The best teams in the world will be in Europe next month competing at the League of Legends World Championship, which also means some of the best players in the world will be vying to lift the Summoner's Cup. Two years after Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok last reached a world championship final, is he still the best player on his own team? Is Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon on the verge of a breakout tournament like Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok had at last year's worlds? Which version of Rasmus "Caps" Winther will show up at worlds? Below is everything you need to know about these players and the rest of the top 20 players at worlds this year.
1. Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, jungler, G2 Esports
Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski is the engine of a well-oiled G2 Esports machine. Indeed, he was their most important contributor during the team's 2019 LEC campaign. Alongside Luka "Perkz" Perković, he sets the game's tempo and, should the game not be decided by the 10-minute mark, acts as a front-line threat during teamfights. In the current meta, Jankos paves the way for swift takeovers with one map movement at a time, whether he skips a camp to gank at Level 2, delays a camp takedown to throw off his opponents' expectations or executes a map split to perfection. With G2's solid team chemistry, he can move past mistakes he used to commit -- mistakes that have grown rare in 2019.
Additionally, surrounded by strong laners and teamfighters, Jankos' impeccable reading of lane states and the map eases G2's map takeover process. His proactivity in the early game and adaptability beyond the early part of the game have proved baneful to teams that act predictably, and it will again at worlds.
-- Adel Chouadria
2. Kim "Clid" Tae-min, jungler, SK Telecom T1
Since 2013, SK Telecom T1 has gone where Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok took them. He was the driver, and the rest of the team, whose roster shuffled around him as the years went by, were the passengers. After Faker and SKT failed to make the world championship in 2018, the roster shuffled again, and a new team was built around Faker with four new high-end starters. The most important, in the jungle, was Kim "Clid" Tae-min, a South Korean-born jungler who debuted in China in 2016.
While Faker still is, well, Faker, and sits as one of the best mid laners in the world, he no longer enters (at least for now) worlds as the most important player for SKT. If Faker wants to lift his unprecedented fourth Summoner's Cup, it will be because of Clid, who is the catalyst for the team. When Clid is at his best, like he was in the most recent LCK playoffs, he is the best jungler in the world. In the LCK playoffs, his job was to set up his laners, specifically Faker, to succeed, and he did just that. During the opening game of the LCK summer final between SKT and Griffin, Clid's Elise synced up with Faker's Renekton to shut down their opponents' lane-focused Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon before he could catch his breath. Over the course of SKT's run to a second straight LCK title, Clid averaged over seven assists per game. Those are the numbers Clid needs to put up for SKT to add a fourth star to their crest, and based on how Clid played in the LCK playoffs, Clid is ready to play point guard for the surging South Korean superpower.
-- Tyler Erzberger
3. Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, AD carry, Invictus Gaming
When people think of Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, they think of the small 18-year-old world champion, hoisting the giant world championship trophy last year. They also think of the superstar AD carry who might get a little too excited and find himself in the middle of four enemies after using Kai'Sa's Killer Instinct. This year, we got a little less of that, as JackeyLove reeled in some of his crazy plays to become arguably the best AD carry in the world.
Invictus Gaming looked untouchable at the end of worlds last year and during the group stage at this year's Mid-Season Invitational, but toward the end of MSI and the LPL summer season, things got really bad for the LPL's first world champion. In a year when mid laner Song "Rookie" Eui-jin and the worlds final MVP Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning weren't the same, JackeyLove stepped up to be the primary carry and make the difference for iG in its down season. This year, it's not about Uzi being the best AD carry in the world, but his junior, JackeyLove.
