LCS: Observations from the 2020 North American Scouting Grounds

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images.
Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images. /

The LCS Scouting Grounds event recently concluded.

One of the most talked-about ways to improve the LCS’s performance at the League of Legends World Championship is to have more emphasis on scouting and developing native talent. This past week this plan was being put into action with North American Scouting Grounds, or NASG. Although 2020 was not the first time NASG was held, more eyes were on the event than ever before following another disappointing Worlds performance.

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The event took place from November 9th-14th 2020.  Four players from every League of Legends role were invited and drafted onto teams representing the four elemental drakes. They then played a double round-robin of best of three matches.

The top two teams faced off in a winners bracket final, a best-of-three series, while the bottom two play in a third-place match. Additionally, one player will also be named MVP of the event.

The event then culminated in the 2020 LCS Draft. Each team in the LCS had one pick, with pick order being determined by the final standings of the past Summer Split (Immortals had the top pick, while TSM  picked last).

Fire Power

Overall team Infernal Drake had the best performance at Scouting Grounds 2020 as a unit. During the round-robin portion of the event, they went 6-0 in matches with a 12-3 game record to earn the top seed for the finals. Sadly they fell 2-1 to Ocean in the finals, but still finished with the best record overall.

On top of that, all five of their players were selected in the 2020 SCG draft.  Zheng “Tony Top” Fen was the first layer from Infernal drafted at number one to Immortals, while TSM selected Quentin “Shoryu”  Pereira with the number tenth and final pick.

100 Thieves Next Thrives

It’s no stranger to readers of my work, how much I love to cover and hype up 100 Thieves Next. They continue to build quality talent and their performance here at Scouting Grounds shows it. They had four players from the team be invited to this event and three were drafted.

Two of the first three picks in the draft were 100 Thieves Next members, as Sean “Yeon” Sung was selected by CLG at number two, while Jouhan “Copy” Pathmanathan was selected by Dignitas a pick later. Xin “nxi” Dinh was selected ninth, by Flyquest, but was constantly talked about being a top-three talent in the draft.  100 Thieves Next definitely is meeting the goal of developing new talent in the region.

Maryville gets an honorable mention by having two of the three players that they sent to the event being drafted. Aiden “Niles” Tidwell went fourth to Golden Guardians and Jordan “Shady” Robison went seventh to Cloud9.

ADC’s take center stage

ADC was the position with the most drafted players, as three of the four invited bot laners were selected during the draft.  Yeon was the highest-drafted ADC at number two overall, while Shoryu was drafted at number ten and was the last ADC selected. Trevor “Spawn” Kerr-Taylor was the other drafted bottom laner as he went eighth to Team Liquid.

Support was the position that saw the least number of picks with just a single player drafted in the role. Shady was the only support drafted by a team.  Top lane, mid lane, and jungle each had two players selected per role.

That said, two of the first four picks in the draft were top laners, so it’s clear that there was some high priority on top lane in the draft.  ADC was the preferred role in the later stages as two of the final three picks came from this role.

100 Thieves Sell pick

Nine LCS teams made a pick in this draft. 100 Thieves was the only team to sell their draft pick which they did to Golden Guardians.  The move raised some eyebrows, as with the 100 Thieves Next program, you would think they would place a high value on the draft and selecting top talent to place on that team.

If nothing else you would think they would want to try and have the exclusive sighing window to keep some of the former 100 Thieves Next players in the organization by drafting them.  I’m not quite sure what made them sell the pick, but hopefully, it was worth it.

Golden Guardians picked up the extra draft pick, which was in the number four spot to go alongside their original pick at number six.  They got Niles, who should be in consideration for their Academy spot, or even possibly the starting spot with the departure of Hauntzer in free agency with their extra pick GGS picked up Jong-yun “Yunbee” Choi as a possible new mid laner. With the massive roster shakeup were hearing about from GG, having a couple fresh players to develop my not be a bad thing.

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I do hope this year’s draft picks fare better than last year’s. In 2019 only one draft pick signed with the team that drafted them. Though out of the 10 picks in last year’s draft five are currently with LCS Academy teams, so hopefully 2020’s event will continue to keep the trend of finding new talent and giving them a shot at the LCS continues.