Bot lane’s relevance has fluctuated in the meta, more so than perhaps any other role. From double enchanter bot lanes to the nightmare that was Yuumi/Garen, bot lane has often seen drastic shifts in priority due to constant meta shifts and core marksman items getting nerfed into the ground. Season 11’s changes brought a return to form that tossed aside the bot lane identity crisis and made bot laners what they were meant to be: a late-game guarantee.
The best bot laners in 2022 will be those who can secure a route to late-game success. Whether that’s getting focus from their team and hitting that late-game stride early, or playing the lane safe and coming through when it matters most, bot laners in 2022 will be defined by their ability to close out games. These five embody and exemplify that philosophy, and they have the potential to be 2022’s superstar bot laners.
5. Seo “deokdam” Dae-gil
deokdam is a player who has quickly become one of the most respected bot laners in the LCK since his 2020 Summer debut. He and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho were the two standout players on Nongshim’s roster through Spring, and with the addition of Kim “Gori” Tae-woo to the Summer 2021 roster, Nongshim narrowly missed Worlds qualification. Rest assured, Nongshim didn’t lose because of deokdam. If anything, he’s the one who got them so far into the Summer Split Playoffs in the first place.
deokdam is an expert in the art of finding an opening. He may be the fragile ADC, but that doesn’t mean he is a stranger to making aggressive plays and starting fights for his team. On top of that, deokdam got signed along with Kim “Kellin” Hyeong-gyu, the support he was paired with on Nongshim. This powerful duo will surely be a boon to DWG KIA’s 2022 roster.
4. Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong
Gumayusi has done more in his debut year starting on T1 than most pros have done in their entire career. He came out on top of the overloaded and messy T1 roster from 2021. Starting over a big name like Park “Teddy” Jin-seong is no small feat, and Gumayusi’s pop-off moments are some of the best to come out of the LCK. He’s aggressive and confident in his ability to take fights.
The ability to juke all of Syndra’s abilities while staring down the entire enemy team is the sort of bold play that can only be forged by hours upon hours of limit testing. As much as “limit testing” is a term attached to going way too hard and trying to do too much, Gumayusi has pushed himself so hard so many times that he often plays in ways no other ADC would even think to try.
3. Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság
Despite winning back-to-back playoffs with MAD Lions and making it to two international events in the same year, it still feels like Carrzy has a lot to prove. With all of MAD getting hyped up through 2021, Carzzy felt like he was talked about the least. While Carzzy’s solid 2021 speaks for itself, it’s hard to say that his unique playstyle is entirely flawless.
Unlike many other bot lane pros, Carzzy is unapologetically aggressive. He tends to stay away from long range late-game focused picks like Jhin and Ziggs, instead preferring to play ADCs that are relevant earlier in the game. His playstyle makes him a bit more fast and loose than other ADCs, meaning he’ll often catch players by surprise early on. If there’s a place for his aggressive playstyle to shine, it’s probably on the new Vitality roster. Expect lanes he’s in to be action-packed from the very start of the game.
2. Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao
New players usually have to live up to old legacies when they enter the pro league, but that's not the case for Uzi — a legend in his own right, fresh out of temporary retirement. There are high expectations of him coming into 2022, which may or may not be unrealistic. He’s still a strong player, but it’s uncertain whether or not Uzi can walk back into the LPL after his retirement and take down LPL giants like Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and Chen “GALA” Wei. That said, getting a penta in your first match back on stage is a damn good start.
Was this a show match? Sure. But still, seeing Uzi back on stage and getting a penta like it was nothing makes it a little easier to believe in him. It’s not like Uzi was just winning games for his team back in his heyday, he was doing it with style. There’s a reason he’s one of the most famous and well-known players to come out of China. Whether or not Uzi can continue to build upon his legacy and finally take a World Title remains to be seen.
1. Steven “Hans Sama” Liv
Through the ups and downs of Rogue’s rocky 2021, Hans Sama and Kacper “Inspired” Słoma were the standout players on the team. Considering that both players have been picked up by NA teams, it’s safe to say they represent some of the best the EU has to offer. Inspired will be setting a high bar for any jungler going against him, and Hans Sama will likely do the same for bot lane. What makes Hans so much stronger than the competition?
Hans Sama is a player that understands he’s a win condition. The way he uses his strength as an ADC comes through in his careful playstyle. Hans has restraint in a way many other players don’t have, and he knows how important it is that he keeps himself alive. Between not overcommitting to Lulu, saving flash for the big AoE CC he can’t dodge, and staying to bail Jayce out, there are very few ways Hans could have played the risky fight against FPX better. While Hans will rarely put a game on his back, he’s a reliable damage-dealer that almost never dies.
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Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.