League of Legends Offseason Roster Shuffle Tracker
It’s the greatest time of the year: League of Legends Roster Shuffle 2019. We’ll be with you every step of the way, updating player signings, trades, and the implications for their new and former teams.
This page will be updated daily with the newest transactions.
DECEMBER 19 ROSTER MOVE
LGD Gaming add Chance to finalize roster
What it means for LGD: LGD Gaming announced the signing of support Pei “Chance” Piao to finalize their roster. Chance previously played under the tag “change”. Chance has spent his career in the LDL, playing first for RW Shark before joining Scorpio Game. Interestingly, Chance only got to play in 11 of the games in LDL 2019 Summer before being replaced. The only time he’s played a full season in his four splits was 2019 Spring, in which he played 61 games. Chance will start the season behind former Rogue Warriors support Liu “Killua” Dan-Yang. Bot laner Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun is a strength of this team, so LGD will be counting on their supports to allow him to shine.
DECEMBER 18 ROSTER MOVES
Afreeca Freecs sign Ben
What it means for AF: Afreeca Freecs have signed support Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. Ben will be reunited with Mystic, as the duo formed one of the best bot lanes in the world in 2017. Unfortunately for AF, we’re now heading into 2020 and Ben is no longer the same player. He was arguably the worst support getting playing time in the LPL in 2019 and his lane held Top Esports back from qualifying for the 2019 World Championship. AF can hope moving Ben to a new environment in Korea and reuniting him with Mystic will bring back his former level of play, but it’s curious to see Ben even get that kind of shot after last year. That said, it’s hard to see Son “Jelly” Ho-gyeong as the answer either, so AF may just be throwing whatever they can at the wall and seeing what sticks.
What it means for TES: Top Esports saw enough of Ben in 2019 to announce he would not be returning to the team for another year. Instead, TES promoted Liang “yuyanjia” Jia-Yuan to the main roster and re-signed Zhang “QiuQiu” for additional depth. Yuyanjia has been the duo partner for up-and-comer bot laner Ying “Photic” Qi-Shen for his entire (short) professional career, so he should get the first crack in the main lineup. If their bot lane can be mediocre, TES will be greatly improved in 2020.
Vici Gaming promotes Zdz to main roster
What it means for VG: Vici Gaming promoted top laner Zhu “Zdz” De-Zhang to their main roster. Zdz has been with the VG organization for his entire professional career, beginning in the middle of 2018. He was one of the most lane dominant top laners in the LDL, but unfortunately for Zdz, VG already have Dai “Cube” Yi. Cube is a rising star in the LPL after being promoted on the day of his 17th birthday. Zdz is definitely deserving of a shot in a better league, but it’s unlikely he’ll get it on VG. Vici Gaming should feel really good about their top lane situation, even if they have some question marks surrounding the rest of the roster. Coach kkOma will have his hands full trying to put together a team that has plenty of potential but is short on experience.
V5 add 997, Xiaohan, and clx to main roster
What it means for V5: Victory Five added top laner Li “997” Hao-Feng, jungler Pan “Xiaohan” Han, and mid laner Chen “clx” Yi to their main roster. 997 began his career as a trainee with Snake Esports in 2016 and most recently played for Victorious Gaming in the LDL. Unlike some of the other LDL top lanes being brought up to main rosters, 997 didn’t have dominant laning numbers. Instead, he excelled at kill participation and making sure he was in position to fight with his team. Kennan, Gangplank, Rumble, and Ryze are among his most played champions, to no surprise. He’ll open the season behind Tao “Windy” Xiang on the depth chart. Windy played 29 games for V5 in 2019 Summer and is signed through 2021.
Xiaohan has spent the majority of his career in the LSPL and LDL, but he did get five games for JD Gaming in 2018 and three in 2019. Despite their struggles at jungle in 2019, JDG never considered him a serious enough option to get real playing time. Xiaohan played more carry than tank junglers in the academy league, but JDG generally limited him to bruiser/tank duty in the LPL. Xioahan is currently the only jungler under contract for V5 after the departure of Tu “Ben4” Xin-Cheng, so this might be his shot at an extended look.
Clx has spent the past two and a half years playing for JDG’s academy team Joy Dream. Like 997, clx was definitely above average for the LDL, but he wasn’t among the elite mid laners in the league. That said, he also has great kill participation numbers compared to his peers. V5 may be targeting players more comfortable team fighting, rather than trying to assemble a team of lane-focused players. Clx played most of his games on mages, but he also showed the ability to play melees Renekton and Sylas when needed. Li “Mole” Hao-Yan played the majority of the games for V5 in 2019 Summer and remains signed through 2021.
DECEMBER 17 ROSTER MOVES
Akaadian joins Dignitas Academy
What it means for DIG: Dignitas signed jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham to their academy roster. Akaadian spent the majority of 2019 as TSM’s starting jungler, helping them to game 5 of the LCS 2019 Spring Finals. He’ll join an already ex-LCS heavy roster with Damonte and Fenix. Dignitas aren’t doing much to develop new North American talent, but they are giving themselves excellent backup options if their main roster doesn’t work out. They also have the ability to trade these players as teams look for a roster infusion in the middle of 2020.
What it means for TSM: TSM signed Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to try to finally end their revolving door at jungle. Akaadian played well in streaks for TSM, but his playing time was yanked around while staff members argued over which jungler should start. Dardoch will have a short leash, but TSM are running out of options. They’ve already gone through half the junglers in NA and don’t have an import slot available.
Wink signs as first player of new LPL team eStar
What it means for ES: New LPL team eStar signed bot laner Zhang “Wink” Rui as their first player. Wink spent 2019 with Royal Never Give Up. He played in five games when Uzi took his customary break. RNG went 2-3 in those games. He previously played for Royal Club in the LDL, displaying the ability to play ADCs and mages bot lane. Having spent a year learning from Uzi was surely a help in him getting this opportunity in the LPL, though it remains to be seen if eStar will bring in more competition to the position.
What it means for RNG: Royal Never Give Up signed Betty to backup Uzi in 2020. Betty has more experience and a better pedigree than Wink. Signing a player of Betty’s caliber may mean that Uzi will take off more time than usual next year. Uzi has been managing his playing time after developing wrist issues in his storied career.
BLG promotes Moonlight to main roster
What it means for BLG: Bilibili Gaming promoted support Yang “Moonlight” En-Jian from their academy team to the main roster. This will be Moonlight’s first time in the LPL. Returning starter Li “XinMo” Qian-Xi is signed through 2021, so Moonlight will likely be there to learn from him. He has a large champion pool for a support player, having played 17 unique champions in the 2019 Summer Season.
FPX promotes xiao7, Mingjing, and April to the main roster
What it means for FPX: FunPlus Phoenix promoted top laner Li “xiao7” Zhong-Qi, jungler Xie “Mingjing” Ming-Jing, and bot laner Zhang “April” Jun-Chao from their academy team to the main roster. FunPlus Blaze was one of the better LDL teams, placing 4th in the Summer playoffs. April has the best shot of eventually breaking into the FPX lineup, but none are a serious threat to unseat any of the returning world champions. This is just a team promoting deserving players for further development.
Rogue Warriors adds Wuming, Ley, Ruby, and Crazy
What it means for RW: Rogue Warriors have added mid laner Wang “Wuming” Xin, support Le “Ley” Yi, mid laner Lee “Ruby” Sol-min, and top laner Kim “Crazy” Jae-hee. Wuming played in the LDL with CVG Potential under the name Steel in 2019 Summer. VGP finished 1st in the regular season before getting bounced in the quarterfinals by EDward Gaming Youth Team. He plays a lot of Zoe and Yasuo and will compete with Ruby for the starting spot.
Ruby last played with CK team VSG where he got the majority of the play time over Lee “reM” Hyeon-seo. VSG fell a game short against APK Prince in the 2019 CK Summer Finals. Ruby was also a substitute for Afreeca Freecs in 2018. He’s shown proficiency on both mages and assassins, but notably did not have many games on melee champions like Irelia, Sylas, or Yasuo.
