League of Legends had a year filled with upsets, refueled rivalries, and one miracle run to trump them all. Here are the best players that defined 2022, arguably the top year of competition in LoL esports history.
League of Legends shone in 2022.
Worlds was the sort of event that transcended the game that it’s bound to. Between influencers and big name content creators praising the event, to South Korea’s World Cup team quoting Deft, League of Legends’ biggest tournament of the year reached a broader audience than ever before.
That said, there are a number of players who shone bright this year outside of the biggest competition. It’s important to recognize players who had strong performances throughout the year, rather than just those who shined brightest at the year’s biggest event.
With that being said, here are our top five League of Legends players of 2022.
Honorable mention: DRX
Though DRX was less than remarkable until they qualified for Worlds 2022, their international run will be remembered for years to come. Their momentum carried them all the way from being Play-Ins underdogs to World Champions. However, there’s a reason DRX wasn’t in anyone’s predictions to win Worlds.
Just before playoffs, they lost to the LCK’s worst team in Summer 2022, Hanwha Life Esports. They then got immediately knocked out of Playoffs and only qualified for Worlds by working their way through the LCK Regional Finals. DRX had some serious issues through the entirety of 2022, and they weren’t able to solve them until it mattered most.
Their peak marks one of the greatest Cinderella stories in esports, but that peak doesn’t remotely reflect their performance through the year. DRX’s roster of hard-working, dedicated players deserve a mention here, but none of these players performed consistently well through 2022 like those on this list.
5. Bai ‘369’ Jia-Hao
369 wasn’t exactly in a good place after leaving Top Esports at the end of 2021. A documentary about the team revealed 369 got berated by both jungler Hung ‘Karsa’ Hao-Hsuan and coach Chen ‘WarHorse’ Ju-Chih about his inability to play meta champions. After four years with the org, 369 left and moved on to JDG. From this point, he would either flourish in a new environment or crash and burn.
369 would go on to dominate the competition in Spring by playing his top laners his way, showing off his mastery of weakside tanks like Malphite and Sion as well as some incredibly strong Aatrox performances before he became a meta pick. JDG did hit a wall in the Spring Playoffs and were felled by V5, with 369 losing to his former team mate Karsa.
By the end of the Summer Split, however, 369 conquered his demons and defeated all of his former teammates to pave JDG’s path to Worlds 2022. With his ability to play weakside just as well as he could play with the focus of his jungler, 369’s versatility and unique champ picks put him a league above other Chinese top laners.
The story of 369 is one of perseverance and confidence in his own play. While he may not have won Worlds, he won his freedom from the expectations saddled upon him by his failures with Top Esports and cemented himself as one of the world’s best top laners. Reunited with Zhuo ‘Knight’ Ding, he’s set up to roll straight 9s through 2023 on a star-studded JDG roster.
4. Li ‘Xiaohu’ Yuan-Hao
Xiaohu’s a League of Legends veteran, and the only player to have taken home an international title in multiple roles. He’s back to mid lane these days, and has continued to raise the bar for what it takes to be the best mid laner in the LPL.
Between winning his third MSI title and having a fantastic performance in both the Spring and Summer Split, writing off Xiaohu’s year of excellent play based on Worlds would be an absolute disservice.
Xiaohu’s greatest strength as a player is his flexibility, and knowing how to play a wide variety of mid laners who can fill whatever role his team needs. His ability to somehow be everywhere on the map at once is unrivaled in the mid role, and his heads-up playstyle has continually pushed RNG into the spotlight.
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2023 will be Xiaohu’s first year away from RNG since 2015, but there’s no reason to doubt that he can bring the same level of play to Weibo Gaming.
3. Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok
Ok, this one is kind of obvious. Faker tends to be a shoo-in for lists like these for a variety of reasons. Even in his weaker years, it’s easy to get wrapped up in Faker’s immense legacy as a player to give him a spot on every list. But this was not a weak year for Faker. In 2022, he would have been worthy of a spot on this list even if he didn’t already have three world titles. He really is that good.
While the other players on T1 had their fair share of superstar moments along with the team having a record-breaking level of success in the regular season, Faker truly stood out as a rock for this team through the entire year. He increased his all-time record of having the most champs played in pro games to 77, and showed his versatility by having one of, if not the largest champion pool in the LCK.
If he needed to carry, Faker would. If T1 drafted in a way that required Faker to give up some of the spotlight and help his teammates, he’d take a step back and allow resources to go elsewhere on the map. While it’s hard to think of a team Faker wouldn’t be able to fit into, the fact that he’s paired with so much raw talent gives him the ability to facilitate his teammates and let them shine.
Faker is undisputedly the greatest to ever do it, and he’s still adding to his legacy. There’s no doubt he’ll be looking for that fourth world title in 2023.
2. Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk
Ruler had arguably his best year as a player in 2022. Five years after he earned his first world title, he’s shown that he’s far from his peak. In every meta, he dominated his role. Whether it was Lucian-Nami, Zeri-Yuumi, or Varus, Ruler was able to pick up any champion he needed to play and immediately be better than every other ADC in Korea.
The more reliant the meta was on bot lane, the brighter Ruler shined. Even with Gen.G’s storyline surrounding mid laner Jeong ‘Chovy’ Ji-hoon, Ruler stole the show almost every time they hit the Rift.
Between his pentakill against T1, finally getting his first LCK title after Gen.G’s dominant Summer Split, and a strong showing at Worlds 2022, it’d be a crime to leave Ruler off the list.
In our interview with him from Worlds 2022, he put into words what drives him as a player: “In traditional sports or esports, I feel like a lot of people look for motivation. But that wasn’t the case for me. I always thought that I wanted to be better. I always try to be better at what I do. That’s how I’m here now.”
And, after years with the organization, Ruler’s leaving GenG to try and find a team that can get him another world title. With him joining JDG alongside 369, both players are building what could be a meteoric super team both domestically and internationally.
1. Ryu ‘Keria’ Min-seok
Support players historically get the short end of the stick in and out of game. They have the least gold and experience, often have to start fights or sacrifice themselves for the sake of their carries, and typically get outshined by their teammates regardless of how well they play. Typically.
Keria is anything but typical. He’s one of the best mechanical players in the world regardless of his role, actively innovates his role and the way it’s played, and can quickly adapt to any situation. He may not have taken an international title this year, but Keria managed to define and continually re-define how his role is played, to the point where he’s internationally recognized as one of the strongest players in League of Legends.
Not only that, but Keria did some really, really strange stuff this year. He and T1 were so dominant in the regular season that it seemed like him and Lee ‘Gumayusi’ Min-hyeong were just having fun at some point. Games where he fought lower tier LCK teams were a great opportunity to try out things like Lee Sin and Zac support, because… why not?
The way that Keria lost to DRX after leaving them for T1 was heartbreaking for Keria, but it also gives him more motivation than ever to succeed in 2023.