The League of Legends Championship Series is about to enter its second-to-last week of the spring split, and this means that MVP whisperings have begun. This has revived the age old argument; is a player MVP caliber if they are from the best team, or is it more important that they contribute to their team more than any other player? This week for Point/Counterpoint, we hashed this out.
I think that it is important to distinguish the fact that the award given out is called “Most Valuable Player,” and not “Best Player.” If we were looking for the best player in each region, Faker would have over 10 MVP trophies right now. What “most valuable” means is that the value one brings to his team is higher than any other individual player’s value to their respective team. As a longtime Cloud9 fan, I am thrilled with their performance so far this split, but I do not think it makes sense to give any of them MVP. If C9 was to replace a spot on their roster with another player, assuming he had the time to assimilate into the team’s culture, it is unlikely they would be much worse. However, that is not the case for FlyQuest, where PowerOfEvil is carrying his way to a No. 2 finish this split. While being on a team that was projected to miss playoffs this split, POE is currently topping the midlane charts for average kills, CS per minute and Gold per minute. His laning has been fantastic; coming out with a CS advantage 85% of the time at 15 minutes, securing four solo kills and having not been a first blood victim once in 14 games.
— Immortals (@Immortals) January 26, 2020
While I agree that PowerOfEvil has been a fantastic player this split and is carrying his team, I disagree with the idea that the best player on a worse team is more deserving of MVP than a very good player who is also on a very good team. To me, the current clear MVP favorite is Cloud9’s bot laner, Zven. Zven’s KDA is 19, which is eight and a half higher than that of the second-highest person which is his support, Vulcan. He’s been ahead in CS at 15 minutes in 85% of the games this split, which means he has been behind in just two of the 14 games this season. As of Monday, he’s also led Cloud9 to a guaranteed No. 1 this split, and to a 13/14 record, which is considerably better than what POE has managed. While Zven’s teammates are certainly having a more successful split than POE’s, that doesn’t negate Zven’s absolute dominance. His team would certainly be less successful if he was replaced with a worse player.
Zven is having the split of his life and that is undeniable, but something that is important to remember is that so is Vulcan. If you compare C9’s 2020 bot lane to Team Liquid’s 2019 summer dynamic duo of Doublelift and CoreJJ, you can see the MVP precedent here. TL was clearly the best team in the LCS last year, and yet Svenskeren, a player who pulled C9 all the way to game 5 in the finals ended up winning the award. MVP votes do not favor teams that have multiple people popping off, as they split the vote among themselves. Secondly, another thing that will factor into the vote is whether the player is valuable to the team, or the other way around. Zven has a history of working well in systems that fit him, such as this C9 roster and the original G2 roster, while PowerOfEvil has a history of being the carry wherever he goes, be it the Misfits roster that took SKT to five games at Worlds, the Optic Roster that outperformed its low bar last year, or this FlyQuest team that’s doing that again. I think the most important thing for MVP voting is the last two weeks, so if POE and FlyQuest can finish strong, he has a solid claim for the title, and while the loss to TSM is certainly a blow, the strongest opponents they have left are the 7-7 Immortals and 100 Thieves teams.
Joining the Cloud9 League of Legends team during the 2020 offseason from TSM is none other than Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen!
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) November 19, 2019
While your point about Doublelift isn’t bad, I think that you’re missing a key fact about Summer: No one was as dominant as Zven is right now. Looking at stats from 2019’s Summer Split, Doublelift, who was undeniably good in summer, had only a 5.8 KDA. That’s even lower than his support, CoreJJ, who had a six. Zven, by comparison, had a 3.3. And in Cloud9’s defeats in summer, he was poor, racking up the deaths. And it’s not that Sven didn’t deserve MVP, he did. But the best KDA in the whole league in Summer was a 6.4 for Xmithie. This means that while players did play well, no one had a performance as dominant as what Zven is having right now. Zven’s performance in spring has been so far above last summer’s standard that the best player on the best team this split is the best player overall. While I do agree that there are situations in which an amazing player on not the best team can and should win MVP, such as Sven did last season, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the best person on the best team winning if they are genuinely putting up the best performance. Players shouldn’t be punished for having the best team.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Sam Zelin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.