Ley spent the majority of his career in the Royal Never Give Up organization, but most recently played on Victory Five. He spent the 2019 Spring Season splitting time with Yun “Road” Han-gil before sitting out the Summer Season. Ley will add more experience to the support role. His six years of professional experience should help balance out the inexperience of Huanggai.
Crazy spent 2019 as a substitute for SK Telecom T1. He got no stage time playing behind Khan. His most recent action was in the 2019 LCK Spring Promotion tournament, where he and bbq Olivers failed to qualify for the LCK. In his limited sample, Crazy showed the ability to play both carries and tanks top lane. He’ll compete with fellow Korean Bae “Holder” Jae-cheol for playing time. Holder played every game for RW in the 2019 Summer Season.
None of these moves make Rogue Warriors a serious playoff contender on paper. They have not been able to recover since Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang and Han “Smlz” Jin left at the end of 2018.
What it means for SKT: SK Telecom T1 turned to Kim “Roach” Kang-hui to replace Khan top lane. Though Roach didn’t spend 2019 as a full time starter, he still boasts much more experience than Crazy. With Crazy moving on to the LPL, SKT added Kim “Canna” Chang-dong to backup Roach on the main roster.
JD Gaming brings in 705 and Peace
What it means for JDG: JD Gaming brought in top laner He “705” Yu-Long and support Lin “Peace” Shang-Ren. 705 spent 2019 on iG Young, winning a Summer title with Fate. He was blocked in the iG organization by all world player Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok, but he’s now stuck behind Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran. The good news for 705 is that JDG gave Morgan a chance for stage time last year, even at the expense of Zoom. Still, this seems more like Zoom insurance than a legitimate competition.
Peace spent the past 2 years playing for RW Shark, Rogue Warrior’s academy team. He played under the tag Panfeng during those years. It also seems unlikely Peace will unseat the incumbent, in this case Zuo “LvMao” Ming-Hao, but JDG are rounding out their roster.
iG promotes Fate to the main roster
What it means for iG: Invictus Gaming promoted support Peng “Fate” Jun-Jie to the main roster. Fate spent 2019 on iG Young, helping the team capture the 2019 LPL Summer championship. iG may be high on him, but he’ll open the season firmly behind Southwin on the depth chart. Southwind and Puff joined iG as a bot lane duo from VG. They were one of the better bot lanes in the LPL despite being on one of the worst teams in the league.
Vici Gaming adds Forge, Chieftain, Maestro, and Zeka
What it means for VG: Vici Gaming continued their roster overhaul by signing mid laner Deng “Forge” Jie, jungler Lee “Chieftain” Jae-yub, support Hu “Maestro” Jian-Xin, and mid laner Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo. Forge famously stepped in for Rookie when he left the team to attend to family matters. The former Invictus Gaming player acquitted himself well in the LPL, helping iG keep their head above water in Rookie’s absence. He showed enough to deserve a chance as a starter in the LPL, so he’ll hope to get his chance on VG.
Chieftain has spent the past two years in the Bilibili Gaming organization. He played on the main roster in 2018, and though he split time with Yang “Wisdomz” Dai-Zhi and Chen “M1anhua” Jia-Hao during the regular seasons, he got all the stage time in the playoffs. However, Chieftain was replaced by rising star Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao in 2019 and spent the year on BLG Junior. Chieftain is still only 19 and will fight for playing time with Li “Aix” Yang.
Maestro joins VG after spending the past two years in the LNG Esports organization. He was a starter for the team before being replaced by Duan in 2019 Summer. Maestro will team up with new signee iBoy to replace Puff and Southwind. The former VG duo departed to revamp Invictus Gaming’s bot lane.
What it means for iG: No player is going to unseat Rookie for the starting role on Invictus Gaming, so it’s inevitable that iG will lose any mid laner in their organization who shows promise. Forge did just that in his brief stint in the LPL. It hurts for them to lose depth, but they hope they’ll have Rookie for the entire competitive season this year.
What it means for BLG: Like iG, Bilibili Gaming did not have an opening for the new VG signee. Meteor was a breakthrough performer in 2019 Summer, earning 2nd team all pro honors in the LPL. He’ll continue to get all the playing time. Meteor will have to develop new synergy with his mid laner FoFo, who replaced Kuro.
Team WE adds yimeng, re-signs Jiumeng
What it means for WE: Team WE have added mid laner Chen “yimeng” Ming-Yong and bot laner Zhao “Jiumeng” Jia-Hao to their main roster. Yimeng played for EDward Gaming Youth in the LDL in 2019 Spring. He joins WE to add depth behind the recently signed Plex, presumed to be the starter. Jiumeng spent 2019 with WE, playing in the LDL in 2019 Spring before joining the roster for Summer. Jiumeng only got two games on the LPL stage, both losses for the team. He’s the only bot laner currently under contract for WE after Mystic left to join Afreeca Freecs. It would be surprising if that is the only move they make to address bot lane, though their focus so far has been on the solo laners. WE is committed to a youth movement in 2020.
LNG adds Light and chenlun17 from academy roster
What it means for LNG: LNG Esports promoted bot laner Wang “Light” Guang-Yu and top laner Zhou “chenlun17” Peng-Yuan from their academy roster for 2020. Light will compete for playing time behind Lu “Asura” Qi, who similarly moved to the LPL before 2019 Spring. LNG Academy were the worst of 25 teams in the LDL in 2019 Summer, so Light’s statistics don’t look great, but he did have high CS per minute and kill share numbers. He’ll still probably start behind Asura in the pecking order, but it’s promising for his trajectory that LNG want to get him reps with the main roster in 2020. He played all of the popular carries in the LDL, but did not have any games on mages, bruisers, or any kind of non-AD carry.
Chenlun17 will find playing time hard to come by on the main roster. Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun is one of the best top laners in the LPL and has been a fixture in the organization since his introduction in 2013. Chenlun17 had the other good numbers on LNG Academy, posting the fourth best CS per minute among top laners in the LDL. He also trailed only new Suning top laner bin in gold share. While that can be a function of being gifted resources, it also points to a player being able to create his own gold leads.
Killua, Fenfen, Cult join LGD
What it means for LGD: LGD Gaming signed former Rogue Warriors support Liu “Killua” Dan-Yang, former LNG Esports mid laner Huang “Fenfen” Chen, and former EDward Gaming Youth Team top laner Chen “Cult” Guo-Ji. Killua played 40 of 70 games for Rogue on the main roster, splitting time with Xia “Huanggai” Long-Yang. LDG already have 2019 starters Chen “Pyl” Bo and Liang “RD” Teng-Li still under contract through next year, so this has the making of a messy timeshare situation. Pyl has been with the team since he debuted in 2012, making him one of the most tenured players in the LPL. Killua will rotate in and try to build synergy with bot laner Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun.
Fenfen split time with Plex in 2019 Summer, though he eventually beat Plex out to earn the playoff starts. He has been in and out of starting roles in his time on Suning and in the LNG organization. Fenfen will compete for playing time with Hu “Yuuki” Hao-Ming. Yuuki made 61 starts for LGD in 2019, second on the team only to Kramer. Yuuki remains signed through 2021.
Cult with compete with incumbents Fang “Garvey” Jia-Wei and Guo “Lies” Hao-Tian. Lies played the majority of the year for LGD, but Garvey took over for the final 12 games of the season. Cult is a lane dominant player, preferring picks like Aatrox, Fiora, and Jayce.
LGD already brought in Peanut to man their jungle position, so they are making positive moves after a disappointing 2019 saw them finish 11th and 14th in the LPL. It’s hard to see them as a playoff team in 2020 without another significant addition, though.
What it means for RW: Killua spent the past two years in the RW organization, moving in and out of the starting lineup with a stint in the LDL. Still, he was their most played support in 2019. Huanggai is now the only support under contract on the main roster. Huanggai played in the other 30 games, playing mostly Lux, Braum, and Nautilus. RW won’t feel a big loss from Killua’s departure, but they haven’t improved from being one of the worst LPL teams last year.
