Top 5 2020 LCS Players to Watch
2020 won’t bring a lot of fresh blood to the LCS. That’s unfortunate, especially for a region that is in dire need of young, up-and-coming talent. This season has a respectable list of grizzled veterans, each of whom looks to solidify their legacies further and leave a mark in the tenth season of competitive League. So, let’s take a closer look at five 2020 LCS players you should keep an eye going forward.
These individuals are by no means unknown to the public. Some of them are already legends of the game. Others, however, still haven’t reached that level of recognition and fame, but show more than enough promise to perhaps one day become household names. Regardless of their narratives, all of them possess immense mechanical talent and potential to dominate on the Summoner’s Rift.
So, without any further ado, let’s focus on five 2020 LCS players that should be on your radar going forward!
Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen — Team Liquid, Jungle
Broxah, one of the best junglers Europe ever fostered, is making a move across the pond to play for the best and most successful North American team in history. The fact that he played for such a titan in the LEC speaks volumes about his talent and work ethic. This towering Dane is as likable a player as they come, and his skills on the Rift are every bit as spectacular.
Once Broxah broke through, his play never deteriorated. Despite his fair share of ups and downs over the last three years with Fnatic, Broxah always came through. He’s one LEC’s best players. The fact that Liquid opted to bring him over should tell you one thing and one thing only. They want to improve their odds of finding success on the international stage.
Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is a fantastic jungler. But he’s not synonymous with mechanically intensive champions, nor is he the kind of player who’s going to style on his opposition. He’s well-rounded and consistent. But to leave a mark against the best teams in the world, Liquid needs someone who can dictate the pace of the game. He’s a jungler who can not only go even but even outperform his opponents often. Broxah’s fundamentals are incredibly sound and he’s impactful on tanks and bruisers alike. He’s the perfect fit for Liquid. He’ll re-energize their starting line-up with exciting, proactive plays. He’ll think outside of the box and push Liquid forward.
Broxah should also give us the Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen of yesteryear. It’s no secret that Jensen didn’t perform as well as most expected in 2019. That’s because he found himself in a new team that allocated its resources differently when compared to Cloud9. He also didn’t have an aggressive behemoth to back him up from the jungle position (much like with Cloud9). With Broxah, that changes completely. If Jensen once again starts dominating in the mid lane, Liquid will truly have no weak link or pressure point.
With Broxah aboard, they’re bound to dominate even more than they did in the past. There’s a fascinating question lingering in the air. Will they once again win both splits? It’s impossible to know now. Liquid changed the one thing they had to stand a chance at the international stage.
The outlook is bright for defending champions with every tool necessary to compete with the best teams the world of competitive League has to offer.
Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme — Cloud9, Support
The meteoric rise of Vulcan is a truly fascinating one. You would never guess that he’s such an aggressive playmaker if you judged solely by his on-stage persona. He’s a normal, laidback kind of guy. But give him an engage support champion and Vulcan can wreck house. Because of the former, he’s not exactly getting as much recognition as he deserves. Because of the latter, however, Cloud9 bought out his contract from Clutch Gaming for $1.5 million.
To shell out that kind of money on a player means you’re fully aware of his potential and willing to invest. Fortunately for both parties, Vulcan is worth the high asking price. He might not be the flashiest or most marketable player in the LCS judging solely by his (perfectly natural) persona, his spectacular in-game performances more than compensate.
Vulcan is now a part of a new kind of Cloud9 — one that no longer evokes nostalgia. Without Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi in the line-up, we will likely witness a brand-new incarnation of the fan-favorite organization. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it will take some getting used to.
Cloud9’s decisions during the off-season tell us a very simple thing. They want more aggression and mechanical prowess. You might not agree with every signing, but they’re certainly making proactive moves to shore up their weaknesses and enter 2020 with renewed vigor and determination.
Vulcan will, therefore, lead the charge both in and out of the Rift. He’s the kind of player that engages first and then asks questions later. Pair that with Robert “Blaber” Huang, and you get a lethal “in-your-face” jungle-support duo. That’s both a positive and a negative thing, but if Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu manages to harness and channel it in the right way, there’s no telling how high both LCS players could eventually soar in 2020.
Vulcan’s stock rose tremendously by the end of 2019 and when it comes to LCS players for 2020 he’s easily Cloud9’s best possible pick-up. If things pan out as well as they could, expect Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Vulcan to become a Top 3 bottom lane duo sooner rather than later.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett — Team SoloMid, Jungle
The most recent off-season paired the legendary North American titans Team SoloMid with an experienced (albeit highly volatile) mechanical deity. If the two parties click in the right way, we could very well see the Liquid dynasty challenged on all fronts. If not, then it’ll be a debacle for the ages.
Either way, entertainment will not be absent. Just make sure to have enough popcorn for the whole spectacle.
