Over the weekend Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, announced the North American Scouting Grounds, an offseason program and tournament set to scope talent from the region’s ranked solo queue ladder.
The top four players from each position: Top, Jungle, Mid, ADC and Support will be invited to the event which will run from November 13 to 19 at the NA LCS Studios located in Los Angeles, California. While the twenty players are there they will be covered for travel and accommodation expenses by Riot Games. After settling in they will be drafted into makeshift teams by pros, coaches and other staff associated with LCS teams. After a few days of workshopping with the veterans and staff, the amateur players will play a round robin to demonstrate their skill.
It is unclear if these games will be broadcasted to the public at this point in time, however, it has been confirmed that the footage will be sent to teams internationally after the event has concluded. Implying that the VODs may well get to some, if not all, of the teams here in Oceania. Though depending on how quickly the footage gets delivered it is likely the NA LCS and CS teams will make the first contact with their local emerging amateurs.
In order to be eligible prospective pros must be Master or Challenger tier players by the time a survey is sent out via email in late October, the dates are to be announced via @lolesports on Twitter and as well as the official League of Legends Esports Boards. The survey will outline the player’s interest in playing professionally as well as their preferred role and personal details which will be sent out to prospective teams.
The other prerequisites include:
You must be 16 years of age by the start of the Challenger Series 2017 spring split.
You have not played in more than two professional League of Legends matches in any league. [This includes Challenger Leagues.]
You cannot be under contract by any professional team including Challenger teams at the time invites go out.
You’re a North American resident as determined by the Interregional Movement Policy.
You can pass a player behaviour check, similar to what Challenger and LCS players must pass. This check includes a review of in-game behaviour, Terms of Service violations and looks at previous bans or suspensions.
This announcement comes after many seasons of North America’s seasoned pros having been outspoken about the state of supposed high-level solo play. Players claim that the region has no incentive to ‘try hard’ in comparison to other regions such as Korea and China where teams are far more likely to replace weak players with pub stars.
While the reception to the announcement has been mixed overall, the program has drawn comparisons to the NFL’s Scouting Combine which is similar to the AFL’s Draft Combine, a showcase before drafting season where young footballers perform physical and mental tests in the presence of coaches, general managers and scouts.
There is no doubt that League of Legends spectators and teams alike will be keeping an eye on this event. This could a pivotal step forward into scouting fresh and committed talent to established organisations. Perhaps in the future, the OPL and other wildcard regions may adopt this system, or maybe be involved in the future. Only time will tell.