Whichever region you look at, the mid lane role is chock full of top players. When there’s a star player to look to on a team, it’s usually the mid laner. They have to have arguably the most diverse champ pool of any role, rotate often, maintain lane pressure, and, when the opportunity arises, carry their team.
The LPL has birthed many great mid laners, but many of those have historically been imported from Korea. While there are some Korean players on this list, the absolute best mid laners this season come from China. It’s an exciting time for a region that’s beginning to stand on its own without needing the help of imported players. Having TES vs. RNG as the first all-Chinese final since 2014 was only the beginning.
5. Zeng “Yagao” Qi — JD Gaming
Yagao has a long history in the LPL, even if he's often been overlooked when compared to the all-time greats in the LPL. He’s been at the top of the table for most of his four and a half year tenure on JDG, but their recent 2021 slump took Yagao out of the conversation LPL's best mid. With his strong performance this split, however, he’s back near the top.
Yagao is, in a lot of ways, a very traditional mid laner. His champion pool is fairly rigid, made up almost solely of ranged, magic damage dealers that scale monstrously well into the late game. And while that rigidity and old-school playstyle put him behind some other mid laners in the region, he’s too good at standard mages to ignore. Yagao is consistently set up to play a specific role in JDG’s draft, and he delivers almost every time.
4. Song “Rookie” Eui-jin — Victory 5
One of two world champions on this list, Rookie’s still going strong since his 2018 win. iG had a rough go of things through 2020 and 2021, but despite missing internationals and dropping out of the top half of the LPL standings, Rookie was still regarded as one of the best mid laners in the region. And on V5’s revitalized roster for this year, he was really able to show off just how good he is.
Rookie has a fairly diverse champion pool and he’s shown that depth throughout the Spring Split. However, he seems to be at his best on control mages with some real 1v1 potential. Syndra, Azir, Ahri, Orianna: Rookie’s all about pressuring his opponent out of lane and beating them to the punch on rotations. Even if he sometimes fails to make teamfights happen for V5 and snowball the leads he creates, his high level of individual skill is impossible to ignore.
3. Lee “Scout” Ye-chan — EDward Gaming
It’s no secret that EDG had a rough go of things through Spring. It’s a pretty common trend for teams to win an international event and then slump for a while, torn down by the burnout. However, Scout didn’t seem to slow down at all. Even in EDG’s worst games, he was doing everything he could to keep them in the game.
Scout seems to have a real love for champions that can move globally and create opportunities out of nowhere, while simultaneously having myriad counterpicks to choose from if given the opportunity to find a lane counter. If the enemy takes Twisted Fate, Scout will take Sylas into it almost every time. Not to mention, Scout’s the sort of player to pull out a champion he hasn’t played for a year at an international event and hard carry with them.
The next two mid laners looked just a bit better than him this split, but that could very easily change over the next few months.
2. Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao — Royal Never Give Up
Hot off the back of yet another MSI win, Xiaohu really showed us how strong he is as a mid laner... even if he didn’t spend much time in the mid lane. Xiaohu is always looking for an opening. He often hovers near sidelanes when there isn’t much happening in mid. If there’s a fight going on in a lane, he’s often there within a moment’s notice.
Xiaohu wasn’t always like this either. He’s always been an excellent teamfighter, but his complete control over the map is something that’s come with time. There’s a long-standing narrative that pro players have a life cycle, but Xiaohu has only improved over the years and iterated upon his existing strengths as a player. However, there’s one player in China that stands above the rest.
1. Zhuo “Knight” Ding — Top Esports
Knight, like Xiaohu, is a player that has managed to stand out as one of the best players to touch League of Legends without having to win a world championship to prove it. He’s been the face of Top Esports for years, and he’s a great player to build a team around. What makes Knight the best mid laner in China?
Simply put, Knight does everything well. There are very few players that can match Knight's amount of highlight rees. 1v3s, 1v4s, even 1v5s to clutch out games are a pretty common occurrence for Knight. At the same time, he’s able to play a champion like Galio and create opportunities for his teammates to carry. Whatever TES needs from Knight, he can readily provide.
No matter what kind of shape Top Esports is in during any given split, Knight is always a standout player. RNG may have been the LPL’s MSI representative, but they barely managed to prevent TES from reverse sweeping them. Expect big things from Knight going into Summer.
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Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.