Gen.G CEO warns LoL pro play is facing ‘lack of new talent’—even in the LCK

League of Legends esports might soon be facing a scarcity of young, talented players at a grassroots level, and Gen.G’s CEO wonders the reasons behind its decline.

“People in the know are getting pretty worried about the lack of talent pipeline for League, even in Korea,” Gen.G CEO Arnold Hur said on X (formerly Twitter) on June 17. “By talent pipeline, I mean at the trainee level, before they even get a CL [Challengers League] roster spot and become a star like Quid, Delight, or our very own Peyz,” reflecting the shortage of players isn’t restricted to a specific region. The issue is also present in Korea, a region with an impressive international tournament track record.

Gen.G Esports are seen on stage with the trophy after victory against Bilibili Gaming during Mid-season Invitational Finals.
Gen.G had a dream run in the 2024 MSI. Photo by Liu YiCun via Riot Games

Arnold pointed out that the problem is not with the availability of talent, as other Riot Games titles like VALORANT have three to four times the “pipeline of future pro-level talent” compared to League because young kids with natural, competitive talent are playing other games.

In contrast, LCK has gained “mainstream popularity and cultural relevance” among the youth. But Arnold feels there’s still a “mismatch” into why youngsters are not investing much time in League compared to other games.

The Gen.G CEO noted that one of the main reasons for the lower interest in playing could be that more people are transitioning to watching esports. Another reason could be the hangover effect of esports, where players have access to great games to invest their time in one title and all in on it. The recent franchising of esports to fewer teams and paid roster spots in the ecosystem might’ve also indirectly meant fewer opportunities for the budding talent.

The Gen.G CEO, however, said there’s light at the end of the tunnel. “Longer-term integration of open team qualifiers (like VALORANT), collegiate opportunities, and more international attention” are potential steps in the right direction to increase the talent pool and have a bustling competitive scene in League.

Arnold also said that Gen.G has some initiatives to become a “launchpad for the best gamers in the world,” and the organization will collaborate with partners at esports organizations, colleges, and publishers to make it happen, and more updates in the summer.

Gen.G has been dominating esports internationally this year, winning the 2024 Mid-Seasonal Invitational and the 2024 VCT: Masters, Shanghai, and also came as the runner-up for 2024 VCT: Masters, Madrid. Domestically, Gen.G became the first LCK team to win four splits in a row and broke several viewership records.

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