-- Xander Torres
4. Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao, AD carry, Royal Never Give Up
JackeyLove might be the most hyped AD carry going in the world championship, but Uzi is still right there with him as the main carry of Royal Never Give Up and the greatest AD carry of all time. The latter matters less in this context, as the rankings are focused on summer performances, but Uzi continued to be excellent in a roller-coaster season for RNG. RNG's focus on bot lane and lack of willingness to diversify their playstyle is frustrating, but if any player is worth doing that for, it's certainly Uzi. Still a monster in both lane and teamfights, Uzi is once again one of the most hyped players going into worlds. The only difference is that he's not favored as the best player in the world, or on a team that's favored to take the world title. It might just be that lack of pressure that makes the difference for Uzi and RNG in Europe this year.
5. Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, mid lane, FunPlus Phoenix
There's a lot to like about Doinb. From the interesting way he sees the game and moves in and out of lane to his slightly off-meta champion picks, to his tankier build choices, to his effervescent personality and interesting-looking dog, Doinb is magnetic on and off the Rift. His style has been essential to FPX's success this year, and during the summer, this culminated in his first LPL title after trying for nearly five years.
Doinb is also one of the most difficult players to rank on any list. He's invaluable to the way that FPX play, but on a list that places mechanical or more individually impressive achievements higher than value to a team, he could easily rank lower. This isn't to knock his mechanics in any way, but he's not a laning monster in the same way as someone like Griffin's Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon. The reason why Doinb is this high on our list is because FPX are so good at playing their style, and that style is based around Doinb. His awareness and influence on FPX's side lanes, at the cost of his own mid-lane resources, is one of the primary reasons that FPX is at worlds as China's No. 1-seeded team.
-- Emily Rand
6. Park "Teddy" Jin-seong, bot lane, SK Telecom T1
For two years, Teddy was the star of the Jin Air Green Wings. His mechanical skill was remarkable, and as the strongest player on the team, he received the majority of his team's resources. That Jin Air team was so bot-lane-focused that many wondered how Teddy would do on a team like SK Telecom T1, that wouldn't give him nearly as much attention, despite being a team that frequently relies on a scaling bottom lane. Yet, Teddy has proven time and again over the entirety of this year that he's a force to be reckoned with, and his consistency has been a driving factor behind SKT's LCK success this year. Teddy does not receive the same amount of resources or attention that he did while on Jin Air, but still holds his own well in lane and shines in the mid-to-late-game teamfights that SKT loves.
7. Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok, top laner, Invictus Gaming
Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok is a force of nature. When TheShy plays, it sometimes seems like stat lines and items don't matter. He could have given up a few kills in lane, been down an item and have a K/D/A scoreline of 2/5/1 on Aatrox, but at the same time still appear to be the strongest player in the game. It's a quality few players have. It's not often that it seems TheShy is out of a game or not influencing it in some way, even if his confidence bordering on arrogance leads him to a less than glamorous beginning to a game.
In our Mid-Season Invitational top 20 players feature, TheShy was No. 1, our consensus "best player in the world" titleholder. At MSI, TheShy had the highest of highs at the tournament with a highlight-reel performance on Akali versus G2 Esports that will go down in the record books, but he also had some of the lowest of lows with games in which it seemed like he was sleepwalking. In the end, Invictus Gaming fell to Team Liquid in the semifinals and the team has been in disarray ever since, only coming together in the LPL regional final to qualify for worlds and give themselves a chance at defending their world championship.
While TheShy no longer sits at the head of the class, he still might be the scariest player to go up against in the entire tournament. It was at last year's world championship where TheShy really became the international star he is considered today, and no matter if his scoreline looks pretty or not, come the late game, the enemy team should be sweating.
8. Martin "Wunder" Hansen, top lane, G2 Esports
Versatile top laner Martin "Wunder" Hansen is the second top laner to appear in the top 20 and the best top laner among Western teams. His strong laning phase, roaming and teleport plays have facilitated G2's ascent to the top. Equipped with an absurdly large champion pool, Wunder has performed split pushes, brawled from the front lines, assassinated targets (see: Akali and Irelia), played Annie (why not?) and even healed (with an absurd Soraka top-lane pick). Unless he has faced a strong counterpick (blame GrabbZ's drafts for that), he is a reliable contributor to G2's victories. In tandem with Rasmus "Caps" Winther (with whom he shares too many flex picks), Wunder's play provides G2 with devastating side lane pressure potential. Depending on his pick, matchups, as well as the game's circumstances, he has taken over games on his own.
9. Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon, top laner, Damwon Gaming
Think about where TheShy was last year and you have Damwon's Nuguri. Heading into the 2018 world championship, TheShy was well-respected as a prodigal talent and was possibly the best lane-dominant player in the world. All he needed was the international exposure and to prove himself on the largest stage.
A year later, TheShy is one of the most well-known names in League of Legends, he's a world champion and a megastar. That's what Nuguri could be if he plays as well as he has at times this year. Damwon is Nuguri's team, and how far they go might depend on how far the top laner can carry them.
If you think of the top lane like a football field, then Nuguri spends almost the entirety of the laning phase in his opponent's end zone. He attacks relentlessly and doesn't let up. If you leave Nuguri to his own devices and attack Damwon's weak side (the bottom lane) then he's happy, because he's able to farm and will crush you in the late game. If the opposing team zones in on him and repeatedly tries to keep him down in lane, punishing his forward positioning in-lane and overaggressive tendencies, he's even happier, because it opens up the rest of the map for his team. Nuguri is a rookie wanting to walk down the same road TheShy did in 2018.
At last year's worlds, TheShy starred, while whispers about Nuguri and Damwon blowing out world championship teams in scrimmages were common. During MSI this year, G2's Wunder named Nuguri as the one top laner he wished to face who wasn't at the tournament. While a rookie, Nuguri has been on the radar of the world's best for over a year. Now, it's time to see if he can turn those whispers and backroom hype into the real thing.
10. Shi "Ming" Sen-Ming, support, Royal Never Give Up
Uzi is always the first player who comes up when discussing RNG, but Ming should always be second. Ming has arguably been the most important player on RNG for the last few years, and his value as both a communicator and mechanically talented support knows no bounds. Whether he's playing Alistar, Braum, Janna or another champion, he performs at the highest level. Not only that, but he maintains nearly perfect early-game synergy with jungler Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan, who was arguably the team's missing piece to becoming a perennial international contender. The vision-control relationship between the two has been messy at times but ultimately great when competition is at the highest level.
Being 10th on this list might be a little low for Ming given his reputation and past performances, but he's still the highest ranked support, with Suning's Hu "SwordArT" Shuo-Chieh missing out on the tournament and SKT's Cho "Mata" Seyoung sitting on the bench.
11. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, mid laner, SK Telecom T1
Faker has played in four world championships in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. He made the final in each of those tournaments, winning the first three and losing the fourth. After a year absent from the tournament that turned the wunderkind into a megastar and one of the most famous competitive video game players, Faker is back, with redemption on his mind.
Yet, here he sits at No. 11, the third SKT player mentioned in our ranking. This is a new Faker. This isn't the Faker of 2017 who was forced onto Galio each game so he could use the champion's ultimate to save his tilting side lanes and make sure he could carry them to victory. This is a T1 team that doesn't need Faker to always be the headlining star. He slinks into a background role in a lot of games now, with Teddy's late-game heroics and Clid's slick engages becoming the lifeline for the winningest franchise in League of Legends history.
Still, this is Faker. This is worlds. Teddy might be the late-game carry and Clid might be the most influential player on the map, but when SKT needed him to come up big at this year's MSI, he did just that and was the best performing player for SKT in their losing effort to G2 Esports in the semifinal. For Faker, nothing short of redemption for that final loss to Samsung Galaxy two years ago at worlds will be considered a fruitful trip for the GOAT.
12. Park "Viper" Do-hyeon, bot lane, Griffin
This is likely the most contentious name here, especially considering Griffin teammates Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon and Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong aren't on the list. Chovy is a remarkably strong laner, the likes of which South Korea hasn't seen in a while, but his out-of-lane awareness and ability to translate his laning leads into Griffin successes have been lacking this summer, especially when he's not on one of his favorite champions like Akali or Irelia. While integrating top laner Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon, a lot more has been asked of the remaining Griffin starting four, and no other player has done more with comparatively little on the team than Viper.
Viper is here due to his flexibility, which was already a key factor in Griffin's success last summer when the bottom lane opened up to champions like Ryze and Vladimir (and yes, he was the one who played bot lane Teemo as well). Unlike a lot of bot laners at this tournament, Viper has a far less flexible mid in Chovy who, with jungle attention and a winning lane matchup, can take over a game, but he needs more help from the rest of the team to do so. This is help that Viper provides due to his stability, which is sometimes remarkable given the oddly restrictive champion pool of support Son "Lehends" Si-woo.
13. Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song, support, FunPlus Phoenix
While Doinb will inevitably have the spotlight whenever it's pointed in FPX's direction, Crisp is behind some of FPX's greatest successes and impressive teamfights. In FPX's LPL final victory, Crisp earned MVP for his own roams and ability to apply pressure alongside Doinb. When Royal Never Give Up focused on diving FPX's bot lane over and over, it was Crisp who was able to keep FPX bot laner Lin "Lwx" Wei-Xiang safe so he could take over teamfights on Kai'Sa. He did this on Alistar and Nautilus, the latter of which can be a valuable flex pick in draft for FPX since it's an odd go-to champion for Doinb in mid. Crisp's understanding of what he can do in and out of lane is a hallmark of FPX's early game that frequently goes unnoticed due to Doinb or Tian's antics. If FPX do manage to go far in this tournament, Crisp will be a primary factor in their success.
14. Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan, jungler, Royal Never Give Up
In China, there have been many debates over whether Karsa is actually the best jungler in the region, with the rise of Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang on FunPlus Phoenix alongside mid laner Doinb. Overall, Tian has been the more successful jungler, but his impact has been more steady than explosive, and is often fueled by Doinb's excellent and occasionally self-sacrificing control of the mid lane. Karsa, on the other hand, has consistently bailed out RNG with star level play on slow tanks like Zac and more aggressive junglers like Lee Sin.
It's also worth noting that RNG's bot lane-focused approach to the game has taken its turn stifling numerous players, and Karsa is no exception, but he has generally done well to recover and perform when it matters most. As one of the most experienced junglers at worlds, Karsa will have to contribute to RNG at an elite level, especially with top-tier junglers like Jankos, Clid and Tarzan at the tournament. With RNG being one of the sleeper contenders at worlds, his relative value compared to the rest of the field is only heightened.
15. Rasmus "Caps" Winther, mid laner, G2 Esports
Rasmus "Caps" Winther's 2019 LEC journey has been as devastating as it was pleasant, with lots of fun and quirky flex picks. He generally acted when the team needed him to do so, often roaming to either side lane to secure favorable outcomes in skirmishes -- if not destroying the enemy mid laner directly. Surrounded by Europe's strongest players, he openly expressed his mechanical talent in the region. However, he rarely needed to do so, as his teammates up top, in the jungle or in the bot lane frequently took over games. Even then, he either facilitated takeovers or took over by himself. And when things went awry, he and his like-minded teammates easily laughed it off.
However, Caps' bane has been his occasional mishaps. He once floored Tim "Nemesis" Lipovsek in the playoffs and greatly outperformed opponents during the season. However, he also lost a game at Level 1 during the regular season against Fnatic. If G2 wants to lift the worlds trophy, he will need to channel his best performances against the likes of Faker, Chovy and Song "Rookie" Eui-jin.