What it means for LNG: LNG Esports added mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang to address the position earlier in free agency. Even though he disappointed in his first year in the LPL, he should still offer steadier performances than LNG got from mid last year. It’s also possible he just needed a year to adjust to life in China and the upgrade in level of competition. LNG snatched him up on a buy-low opportunity.
Suning swaps Angel to mid, Weiwei to bot, and adds Assum as a trainee
What it means for SN: Suning announced former top laner Angel will play mid lane in 2020, while former jungler Weiwei will play bot lane. The former was expected, as Angel was developed as a mid laner and flexed between top and mid with former mid laner Maple. Weiwei transitioning to bot laner was unexpected. Weiwei has only played jungle in his professional career, but he has only been playing since 2018. His position was blocked by the signing of SofM yesterday, so it makes sense that Suning had this contingency plan in place. Suning also signed bot laner trainee Zou “Assum” Wei to the roster. He will “learn” behind Weiwei as Suning continues to fill out their roster. They have gone for a very volatile roster build. SN have a high ceiling, but it relies on a lot of inexperienced players to pan out.
C9 extends the contracts of Licorice, Blaber, and Diamond through 2022
What it means for C9: Cloud 9 have extended the contracts of top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang, and support David “Diamond” Bérubé through 2022. C9 are the best in North America at finding and developing young talent. These contract extensions make sure that C9 can keep these in-demand players in the organization or sell them for a buyout. That is especially the case for Diamond, who is blocked by recent acquisition Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme. Diamond could and should be starting for another LCS team, but his time will come.
DECEMBER 16 ROSTER MOVES
SofM joins Suning
What it means for SN: Suning signed SofM from LNG Esports to replace H4cker. SofM had been in the LNG organization for four years. He will try to solidify the jungle position for Suning after it had a lot of turnover in 2019. H4cker and Weiwei traded playing time as the team struggled in both Spring and Summer. His veteran presence should help compensate for the infusion of young talents, like top laner bin. The team will still need to replace Smlz after his departure to OMG, but it’s good to see Suning make changes after their 2019 roster just didn’t work. The team turned out to be less than the sum of their parts. Xiang “Angel” Tao and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh are the only holdovers from 2019. Suning could use a star bot laner to really round out their team, as relying on bin as a secondary carry seems risky.
EDG adds xiaoxiang, Xinyi, Aodi, and Hope to the main roster
What it means for EDG: EDward Gaming have added top laner Huang “xiaoxiang” Xiang, jungler Chang “Xinyi” Ping, top laner Zhao “Aodi” Ao-Di and bot laner Wang “Hope” Jie to their main roster. Xiaoxiang, Aodi, and Xinyi project as depth signings, but Hope looks like he could be the starting bot laner for the team. He played for the EDG Youth Team in 2019 Summer after getting seven games for EDG in 2019 Spring. Hope, a great Ezreal player, was top 5 in the LDL among bot laners in KDA, CS per minute, gold per minute, and kill participation. He’ll replace iBoy, who left to join coach kkOma on Vici Gaming. Xinyi has spent the past two years in the FunPlus Phoenix organization but was blocked by superstar jungler Tian. He projects to play behind incumbent Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie. Xinyi and Aodi should play behind Lim “Jinoo” Jin-woo to start the season.
LokeN joins JD Gaming for second stint
What it means for JDG: JD Gaming have signed bot laner Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook to replace imp after his retirement. LokeN and Ben formed one of the worst bot lanes in the LPL in 2019, but much of the blame has been placed on Ben. LokeN will have a chance to redeem himself with JDG, a team that expect to be in contention. He will pair with Zuo “LvMao” Ming-Hao. JDG should be a top-half dominated team, so that will be familiar to LokeN after playing with knight9 and Bai “369” Jia-Hao. This is an obvious downgrade for JDG, but it was going to be hard for them to replace imp. It remains to be seen if they will add competition for jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok after he has failed to run away with the starting job. JDG will again rely on their solo lanes in 2020.
What it means for TES: Top Esports promoted LDL star Photic to replace LokeN on the main roster. TES needed to make a change bot lane after a poor 2019 and Photic was one of the best bot laners in the LDL. He’ll be joined by academy teammate yuyanjia and returning support QiuQiu.
Morgan and Plex join Team WE
What it means for WE: Team WE have signed top laner Park “Morgan” Gi-tae and mid laner Bae “Plex” Ho-young to man their solo lanes in 2020. Both are Korean imports. Morgan spent the end of 2019 battling Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran for playing time on JD Gaming. That he started any games at all over what is one of the best top laners in the LPL should say enough about Morgan’s incredible skill. Plex spent 2019 Summer with LNG Esports, earning playing time over Huang “Fenfen” Chen before Fenfen won the job back to end the year. Plex and Morgan will definitely bring a more exciting brand of solo lane play to Team WE, but their youth could bring some bumps along the way. Team WE finally seem ready to commit to some younger players after holding onto Mystic and xiye for so long.
What it means for JD Gaming: This solidifies JD Gaming as Zoom’s team. It was odd to see JDG sub Zoom out at all after he carried them to the 2019 Spring Finals, but Morgan was just good enough to warrant a chance on the stage. JDG don’t get better by losing Morgan, but they will have received a buyout from Team WE that they can use to upgrade other positions on the roster. They have begun that process by signing bot laner LokeN.
Damonte re-joins Dignitas, to begin year in academy
What it means for DIG: After announcing they would not pick up his year 2 option, Dignitas re-signed Tanner “Damonte” Damonte to their academy squad. Under the previous ownership, Damonte was the starting mid laner for Clutch Gaming and was part of their 2019 World Championship run. Damonte was not one of the better mid laners in the LCS, but his value comes from being a young player who is a North American resident. Dignitas can now keep him as insurance for starter Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. They will also have the option of bringing in an import at another position during the season and calling up Damonte to the starting lineup. It’s a disappointing result for Damonte, but a good depth signing for Dignitas.
iBoy, kkOma join Vici Gaming
What it means for VG: Vici Gaming have signed bot laner Hu “iBoy” Xian-Zhao and head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun. iBoy will replace Puff and kkOma will get a chance to coach a team without Faker. iBoy has as much mechanical skill as any player in the LPL, but consistency has been hard to come by. If kkOma can harness some of that play, he could be a real bargain signing for VG. kkOma inherits one of the worst teams in the LPL, but they have an intriguing piece in top laner Dai “Cube” Yi. He dominated the LDL before being called up to the main roster and helping VG pick up their first win. The team will need more help to get out of the LPL basement, but the building blocks are now in place.
What it means for SKT: SK Telecom T1 picked up one of the best possible replacements in coach Kim, but we haven’t seen SKT without kkOma. He had a great relationship with the players, most notably Faker, and produced the most dominant run in League of Legends history. He is the best coach of all time and SKT will miss his presence.
SK Gaming adds Trick and LIMIT
What it means for SK: SK Gaming have signed jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and support Dino “LIMIT” Tot. Trick spent 2019 Summer playing for FC Schalke 04, while LIMIT is getting called up from ESLM team Ad Hoc Gaming. They will replace Selfmade and Dreams. Unfortunately for SK Gaming, these signings represent a downgrade for the team. Trick played well when he took over for Memento, but Selfmade was good enough to get Fnatic to trade away Broxah. LIMIT played with Gilius on one of the better teams in Germany, but he’s getting his first LEC action of his career. SK Gaming are off the playoff radar until further notice.
What it means for S04: FC Schalke 04 signed LIMIT’s old teammate Gilius to replace Trick. Gilius is one of the more talented players in Europe who has been held back by his poor attitude (or the perception that he has one). He will form one of the most entertaining trash talk duos with FORG1VEN. FC Schalke 04 aren’t better for their changes, but they are still a back-half playoff team heading into 2020 Spring.