On the one hand, Dardoch and Team SoloMid sounds like a great match. With an aggressive, mechanically talented, bravado-fueled jungler, Team SoloMid has the best results. When they didn’t, they lacked proactivity. Even when they did decide to make a play, it was mostly without impetus and force. Pairing them with a jungler that is renowned for his aggression, on paper, sounds like a great idea.
On the other hand, this feels like a catastrophe just waiting to happen. Dardoch, for all his immense talent, is notoriously hard to work with and is still, to this day, a question mark. He seems like he’s repented for his prior transgressions but there’s always a lingering “what if.” What if things go awry and he doesn’t take it the right way? How will the team atmosphere be like? Team SoloMid has many veterans. They could, in theory, disagree on how the game should go. Cooler heads should then prevail, but if you have someone who’s bad-tempered then you have an unknown, uncontrollable factor — an uncertainty.
And even though Dardoch proved his worth over the years and looks perfectly reformed, one simply must wonder whether it is enough. Competing under the Team SoloMid banner is at once both a sentence and a luxury. Playing for any other LCS team is, in comparison, child’s play. If, on the other hand, you carry the legendary black and white jersey you automatically have a target on your back, and many players throughout history crumbled under the immense pressure.
Dardoch, as someone who’s particularly susceptible to pressure, might not be the best possible candidate for the job, regardless of his spectacular skillset.
You might say Team SoloMid, as a premier esports organization, can give their mechanically talented jungler guidance, to harness his immense potential and, therefore, stop any possible implosion. But we mustn’t forget that Team SoloMid, for all their history and many accolades. They rarely exercised good judgment when it came to player development and overall coaching.
In the end, we’re all dying to see how well Dardoch will play under the Team SoloMid banner in a matter of weeks. If things “click” there’s no telling how high this five-man line-up could go.
Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro — Evil Geniuses, Mid Lane
One of two high-profile imports from Europe. Unlike Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, however, no one saw Jiizuke’s transfer coming. There was no apparent reason for it to happen, either. Jiizuke is one of the best mid laners in Europe, but no one expected him to be highly sought-after, let alone by an organization like Evil Geniuses.
2020 marks the next true chapter for the “Italian Stallion” who’ll make the jump across the pond to compete in North America. From the Challenger Series with Giants Gaming, over Team Vitality to Evil Geniuses. Not the most cliché trajectory in the world, but a fascinating one, nonetheless.
We shouldn’t overanalyze his 2019 season either as it was a confusing kerfuffle that ended on a rather underwhelming note. What is for certain, however, is that Jiizuke played without a jungler. Seeing how his bottom lane underperformed often, it was an unenvious position. His KDA in Spring was 10 and a meager 2.2 in Summer. He ranked near the top in nearly every statistic in Spring. Yet, he fell off a cliff once Summer came along. Jiizuke’s play deteriorated, but his team failed to perform, which eventually affected him as well.
Evil Geniuses, however, will provide the Italian talent with one of the best bottom lanes in the region, along with the 2019 Summer Split MVP in the jungle. In short, he upgraded beyond his wildest dreams with the honor of competing with some of the best players on the LCS stage in 2020.
Jiizuke can now show the world what he’s made of. While he’ll probably need a bit of time to acclimate to an entirely different region, you can expect to see the best Jiizuke to date sooner rather than later.
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen — Evil Geniuses, Jungle
Svenskeren is a fascinating specimen. Many felt that he peaked a long time ago (2016 with Team SoloMid, for example). Yet, he’s finding new and unique ways to surprise us constantly. His stint with Cloud9 was a career-changing experience. After going through thick and thin with Team SoloMid, Svenskeren was in dire need of a team that would grant him freedom. He’s a carnivorous kind of player. If he’s shackled to a certain playstyle or forced to adhere to a certain set of rules that don’t come naturally to him, he’s bound to underperform.
With Team SoloMid, he was a supercar stuck in rush hour.
Cloud9, on the other hand, gave him absolute freedom. They allowed him to do whatever he felt was right. Even though it didn’t always pan out as expected, his incredible play often pushed Cloud9 over the finish line. That holds especially true for last year. His uncanny ability to dominate and hard carry was quickly recognized. Soon enough, the MVP award found its rightful owner.
2020 will give us another look at the legendary Dane. He’ll now play for his third North American organization. No one’s quite sure what to expect. Will they be as relaxed and forgiving as Cloud9? Or will they try and alter his natural playstyle? So far, it seems like they’re looking to do the latter, but we cannot be too sure before seeing Evil Geniuses in action.
If anything, he’ll surround himself with equally spectacular players and playmakers. If they all get on the same page, they could very well end up in the Top 3.
Evil Geniuses’ return to the LCS gave North America yet another top-tier challenger. It’ll be exciting to see how well they’ll stack up against the many perennial LCS titans.
That’s it for our list of five 2020 LCS players you should keep an eye on over the coming months! Regardless if they’re veterans of the game or up-and-coming players bound to become household names, they all stand a chance of leaving a mark this year.