2019 LoL Offseason Winners and Losers
The League of Legends offseason roster shuffle has wound down and the 2020 season has already gotten kicked off in Korea and China. Teams swapped players, coaches, and promoted new talent in search of the roster that can win it all. We take a look at which teams came out of the frenzy as winners and which are left wondering where it all went wrong.
LCK Offseason Winners and Losers
Winner – DragonX
The first win for DragonX was convincing star bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu to re-sign before free agency even opened. They then benefited from the collapse of Griffin to add mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon, and head coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho. cvMax is still battling Riot-imposed punishment, but even if all he did for DRX was to recruit Chovy, that’s still a massive win for the organization. DRX rounded out their roster overhaul by adding a pair of prodigies in jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon and support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok. Pyosik is a former Kindred one-trick scouted for his exceptional mechanics in Solo Queue, while Keria has been highly regarded by ADC pros for a while but has finally turned 17 and is able to join the LCK.
Loser – T1
T1, formerly known as SK Telecom T1, lost two of their best players in Clid and top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Jungle replacement Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan is one of the top LCK junglers, but nobody would put him on par with Clid last year. Top laner Kim “Roach” Kang-hui is an even bigger downgrade from Khan. He couldn’t beat out Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin for the starting spot on Gen.G and is now laning next to Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. But obviously the biggest loss is long-time head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun to Vici Gaming and the LPL. T1 loses a big part of their identity with kkOma’s departure, and while Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo is a top-notch replacement, he has massive shoes to fill.
Winner – Gen.G
Like DRX, Gen.G decided to rebuild around their star bot laner. Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk is one of the best ADCs in the world, but the rest of the lineup needed an overhaul. Gen.G were one of the first teams to pounce in the offseason, signing top laner Kim “Rascal” Kwange-hee, jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min, and mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong on November 20. That’s an upgrade at all three of those roles and should form one of the best top-halves in the LCK to complement Ruler. Clid, in particular, was a top-five player world-wide to end 2019 and his addition has the dual benefit of weakening T1.
Loser – Griffin
Griffin had an incredible core locked up for years to come. Unfortunately, their horrific management opened the door for a player exodus and Doran, Chovy, and support Son “Lehends” Si-woo all opted to leave. Jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong and bot laner Park “Viper” Do-hyeon is still one of the best duos in the league, but the replacements are underwhelming. Choi “Sword” Sung-won and Park “Untara” Ui-jin is one of the worst top lane combos in the league. Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun and Jeong “Kabbie” Sang-hyeon are also downgrades at their respective positions. Griffin may still be a playoff team in 2020, but they’ve significantly lowered their ceiling through deplorable behavior.
LCS Offseason Winners and Losers
Winner – TSM
It seems we say this every offseason, but here we are again. TSM’s first victory was convincing mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg to stay, doing so in part by offering him an ownership stake in the organization. TSM then revamped their jungle and bot lane, picking up Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. All are expected to be direct upgrades, especially Kobbe. That said, the last “can’t-miss” EU import bot laner TSM grabbed was just sent packing. Dardoch has the talent to be the best jungler in NA and Biofrost has spent his time away from TSM learning to be a vocal leader. The dynamic on TSM needed to change and that overhaul brought over better players. It will be up to new head coach Peter Zhang to make it all work.
Loser – Dignitas
Dignitas took over a roster that qualified for the 2019 World Championship and promptly made it worse. They re-signed Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, but the rest of the starting lineup is new. Henrik “Froggen” Hansen is a better mid laner than Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, but that comes at the cost of starting Jonathan “Grig” Armao in jungle over an import. Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen, though young and promising, makes the leap from third-string ADC on TSM to starting bot laner for Dignitas. Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black is on the downswing of his career and replaces Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, one of the more promising young players in NA. The roster might sneak into the playoffs, but it’s a weird mix of fading veterans and unproven young players.
Winner – Evil Geniuses
Had Evil Geniuses landed Chovy or someone of a higher caliber at mid lane, they would be in the conversation for most-improved in the LCS. But even with Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro being the choice mid lane, EG have vastly improved on the 2019 Echo Fox roster. Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen was the 2019 LCS Summer MVP and has built-in synergy with support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidham. Bae “Bang” Jun-sik didn’t look great on 100T, but he’ll have a better supporting cast around him on EG. Top laner Colin “Kumo” Zhao acquitted himself well filling in for Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and has proven he is LCS-ready. This is a solid roster — something we weren’t able to say about Echo Fox to end 2019.
Loser – Immortals
Immortals had a frustrating offseason. They look to have finally solved their top lane issues by importing Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, but they now have bigger holes on the rest of their roster. Mid lane import Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire hasn’t played in a major league since 2016 Spring and is one of the biggest positional downgrades in competitive LoL from Lee “Crown” Min-ho. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is a great jungler, but he replaces another great jungler in William “Meteos” Hartman. Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon was no star in the latter half of his time in NA, but bringing Johnny “Altec” Ru back to the LCS in his spot isn’t the answer. IMT have a very veteran roster, but is that really a positive when better organizations are doing all they can to acquire young talent?