OMG adds H4cker and Smlz, re-signs cold
What it means for OMG: Oh My God have signed former Suning players jungler Yang “H4cker” Zhi-Hao and bot laner Han “Smlz” Jin. Smlz played with OMG from 2016-2017 before leaving for Rogue Warriors. The pair represent immediate upgrades to OMG’s roster. Smlz had a down year, along with the rest of Suning, but has been one of the LPL’s best bot laners over the past couple of years. H4cker was also projected to be one of the better junglers in the league before losing playing time to Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han. Smlz should supplant Chen “Kane” Hao, while H4cker has no competition for his roster spot. OMG also re-signed Liu “cold” Shi-Yu, formerly known as Five. Cold started the final 11 games of 2019 Summer for the team. OMG finished 14th in 2019 Spring and 16th in 2019 Summer, so they need as much help as they can get. One of China’s flagship teams has been dormant for far too long.
RNG adds Mata as head coach, Tabe as analyst, and promotes yuekai and S1xu
What it means for RNG: Royal Never Give Up revamped their coaching staff by adding the newly retired Mata as head coach and Wong “Tabe” Pak Kan as an analyst. Both are former support players for the organization. Mata will be tasked with trying to modernize RNG’s play style, something former coach Chou “Steak” Lu-Hsi tried to do before reverting back to their standard Uzi-funnel to end the season. Mata is one of the only players more accomplished than Uzi, so that coupled with their stint together as teammates may help him to convince Uzi of a new play style.
Mid laner Zhang “yuekai” Yue-Kai and jungler Wang “S1xu” Kang-Can have been promoted to the main roster from RNG’s youth team, Royal Club. Yuekai previously went by the name Moon. Yuekai played both mid and top for RYL, but RNG list him as a mid laner. RYL finished 5th in LDL 2019 Summer Season before losing in the first round of the playoffs. The pair should be primed for backup roles on the main roster, but mid and jungle are the two weakest roles on the roster.
Invictus Gaming add bot lane duo Puff and Southwind
What it means for iG: 2018 World Champions Invictus Gaming have added bot laner Ding “Puff” Wang and support Su “Southwind” Zhi-Lin to their main roster. The duo spent last year playing together with Vici Gaming. They were the only players on VG’s roster to play all 78 games in 2019. Despite VG being a bottom tier team, Puff and Southwind formed one of the better bot lanes in the LPL. Puff was a CS machine, finishing behind only Uzi himself in 2019 Summer. They have the talent, but it will also be an adjustment as they join a team with two star solo laners who aren’t about to sacrifice their minions the way VG’s did. This also puts to rest any speculation of Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo returning to the team. Puff and Southwind should be an improvement of JackLove and Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi, but JackeyLove has the tools to be World-class with a better support. Invictus Gaming remain a top team in the world.
QiuQiu re-joins TES, Ben leaves team
What it means for TES: Top Esports have re-signed support Zhang “QiuQiu” Ming. QiuQiu will join the recently promoted yuyanjia on the main roster. QiuQiu started the final seven games of TES’ 2019 Summer, including all five Regional Finals games against Invictus Gaming. He replaced Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun, who will not be re-signed after a disastrous year. QiuQiu will probably begin 2020 behind yuyanjia, if for no other reason than allowing new bot laner Photic to have some familiarity in lane partner. Photic is the more heralded of the academy duo, though, so QiuQiu could find himself back in the starting lineup eventually. Even in an offseason that saw them sign Karsa, Top Esports’ biggest move may still be simply removing Ben from their lineup.
Khan joins reigning world champions FPX, GimGoon retained
What it means for FPX: The rich get richer. FunPlus Phoenix have added former SK Telecom T1 top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha to their main roster for 2020 Spring. Additionally, they have extended Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem’s contract. Even though GimGoon is fresh off a World Championship, it’s expected that Khan opens the year as the starter. He was one of the best top laners in the world in 2019, while GimGoon was more of a supportive actor in FPX’s World Championship run. This combination of moves gives FPX insurance in case Khan’s playstyle doesn’t mesh with the team-oriented style FPX cultivated, and GimGoon is clearly on board by opting into it. FPX remain a title favorite in 2020, though they will have to fight off the complacency that plagued Invictus Gaming in 2019.
What it means for SKT: It was a big blow to SK Telecom T1 when Khan opted to leave in free agency. SKT could not meet his contract demands and instead turned to Kim “Roach” Kang-hui for 2020. Roach split time with Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin on Gen.G in 2019 but has not played in the LCK as a full-time starter since his stint on Kongdoo Monster. New SKT head coach Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo has a strong track record of developing great top laners, so that should give SKT some hope of making a star out of Roach. However, SKT are clearly downgrading top lanes on paper.
Iwandy joins LNG from EDG Youth
What it means for LNG: LNG Esports added support Liao “lwandy” Ding-Yang to their main roster from the EDward Gaming Youth Team. lwandy’s team made it all the way to the Finals of the LDL 2019 Summer Season after finishing ninth in the regular season. His most played champions were Tahm Kench and Lux, but he played 15 unique champions during the Summer Season. LNG returns Duan “Duan” De-Liang at support, so it’s unlikely that Iwandy begins the year as a starter. He doesn’t change LNG’s 2020 outlook.
Flame re-joins DWG ahead of military service
What it means for DWG: All-time great top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong has rejoined DAMWON Gaming ahead of his mandatory military service. Flame will only be able to play in the Spring Season. That clearly loomed large in his inability to find a suitable starting spot in the LCK. Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon is the unquestioned starter heading into 2020 Spring after a breakout 2019 Summer performance, so Shy returns as a backup and role player for DWG. He showed in 2019 Spring that he can still compete at the top level, but teams don’t want to give a starting spot to a player who will be gone by the more important Summer Season. This may be the last season we see one of the most lane dominant top laners of all time play. He will forever go down as the namesake of a 100 CS lead in lane.
AF re-signs Jelly, Senan leaves for JAG
What it means for AF: Afreeca Freecs re-signed support Son “Jelly” Ho-gyeong in the wake of Park “Senan” Hee-seok’s departure to the Jin Air Green Wings. Both played for AF in 2019 but Senan got the majority of the play time, including every game in the Summer Season. AF were built around top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in and that was reflected in the way the team played. Bot lane was an afterthought, though the duo pair and departed bot laner Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram never really made a push to demand more resources. It seems unlikely that AF see Jelly as their support answer, given he took a clear backseat to Senan in 2019. Jelly has played professionally for five years and has been with AF since late 2017. If he was their long term answer, AF should know by now. They likely aren’t done adding to their roster. The addition of bot laner Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun makes the team a bigger threat, but the team also downgraded from Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon to Song “Fly” Seong-jun mid lane. AF looks like a middle-of-the-pack LCK team as constructed.
What it means for JAG: Jin Air Greenwings continue to pick up LCK players to round out their CK team to begin 2020. They are clearly focused on making it back to the LCK as soon as possible, though you have to wonder if recycling mediocre LCK talent is the way to do it. So far only bot laner Kwon “Light” Sun-ho has yet to play in the LCK. Fortunately for him, JAG’s track record of developing star bot laners is better than their track record of team building.
DECEMBER 15 ROSTER MOVE
Maple and Xx join LNG
What it means for LNG: LNG Esports signed mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and jungler Xiong “Xx” Yu-Long for the upcoming season. Maple will take over the starting role for Huang “Fenfen” Chen and Bae “Plex” Ho-young after both struggled to make the starting spot their own. Maple hasn’t had quite the impact expected when he transferred over to the LPL, but he’s still an upgrade over the players LNG were rolling out in 2019. Xx will replace long-time LNG jungler Lê “SofM” Quang Duy. LNG are hoping a change of scenery for Xx and SofM will do them both well, as neither quite performed up to expectations last year. With star top laner Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun, bot laner Lu “Asura” Qi and support Duan “Duan” De-Liang coming back, LNG will expect a playoff berth in 2020 Spring.
What it means for SN: Maple never turned out to be the superstar Suning were hoping for when they imported him to begin 2019. He was outplayed by callup Xiang “Angel” Tao, a mid laner versatile enough to take the majority of the starts top lane. Suning will hand over the mid lane to Angel and let top lane main Chen “bin” Ze-Bin take over in his natural position. Suning need to replace Han “Smlz” Jin bot lane, but the rest of their roster looks solid. If they can find a strong carry on the market, they’ll push themselves back into the top half of the league.
