Yesterday the top lane, and today the jungle.
Last year was one of the stronger years for the jungle class coming into Worlds, and this year it's even more stacked with talent across the board. While the top name coming into the tournament is no stranger to high placements in his career, a few newcomers find their way onto the list at their rookie World Championships.
5. Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski
The fifth spot, like yesterday with the top laners, was a point of contention for me. If we were to base this solely on skill ceiling, I feel like Liu "Mlxg" Shi-yu would shine over a large portion of this ranking. Team SoloMid's Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen came on late in the season, and he was the star in the North American League Championship finals against Cloud9 when his punishing jungle style tormented Will "Meteos" Hartman all night long.
In the end, it was a decision between two of Europe's best: Splyce's Jonas "Trashy" Andersen and H2K's Jankos. The clean, supportive play of Splyce's jungler versus the upbeat tempo and game-changing abilities of H2K's.
Jankos edges out the rest of the field just barely. When it comes to picking a player who has the best chance of breaking through as a star on the international stage, Jankos stands out for me. His heavy pressure in the early-game is key to H2K's success; unfortunately, that got less press due to a certain South Korean import coming in to take the European league by storm at the start of the year.
4. Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan
One of the three world-class players in Flash Wolves' starting five, Karsa comes in at the fourth spot. Last year was an introduction for Karsa to the Worlds stage. It was a strong first impression with the Wolves getting to the quarterfinals in large part to his carrying ability, along with his partner in crime, Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang, the team's ace mid laner. Coming into Worlds, his aggressive, carnivore style should serve him as well as it did in the summer season of Taiwan's premier domestic league: Karsa secured 28 more kills than the second-place jungler in the competition.
The Flash Wolves have a clear weakness -- I'm staring at the bottom lane -- and it isn't Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Jie at the support role. It'll be up to Karsa and Maple to be the carrying force of the Wolves if they want to go farther than the top-8.
3. Kim "Trick" Gang-yun
In the spring, Trick came to Europe after a tumultuous stay on CJ Entus in his native country of South Korea. His in-your-face style won him his fair share of fans, and G2 Esports won the European LCS off his straightforward offensive play and chemistry with mid laner Luka "PerkZ" Perković. Trick's statline of a 6.2 kill/death/assist ratio (KDA) and more than three kills a game put him ahead of the pack, and he was awarded the league's MVP award.
While his play at the Mid-Season Invitational was sloppy to say the least, his summer season was even better than his previous. PerkZ had a down season, and while the added priority of new AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen took away from PerkZ's overall kills, Trick became more effective with less grey screens in his second season. We'll see if his ascension and development as a jungler can continue in his second crack at the international stage.
2. Han "Peanut" Wang-ho
The entire year has been the development of Peanut from a one-dimensional player to a multi-faceted jungler. His progression was so stunted on NaJin due to the erratic roster changes, so the spring season felt like his true rookie season with the Tigers, where he was the full-fledged starter. In his first season, the "Battle Ward" nickname stuck, with his play being all offense with little anything else, and the blood of his enemies being the best way for his team to see the map.
Since losing in the finals of the spring split, however, Peanut has become a more polished player, warding more and showing he's more than just a mechanical maestro. He isn't perfect, and his performance in big game matches will need to get better if ROX wants to win Worlds, but it's remarkable to see how far Peanut has come in one year under the tutelage of a strong coaching staff and supportive teammates.
1. Ming "Clearlove" Kai
Peanut has been great, but he hasn't been Clearlove, who is having a career year for the ages. He averaged the most kills of any jungler in the league with the least amount of deaths. It isn't that Clearlove is great in one area: he's seemingly great in all of them. Regardless of the meta or the champion pool, you can expect Clearlove to work through any barrier and continue his success. Usually, a KDA isn't the barometer of how truly great a player is, but it kind of says something when Clearlove is three points higher than any other full-time starter in the league.
There are a lot of up-and-comers each year, yet Clearlove remains as solid as Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok at the mid lane position, and the two continue to get better every year. He was at Worlds in 2012 when his Team WE dynasty fell after a controversial loss in the quarterfinals to CLG.EU, and he's here today on another Chinese dynasty in the form of Edward Gaming.
His trophy case already overflowing. The lone spot remaining is for one trophy, and one trophy alone: the Summoner's Cup.