LEC Offseason Winners and Losers
Winner – Origen
Origen are easily the most improved team in Europe, if not the world. They picked up two of the best available free agents at the weakest positions in jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and bot laner Elias “Upset” Lipp. Support Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw is the wildcard of the group, but by all accounts, he should be a mechanical upgrade over the retired Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez. Origen may struggle initially to layout where the resources will go in each game, but the hope is that the players can take turns like G2 Esports. As long as OG don’t inexplicably fail to come together like 2019 Misfits Gaming, they should be more closely compared to Fnatic and G2 Esports than the other LEC teams.
Loser – MAD Lions E.C.
Splyce rebranded to MAD Lions E.C. this offseason, but that wasn’t the only change. They lost two of the top free agents on the market in Xerxe and Kobbe and also saw top laner Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss retire from professional play. Instead of dipping their toes into the free agent market themselves, MAD pulled several players from the lower leagues to fill out their lineup. While it might be the correct strategy for them at this point, MAD undoubtedly have the biggest dropoff in roster from 2019 to 2020 in the LEC.
Winner – Rogue
It was tough to pick a second winner in Europe with so many teams opting to bring in rookies, but Rogue were able to extend several of their core players and add Steven “Hans Sama” Liv to upgrade their weakest role. Rogue made a big run in the second half of the 2019 Summer Season, making the playoffs and finishing in 4th place after coming in last in their debut season. Top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestål, jungler Kacper “Inspired” Sloma, and mid laner Emil “Larssen” Larssen are now all signed through 2022. Rogue should build on their late-season momentum and look set up well for the future.
Loser – SK Gaming
SK Gaming were a mediocre team in their return to the LEC, finishing 6th in Spring and 7th in Summer. They’ll need a surprise or two to improve on that in 2020 after losing jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek to Fnatic and support Han “Dreams” Min-kook to FC Schalke 04. To put it simply — Selfmade is good enough for Fnatic to move on from Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen. Kim “Trick” Gang-yun is a solid replacement, but he’s not considered to be among the elite junglers. Dreams is a less important loss, but Dino “LIMIT” Tot is also a less proven replacement. SK Gaming may still sneak into the playoffs with so many LEC teams throwing rookies into their lineups, but they enter 2020 weaker than they ended 2019.
LPL Offseason Winners and Losers
Winner – FunPlus Phoenix
How does the best team in the world get even better? Add Khan to their top lane. Khan will share the role with incumbent Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem, but if his integration goes smoothly, Khan should garner the majority of the starts. He brings more carry potential than GimGoon, though he’ll have to prove he can fit into the team style. The beauty of the move for FPX is that they still retained GimGoon as insurance against a poor fit. FPX are also winners for convincing Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang to continue playing another year. We’re all better off in a world where Doinb is still playing.
Loser – Suning
Suning thought they had found the missing pieces when they added mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh last offseason, but things have been slowly getting worse. Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying left for Royal Never Give Up between Summer and Spring and now Maple, Han “Smlz” Jin, and Yang “H4cker” Zhi-Hao have all moved on. Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han and Xiang “Angel” Tao both played well for Suning last year as substitutes, but each are also role-swapping for 2020. Suning is no longer a star-studded lineup and is fresh off a terrible showing at the Demacia Cup. They might grow into a good team with Chen “bin” Ze-Bin developing top lane, but they should be treated as a non-playoff threat entering 2020.
Winner – Top Esports
Top Esports won on two fronts in the offseason: adding jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan, and getting rid of Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. Karsa is still one of the better junglers in the world and was never fully unlocked playing on RNG. Joining TOP means he gets to play with arguably the best mid in the world in Zhuo “knight” Ding and should be allowed to make more aggressive plays in 2020. TOP also called up bot laner Ying “Photic” Qi-Shen and support Liang “yuyanjia” Jia-Yuan from their academy team to replace Ben and Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook. While unproven, the duo can’t be any worse than the 2019 TOP bot lane that routinely cost the team games and a World Championship appearance.
Loser – JD Gaming
JD Gaming were one of the streakiest teams in 2019, but they did little in the offseason to provide optimism that would improve. Star bot laner Gu “imp” Seung-bin announced his retirement to begin the offseason, dealing a huge blow to JDG’s bot lane. The team added LokeN as his replacement. It’s hard to tell his form given his running mate in 2019, but he’s definitely projected to be a downgrade there. Jungler Sung “Flawless” Yeon-jun and top laner Park “Morgan” Gi-tae were both quality depth players who left in the offseason. Flawless was the starting jungler for the majority of 2019 before losing time to Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok, while Morgan was good enough to earn brief playing time over Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran. For a team that made it to the LPL Spring Finals, it was disappointing to see them take a step back this offseason.