League of Legends and the LCS may see a boost in North American talent. 100 Thieves is set to improve domestic talent development with 100 Thieves Next.
It was announced that 100 Thieves would be adding a new League of Legends team to its ranks. The team is named 100Thieves Next. It is an amateur team with a goal of building up North American talent outside of the LCS and Academy scene.
This is a fantastic idea! In fact, I think this idea took way too long to come to fruition. To have an LCS franchise care about player development is an absolute win and going forward I hope every organization follows suit. 100 Thieves deserves praise for this idea.
One of the most well-voiced complaints about the LCS is the league doesn’t do a consistent job of developing homegrown talent. It’s up to the individual teams to try to develop talent, which some are good at and some aren’t. For instance, Cloud9 has been one of the best teams historically at developing talent, giving us players like Licorice, Sneaky, Meteos, and many more.
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Each LCS team does have its own academy team, however, I don’t believe that is enough. Most academy teams have the full five-man roster and maybe a sub, or two if that. It doesn’t really give teams a chance to build a roster with multiple options outside of your starting five.
It also doesn’t help things that most organizations consider the academy as the bench of their LCS team. If an LCS starter goes down you have to turn to an academy player to fill that spot, since they are the only option available to teams. As a result, LCS teams carry veteran players on academy rosters so they can play experienced players on stage if the need arises and play a known player over starting fresh with a rookie.
With most teams operating in win-now mode they are often averse to taking the risk of having multiple rookie players in the same position in their organization. Most teams will sign rookie talent, but they back up that player with an established veteran presence. While this serves the need of the LCS team now, it could hurt the future of an organization if they can’t scout out and develop new talent. Having more academy, or minor league teams could help fix this.
I would compare it to Major League Baseball. In the MLB most teams have four full-season playing teams and a couple of teams that play part of a season. So most franchises have 300 plus minor League players to look at and scout.
If a team needs a pitcher they don’t have to automatically call up their best pitching prospect if he were to be in the lower level of the minors. They could get a veteran player with experience to pitch that game and not lose space for that prospect. It’s a good balance of servicing the needs of the Major League team without sacrificing player development.
It should be the same in League of Legends. Having multiple teams gives you plenty of options for which player you want to substitute into a game, but it wouldn’t take away spots for rookie talent to develop.
I think having a League of Legends minor league system would also give teams a better idea of where players are in their development. Players could move up or down the ranks of teams based on how long they have been playing for an organization, or how close they are to being promoted to the LCS. Players who don’t perform well in academy will have another chance to prove themselves if they don’t play well, rather than just being cut for the next shiny prospect.
This also helps with players building their brand and name recognition. People get excited when star prospects dominate the minor leagues of other sports, why not in League of Legends? If players can build a fan base that watches them as they rise in the ranks, then why not work toward building the fan bases of these players?
Plus imagine the infrastructure professional teams have access to for helping these developing players. They have huge facilities full of equipment, unlike most amateur teams, but I think their most important resource is coaching. The average League of Legends solo queue player isn’t going to have LCS coaching, so having professional level coaching is going to be great for player development.
These young players would also hopefully have access to the academy and LCS teams as scrim partners. This could give them practice time against current professional players to see how well they do against them and what they need to work on.
This could be a good way to measure how a player is developing and what the next step is in the process. Plus the veteran players can teach the rookies about organized team play, which is an adjustment players have to make after coming out of solo queue.