If last year’s League of Legends World Championship was the tournament of mid laners, 2016 will certainly be remembered tournament of AD carries.
Every region is sending its best bottom lane representatives to North America, and just in time. With the turret changes in Patch 6.15 in full swing, 2v2 brawling in the bottom lane is more key than ever, meaning that individual skill of ADCs will be at the forefront.
The best players in bot are the ones who can establish their dominance over their opponents in lane and roll into the late game with item leads. With that focus on the laning phase, let’s take a look at the top AD carries headed to the 2016 World Championship.
Doublelift – Team SoloMid
All eyes are on Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and TSM. Surrounded by one of the best rosters the West has ever put together, this is the tournament for the longtime veteran and his team to put up or shut up.
I could go into the stats of his season, touting his 7.0 KDA and 33.3% damage share in the playoffs, his 315 gold differential at 10 minutes during the regular season, or whatever other impressive number I can come up with. But we all know, once they hit the Worlds stage, it’s all about if North America’s mental state can stay strong against the best in the world. In the past, Doubelift could be considered the poster child for NA’s mental issues, consistently falling apart in the important moments.
But this is a new Doublelift. Gone is the arrogant, trash-talking but talented young player. In his place, a confident, calm veteran who is one of the emotional leaders of his team. Now, he’ll have the toughest challenge of his career: Anything less than a finals appearance will be a disappointment, and he’ll have to get TSM there.
FORG1VEN – H2K
Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou finally made it. The AD carry affectionately known as “GODG1VEN” during the 2015 season is finally making his debut at the League of Legends World Championships.
And it couldn’t come at a better time for him.
With the 2v2 meta in full swing, H2K’s AD carry is in his element. Notorious for his desire and ability to just straight up fight whoever comes into his lane, he’s more than happy to give any opposing duo lane in the world the staredown treatment. Most AD carries are either good at farming efficiently or harassing their opponents out of lane. FORG1VEN does both, and does them better than just about anyone in the West. If he has his way, he’ll carry H2K kicking and screaming through the laning phase and on to mid game victories.
Zven – G2 Esports
The other incredible AD carry out of Europe, G2’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen is at Worlds with his second team in two years, looking to replicate his semifinals run with Origen last year. Coupled with trusty support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez, the duo is considered by many to be the best in the West.
Once G2 hit the playoffs in the EU LCS, Zven kicked into another gear. His laning has always been strong (if consistent), but once teamfights started, the true strength of the young Dane was shown. With nearly a full 70 damage per minute over the other ADs in the European playoffs, he’s rapidly proving that he’s one of the best late game carries the region has ever produced.
A level-headed big stage player even in his rookie season, Zven now has a year of experience under his belt. If he’s able to find advantages in lane — often thanks to talented jungler Kim “Trick” Kang-yun’s trips down bot — he should be able to keep calm and carry his team out of groups and into a strong bracket stage.
Uzi – Royal Never Give Up
There’s no one in the world who wants to win the League of Legends World Championship more than Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao.
Twice, he’s been to the grand finals (2013 and 2014), and twice he’s fallen short. Twice, he’s carried a roster to the highest stage possible. Twice, he’s been brought down by a Korean team playing at the peak of their game. It was enough to break anyone, and it seemed to do just that in 2015. He joined OMG and proceeded to struggle throughout the season, ultimately missing Worlds.
Now, he’s on Royal Never Give Up, a team with two players that beat him back in 2014: Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. In theory, the latter pairing up with Uzi in the bot lane should be a dream for the AD carry. And occasionally, it is. When RNG is on, they’re near unbeatable. Unfortunately, their over-aggressive tendencies lead to an unreliability that makes them hard to name as a favorite at the World Championships.
At the center of that inconsistency is Uzi. Always an aggressive player, he has a habit of finding himself in disadvantageous situations and losing teamfights for RNG. If Mata can find a way to reign in his AD (and play up to his potential himself), RNG might just have a shot at this thing.
Bang – SK Telecom T1
While many look to Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok as the star of SKT, the ace up the reigning World Champions’ collective sleeve is their AD carry Bae “Bang” Jun-sik.
In lane, he does his job. He farms well, leaves his lanes in a gankable position, and gets the items he needs. In teamfights, though, he comes alive. After letting Faker and company deal with the early-to-mid game, he starts spitting out damage in late game teamfights. A positional master, Bang rarely missteps, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. Especially if he’s got a supportive mid laner on his team (Faker has been known to play Lulu and Karma), he certainly has the tools to hard carry his team to victory.
The thing about Bang is that there aren’t many questions surrounding him. He plays consistently, popping off when he needs to. He’s always a threat, always top-tier. And that’s what makes him scary.
Deft – EDward Gaming
Another AD carry out of China (though he’s Korean) with a grudge to settle, EDG’s Kim “Deft” Hyuk-Kyu is looking to prove that he is still in the conversation for the best AD carry in the world.
His history with Worlds is a strenuous one. In 2014, he was a member of Samsung Blue, the hands-down favorites to win the Summoner’s Cup that year. That is, until their sister team Samsung White showed their true power in the big tournament. He was knocked out by White in the semifinals.
In 2015, he joined a swathe of Korean players in an exodus to China and wound up on EDG. On that roster, he and fellow Korean import Heo “PawN” Won-seok brought down SK Telecom T1 at the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational. Bloodlust unsatisfied, he aimed his sights at 2015 Worlds. There, he was beaten in the quarterfinals by a peaking Fnatic roster out of Europe. Again, he was stopped just short of his ultimate goal.
Now, though, he’s on arguably the best team he’s ever had around him. EDG went undefeated during the LPL Summer regular season, capping it off with a 3-0 stomp of RNG in the LPL playoff finals. With top jungler Ming “ClearLove” Kai on his team, you can bet Deft is looking to surprise the world and bring down the teams from his home nation.
PraY – ROX Tigers
The Cinderella story of 2015, the ROX Tigers have proven that they’re not a one-season wonder by winning the 2016 LCK Summer Split and punching their tickets to Worlds. And while top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho has been getting attention for being arguably the best player in the world right now, Kim “PraY” Jong-in has also been a beast.
With support Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon at his side, PraY has served as a backup plan for when Smeb and mid laner Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng are struggling to carry games, but he’s much, much more than that. The true heartbeat of the Tigers, he and GorillA are among the smartest duos in the game. They’re not so aggressive that they get punished, but are always on the lookout for advantageous plays.
The question for PraY is whether or not he can deal with some of the hyper-aggressive play of the foreign hordes. If he can, you can be sure he’ll find the midgame brawls he needs to snowball his way to a World Championship title.
Taylor Cocke can’t believe he left [insert AD carry here] off this list, either. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcocke.