Every competitor has their beginnings, but only some are able to push through to build a career, and only a few are able to build their legacy.
We're excited to present the second year of the Inven Global Awards (IGA). Voted by the editorial crew of Inven Global, along with some other experienced journalists and analysts, the IGAs celebrate the many strong facets of League of Legends in 2021 — the best teams, players, talent, and stories.
2021 saw a large number of Korean rookies perform well, both domestically and internationally. As these nominated players have a very bright future ahead of them, who can truly be considered the best rookie of 2021?
To be eligible for the Best rookie award, a player needs to not have appeared at MSI or Worlds before 2021 or played for a Worlds-qualifying league (i.e. the premier league for their region, major or otherwise) before 2021. Sub appearances do not count.
Kim "Croco" Dong-beom
Although he’s one of the two rookie candidates that failed to qualify for Worlds this year, his performance in the LCK this year has been quite impressive. As the LCK Summer 2021 saw a rare occurrence of having a very close standings race between six teams, Croco was the driving force behind Liiv SANDBOX’s notable regular split run this year. While the standings may truly not reflect his impressive performance this year, he’s definitely a player to look out for in 2022.
Javier "Elyoya" Prades
As the only western player to make our list of nominees, Elyoya's results on the international stage speak for themselves. Despite western teams looking considerably weaker against the eastern teams this year, Elyoya still managed to finish top four at MSI (2-3 vs DWG KIA in the semifinals) and top 8 at Worlds. As 1/5th of the roster that dethroned G2 from their LEC hegemony, Elyoya's career is on the upswing.
Kim "Gori" Tae-woo
Gori’s the other candidate on our list that failed to make it to Worlds this year, but his performance in the LCK Summer Split impressed enough people to be named "Player of the Split". He proved that when he’s playing at his best, he’s able to beat any competition that he faces, but his consistency was sometimes a subject of critique this year. Although no official news on his next team have been announced at the time of writing, he’s definitely got a promising future ahead of him.
Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong
Through a vast champion pool and excellent mechanics, Gumayusi quickly became one of LCK’s most promising bot laners. Paired with support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, T1’s bot lane quickly made it to the top of every power rankings around the world — and he practically achieved all this in half a split.
Gumayusi became the starting bot laner for T1 when the organization sacked their coaching staff to change things up. In a time when his team needed the most, Gumayusi stepped up for his team to finish runner-up in the Summer Split, and even managed to finish top four at Worlds. A Best rookie list without Gumayusi on it would be incomplete.
Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon
Due to the position’s rich history, the jungler role at T1 comes with a lot of pressure. Oner surpassed many expectations and did a phenomenal job at living up to the reputation of being T1’s jungler, and he did it all in one split. From innovative jungle pathing to jaw-dropping mechanics, keen eye for pick angles, and his ability to recalibrate a plan very quickly put all the other LCK junglers in check. Now that he has gained experience from the international stage, he looks to become the best as he continues his journey with T1 in 2022.
Honorable mention: Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan
In any other year, Doggo would be a prime candidate for Best rookie, but in 2021, he faced the meteoric rise of LCK rookies and a flourishing Elyoya, so he missed the top 5 by less than a sliver. Considered one of — if not the best — players in the PCS already, Doggo's first pro year has been phenomenal and he can only grow from here.
More from the Inven Global Awards
Best top laner
Best mid laner
Best minor region player (Dec. 12)
Player of the year (Dec. 13)
Best coaching staff (Dec. 14)
Best play-by-play caster (Dec. 15)
Best color caster (Dec. 16)
Best story of the year (Dec. 17)
Biggest controversy of the year (Dec. 18)
Best in-game moment (Dec. 19)
Best content piece or series (Dec. 20)
Off-season winner (Dec. 21)
Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)
Inven Global Awards panelists:
Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person
All images via: Riot Games
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