The 2019 Spring Split of the League Championship Series (LCS) has been a season filled with redemption and a strong resurgence for multiple teams and players. Players like Cloud9’s Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer and Team SoloMid’s (TSM) Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen have stormed back to the forefront of their respective roles after struggling to find their footing last season. While these two and many others have been able to capture the success that once appeared lost in their League of Legends careers, there has been no comeback this year quite like that of FlyQuest’s Lucas “Santorin” Larsen.
Santorin first stepped into the spotlight as a member of TSM in the 2015 season, finding immediate success as a rookie and capturing both the 2015 Spring Rookie of the Split and the 2015 Spring LCS Championship. While on TSM it was clear that Santorin had the potential to be a star in the LCS, but as the season progressed his flaws and inexperience gradually began to show.
At the 2015 World Championships, Santorin’s struggles came to a head as he was clearly outclassed by the other jungles in his group. After a disappointing end to a season that appeared to have so much promise, Andy “Reginald” Dinh and the TSM leadership decided it was time for a change and released Santorin.
After bouncing around a few challenger teams and being relegated as a part of NRG Esports, Santorin would find himself on a super team of sorts in the NA Challenger Series (NACS) squad Gold Coin United (GCU). Primed to make it to the NA LCS after finishing first in the NACS Playoffs in both the 2017 Spring and Summer Playoffs, GCU would fall short of promotion to the LCS on both attempts.
After a Split in the EU LCS with H2K Gaming, Santorin would finally make his NA LCS return by joining FlyQuest for the 2018 Summer Split. A questionable move considering his past performances, it appeared Santorin would be given one final opportunity to deliver upon his potential.
With FlyQuest, it was clear that Santorin had still not regained the star form he had flashed early in his career. With FlyQuest being eliminated in the first round of the 2018 Summer Split Playoffs, Santorin could easily have been classified among the worst performing junglers in the LCS once again.
Despite this, Santorin was retained on the starting roster for the 2019 season in a move that surprised many after his poor performance in the prior Split. As FlyQuest retooled the roster around him, Santorin (along with rookie top laner Omran “V1per” Shoura) appeared as if he could be the weak link.
Instead, the meta and the rebuilt roster allowed Santorin to thrive as the Spring Split progressed, catapulting him toward the top of the LCS junglier rankings. After a career plagued with early mistakes and meltdowns under pressure, Santorin became a steadying force for FlyQuest by limiting his deaths to the lowest among junglers and even earning himself Third Team All LCS honours. In addition to his obvious growth on the Rift, Santorin has matured into a leader and mentor on FlyQuest.
The words on the back of the FlyQuest jersey say “showcase greatness”. What Santorin has been able to accomplish in the 2019 Spring Split, the way in which he has faced his flaws and pushed forward to become the player he is today is his own personal arrival at “greatness”.
For Santorin, the emotion of finally being able to break through was clear in his post game interview after reaching the Playoff Semi-Finals for the first time in almost four years. For those fans of the LCS, it would be easy to crown Santorin the LCS Comeback Player of the Split. After a career thick with disappointment and constant steps back, it appears Santorin has finally taken the biggest step forward in his career.
All images courtesy of lolesports on Flickr.