League of Legends is the most popular esports game in the world. Since they are the most prominent players in the scene, North American stars have been influential in the game’s growth especially with the popularity they accrued from the League of Legends Championship Series.
League esports started back in 2011 and NA has been considered a top region since then. While they haven’t won a major League title just yet, teams from the LCS are trying their best to compete for the top spot. Some players have separated themselves from the rest of the pack with their performances over the years but also their influence on the entire League community.
Over the past decade, League of Legends has been strengthened with worldwde support. However, despite their lack of success at the international level, NA is still one of the most prominent communities in the esports world. Let’s take a look at the players who became figureheads to the NA scene over the years.
Hai ‘Hai’ Du Lam
During the early years of League, Cloud9 was a force to be reckoned with in the NA LCS. This was mostly due to their talented lineup led by the famous mid laner, Hai ‘Hai’ Du Lam. Through his leadership and micromanagement, Hai managed to lead C9 to immense finishes with results over the likes of TeamSoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming.
C9 became one of the most dominant teams in the region’s history and the organization has been a staple of the League scene ever since. While Hai was known for his leadership skills, people forget that he was actually one of the most mechanically skilled players during his career. He had classic performances with champions like Zed and Leblanc to carry C9.
As the years passed, Hai struggled to stay at the top of the NA scene skill-wise but he was still one of the best tacticians in the region. He had stints with different teams but he was mostly known for his time with C9. After he retired from League, he launched a team called Radiance which holds an LCS spot today.
Hai was a catalyst for NA’s tactics over the years. His influence still rings true today because tactics have advanced but the fundamentals are still strong for NA. Hai was a huge personality during his career and he influenced many players over the years with his playstyle, mannerisms, and personality.
Former C9 support and head coach Daerek ‘LemonNation’ Hart believes Hai was the most crucial player during their time together. LemonNation said, ‘Hai is literally so important to our team. He’s the shot caller, he’s the person who is outgoing, that gets us out going to do things and talk to each other. He’s the person that will sacrifice himself for the team. He’s the most important role filler for our team’.
Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg
While he is not a NA citizen, Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg has been a constant presence in the LCS. He joined TSM back in 2013 and he played for the team for seven years. He became a coach after that but he only lasted for a year before returning to active play with Team Liquid in late 2021.
Bjergsen is considered the first truly great import to NA. He has been one of the most consistent players in the world as he played the mid laner role. While he will technically not qualify as an NA player, he stayed for so long that he can be known as an honorary NA player. He is also known for falling short at the last hurdle but that shouldn’t take away from his contribution to the amazing runs.
Hai himself talked about how he respected Bjergsen during their time playing against each other. Hai said, ‘He’s forcing other mid laners to either get better at their role or get better at controlling the map with their role. Bjergsen is very good, even 1v1 his mechanics are amazing and he’s a very good player, but the reason why he’s so good is because he works very well with his team’.
Now, Bjergsen is back to active play and you should expect great success from him again. He has cemented himself as one of the best players in the middle lane over the years which was a perfect situation for him since TSM viewed him as the focal point of their team.
Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng
As arguably the most talented NA player of all time, Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng is still seen as one of the biggest names in League history. He retired back in 2020 but Doublelift has largely gone unnoticed by non-NA fans. Doublelift is one of the best players in LCS history because he has eight LCS titles to his name and he was a vital cog in each of those runs because Doublelift was an amazing ADC.
With his play on the attack-damage role, you can expect that Doublelift can be the best ADC in the world. He has retired but people will never forget how much Doublelift has changed the game for the ADC role. He has proven that he himself is the optimal ADC even if he has retired from the sport now.
Kim ‘Olleh’ Joo-sung had an experience with Doublelift back in the day and he was happy when they were playing. Olleh said, ‘When I played with Peter, it’s like, wow, how does he think like that? I was so impressed by his ideas [about the] game. I played with other ADCs in Taiwan, Brazil and Korea, but when I was with Peter, I was like “wow”. That’s why he’s the best ADC[…] No one is going to say Doublelift is not the best. I’m saying that Doublelift is the best ADC in NA and every ADC has to prove they can beat Doublelift’.
These are just some of the big names from the NA region. You can look at even more players from NA who has been influential during their stints. The likes of Zaqueri ‘aphromoo’ Black deserves to be mentioned. The NA League of Legends scene continues to improve with more players turning pro every day, in due time, it can be as competitive as South Korea and China.