LCS 2023 rookies: Players who got promoted from LCS Academy
by Brian Bencomo
One of the most exciting things about a new season in sports or esports is getting to see how rookies will perform. Last year, Joseph Joon "jojopyun" Pyun took the League Championship Series by storm with his exciting play and trash talk and won LCS Rookie of the Year. He's already a star and, at 18 years old, still the youngest player in the LCS. More stars might emerge in this year's crop of rookies.
In 2023, there are five players who have risen up from the amateur and academy levels of North American League of Legends to be promoted to the LCS, NA's top tier League of Legends circuit. Two of them will start for 100 Thieves, two will start for Team Liquid and one will make his debut with FlyQuest. Three of the players got promoted from Team Liquid Academy, the team that won both championships in the LCS Academy circuit last year. With the LCS 2023 spring split set to kick off on Jan. 26, here’s some background on the five LCS rookies.
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Milan "Tenacity" Oleksij
Photo credit: Riot Games
The 19-year-old top laner is one of a pair of LCS rookies on 100 Thieves this year. Tenacity has been with the 100 Thieves organization since 2020, when he was with 100 Thieves Next. That summer he was promoted to 100 Thieves Academy where he has mostly been until now. He did get a taste of the LCS early last year when he was promoted to 100 Thieves as a sub, but he only played in one game in the LCS. According to League of Legends stats site Oracle’s Elixir, Tenacity’s most played champions are Aatrox, Gangplank and Volibear.
Alan "Busio" Cwalina
Busio is the other 19-year-old rookie on 100 Thieves this year. He’s a support and will team up with the recently unretired AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng in the bot lane. Busio has been with 100 Thieves since the start of the 2021 season, first with 100 Thieves Next and, beginning that summer, with 100 Thieves Academy. Busio was one of the best supports in the LCS Academy last summer. He had the third-best KDA and the best gold difference and XP difference at 10 minutes among supports. Across his amateur and academy career he has excelled on Tahm Kench.
Bill "Eyla" Nguyen
Eyla might be an LCS rookie this year, but at 23 years old and having played professionally in Oceania from 2017 to 2020, he’s not a novice. Like a few other Oceania players who were given the option to become North American residents a couple years ago, Eyla moved to NA and has been with Team Liquid Academy the past two years. Eyla was a superstar last year on a Team Liquid Academy team that won championships in both the spring and summer. He had the second best KDA among all academy players with at least 30 games played last summer. He also was the top player during the Worlds split of Champions Queue late last year.
Harry "Haeri" Kang
Haeri has some big shoes to fill in replacing veteran mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg in Team Liquid’s new lineup, but based on his performance at the academy level last year, he’s ready for the LCS. He had the best KDA and gold difference, XP difference and CS difference at 10 minutes among all academy mid laners last summer. Like his Team Liquid Academy teammate Eyla, Haeri came to North America a couple years ago after beginning his career in Oceania. The two were teammates on ORDER in 2020 and were a series win away from going to Worlds that year.
Sean "Yeon" Sung
Photo credit: Riot Games
Unlike his fellow Team Liquid Academy teammates who got promoted to the LCS this year, Yeon doesn’t originally hail from the Oceanic region. Yeon began his pro career with 100 Thieves Next in 2020, was drafted that year during the NA Scouting Grounds and has been with TL Academy for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Aphelios and Ezreal have been his most-picked champions, and he has put up better stats on Ezreal. Yeon led all academy players in kills and was the only player to eclipse 200 kills last summer.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games