What it means for TES: Top Esports made their move to pick up jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan earlier in the offseason, rendering Xx obsolete. Signing Karsa is one of the biggest moves of the offseason in the LPL and makes TES even more terrifying. He’s one of the smartest junglers in the world and should be able to take full advantage of having dominant solo laners in 369 and 2019 Summer LPL MVP Knight9. If Photic and yuyanjia can avoid being a total disaster bot lane, TES will be one of the elite teams in the LPL in 2020.
RNG extends Uzi, Ming, Xiaohu; adds Betty and xiaolongbao
What it means for RNG: Royal Never Give Up’s 2020 lineup will look very similar to 2019. RNG have extended bot laner Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, support Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming, and mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao. Additionally, the team has added former Flash Wolves bot laner Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung and LDL jungler Li “xiaolongbao” Xiao-Long.
Keeping Uzi and Ming together was a no brainer. The duo is one of the best bot lane pairs in the entire world and should stay that way in 2020. Ming had a disappointing Worlds performance after a dominant season, but that’s no reason to break up the pairing now. As much help as RNG gives their bot lane, they also invite the attention of the enemy team. Betty has surely been added as an insurance policy for Uzi. Uzi has taken time off the past couple of years in-season to rest for more important games. Betty should capably fill in for those games and would be able to step up if Uzi had to take a more extended absence. The long-time Flash Wolves bot laner has a wealth of international experience, so the pressure and expectations on RNG should be no problem for him.
Though it was obvious RNG would keep Uzi and Ming, it’s more surprising to see them keep Xiaohu. That’s not to say he played poorly in 2019 — Xiaohu played much better than he did in 2018, especially in the Summer Season. But RNG again fell short of their ultimate goal by playing the same style with the same (for the most part) players. It looked like the right time to shake things up in mid lane, but perhaps RNG waited so long because they were unable to find an adequate replacement. Xiaohu has been with RNG since 2015 and will again man the mid lane to begin 2020.
The most intriguing news of the bunch is that RNG have signed LDL player xiaolongbao to be their starting jungler. If you couldn’t just assume by the news of an LDL player jumping to the starting lineup of an LPL powerhouse, xiaolongbao is supposed to be the next great Chinese jungler. He’s made such an impression with Young Miracles in only one year of professional play. He is a dominant Lee Sin player who loves to play aggressively in the enemy jungle and push the pace of games. Basically, he’s a super talented player who plays like every other great LPL jungler. Time will tell if he’s ready right away and if RNG will let him play like Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu once did. But it is exciting to see a young player get a shot on such a big team. Consider him the early front runner for LPL rookie of the year.
Top laner Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying rounds out the starting roster, as he was already signed through 2020. He might finally be given more resources, as aggressive junglers love to play around and snowball top lane. RNG also announced the departure of subs Xiao “LoveZrr” Zhi and Shek “Wai” Ho. With minimal roster overhaul, RNG are a top LPL and Worlds contender again in 2020.
DECEMBER 14 ROSTER MOVES
What it means: Legendary support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong has announced his retirement from professional League of Legends play. Though he’s one of the older players in the league, this comes as a surprise considering he asked for interested teams to reach out to him following his release from SK Telecom T1. Mata was one of the best supports in the LCK as recently as Spring 2019, but his play declined in Summer 2019 and Mata was replaced by current SKT support Lee “Effort” Sang-ho. It seems very unlikely Mata wouldn’t have received big offers from many organizations, even just for his name and brand alone. Mata is is undoubtedly one of the five best players of all time, and arguably second behind only Faker. He revolutionized vision control the year he and Samsung White won a World Championship. Supports don’t typically get the recognition that carries do, but teams were built around Mata. If he decides he wants to play again, teams will contact him for his services. It seems more likely that he only wants to play for a top competitor in Korea, but teams are going after youth in an increasingly laning and mechanics focused game. Regardless, Mata will forever be remembered as one of the best to ever play.
TES promotes Photic and yuyanjia to main roster
What it means for TES: Top Esports promoted academy players bot laner Ying “Photic” Qi-Shen and support Liang “yuyanjia” Jia-Yuan to their main roster for 2020 Spring. This completes TES’ roster overhaul. Photic was one of the top bot laners in the LDL, which is more impressive when you consider they have 25 teams in the league. Yuyanjia isn’t thought of as highly, but the pair have been laning together now for the past year, so TES will keep together that synergy. Besides, Photic and yuyanjia only need to be better than Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook and Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. The two combined to be the worst bot lane in the LPL in 2019, so there’s nowhere for TES to go but up. Photic and yuyanjia are also Chinese, unlike Koreans LokeN and Ben, so the full roster will be fluent. TES managed to finish 3rd in the LPL Summer Playoffs and one game from World Championship qualification, so their additions of Karsa and a fresh bot lane should make them a top title contender in 2020.
Xiye leaves WE to join DMO
What it means for DMO: Dominus Esports signed mid laner Su “xiye” Han-Wei for 2020 Spring. He will presumably start over incumbent Huang “Twila” Ting-Wei, who has been with the team since 2018. Twila started every game for DMO in 2019, including the Spring Season in which they were still named SinoDragon. Both players were very lane focused, averaging two of the highest CS per minute totals among LPL mid laners. That was no doubt buoyed by their large number of Corki games, but xiye was more versatile in playing melee champions like Irelia, Qiyana, and Sylas. Xiye also has a huge following from his seven years in the Team WE organization, something Twila has yet to build up. Adding xiye doesn’t automatically make DMO a contender, but it does give them a marginal upgrade mid lane. Maybe more importantly, it boosts their visibility and less than a year old brand. As long as DMO didn’t break the bank, it’s a smart signing for both competitive and marketing reasons.
What it means for WE: This is the end of an era for Team WE. Xiye and bot laner Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun were the longest active duo on the same team, playing together on WE since 2015. Mystic moved on to Afreeca Freecs earlier in the offseason. Now xiye says goodbye to the only organization he’s played on in his seven years. Team WE expect to be among the LPL’s best, so it’s not surprising to see them finally change up the core that had survived every other roster change. That said, this is the loss of two of their best players and they’ll have to prove they can find upgrades this offseason. WE have the financial resources to do so, but the players have to balance that with the intense scrutiny that comes with being on Team WE. Top laner Kim “Poss” Min-cheoi, jungler Jiang “beishang” Zhi-Peng, and support Lou “Missing” Yun-Feng all remain under contract through 2021. If they weren’t a playoff team in 2019 Summer, they certainly aren’t now.
DECEMBER 13 ROSTER MOVES
Neon gets competitive ban from Riot, released by Misfits
What it means for MSF: Bot laner Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík has been suspended by Riot Games for solo queue toxicity and will not be allowed to participate in Riot-affiliated competitions until February 21, 2020. Misfits Gaming subsequently released Neon following the announcement. This could be the reason MSF decided to add Ju “Bvoy” Yeong-hoon over Neon for their main roster last week. Neon played in six LEC games with MSF in 2019 after the academy team replaced the main roster. MSF went 2-4 in those games and Steven “Hans Sama” Liv returned to play in the final four games. This is a huge setback for Neon, who looked to be a player on the cusp of breaking through in the LEC. The talent is there, but he will have to prove he can fix his attitude and be reliably available to his next team. He now has no chance to begin 2020 in the LEC and will have to join an academy or national team after his suspension to work his way back into the conversation. Misfits will move forward with Bvoy and will add a bot laner to their academy roster, Misfits Premier.
G2 Esports announce Caps and Perkz will flex between mid and bot
What it means for G2: We’ll never know how serious G2 Esports were with their video, but they’ve announced that Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther and Luka “Perkz” Perković will be flexing between mid and bot lane. This is has been heavily speculated as Perkz has been playing mid almost exclusively in solo queue and Caps has started to pick up bot lane. G2 are already one of the most flexible teams in the world, winning with Pyke in all five roles in 2019. The transition will obviously be easier for the former mid laner Perkz, but he and others have shown it’s doable for mid laners to transition bot lane. G2 can now pick and choose their mid laner based on the opponent, meta, and even individual draft. Caps is a much heavier roaming mid player, while Perkz is more interested in dominating his 1v1 matchup. The biggest burden of this move will fall to support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, who must now build and maintain synergy with two different players. It helps that Mikyx is great and G2 have a very close-knit roster, but it does open the door for potential communication problems. G2 took a gamble on forcing the best available talent onto the team, regardless of position, in 2019 to great dividends. Now the world will be watching how their two-man flex works out.