16. Martin "Rekkles" Larsson, AD carry, Fnatic
There was a time not too long ago when Martin "Rekkles" Larsson would have refused to play Karma. Last summer, when patch 8.11 gutted the marksman Rekkles had built a career mastering, he benched himself rather than flounder on unfamiliar mages and bruisers. The team, he reasoned, would be better off without him.
For two months, substitute top laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau filled in as Rekkles patiently waited for Riot Games to correct their mistake. When they did, he returned in time to help Fnatic win a second straight EU LCS title and a second-place finish at worlds last year.
Though marksmen are in a better place these days, the constantly shifting meta in the LEC has occasionally forced Rekkles outside his comfort zone. He played seven games of Karma this summer, winning six while supporting his solo lane carries. If Yummi is left unbanned, Rekkles is willing to abuse Garen too.
Instead of exile, Rekkles chose to grow as a player, adapting to whatever role gave Fnatic their best chance at victory. The choice is also a practical one, as Fnatic lack the depth to survive another extended absence from their iconic bot laner. Luckily for Rekkles, Fnatic seem to be moving away from Karma compositions as the meta shifts toward bot priority, allowing the three-time league MVP to shine on Xayah, Ezreal and Sivir. In a tournament stacked with excellent bot lanes, playing around Rekkles is Fnatic's best chance to repeat their worlds 2018 success.
-- Miles Yim
17. Luka "Perkz" Perković, AD carry, G2 Esports
Even before he took the stage at worlds 2017 in Wuhan, China, to play 1907 Fenebahçe one final time, Luka "Perkz" Perković knew it was over. Not G2 Esports' run at worlds; everybody knew G2 wouldn't make it out of group play. No, Perkz was mourning the loss of his team.
By that point, all the players knew that due to contract expirations and diverging interests, the Fenebahçe match would be their last together. After G2 won, Perkz joined the postgame huddle, embraced AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen for a long moment and began to cry, pulling up his hoodie to hide the tears. It didn't work. Though G2 left worlds amid thunderous chants of "G2! G2!" from the Chinese crowd, they failed to keep their promise of a better result than 2016.
By the end of November 2017, Perkz was the last man left on the roster. Over the next two years, Perkz was the only member of that old lineup to attend an international tournament. He followed up a semifinals berth at worlds 2018 with Europe's first-ever MSI victory and the region's first international trophy at a Riot event since worlds 2011.
While Perkz might not always grab the headlines, he remains G2's beating heart. His own devil-may-care ethos directly influences the team's style, flexing whatever champion works in draft and then executing at a rapid clip. G2's signature tendency of having support Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle roam early is enabled by Perkz's experience holding a solo lane. Plus, the team is more willing to attempt wonky compositions because of his champion pool as a former mid laner; if you ban all the meta marksmen, he still has Syndra ready to go.
Perkz couldn't deliver European glory at worlds 2017, but he has since done everything to fulfill that lost promise. If G2 complete their year with a world championship, it'll be because Perkz stayed to take them there.
18. Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle, support, G2 Esports
International observers didn't initially notice, but Mihael "mikyx" Mehle's star has been on the rise since 2016, when he and Splyce reached the world championship. Although he would not return to worlds until this year with G2, his playmaking and teamfight decision-making have been regarded as top-notch within Europe. A wrist injury could have derailed his season, but a surprisingly fast recovery allowed him to play the 2019 summer split, playoffs included.
Should his injury flare up again, the team might use substitute Hampus "promisq" Abrahamsson during scrimmage sessions as they did at MSI, then field him in games. However, there is no indication that he'll sit out. Mikyx has adapted quickly to meta evolutions in the bot lane and has juggled many counterpicks during the summer split, some of which he shares as flex picks. Whether there are more picks like this remains to be seen.
19. Song "Rookie" Eui-jin, mid laner, Invictus Gaming
For most of the 2019 LPL summer split, Invictus Gaming was reeling from MSI. Losing a best-of five series to an LCS team will do that. At the heart of the dysfunction was iG's vocal mid laner Song "Rookie" Eui-jin. Try as he might, Rookie could not cajole the team out of its funk, nor could he consistently display the flashy mechanics that defined him as a player. After losing two of three matches to begin the summer split, Rookie left iG to deal with an undisclosed family health issue in South Korea.
Invictus Gaming hit rock bottom when LNG Gaming swept them out of the LPL summer playoffs. The loss seemed to irrevocably damage iG's teetering state, putting the defending world champions in danger of missing worlds.
But something clicked during the regional qualifiers. He carried Game 5 of iG's first-round regional qualifier on Corki against JD Gaming, then destabilized Top Esports' superstar mid laner Zhuo "Knight9" Ding with a pocket Lucian in Game 5 of the final.
If Rookie from the Top series shows up at worlds, iG are back in business. So much of their gameplan revolves around Rookie's roams, which enable carry performances from TheShy and JackeyLove, and simultaneously he has to manage rookie jungler Lu "Leyan" Jue. It's enough pressure to break a player, but Rookie has already proven he can handle it.
20. Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, support, Team Liquid
If Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in could travel back to 2015 and tell his 21-year-old self anything, he said the message would be simple:
"You will never be a good AD carry, so change your position ASAP."
CoreJJ has come full circle in the intervening years. After a disappointing 2015 on North America's Team Dignitas, he returned to South Korea, joined Samsung Galaxy, role-swapped to support, won a world championship, failed to adequately defend the championship and left South Korea for North America again.
Throughout his time on Samsung, CoreJJ never forgot the brash AD from America he never bested while on Dignitas: Counter Logic Gaming's Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng. CoreJJ eventually got his revenge on Doublelift at worlds 2016, but when it came time to choose a new team once the old Samsung lineup dissolved in 2018, he wanted to join forces with Doublelift, now on Team Liquid.
"I saw him as a player that was always improving, not a player who had already reached the top," CoreJJ said. "Every year I matched against him ... just the feeling that I got from laning against him, you could feel that he had gotten better."
With CoreJJ at support, Team Liquid extended their LCS title streak to four this summer and finished second to G2 Esports at MSI. For his exceptional play, CoreJJ was awarded MVP of the 2019 LCS spring split and came within four points of repeating the honor in summer.
If Liquid ever ascend the mountaintop of winning a world championship, it'll be because of CoreJJ. After all, he knows the way.
"I don't know too much about climbing," CoreJJ said, "but climbers probably have the same feeling of, when they climb the highest mountain, they look for a higher mountain. They want to feel that again. I want that feeling of winning everything, climbing up the highest mountain again."
Honorable mention: Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek, mid laner, Fnatic
Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek might not be among the top 20 players at worlds, but he is at the core of Fnatic's resurgence after Caps' departure. Although Fnatic initially struggled to integrate him into the lineup, the move paid off as he developed into Europe's second-best mid laner and as the team player Fnatic needed. Initially touted as a long-term upgrade to Caps, Nemesis developed his ability to play for map dominance alongside his jungler, Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen.
With quirky picks like Twisted Fate or forgotten powerhouses like Cassiopeia, he has become one of Fnatic's most reliable contributors. Whether Nemesis can develop further after facing Faker, Rookie, Doinb and others remains to be seen; but if the LEC is any indication, he will likely surpass expectations, as he has the ability to stand his ground at the bare minimum. He can do it all, as a rookie.
Honorable mention: Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh, jungler, GAM Esports
Exactly 5 minutes, 18 seconds into Fnatic's first group-stage game at worlds 2017, Summoner's Rift went dark. Support Jesse "Jesiz" Le was dead within moments, subjected to an incredibly early Nocturne paranoia that shocked his team and fans across the world.
Levi had arrived.
