LCS Summer 2020: The Three Ways to Define MVP of the Split

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

With the LCS Summer Split drawing to a close, let’s take a look at who fits the three different definitions for MVP ahead of the voting.

The Best LCS Player

The definition of MVP that many voters will use is: “the best player in the league.” While many are quick to point out that this is a different award from MVP (it would be something like Most Outstanding Player), this criteria has become common enough that we should assume that some voters will use it.

The problem with this definition, from my point of view, is that you have traded one subjective term (“valuable”) for another (“best”). Who the “best” player in the LCS is comes down to the viewer’s own opinions and what criteria they will use.

Generally, though, it seems that voters view the “best” LCS player as the one who makes the most high-impact plays and the least unforced errors. By this view, most voters have identified Team Liquid support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in as the best player in the league. Other names often mentioned include TSM mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Cloud9’s jungler and reigning MVP Robert “Blaber” Huang, Golden Guardians jungler Can “Closer” Çelik, and C9 mid Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer.

All of these players, especially CoreJJ, have very compelling cases for winning the award. CoreJJ has helped to mold a rookie into one of the best ADCs in the league, Bjergsen has largely carried an unstable TSM to a strong split, Blaber and Nisqy both drive play for one of the best teams in the league, and Closer is the best player on a team no one thought had a shot at Worlds.

The problem, at least to me, is that these are all narratives that confirm existing biases about these players. CoreJJ is a former MVP candidate (and many think he should have won) and World Champion, so of course he should be the best support in the league. Blaber is the defending MVP, so of course, he should be in consideration again this split. Bjergsen is one of the greatest NA players of all time, so with his best split in years why wouldn’t he be an MVP contender?

Not only do these narratives allow us to overlook some of these players’ biggest flaws (CoreJJ is one of the lowest-damage supports despite picking high-damage champions, Bjergsen’s laning hasn’t been nearly as good as some of his contemporaries, and Blaber hogs a lot of resources compared to other junglers) they prevent us from evaluating a player beyond his highlights and blooper reels. This is why statistics matter so much because they give context to what players are doing in the times when the camera is not on them.

If you want to make a pick for MVP based on who played the best, CoreJJ is probably going to end up being your choice. Maybe, if you think that Core’s “value” is diminished by the quality of teammates around him, you’ll pick Bjergsen. In my opinion, though, neither of those players should be serious considerations for the award based on the other two criteria.