DECEMBER 12 ROSTER MOVES
Pobelter signs with TL as a position coach
What it means for TL: After announcing that he won’t be a starting mid laner in the LCS in Spring 2020, Eugene “Pobelter” Park has agreed to become a positional coach for Team Liquid. Pobelter will help coach top and mid for TL, meaning he will primarily work with top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. Pobelter’s fluency in Korean and English should also help communication on the team, as TL have several native Korean speakers in Impact, support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and head coach Jang “Cain” Nu-ri. Team Liquid and Pobelter have a long history together, so both should feel comfortable teaming up together. Pobelter mentioned he stills wants to compete professionally but opted to start 2020 in coaching rather than play in academy. Pobelter should be on the first calls when an LCS team is struggling with their mid laner.
What it means for FLY: FlyQuest moved on from Pobelter earlier in the offseason when they signed mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage from Counter Logic Gaming. PoE outplayed Pobelter in 2019 Summer, though it was clearly the worst season of Pobelter’s career. FlyQuest decided to finally make use of their import slots by bringing in PoE and support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun, though jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen is originally from Denmark. IgNar is an upgrade over Juan “JayJ” Guibert and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in, but time will tell if PoE performs any better than Pobelter. FlyQyuest are a playoff contender heading into 2020 Spring.
What it means for IMT: Immortals have inked European standout top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer to a two year contract. sOAZ debuted professionally with against All Authority in 2010 and has been a fixture in the European scene ever since. He is most known for his time with Fnatic, but he spent 2019 with Misfits Gaming. sOAZ is arguably the best Western player of all time, due in part to his skill, championships, and longevity. He didn’t have the best 2019 season, but that could be chalked up to team problems with Misfits. Even when Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau took over on Fnatic in 2018, sOAZ remained one of the best at his position in Europe. He is a renowned tank player and can easily slide into any team with his ability to play on an island top. Immortals will probably need him to do just that, as they have one of the weaker mid/bot combos in the league with mid laner Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire, bot laner Johnny “Altec” Ru, and support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent. He and jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero give the team a wealth of experience and are two of the best facilitating players in the West. If any players can make those three shine, they are sOAZ and Xmithie. IMT heads into 2020 Spring as a borderline playoff team.
What it means for MSF: Misfits Gaming replaced sOAZ with Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte when they benched their entire starting roster for their academy team to end 2019 Summer. Even though MSF’s 2019 roster was supposed to be a superteam, the players never jelled and they became the biggest disappointment of the year. Misfits have moved on from most, keeping only Febiven after allow him to explore his options. Dan Dan is the lone Summer 2019 call-up that has retained his starting spot heading into 2020. MSF are banking on youth as they try to rebuild their team.
Pirean moves to Japan, teams up with Blank
What it means for SG: Japan’s Sengoku Gaming has added Korean mid laner Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik to their team. This is now the fourth region Pirean has joined as a professional. He began in the LCS with Team Impulse, Phoenix1, and Team EnVyUs. He then moved to the LCK to play for SK Telecom T1 before spending 2019 with SK Gaming in the LEC. Though never a star, Pirean has gotten jobs as a starting player for his consistency in mid lane. He should be able to leverage his experience playing against the world’s best to dominate the weaker region. He’ll also get to team up with former SKT teammate Kang “Blank” Sun-gu. Blank re-signed with the team after joining for the Summer Season. Though in a smaller region, Blank was just an average jungler in the LJL. SG hopes the addition of Pirean will help unlock Blank, as the team finished only 7-14 in 2019 Summer.
What it means for SK: SK Gaming replaced Pirean with Janik “Jenix” Bartels for the final seven games of the 2019 Summer Season. After a surprising playoff run in the first season back in the LEC, SK Gaming fell off in the Summer to finish 7-11 and out of the playoffs. SK Gaming have lost two of their best players from 2019 in jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek and support Han “Dreams” Min-kook in the offseason. SK Gaming must replace those positions and decide whether they believe Jenax is the answer mid lane. Top laner Toni “Sacre” Sabalić and bot laner Juš “Crownshot” Marušič remain under contract through 2020. SK Gaming need to make some major moves to improve on their mediocre Summer Season.
Doinb stays with FPX, reclassifies to Chinese residency
What it means for FPX: FunPlus Phoenix kept their star mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang for another year on the heels of their World Championship win. Doinb mentioned the idea of retiring and going out on top on his stream, but his competitive drives remains. He is one of the best mid laners in the world, winning MVP in 2019 Spring and leading his team to one of the best LPL seasons of all time in 2019 Summer. Doinb is the face of FPX and another Korean born player adopting China as his home. Like Song “Rookie” Eui-jin, Doinb considers China his home. Unlike Rookie, Doinb has spent his entire career playing in China and will become China’s first import to gain residency. Assuming FPX keeps jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang, bot laner Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang, and support Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song around, it won’t matter in the short term. Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem’s contract is the only one expiring, but he was the other Korean import on the team. However, it does allow FPX to add a quality import backup in another role, perhaps for Lwx bot lane. No matter how they finish off their roster, FPX’s core four are once again championship contenders.
DECEMBER 11 ROSTER MOVES
APK Prince signs Flawless
What it means for APK: The newly-promoted LCK team APK Prince signed jungler Sung “Flawless” Yeon-jun. Flawless will replace the departed Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, assuming he wins the starting role over Park “Kuma” Hyeon-gyu. Flawless has spent the past three years in the LPL after he left SBENU Korea, jumping from I May, to Rogue Warriors, and finally to JD Gaming. Flawless beat out Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh in 2019 Spring, helping lead JDG to the Spring Finals. However, JDG were a mess in the Summer Season and JDG eventually gave the starting spot to Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok. Flawless strongly prefers early skirmishing junglers such as Jarvan IV, Grahas, Lee Sin, and Rek’Sai, so he should be able to fit into the role KaKAO had on APK. With this addition, APK now have two players signed for in each role but top lane. Their next addition should be their last.
What it means for JDG: JD Gaming were never truly convinced Flawless was the long term answer at jungle. They tried to make Levi, Kanavi, and Pan “Xiaohan” Han all work before finally committing to Kanavi this offseason. Flawless was just the best option they had when the team got hot. In a small sample size, Kanavi seemed more comfortable playing different roles out of the jungle. Kindred, Taliyah, and Karthus all play much differently than the standard Lee Sin and Olaf games. JD Gaming still have a second import spot available after Gu “imp” Seung-bin announced his retirement. JDG will have to fill his spot before they can decide whether to use Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran or Park “Morgan” Gi-tae top lane. Morgan is a Korean import. How they will fare in 2020, regardless of who they use to fill out their roster, will remain a mystery on one of the streakiest teams in LPL history.
Caedral to remain with Excel Esports
What it means for xL: Excel Esports announced they will be retaining jungler Marc Robert “Caedrel” Lamont. Additionally, Caedral has been named team captain. Caedral played in all 36 games for xL in 2019 and was one of their most reliable players. He tightened up his champion pool in 2019 Summer, going from 10 unique champions played in Spring to 5. His role on the team guided him to mostly tanks, particularly Sejuani and Jarvan IV. This announcement sets xL’s starting five heading into 2020 Spring: top laner Expect, mid laner Mickey, Bot laner Patrik and support Tore. Though it’s not the most exciting roster, Excel did upgrade their bot lane and the bottom half of the LEC is wide open. Excel Esports have an excellent shot at finishing with their best standing in the LEC in team history, though that would only require them finishing 8th or better.
