WATCH: C9 Contractz Proves Himself Worthy Of ‘Rookie Of The Split’ Title

Cloud9 jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia has been crowned the NA LCS’ ‘Rookie of the Split’ for Spring 2017, yet his achievement was largely overshadowed by murmurs that the 17 year old was undeserving of the award. Accepting his accolade alongside C9 Head Coach Bok “Reapered” Han-Gyu, the voting system was criticised for having not crowned either Echo Fox’s Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham or Immortals’ Cody “Cody Sun” Sun.

The ‘Rookie of the Split’ is determined based upon a ballot completed by players, coaches and broadcasting talent in addition to journalistic figures within the eSports scene; the voting is therefore, by nature, a matter of opinion as opposed to being based upon statistics.

Curiously however, the voting process was skewed heavily: broadcasting talent heavily favouring Cody Sun as the split’s best performing rookie, whereas not a single player or coach voted for Cody Sun to be #1. Contractz title was facilitated by professional players and coaches who voted overwhelmingly in the Cloud9 junglers’ favour.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Contractz joined the Cloud9 roster as their starting jungler after featuring for the Cloud9 Challenger (C9C) team that beat NRG eSports 3-0 in the Promotion Tournament. If not for Contractz only recently turning 17, fans would have likely already seen him on an LCS squad. Consistently praised for his high skill level, Contractz has the potential to be one of the best junglers in NA, invaluable to any roster due to his native residency, freeing-up an additional import slot.

Contractz brought a significantly different jungling approach to Cloud9, a style C9 fans had not seen since Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae’s brief stint with the team. The rookie started the split in phenomenal form, memorably dismantling Team SoloMid as Cloud9 established an early foothold at the summit of the NA LCS. Showcasing an aggressive style of jungling on Kha’Zix and Lee Sin, Contractz ran rampant through teams unable to contain to contain his oppressive approach.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Based on the Spring Split’s opening weeks alone, Contractz appeared a certainty to claim to the ‘Rookie of the Split’ title – few would’ve have argued. Yet as the season developed, the junglers performances faltered where other rookies around him were finding their feet in the NA LCS.

Echo Fox’s own jungler Akaadian emerged as a dominant force, leading his team to glory on a number of occasions without the luxury of the all-star roster afforded to Contractz. Elsewhere, former Challenger Series prodigy Cody Sun was fast establishing synergy with his Korean bot lane partner Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung and was consistently posting numbers that would put him into contention.

Where the Cloud9 star had peaked early and remained relatively consistent, his performances were no longer earning the plaudits like Akaadian or Cody Sun. Many critical voices within the community felt that Contractz achievements were surpassed by the end of the split.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Additionally, complaints surfaced that Cloud9’s representatives had deliberately infringed the rules of the ballot to manipulate the outcome of the vote. Both Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Reapered’s votes were deemed invalid after the two parties voted for Contractz as their #1 option, directly breaching the rule which prevents parties from voting for themselves or players from their own organisation.

As a result, Akaadian and Cody Sun were tactically denied votes that could have otherwise seen the title denied from Contractz. Hypothetically, if both Reapered and Smoothie had voted for Akaadian as their first choice, the Echo Fox man would have been crowned as Rookie of the Split.

Source: lolesports

Collecting his award ahead of Cloud9’s semi-final with Phoenix1, Contractz delivered a performance worthy of his new-found title, silencing any negativity surrounding his ceremony. Opting for his trademark Kha’Zix pick, the Cloud9 jungler found first blood on P1 mid laner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook to get his team off to an early lead:

After snowballing the team to a convincing victory in the opening game, Contractz replicated his earlier success in Game 2 to secure first blood once more, this time on Phoenix1’s star AD Carry No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon.

To cement his status as a worthy winner of the coveted award, Contractz closed out the penultimate game in style with an impressive quadrakill:

Cloud9’s rookie will be hoping to solidify his status as a top jungler in North America during the Summer, as the road to the World Championships appears on the horizon.

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