domination during 2016 with ROX Tigers. Photo courtesy of lolesports

Peanut’s year on SKT was… underwhelming. Despite his occasional ups and much more frequent downs, it felt like Peanut was held back by the way the team needed him to play. Known for an aggressive style, the player was in a way reduced to a vision bot with jungle control being his primary goal. This year, Peanut is going off, similarly to when he was a part of the famous ROX Tigers roster. The jungler is playing off of strong lanes and using solo lane pressure to invade his opposition. In Kingzone, his style is even further complimented by the fact that both Bdd and Khan are one of the best if not the best in their roles. That made Peanut’s life this much easier and caused him to dominate every single jungle in the league and have an enormous influence on how the Kingzone DragonX machine works. The most terrifying part of his form is that throughout the split, Peanut kept improving and in my opinion, felt like the best performing member in the latter parts of Spring.

3. Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong

Bdd’s map play was one of the key aspects of Kingzone DragonX domination. Photo courtesy of Inven Global Flickr

Despite Peanut’s massive improvement and impressive performances in the later stages of the split, the player who felt like the man responsible for Kingzone’s success was Bdd. The midlaner was the most consistent player in the team and controlled the middle parts of the map extremely well. His usage of global and semi-global ults was also superb and allowed for dominance in the bot and top lane. Four of his five most played champions are Ryze, Taliyah, Galio and Sion – one thing that connects them all, is the ability to influence the map and Bdd was using them to the fullest potential. The young midlaner has been a huge factor in Kingzone’s unmatched rotations and cross-map plays and deserves to be recognised as one of the best midlaners in Korea.

2. Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng

Kuro was one of the most consistent players in the whole league. Photo courtesy of Inven Global Flickr

Kuro is one of my personal heroes of the LCK. After being blamed for ROX Tiger’s failures by the community, he went to join Afreeca Freecs and prove his worth once again. Good performances last year seemed like a redemption in the eyes of most, but Kuro did not stop. This year he came back and struck harder than ever. Having played 12 different champions, the most of any midlaner in the League, he looked dominant on most of them and was super consistent. If Bdd was the cross-map play master, then Kuro was the roaming God – he managed to impact other games no matter the pick, while still recognizing his own win conditions and power spikes well. Whether it was Galio, Corki or Kassadin mid, Kuro was able to have a huge influence over other lanes and along with TusiN was responsible for most of the Afreeca Freecs setups.

1. Park “Teddy” Jin-seong

Teddy is by far the most impactful player in the League Champions Korea pulling off insane numbers and performing like a champion. Photo courtesy of Inven Flickr

I’ve had a lot of problems while making the list of six players that deserved the MVP titles. This split of LCK was very competitive and there were a lot of names that stood out. After a brief conversation with Manuel Martínez, I changed my mind from giving the #1 to Kuro, as I originally intended.

What Manuel pointed out was that there was no other player as crucial to their team’s success as Teddy. Despite not being as consistent as Kuro, Teddy delivered games and performances that reminded me of season 2, when a single player could sway a result just by making a huge play. From a statistical point of view, Teddy had the highest damage per minute and damage percentage of all players in the LCK. He was also fed almost 30% of the team’s gold. The amount of faith and resources Jin Air Green Wings put into Teddy would be burdening for any veteran player and this is only Teddy’s second competitive year. There’s not much more to be said – Teddy single-handedly won many games for his team and delivered whenever he was needed to deliver, making other great AD Carries look small while doing that.

He might not be the very best player in the league – but he most certainly is the Most Valuable Player in comparison to the rest of his team.

Honourable Mention: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok

SKT’s jungle issues have impacted Faker’s performance heavily after Peanut left. Photo courtesy of lolesports

If you asked me about the probable candidates for an MVP award before the split started, I would probably mention Faker as one of them. Unfortunately, as hard as he tried to carry his team, it was quite obvious that with poorly performing lanes and a lot of jungle issues, the middle lane was often a collateral victim. Faker didn’t play bad, but except for the games where there was nothing to be done about the result, he also had a few horrid performances that ultimately made him feel a little less valuable compared to the other players that made the list.

My final thought is that there are many other players that deserved recognition for their performances but no one stood out as much as the players listed. It may be surprising to not see a single KT Rolster player here, but despite having good performances here and there, all of the players have made severe mistakes and failed the team one way or the other – which is why none of them deserved to be put ahead of the ones mentioned above.

 

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Tomasz Milaniuk

Tomasz Milaniuk is a Polish writer who has been spending his last years writing about the Korean and European esports scene. His ability to analyze games and the abilities of individual players have made him a valuable resource within the League of Legends and CSGO communities respectively.

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