DECEMBER 10 ROSTER MOVES
Dignitas add Fenix, move him to bot lane
What it means for DIG: Dignitas have signed former Echo Fox mid laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun with the intention of role swapping him to bot lane. Fenix has spent his entire career as a mid laner, mostly notably with Team Liquid. Dignitas announced him as their second bot laner, but Fenix clarified in a follow-up tweet that he will begin the year on the academy team. The wording used by Dignitas implies that he is thought of as a potential piece for their main roster. Fenix has been known as a great mechanical player who is prone to overextending himself mid lane, so Dignitas seems to be trying to leverage that skill in a role that gives him a babysitter. Further, his mid lane champion pool gives him something to draw on as bot lane strays away from being an ADC-only role. It’s hard to see Fenix being LCS ready early in the season, but Dignitas have an interesting experiment on their hands.
What it means for EG: Evil Geniuses signed Jiizuke after totally overhauling the previous Echo Fox roster. Jiizuke didn’t have a great 2019, but he has shown top tier ability more recently than Fenix. However, Jiizuke does take up an import slot, whereas Fenix can decide to declare himself an NA resident after meeting the minimum time requirement. But with an import slot to use after Svenskeren declared himself an NA resident, EG went with the higher upside play.
Excel Esports announces departure of Jeskla
What it means for xL: The writing was on the wall for Jesper “Jeskla” Klarin Strömberg when Excel Esports chose to bring in bot laner Patrik for 2020 Spring. Jeskla started all but four games for xL in 2019, but he and the team did not have good results. He was at or near the bottom in almost every statistical category among LEC bot laners in 2019 Summer: KDA, CS per minute, gold per minute, kill participation, gold share, etc. While not elite, Patrik was middle-of-the-pack and represents a tangible upgrade. Jeskla is unlikely to find a role as a starter in the LEC and will have to look toward an academy or national league role to continue his career.
Gilius makes it back to LEC, joins FC Schalke 04
What it means for S04: FC Schalke 04 have signed jungler Erberk “Gilius” Demir for the 2020 Spring. Gilius returns to the LEC for the first time since he was replaced on Team Vitality by Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek. Gilius previously played for S04 during the 2016 Summer Season. He is both talented and troublesome. Gilius is a grinder who wears his emotions on his sleeve, constantly sitting near the top of EUW solo queue but while having a reputation for being difficult to work with. There is no questioning whether his mechanical skill is LEC level. It should be a very interesting season with Gilius and Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou on the same team. They should break the League of Legends trash-talking record. S04 probably aren’t better than they were to end the season, but they’ve done a good job rebuilding on the fly after the departures of IgNar, Upset, and Trick. With so many LEC teams adding rookies counting on rookies, they are a definite playoff contender entering the new year.
DECEMBER 9 ROSTER MOVES
Gen.G signs Kellin to bolster roster
What it means for Gen.G: Gen.G signed former Jin Air Green Wings support Kim “Kellin” Hyeong-gyu to their main roster. Kellin split time with Park “Nova” Chan-ho on JAG as they became the first LCK team to go winless over an entire season. Kellin is a depth signing and should be used sparingly for starter Kim “Life” Jeong-min. Gen.G won’t want to experiment with star bot laner Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk’s lane unless they could make a clear upgrade, and it’s hard to see Kellin as that. Ruler and Life were the only two Gen.G players to play every game last year and are the only holdovers from 2019. Kellin will get a chance to play with and learn from one of the better bot lane duos in the LCK while he looks for another starting opportunity.
What it means for JAG: Jin Air Green Wings aren’t taking their demotion to the CK lightly. They’ve added UmTi and have moved on from the majority of their 2019 roster. That includes Kellin, who began the year as the starting support before losing playing time to Nova. Neither player made a strong case for a continued role, leading JAG to move on from both in the offseason. JAG re-signed top laner Lee “TaNa” Sang-wook and jungler Kim “Seize” Chan-hee earlier in the offseason. They also picked up bot laner Kwon “Light” Sun-ho to replace Moon “Route” Geom-su. JAG need to find a new support to complete their lineup as they look to re-qualify for the LCK.
SANDBOX Gaming adds Punch to lineup
What it means for SB: SANDBOX Gaming added jungler Son “Punch” Min-hyuk to their lineup for 2020 Spring. Punch split time with the recently re-signed Canyon on DAMWON Gaming in 2019. Now that Canyon’s situation is set, SB pick up the leftovers with Punch. Punch will now compete with incumbent Kim “OnFleek” Jang-gyeom for the starting spot. While OnFleek was a gold dominant player on SB, Punch offers a play style more willing to sacrifice resources for his team. The pair should allow SB to mix and match the play styles to fit their opponents and the meta. Punch was also known for his shot calling and team communication while on DWG, so he should bring a fresh perspective to SB. SANDBOX are firmly in the playoff mix with their incremental roster upgrades.
What it means for DWG: Punch was the preferred jungler for DAMWON Gaming for a time during 2019 Spring. He and Lee “Flame” Ho-jong were used to stabilize the young roster that hadn’t quite learned how to play the map yet. But DWG re-committed to Nuguri and Canyon in the Summer to great results, forcing Punch into a supportive role. He played only one game with the team in Summer and now moves on with Canyon re-signed for the next two years. Depth and diversity in playstyle is always nice to have, but Canyon is probably a top-five jungler in the world and DWG can allocate Punch’s theoretical salary to bolstering their bot lane. DWG are on of the top teams in the LCK and have legitimate World Champion aspirations in 2020.
Dignitas completes roster by adding Froggen
What it means for DIG: Dignitas added mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen to complete their roster for 2020 Spring. Dignitas opened up an import slot by letting go of jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo for Grig, giving them the option of picking up Froggen over Tanner “Damonte” Damonte. As much as NA fans will tell you it’s a travesty that Damonte is teamless, it’s hard to argue that Froggen isn’t better on an individual level. He should be an upgrade mid lane, but at what cost? Dignitas look to have downgraded their bot lane and are taking a risk on upside at jungle. Dignitas look like a playoff team on paper, but they don’t look improved from last year. Add to that Dignitas is bringing five new players together for the first time and the other LCS teams got better by importing more talent. On the positive side, Dignitas should have a lot of veteran voices in the room to help Grig and Johnsun acclimate to the LCS.
What it means for GGS: Golden Guardians committed to the long game when they announced they’ll be starting Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer mid and Yuri “Keith” Jew support. Of the starting roster, only Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has proven himself in the LCS. GGS decided to use their import slots to keep bot laner Victor “FBI” Huang on the roster and add jungler Can “Closer” Çelik from the TCL. It makes sense for GGS to move on from Froggen as they commit to new players. That said, it would be a miraculous 2020 Spring if the team found themselves in the playoff hunt in the final week of the regular season.
DECEMBER 8 ROSTER MOVES
DWG extend Canyon and ShowMaker through 2021
What it means for DWG: Along with top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, jungler Kim “Canyon” Geong-bu and mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su are the core of DAMWON Gaming. It is promising to see DWG keep the core together for another couple of years after a successful 2019. The team made their first World Championship run, getting knocked out by G2 Esports in the quarterfinals. DWG have one of, if not the highest mechanical ceilings in the entire world and should only grow in macro play as they continue to play with each other and gain experience. They are one of the scariest teams heading into 2020.
Hyped prospect top laner bin joins Suning’s starting lineup
What it means for SN: Top laner Chen “bin” Ze-Bin has been promoted from Suning-S, Suning’s academy team, to the main roster. Bin has been receiving a ton of hype this offseason. Rumors of him performing incredibly well in Worlds scrims and beating up on Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok have made the rounds. Bin was a dominant laner for the mediocre Suning-S, leading the LDL top laners in gold per minute and gold share. Now he’ll get his shot in the big leagues, as Xiang “Angel” Tao is expected to slide back into his natural mid lane. Suning have supported big carry top laners in the past, such as Xie “XiaoAL” Zhen-ying (now known as Langx), so bin should expect to get resources on the team. Suning still need to figure out how they will replace bot laner Han “Smlz” Jin. Suning have been so talented on paper the past few years but have never put it all together. They’ll again enter the year heavy on promise, but lacking proven results.
