In 2007, LCD Soundsystem released the single “North American Scum.” In was a commentary from James Murphy and company on the perceived image of North America and the lack of unity among its people. How Americans were generally insecure with being labeled as “Americans” and instead turning to other countries for guidance. How do we connect to our ancestral links. In reality, nearly every country goes through a similar issue.
“And for those of you who still think we’re from England, we’re not.”
Yes, it was also that one track from Step Brothers.
Its a track that has incredibly aged well — not just the production of the track nor the genius of James Murphy. The message of the track is very fitting.
In competitive League of Legends, North America has an identity crisis. The region has constantly battled its perception from other regions, classified as the weakest of the power four. And in a weird way, it has constantly accepted that reality.
By importing players, coaches and managers, the region has attempted to re-define itself as accepting of the misfits. Rather than search for the best talent internally in the region, it has instead searched for the best talent externally.
It is an understandable model. Given the resources available in North America — mostly deep pockets — teams are willing to pay the premium for talent they perceived to be a “fit” but may not have a fit in their respective region. Or, in some cases, LCS teams will make the decision to pay the extra, extra premium to bring in top talents and introduce them to the LCS. By doing so, they are forgoing the monetary and time costs of building a talent infrastructure, building the player ecosystem, building a sustainable model for quick hits.
As a fan of the region, it sucks. For high-ranking North American players, it is demoralizing.
The process of importing talent has been a long-standing issue. At first, it was to fill areas of weakness in the region. Back in Season 3, North America was actually recognized for producing some amazing marksmen. However, there was this perceived void in the mid lane and jungle role — leading to Søren “Bjergsen“Bjerg and Marcel”dexter” Feldkamp making the trip over for 2014 Spring.
Author’s note: Yes, technically, Mitch”crepo“Voorspoels, Peter”yellowpete“Wüppen and Stephen”Snoopeh” Ellis were imports, creating the North American version of Evil Geniuses and leaving their two former teammates to create the Alliance roster in Europe. But it was different circumstances. This is what I will tell myself to sleep easy at night.
2014 summer would be another massive shipment. LMQ’s dominant run in the challenger series was one thing. But North America continued to see this problem in their jungle position. A person who shall not be named due to allegations would help lead comLexity Gaming back into the LCS. TSM would bring in Copenhagen Wolves standout Maurice “Amazing” Piece Cutters to replace their long-standing jungle (along with Ham “Lustboy” Jang-sik mid-split for the support position). And Evil Geniuses would bring in legendary jungler Shin “helios” Dong Jin.
This was also the split of Shin “seraph” Woo-yeong — still one of the funniest/saddest stories in LCS’ history given the attention around his signing.
Quietly, North America would build this habit. They would see a position that they were arguably weaker in at international events and look for talent from other regions to teach them their ways — the Avatar method. But, for fans of the show, Aang doesn’t necessarily learn much from his peers. Rather it is how the events shape his personal growth and development. How certain events and moments would improve his general technique and abilities rather than being taught.
We never saw real growth when talent was brought over. Players weren’t improving by rubbing shoulders with certain talent. Primarily, rather, teams lost a sense of confidence in their homegrown talent. It couldn’t be the established player struggling in the new environment and new culture. It was the people already here. Top laners didn’t improve, junglers didn’t approve and North American mids were becoming extinct.
And when Team Liquid would bring in a former world champion and Dignitas would bring in Jo”CoreJJ” Yong-in — before he would become the support we all know in love — as their new marksmen, it set forth a new narrative. The one crown jewel position the region had was no longer good. The era of the NA marksmen was gone.
NA was just bad at everything.
In recent years, there has been an attempt to figure out once again what North America is good at. Unfortunately, there still isn’t a good answer.
Prospects have been able to and are being given an opportunity to make a name for themselves — both academy and in the LCS. milan”tenacity” Oleksiy and Shane Kenneth “kenvi” Espinoza remain two of the most praised prospects still searching for a starting LCS position. joseph joon”jojopyun“Pyun and Kyle”Danny” Sakamaki are already considered success stories of academy development. And names like Maximilian “Chad“Lisitsa, Lawrence Lin”eXyu“Xu, Isaac”DARKWINGS“Chou Jay”Sheiden” and Cheng “Alex” “soul” Luo will all have the opportunity to establish themselves as some of the best for the next generation.
There just hasn’t been any consistency with players getting promoted.
Despite high praise for certain academy systems, rarely are players being promoted internally. Cloud9 and 100 Thieves have been the biggest criminals in this area: constantly producing names of interest but not necessarily bringing them into the majors. Rather, the contracts are sold or the players move elsewhere.
The concept of a “vouch” is very important.
there is quiet no streamlined way to bring in young talent into the majors, players are often brought in based off of recommendations. The systems in place allow for players to , be streamlined into the minor leagues. As a professional player, Yiliang “Peter” “double lift” Peng would do an excellent job at giving young solo queue talents his blessing by duo queuing with them. A great example of this being success would be his work and praise of Douglas Scott “rhino” Reynolds — who would eventually get an opportunity on Team Liquid’s academy team after working together. On social media, community figures and coaches will often retweet players looking for a team or an opportunity in the professional League of Legends space.
And despite competitive League of Legends Heavily favoring player power, players fail to use their power appropriately. It is not new news that players are generally lazy. It is also not new news that players sometimes fail to read the fine print. But, players generally have large platforms to push and pull their ways. Notably, players have been able to construct their ideal line-ups.
The voices are sometimes lost. Or, it could be argued, they just don’t care. Instead, they’ll side with the decisions of management.
There really isn’t a sense of unity among North American players. Rarely are LCS players giving back to the scene where they grew from. They continue to look to distance themselves from it. Not only has it created frustration for the community, it has stunted development and has reinforced the idea of looking elsewhere for talent. Without the proper infrastructure in place, it is very difficult to grow. And while misguided, it has become somewhat understandable why key ownership figures continue to look at places elsewhere to find talent.
There needs to be a better player culture within the region. It starts with the pros.
At some point in time, players of the LCS will need to realize that this is their home — even if moving from another country to play here. It is a good idea to care for your home. The fear of being replaced, the fear of losing your job is understandable and that is something that will only be mended with time and security with an organization.
Fear is also not necessarily a bad thing. It is valuable to have a fire to improve and if that fire isn’t there, maybe competition isn’t the best thing for the player. competitive League of Legends should be treated as a competition industry and players should be rewarded (and reprimanded) depending on their status in said competition.
The LCS region is continuing to move in the right direction from an infrastructure basis, the hope now is to finally have the investment from the people benefiting from the system. The amateur and academy scene continues to grow and improve, it is now all about getting them into the major leagues.
And players have a great opportunity to help themselves. By highlighting a potential great prospect, not only does it improve your credibility and your word, it continues your career. Players cannot — and will not — be professional players forever. But, they may just be in a position to earn a front-office career or a career as a respected pundit.
That’s the idea behind building a great ecosystem. It’s good for everyone. While that may be other people receiving benefits, you are also one of those people in said ecosystem.
You may hate it. But you are North American scum.