Everyone in the League of Legends (LoL) community knows about the struggle of Western teams to win against the LoL Champions Korea (LCK) and LoL Pro League (LPL) on the international stage.
But this year, it was even more obvious — especially for the North American teams from the LoL Championship Series (LCS).
At Worlds 2022, all western teams except Rogue were eliminated in the Group Stage, with all three LCS teams at the bottom of each group with only one win each.
Meanwhile, LoL European Championship (LEC) teams fared a bit better, with Rogue taking second seed in Group C after being defeated by eventual Worlds 2022 champions DRX. Rogue were then eliminated by JD Gaming in a 3-0 sweep.
What’s the difference between the East and the West? Former world champion and current Team Liquid support player Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in delved into what it would take for NA to win Worlds next year in an interview by KORIZON Esports posted on Sunday (13 November), saying they needed to train as hard and master the fundamentals as much as their eastern counterparts.
“We have to put in at least 90 per cent of the practice the Eastern players are putting into the game. That’s the baseline,” said CoreJJ.
The advantage of the LCS
CoreJJ thought that some of the advantages that LCS teams have are the infrastructure that can allow players and teams to effectively analyse matches to improve.
On top of that, he mentioned that the region has ideas that are “great on paper” that can reduce the number of hours practising.
In effect, teams have work-life balance that has saved many players from burning out.
This also resulted in players having better career longevity compared to players from eastern regions, where LoL Esports careers are short-lived.
With so many veteran players in the region, these players have the advantage of experience and maturity that supposedly can help them win against younger players.
Why is the LCS falling behind?
According to the former World champion, even if North American teams have all these advantages, “if a team [or player] doesn’t have the fundamentals,” the players will still struggle competitively.
There’s also the fact that LCS teams focus too much on drafts and itemisation.
While it’s not entirely wrong, CoreJJ said this outlook limits the champions in the game, and these two factors become cop-out answers to losses.
He pointed out that if a player “can’t even use his QWER right”, the draft and the itemisation wouldn’t matter.
“I always hear the words, ‘We want to win,” CoreJJ said. “But words are just words.”
The Liquid support said that the Eastern teams that the LCS face are “literally grinding their body into the game, thirteen, fourteen hours a day” and described how these teams typically play eight scrims and five solo queue games daily.
And you’re telling me you want to beat them when we only play six hours a day? Do you even have the conscience to say these things?CoreJJ
What will it take for NA to win Worlds?
“I do not believe there is zero chance of NA winning Worlds,” CoreJJ stated.
He said that the region needs to get closer to the amount of practice the LCK and LPL teams put into the game while looking for breakthroughs, so they have a chance to win the coveted title.
And while North American players may sometimes say and think that Koreans are just better, “it’s just the way it is,” CoreJJ pointed out that Korean players who do make it to the LCK were the ones that survived the culling, and the ones who didn’t put as much effort ended up falling behind.
On top of that, North American players should have the hunger to win and improve, much like the 2019 G2 Esports team who came in second at Worlds after a close fight against FunPlus Phoenix.
He described the team as “League addicts” represented by Rasmus “caPs” Borregaard Winther, who “loved League as a game and worked extremely hard.
Next year, CoreJJ wants to work hard to improve himself and his team to the point where he can inspire other North American teams to also strive to do well.
“The fundamental question here is, ‘Why do you [NA] have to be good?” he said. He thinks the region will fail if this question remains unanswered in the coming season.
“2023 is the year we must answer that question.”
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.