The 2019 Honda Scouting Grounds are well on their way with the Dragon Draft finalized and players sorted to their respective teams. Throughout the event, these players will be scrimming, playing official matches, and doing some in depth vod review in order to grow, all leading up to the big matches at the end of the week.
Those final matches will be streamed on the LCS stage, but the cumulation of all games, along with individuals' ability to adapt and soak in information, will determine whether or not players get drafted or signed in the long run.
We posted the results of the Dragon Draft earlier, along with the draft order. However, that doesn't tell a full story. Each org is looking for specific things, and therefore, prioritizes different players, roles, styles, etc. Also, each Dragon Team is run by multiple orgs, and they all have to combine their wishes for the best draft to suit them all.
Additionally, because the nature of the draft, if teams pick three players from one position, the last player is guaranteed on the fourth team, so they won't get picked up till later. Also, the first team has sick picks between their first and second pick, meaning seven of the 20 players will be gone before they even have two on their team.
The draft order paints a slight picture of players' relative talent, but it's also pretty muddled. Really, rather than "paints," it's probably more accurately like a 3 year old wielding crayons, drawing on the otherwise clean white walls in the hallway... Oops.
In any case, not all players enter the event on equal footing. Inven Global reporter, Parkes Ousley, spoke with multiple coaches across various teams to see who the top prospects are for this year. These are the players they called out as having the highest likelihood to prove they're worth an Academy or LCS slot this Spring.
The Top Five Prospects
Note: This is not one player per position, rather an anonymous conglomeration, averaging out the players' placements from the various coaches across all 20 attendees.
1. Jackson "KatEvolved" Dohan
KatEvolved is the mid for Team Ocean here at Scouting Grounds, but plays mid for Radiance otherwise, and has been around the challenger scene for a couple years. He is a Kat main, but only time will tell if he gets to pull that out this week. This is KatEvolved's first Scouting Grounds, but he was the only player to make the list on all coaches petitioned.
2. Gabriel "Fanatiik" Saucier
Former NA Academy player and backup for TSM's Jonathan "Grig" Armao, Fanatiik is currently the jungler for Super Nova, with fellow NASG attendee Kostyantyn "PieCakeLord" Dudarchuk, and both are on Team Mountain this week. He qualified through the inaugural Scouting Grounds Circuit, and this is his second Scouting Grounds, attending first in 2017.
3. Johnathan "CHIME" Pomponio
CHIME is the support for Team Ocean, and is very new to the competitive scene. True NA scouting right here. Much like Aaron "FakeGod" Lee from last year, CHIME is much less tested, and is a very interesting, and potentially promising, player that the coaches are paying special attention to this week. Look out for him on Saturday!
4. Aidan Joseph "5fire" Reckamp
Placing one position too high for the perfect synergy, 5fire is the mid for Team Infernal and plays for ANEW otherwise. He and his team placed first in the Scouting Grounds Circuit, and this is his second time attending, and second year in a row. While KatEvolved was clearly the top pick, he is the second mid on the list, and still comes in fourth overall!
5. Ian "MistyStumpey" Alexander
MistyStumpey rounds out the list as the sole top laner, also playing for Team Infernal, making for some firey solo lanes. (Sorry.) He plays top for Columbia College, and attended Scouting Grounds 2018, also on Infernal. Watch out for some sick Jayce plays and a strong champion pool.
There were others named as well, but these were the top five! Though others can prove to be more valuable throughout the event, these players in one way or another have already piqued the coaches' interest, and you should look out for them this weekend.
With the draft returning this year, players will have a chance at exclusivity for certain orgs who want them, and showing off and improving this week is the best way to get signed. It is important to note, however, that a couple of the coaches were less impressed by this year's lineup compared to previous years, noting this group is going to have to work extra hard to command a spot.
Let us know what player you're most excited about attending this year, and who you think has the best chance to grab an LCS/Academy slot during the off-season.