The triggerman jungler for Vietnam's Gigabyte Marines (now GAM Esports) burst onto the world stage in 2017, leaving an impression everywhere he went. He terrorized Longzhu Gaming with Rengar, defeated Immortals with Kayn, and broke Fnatic with a power-leveled Nocturne. Five months earlier at MSI in Brazil, Levi outdueled Team WE's Xiang "Condi" Ren-Jie with a 14-kill Kha'Zix and twice bodied G2 Esports' Kim "Trick" Gang-yun. His brand of electric, aggressive jungling drove GAM to performances so impressive that Riot separated Vietnam from the GPL and put the region's summer champion directly into the worlds group stage.
Now, after 17 months spent trying to make it abroad -- first on 100 Thieves Academy in North America, then with JD Gaming in China -- Levi has returned to GAM Esports. GAM qualified for worlds thanks in large part to Levi's partnership with top laner Phạm "Zeros" Minh Lộc, a combination on full display during the VCS summer final against Team Flash. In one show-stopping sequence, Levi's Baron steal triggered a teamfight in which Zeros' Jax teleported alone into five Team Flash members and wiped them off the Rift. Levi might not be one of the top 20 players at worlds 2019, but if there's a more exciting player to watch, he hasn't appeared. Expect every GAM match to be a chaotic joyride with Levi at the wheel. He's back, and no lane is safe.
Honorable mention: Chu "FoFo" Chun-Lan, mid laner, J Team
This year's world championship might have the most stacked and diverse field yet, so it's not surprising that the limping LMS region failed to have at least one player on this list. Still, J Team's mid laner FoFo has all the talent and reputation to be considered for the top 20, and he just might change people's minds at worlds. A laning specialist, FoFo's champion pool continued to be endless this summer, as he continued to dominate a field without Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang. Some might point to that as a knock against FoFo, but the reality is that he was always the best mid laner in the region, save for one average split in 2017. Given his raw mechanical ability displayed on both the Korean solo queue ladder and in professional games at Rift Rivals in the past, FoFo has a chance to make his name known to the global audience on League's grandest stage.
Honorable Mention: Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang, jungler, FunPlus Phoenix
Last year, when Tian was on Suning, he was benched for Yang "H4cker" Zhi-Hao. I agreed with the move at the time but was also surprised at the large amount of negativity directed at Tian. Tian's significantly improved performance this year on FunPlus Phoenix presents an interesting conundrum that all junglers with Doinb as their mid laner face: How much of his improvement is his own, and how much of it is due to Doinb's playstyle. Doinb is, above all else, a "jungler's mid." He is even jokingly called FPX's second jungler. Right now Tian is in a weird perception bubble, in which he's much better than people thought he was last year and has grown in his position, but is also being made to look better than he is at times due to Doinb's influence. There are so many strong players at this year's worlds that Tian can easily make a top-20 list or fall just short of it.
Honorable mention: Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong, jungler, Griffin
My favorite quote about Griffin's Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong comes from an interview Inven Global had with FPX star Doinb at the most-recent Rift Rivals in South Korea.
"He's really the king of the jungle. Like they say [famous soccer player] Ji-sung Park has three lungs ... it seems Tarzan has two brains."
Tarzan is one of the most respected players in League of Legends today. When he does something in solo queue or tries something different in a pro game, people follow his footsteps. Earlier this year, Tarzan started building the item Redemption early in games on Olaf to give his team extra health in teamfights around neutral objectives. Less than 24 hours later, it felt like every jungler in the world was drafting Olaf and building Redemption as soon as possible.
On Griffin, Tarzan is the talisman. He's not the most naturally gifted player on the team -- that would be Chovy -- but he is the brains of the operation. Personally, I'd have Tarzan somewhere between No. 5 and No. 10, and a somewhat disappointing end to the summer split leaves him coming into worlds with a chip on his shoulder.
If Griffin is to shred their reputation as a team that chokes under pressure, Tarzan will need to be the driving force that pilots a talented but flawed young team deep into October.