40 players have been accepted to play in the UK Proving Grounds 2019 (UKPG), a grassroots League of Legends tournament taking place over the next few weeks.
In this guest article, UKPG organiser and Barrage Esports team manager Richard ‘Froomie’ Froom selects 2 players in each position – top, jungle, mid, ADC and support – for the viewers to keep their eyes on throughout the fast-paced two-week tournament.
Aged just 19 years old, Akkers has already graced the top tiers of UK League of Legends playing splits in the Forge of Champions, UKLC and UKEL.
2019 saw a mixed bag of results for the top laner. He was given his UKLC debut split by former UKLC organisation Darkspawn, however it ended in the org being relegated at the end of the spring split with just 1 win to show for their regular season efforts.
Summer saw Akkers ply his trade with Clique in the UKEL where he had a very solid showing, coming first in the regular split and then runner up in the play-offs. After Clique failed to make an impact in the Forge of Champions Open, Akkers is going to have to show he still has the potential to play with the big boys as he hopes to impress the top orgs in the country – something he is more than capable of doing on his day.
Originally a substitute for Demise in Summer 2019, Merpilian was called into action mid-way through last split after previous top laner Zeiko switched to mid lane. Not many expected much from Merpilian, however he surprised them by being able to hold his own against some of the best top laners the UKLC had to offer.
After Demise fell to Phelan in the UKLC playoffs, they were unable to bounce back in Forge of Champions after falling convincingly to Diabolus. This potentially leaves Merpilian with something to prove going into the UK Proving Grounds – will he be able to prove that he’s more worthy of a spot than fringe players like Akkers and Toliam? I expect a strong showing based on his UKLC rookie split and I hope he can build on his early success.
Formerly known as DandyChap, the self-proclaimed ruler of flex queue is Tyrin, an old face in the UK League of Legends scene.
His playing career dates as far back as 2015, having played for former UK scene giants such as Infused and Choke. Since initially retiring in 2017, Tyrin made a resurgence in 2018 playing for Newcastle Jaguars, and more recently with Radiant in the UKEL.
It remains to be seen if Tyrin has been able to expand his niche champion pool and if he’ll be able to recapture his former level of play. UK Proving Grounds is an excellent opportunity for Tyrin to prove that he’s still a better option than some of the upcoming new blood.
Little is known about Pawp other than he’s the highest elo solo queue jungler in the competition. Sitting in Master, he is over a whole division higher than the rest of the jungle pool.
Pawp will give a real insight into how being higher on the ladder can affect your ability to play comp, especially when you consider most of the other junglers in the competition have relatively little competitive experience themselves.
The UK has seen a lot of junglers come through the grassroots scene in recent years, can Pawp be the next?
Although aged just 17, BB Muffin stands to be one of the more experienced players in the tournament and is hailed as one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Ireland in recent years.
Muffin’s first taste of competitive play in the UK scene was in the 2018 Forge of Champions split as he subbed in for Super Duper Giant truck team. This, combined with climbing the ladder, eventually lead to him being picked up in Spring 2019 by Phelan. He was restricted to a handful of appearances, some of which were in top lane, but did not look out of place in the UKLC.
Most recently he played for Viperio in the inaugural UKEL, where Viperio went on to take first place! I fully expect BB Muffin to build on what is already looking like a decent start and be a force to be reckoned with in the mid lane.
Starting out as a Malzahar one-trick, Katarpillar has begun to branch out his champion pool and has climbed the ladder at an impressive rate. Now taking his first steps into competitive League of Legends with Finnish org ‘Ascentia Gameing’, Pillar is now hungry to prove himself in his home region by taking on the UK’s fringe players.
Standing as the current highest elo player (the only Grand Master player in the tournament), it is expected that he’ll bring a bit of flare to the mid lane, and have a heavy influence on the games.
There is an argument to be had that Rabstar (pictured, second from right) is the best UK resident to not have played in the UK’s topflight. He’s played in a series of smaller scale tournaments and qualifiers, but for one reason or another has never been able to commit to a full split with a team. His most recent UK competition was the Insomnia 64 Open, in which Rabstar’s team No Ego beat a strong ‘Enclave Gaming’ side 3-1 in the final.
Rabstar’s performance took a lot of the plaudits, but once again we didn’t see him enter the UKLC or UKEL in the summer. After returning from boot camping in Korea, Rabstar put his name forward for Proving Grounds, along with several strong ADC players. A good performance in the UKPG will likely see orgs take an interest in him: will Rabstar finally take the opportunity to play a competitive UK split?
BlueSpirits’ recent climb in solo queue saw him obtain a place on Insomnia 65 winner’s Obnoxious’ roster, in which they came 3rd in the Forge of Champions Open. Although he failed to qualify for the UKLC Promotion Relegation tournament, he did play in the tournament with Degree Sports.
Degree Sports went on to have a very strong showing in which BlueSpirits was very influential in their success, before falling short to eventual winners Barrage Retirement Home. After having a taste for competitive, it will be interesting to see how BlueSpirits develops. I’m hoping we’ll get a glimpse when he plays in UKPG.
BlueSpirits also recently won the UK final of the Red Bull Player One 1v1 tournament, where he received praised from prominent LEC host Sjokz for his performances.
Also known as Alpaca, Alspooks (pictured second from right) is relatively new to the UK competitive scene. Spending his Summer split outside of the UKLC and UKEL with Obnoxious Gaming, Alspooks was able to enjoy the taste of success.
Winning Insomia 65 (whilst playing top lane) he made it one tournament win in one tournament played – not a bad start to say the least. Alspooks stayed with Obnoxious for the Forge of Champions open, where he played alongside BlueSpirits in the bot lane. Unfortunately, Obnoxious came 3rd, meaning they failed to qualify for Forge of Champions.
Continuing to climb the ladder, Alspooks enters UK Proving Grounds as one of the most highly rated up and coming supports. I’m sure he’s hungry to finish off 2019 on a good note with another positive tournament result.
Last but not least on the list is Didol. Little is known about him other than he is a staggering 165LP higher than every other support in the competition, whilst boasting a vast champion pool.
Having not played any competitive league, I’m keen to see if he can bring his success in solo queue into competitive play. It can be some struggle to translate ranked performance into tournament performance, but I guess that’s why it makes them one to watch.