2022 was a memorable year for League of Legends fans. There were exciting storylines throughout different regions, the reintroduction of live audiences swung into full force, and the year was capped off by the most exciting World Championship the game has seen. Seeing the passion and dedication of top players is always a treat, and this year was no different.
The mid lane has always been one of the biggest points of conversation in competitive League, and 2022 was especially so. Many of the metas gave opportunities for mid laners to show off their skills in all stages of the game, and there were so many exciting developments throughout the year. We saw the full reemergence of top talents like Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, as well as the rise of starlets like Kim "Zeka" Geon-woo. At every level, competition in this position was a joy to watch.
Here are Inven Global’s top five mid laners through 2022.
5. Heo "ShowMaker" Su — DWG KIA
ShowMaker has dropped off a little bit, but that isn't a problem. If you've spent the past two years at the top of Mount Olympus, dropping slightly in the place of the gods isn't a big deal. Instead of being the best player in the world, he is simply one of the best. DWG KIA's mid laner is still dangerous, though: his mechanics are as sharp as ever, his synergy with Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu (the other reliable link of the roster) is even more refined, and his playmaking is responsible for many of his team's victories.
Of course, he hasn't been able to shine this year quite as bright as in the past few years. With the side lanes of DWG KIA unable to compete with the likes of T1 and Gen.G, all pressure has been on ShowMaker to be the team's late-game threat. Canyon has helped him get there, but unfortunately, the one-two punch has not been enough — in some cases simply overshadowed by other duos.
4. Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao — Royal Never Give Up
It's a privilege to observe the longevity of Xiaohu. Through roster changes, role swaps, and the pressure of youngsters constantly vying for his status, he continues to be an excellent contributor to his team. By all accounts, we saw this again in 2022: another MSI trophy in tow, and another representation at Worlds. What makes it most extraordinary is that Xiaohu isn't only helping earn these results, he's the primary carry force.
There's a good chance RNG wouldn't have made it past Top Esports to qualify for MSI without the heroics of Xiaohu, and he was the strongest member of the team throughout the summer. In fact, Xiaohu earned 2nd All-Pro Team and a 1st All-Pro Team honors during the two competitions. Though there are no doubt some flaws in the veteran's game, his seasoned decision-making in the late-game and unreal coordination in teamfights have continued to make him a potent threat.
3. Kim "Zeka" Geon-woo — DRX
If the end of the year wasn't included in these results, Zeka would be nowhere close to top five in the world. However, that's one of the benefits of helping carry an underdog team to the Summoner's Cup. It was quite the coming-out party for Zeka — already considered one of the best mid laners in the world in his first year competing in the LCK. It's an insane timeline: playing two years on middling LPL teams, only to transfer over to a middling LCK team, to then narrowly qualify for Worlds and not only win, but do so by making flashy plays on some of the greatest mid laners of all time.
Of course, there were warning signs — Zeka's coach Kim "SSONG" Sang-soo stated in an interview that, "He still has not met his limits — he has an even higher ceiling. So I see huge potential in him, and he has a lot more to show." Still, it was undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the year to see him perform this well. There are still questions on whether he can maintain this momentum through a full season, and if he can diversify his champion pool. However, his heroics at Worlds warrant him the privilege of standing with the best.
2. Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon — Gen.G
One of the most heartwarming stories of this year was to finally see Chovy win the LCK. Despite being one of the most talented players in the world for many years — having top-tier playmaking and seemingly possessing an "I WIN" button in lane — he never had the right combination to win a championship. Thankfully, he signed to a competent organization with a very strong roster, and took full advantage of the opportunity.
He did everything we've come to expect of Chovy, and was once again counted as one of the best mid laners in the LCK for both spring and summer (LCK 2nd All-Pro Team in the former, and LCK 1st All-Pro Team in the latter). Though he has stated he was disappointed in his Worlds performance, a loss in the semfinals against the winning team is nothing to scoff at. A fantastic and cathartic year for one of the game's greatest players.
1. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok — T1
In case you weren't in the know, Faker has been good for a while. He's by far the greatest player the game has ever seen. Of course, for the past few years the T1 legend looked like he was progressively in a downward trend — still elite, but below the talents of the very best. He could retire the game's GOAT, but had no prospects of replicating the wonder we saw in the beginning years of his career.
It looks like he thought otherwise, however. 2022 was easily one of the best years of Faker's career, and was the best of any mid laner on earth. He once again found team success — making it to four finals, winning a championship, and guiding T1 to an undefeated regular season during the spring. Just as impressive, however, is how well he has performed individually. He had incredible individual performances throughout the year, and won some of his first significant individual honors in years (LCK 1st All-Pro Team in the spring, and LCK 2nd All-Pro Team in the summer). When will he slow down?
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