What is NA's problem at League of Legends international events?
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Another year, another League of Legends World Championship, and another year most — or, in this case all — of NA’s teams don’t make it out of groups. Even though we’re already used to Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng not making it out of groups, this year is different. It’s alarming that none of the North American teams made it out of groups. What are the major problems of NA as a region at international events? Let’s take a look at a few main causes for concern.

An uncompetitive ranked experience

While soloQ (or flexQ) hasn’t been the go-to way for pros to practice in a long time, it still has its place in competitive League of Legends. Scrims are important for practicing shot-calling, team play, and compositions, while ranked play significantly helps with mechanics, learning new champions, etc. Some might say players can do all of this in scrims. Even though this is also true, it’s just much easier in ranked. For example, a player might want to only practice a single champion. This is not ideal for scrims, as teams have to adapt compositions, champions are often banned, and the players often have to play a different play style than in ranked play.

So one problem with NA’s ranked play is many professionals often complain about the high soloQ ping. Unlike in Europe, NA only has a single server currently located in Chicago. This gives players on the east coast a much lower ping, while players on the west coast have to struggle with higher ping numbers. What is more, the LCS studio is located in Los Angeles, California. This means most teams’ offices are also in LA, hence the complaints about ping among professional players.

North American ranked play is also known for being far less competitive than Europe’s or South Korea’s. This is due to the high amounts of smurfs, one-trick ponies, and overall trolls in NA soloQ. Players in other regions are far more serious about the game, try harder, and subsequently make ranked play more competitive.

League of Legends Servers EU West Nordic East

A nonexistent amateur scene

NA also has a poor amateur scene. Whereas Europe has its own regional leagues and the LCK has a secondary league, NA has nothing compared to those. And no, don’t count Academy League into this. Just think of the number of players that come from European regional leagues and shine on the big stage. Now think of NA’s players coming from academy: Do you see where I’m going with this?

I’m not saying the Academy League is a bad thing, but it is certainly poorly executed. Not enough teams, not enough games, and, most importantly, not enough opportunities for players to showcase their skills. Heck, most of the games from academy aren’t even streamed live for people to watch!

Europe’s EU Masters is a perfect example of what NA should have. Regional league teams fight throughout two splits to determine who gets to play at this event. Once there, a team of professional casters actually streams and casts the game. And most importantly, the best players often get picked up by major league teams.

Perfect examples of this are two mid laners, Fnatic’s Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek and Splyce’s Marek “Humanoid” Brázda. Once amateurs in the regional scene, they both currently have the chance to play in the Worlds quarterfinals. There are two European teams with former regional league mid laners in the quarterfinals — with no North American teams full of imports in sight. Things have to change, and they have to change fast if NA wants a chance at any international event soon.

League of Legends NA Academy

What do you think NA’s biggest problem for poor international performances is? Let us know in the comments!

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