After a promising showing in the first week of the LCS Lock in tournament, Dignitas Academy jungler Exyu sat down with us for an exclusive.

Despite the criticism for their 2022 roster, Dignitas pulled out a major upset last weekend. The LCS side took down the summer split champions 100 Thieves in a convincing 2-0 sweep. And while superstar import Kim "River" Dong-woo was pulling the strings in their recent match, academy jungler Lawrence "eXyu" Xu lead the lines in their group stage games. Following his cameo in the Lock in tournament, sat down with the talented rookie for a brief interview.

Exyu made the jump to Dignitas academy earlier this year. The upcoming star came over from Cloud9's amateur team, where he found relative success. Dignitas Academy is just the latest step in what is to be a promising career for Exyu. The jungler got his first glimpse of the LCS this month as he subbed in for River during the group stage. Exyu also secured his first official LCS win, taking down Immortals.

In this interview, we speak to Exyu about his feelings heading into his LCS debut, the skill gap between LCS pros and Proving Grounds talent and finally if academy teams should be allowed to participate alongside the LCS in the Lock in tournament.

Proving grounds talent have been running the show

In spite of the fact many LCS sides have been unable to field their intended rosters due to VISA and other related issues, this has been a great opportunity for new talent to shine through. Earlier in the group stage, we saw TSM academy take down FlyQuest's LCS starting roster.

New players to the LCS like Isles, Jojopyun and Exyu have been excelling in their opening games. DIG Exyu believes the gap between the development scene and the LCS is not that big.

"Honestly, the skill gap isn’t that big and I think that’s something people are starting to realize more and more recently. In the next few years, I think a lot of the current academy/proving grounds talents will be taking over the LCS."

Does academy teams deserve a spot in Lock in?

The 2022 LCS Lock in has provided a lot of positives for the upcoming season. The teams that have been able to field their intended rosters have started to iron out the mistakes and are looking ready for the spring split. For the academy rosters, however, their time in Lock in has showcased they at least deserve a seat at the table in Riot's preseason tournament.

The academy players were competitive throughout the group stage and there is a growing feeling certainly within the players that this is a great opportunity for Academy. Not only do they get the competitive stage games against LCS opposition, but they also get much-needed scrim time. This is an opportunity that is probably infrequent for most academy sides. Exyu believes this would be a great event not only for the players but for the fans.

"It would definitely make the tournament more interesting for viewers I think. There is a lot of hidden gems in academy and the top teams in academy can definitely hold their own against most LCS teams. 

"The pressure is all on them"

<em>Image courtesy of Team Liquid LoL</em>
Image courtesy of Team Liquid LoL

Having to play against some of the best players the league has to offer is certainly daunting. Esports careers are generally short and having the opportunity to play on the best teams are slim. Exyu described his nerves heading into his first-ever LCS game.

" It was really exciting to debut in LCS. Honestly, I wasn’t too nervous leading up to the match in scrims but when it was game day there were definitely a decent amount of nerves."

The LCS has a solid lineup of Junglers in the league, despite being new to the LCS, 2021 LEC summer MVP Inspired sits on top of the tree as the best western jungler. Exyu not only had to go up against Inspired in his opening games, but also against European junglers in Santorin and Xerxe. Exyu described although it is daunting, the pressure was not on him to perform well but the honus was on the veterans.

"It’s honestly a little nerve-wracking to play against these big-name junglers but at the same time the pressure is all on them so I just have to go out there and play my best and see how I stack up compared to them."

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