LCS: How to Use College Players to Grow the NA Talent Pool

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images.
Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images. /
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League of Legends College Championship. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
League of Legends College Championship. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /

North American LCS teams are failing to take advantage of a prime opportunity by tapping into the talent that exists at the college level.

How to find, develop, and evaluate talent has always been the core question plaguing LCS teams. While teams scramble to find the next Nemesis from a small European league or spend boatloads of money to bring in Jiizuke or Huni to help raise their team’s level, a rich talent pool remains untapped and undeveloped: the League of Legends college scene.

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Currently, there are 14 different collegiate divisions with between six and twenty teams per division. That is somewhere between 80 (conservatively) and 200 teams competing with at least five players on their roster. That’s between 400 and 1,000 college League of Legends players, participating in a structured, competitive environment with no real path to a professional career.

As of right now, there are 11 players in either LCS or Academy who played on college teams. Names of the college alumni in the LCS include Philippe “Poome” Lavoie-Giguere (Harrisburg University) and Austin “Gate” Yu (University of British Columbia). For the Academy ranks, the list is considerably longer: Aaron “FakeGod” Lee (UC Santa Barbara), Max “Soligo” Soong (CU Boulder), Brindon “Breezyyy” Keesey (Arizona State), Frank “Tomo” Lam (Harrisburg University), Juan “JayJ” Guibert (University of Toronto), Alexander “Gorica” Gorica (Western University), David “Yusui” Bloomquist (Carnegie Mellon), Elijah “Yama” Kim (Indiana University), and Winston “Winston” Herold (Western University) all spent some time playing competitive League in college.

Don’t get me wrong, having about 10% (11 out of over 100 LCS and Academy players) with some college experience is nothing to sneeze at. But what is quite striking is how many players spent a year or less on college teams before moving on to a regional league, Academy, or even LCS eventually. It’s also notable that almost half of the players who go to play at the collegiate level already played in LCS or Academy.

This indicates that players are not looking at the college level as a place they can realistically develop, but more as a stop somewhere they can play until they get another shot. And there’s nothing wrong with college being a temporary landing spot in a player’s career. That said, it’s also a missed opportunity for the player to develop.