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With a new season of SPL comes a new batch of rookies, eager to prove they belong in conversations with some of the best players in the game, hoping to capture a trophy and help build their legacy. Although SPL is traditionally a difficult tournament for new players to break into as anything more than subs, there are always a few new studs that will inevitably garner some interest as key players in their first year. Others will fight hard for a spot on the bench and attempt to play the crucial role of a super sub, often the difference between making and missing the playoffs, between winning and losing the title. These players are those rookies, and here's their pre-season case for rookie of the year.
Lavos Spawn is probably the most hyped rookie entering this season coming off of some impressive tournament success. He burst onto the competitive scene with an impressive World Cup run for US West, helping them capture the title and proving he can be part of a championship team dynamic. Chemistry is huge, and while Lavos isn't without his detractors he has shown he won't be a cancer to a team. He's also launched a nice solo career, routinely topping the ladder and enjoying a very strong performance in the Smogon Tour. Lavos might have built an impressive enough resumé to command top dollar at auction, but without a doubt whichever team grabs him will be getting a high caliber player and an asset to any team.
With the addition of NU to SPL, teams will be looking to grab a steady player for that tier. CrashinBoomBang figures to be one of the premier NU players on the market, his name being one of the first that gets brought up in discussions of NU's top players. However, he's not just limited to NU, as he qualified for top 16 of the most recent Smogon Tour, specifically showcasing his impressive skills in ADV. His real value will be as a set and forget NU player, but his versatility will make him a more intriguing option for teams trying to get the most bang for their buck.
blarajan's best tier might not have made the SPL schedule, but the LC star used the Grand Slam tournament to showcase his versatility in several tiers. Grabbing the 2nd seed overall and making a run to the semifinals was quite impressive and certainly caught some eyes around the league. A player capable of filling into tiers that many top players aren't well versed in is a great asset as it is, and blarajan has shown he can be much more than just a super versatile sub.
The shock of the Grand Slam season, Nelson-X made an incredible run to the finals of the tournament by knocking out powerhouses McMeghan and Bloo. His ability to play several tiers might be overshadowed by his ability to play under tremendous pressure. He's a World Cup veteran as well, so he should be well versed in what it takes to be a contributing member of a team. Perhaps he won't be as coveted on draft day due to the surprise factor behind his run to the finals, but he'll look to prove any and all doubters wrong by showing his tournament success was no fluke.
Another strong Grand Slam player, FLCL doesn't quite have the reputation or playoff run that some of these other guys have, but grabbing the 3rd seed is no easy feat. He should catch on with a team as a potential super sub or low-cost high-upside player, but don't be surprised to see him be a full time starter sooner rather than later.
Harsha has one of the faster growing badgesets on Smogon, but he also has a good amount of experience in OU as well as an understanding of how to transition those skills to other tiers. He's a solid team builder and a great guy to have for team chemistry. He brings a lot to the table as a teammate and is dependable enough that you don't need to worry about him bailing halfway through the season. A super sub at the very least, with the potential to be much more.
UK player PenguinX was a bit of a letdown in the World Cup, but he's a solid OU player with a great ability to theorize and come up with creative teams. Probably won't be a starter right away but he'll be a solid contributor to any team he's on even if all he ever does is brighten up the chat and serve as a bouncing board for ideas. Peng's bright personality and ability to analyze teams should make him a solid low-cost purchase for any team.
Jirachi might not be the biggest name but he's going to impress in tryouts, helping land him a spot on whatever lucky team is willing to take a chance on him. He's a strong OU player with an excellent attitude and the lack of an ego makes him perfect to come off the bench and excels under pressure. It's always good to have people to test against whose job it is to rate teams, but Jirachi offers that combined with underrated skills. Pass over him at your own risk, he'll be a bigger name by SPL's end.
PDC hasn't been able to play in SPL yet due to some technicalities, but he's a strong player who is eager to prove himself after being forced to sit out of several major tournaments. He's a very strong player hailing from US East with some WCoP experience, and will at the very least grab some interest from fellow US East teammate yondie. PDC is highly motivated to win and highly skilled when he's in form, a dangerous and high upside combination. The only issue is his occasional let down, but overall he's a strong player that is looking to start working towards a legacy.
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