Kingen leaves LCK, joins BLG in LPL
What it means for BLG: Bilibili Gaming have added former KT Rolster top laner Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon to their main roster. On the one hand, it’s surprising to see BLG add Kingen, considering incumbent Kang “ADD” Geon-mo had a good 2019 Summer. On the other hand, it makes sense to have imports in backup roles to other imports. The addition of FoFo mid lane used up BLG’s other import slot to replace Kuro. Kingen was probably the most exciting player on a bad KT Rolster in 2019, beating out legendary player Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho for playing time. He is a carry player who should fit in well with the new type of aggressive style the team committed to by bringing in FoFo. That will be a scary top half of the map with rising star jungler Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao. BLG are firmly a playoff contender entering 2020.
What it means for KT: It was surprising to see KT Rolster let Kingen go, especially after he already excelled in replacing Smeb. Jeon “Ray” Ji-won is a mechanical talent in his own right, but injuries slowed him to end 2019 and Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong seems more like a depth signing than potential starter. That said, KT are definitely happy with the exchange of Kingen for Kuro, even if they weren’t exactly traded for one another. Losing Kingen doesn’t make them better, but they’re taking a calculated risk that Ray can return to his 2018 form.
Expect will remain with Excel to start 2020
What it means for XL: Top laner Ki “Expect” Dae-han will remain as Excel Esports’ starter to begin 2020. Expect and jungler Marc Robert “Caedrel” Lamont were the only two players on the roster to start all 36 games in 2019. Expect has some pedigree, originating in Korea with Xenics Storm before moving to Europe to play for G2 Esports, Origen, and Fnatic. He wasn’t one of the better top laners in the LEC last year despite being an import, but nobody on the team was playing particularly well. The top half of the map with Expect, Caedrel, and Mickey will remain the same from the end of the season. Newcomers Patrik and Tore are expected to bolster xL’s bot lane. xL still look a star player or two short of being competitive in 2020, though many teams in Europe are promoting rookies to their main roster. xL could sneak into the playoffs in what is becoming a very top-heavy LEC.
DECEMBER 7 ROSTER MOVES
Maxlore will not begin the year in LEC
What it means: Jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian was one of the core pieces of the 2019 Misfits Gaming “superteam” that never was. Whatever the reason for the team’s failure to click, Maxlore had his worst season individually as a pro and has seen his stock fall far enough to not receive a suitable offer in free agency. He will explore national league teams in an attempt to work his way back into the LEC. The talent is undeniable, but he’ll have to prove his 2019 performance was an aberration, not a decline.
Vitality adds Comp, Skeanz and Milica, keeps Cabochard and Jactroll
What it means for VIT: Team Vitality signed mid laner Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić, bot laner Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos, and promoted academy jungler Duncan “Skeanz” Marquet to their main roster for 2020 Spring. The team also announced they will retain top laner Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet and support Jakub “Jactroll” Skurzyński. Milica spent 2019 with the Vodafone Giants playing next to new Misfits Gaming members Razork and denyk. Milica is very comfortable on assassins, playing several games on Leblanc, Qiyana, and Irelia. He will replace Jiizuke, who left to join Evil Geniuses in the LCS.
Comp played on Team-LDLC from 2018 to 2019, playing alongside new Immortals mid laner Eika. Comp showed the ability to play all of the meta ADCs at a high level, specifically showing proficiency on Xayah and Kai’Sa. He also played a Syndra game in the LPL 2019 Finals, going 2/1/10 in a victory.
Skeanz played on Vitality’s academy roster in 2019, so the organization knows exactly what they have in him. Lee Sin is his most played champion, but he has several bruiser picks like Olaf, Rek’Sai, and Jarvan IV at his disposal. Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha is still under contract through 2020, but the team did not list him as a player in their Twitter roster reveal.
Cabochard and Jactroll are the only holdovers from the 2019 team that underwhelmed. A year after making a last impact on the meta at the 2018 World Championship, Team Vitality never broke through in the LEC, placing only 5th and 6th in the two 2019 splits. VIT are hoping new team director Mitch “Boris” Voorspoels and head coach Hadrien “Duke” Forestier can coax more out of the young roster in 2020.
FoFo leaves the LMS to replace Kuro on BLG
What it means for BLG: Former J Team mid laner Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan has left his team and the region to head to Bilibili Gaming. FoFo will replace the departed Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng. FoFo was easily the best mid laner in the LMS in 2019, crushing the region statistically and leading JTeam to a 3-3 group stage at the 2019 World Championship. BLG will have a different look with him taking over mid lane. The team played a more old-time Korean style with Kuro, known for their map play and team coordination. FoFo will bring a scrappier, fighter-style with him and raise the mechanical skill of the team. BLG will need Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao to maintain his growth and to take on more of a shotcaller role. BLG are a solid playoff contender in the LPL heading into 2020 Spring.
What it means for JT: There isn’t really a great response for a team in a smaller region when one of their stars leaves for a bigger region. J Team can’t just afford to go on the import market and replace FoFo with an equally skilled player. There also isn’t a player just ready waiting in the wings to take over. It’s a big deal when players get imported to the LPL, especially one from the LMS. JT also needs to figure out the rest of their roster, as only top laner Hsu “Rest” Shih-Chieh remains under contract through 2020. The best team in the LMS in 2019 will need to rebuild their roster to remain competitive in the newly formed PCS region next year.
DECEMBER 6 ROSTER MOVES
Grig leaves TSM to join Dignitas
What it means for DIG: Jungler Jonathan “Grig” Armao is the second TSM academy player to be named a starter for the new Dignitas team. Though Grig was at one time a starting jungler for TSM, he also fell behind Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham and Mingyi “Spica” Lu in the pecking order to end the season. So now Dignitas, fresh off a World Championship run, have signed two players to their starting lineup who were third in line at their position on TSM, the team DIG (then Clutch Gaming) beat to make it to Worlds. That said, Grig doesn’t seem like a downgrade from Lira, especially considering Grig doesn’t take up an import slot. That allows DIG to use that import slot for their final player, presumably a mid laner. Unless that mid laner is Faker himself, it’s tough to envision DIG reaching their 2019 heights with this roster. They’ll need a lot to go right — performance from their young players and rebound seasons from their veterans.
What it means for TSM: Grig was another in a long line of TSM junglers that was given half a chance to make an impact on the starting roster. He was a smart jungler, but his passive playstyle wasn’t what the team was looking for. TSM went out and acquired the troubled but talented Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to start in 2020. Dardoch will be given a longer leash because of his talent as long as he can maintain a professional approach with his teammates. Dardoch is a more proven commodity than Grig, both good and bad.
AnDa teamless in both LCS and NA academy to begin 2020
What it means: Jungler Andy “AnDa” Hoang was a hyped prospect when he joined the LCS in 2017, but his solo queue talent has never quite translated into the team environment. AnDa has spent time with Immortals, Team Liquid, FlyQuest, and 100 Thieves, never sticking around for long until his latest stint. 100T gave him many chances on the main roster from 2018 to 2019, but AnDa never showed enough of an impact to become a mainstay. He went from LCS starter, to academy player, to teamless heading into 2020. He has the talent to rebound, but he’ll need to convince teams he’s made significant improvements to get another shot.
Tore joins Excel Gaming
What it means for XL: Excel Esports has signed support Tore “Tore” Hoel Eilertsen (formerly Norskeren) to their main roster. Tore comes off a weird year in which he made a World Championship run with Splyce, but his individual performance was lackluster, leading his stock to drop. Tore replaces the departed Patryk “Mystiques” Piórkowski, though Raymong “kaSing” Tsang is still under contract through 2020. Excel benched kaSing in consecutive splits after making him the first member of their new team, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tore take the majority of the playing time. Either way, this team has a capped ceiling of a fringe playoff contender. There just isn’t enough star power on the roster for them to challenge the top three LEC teams.
What it means for MAD: MAD Lions E.C. moved on from Tore in the offseason, opting to sign former mousesports support Norman “Gistick” Kaiser. The team is in a total rebuild, starting four new players on a roster fresh off a World Championship run. Mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda goes from rookie to seasoned veteran in the span of a year as MAD look to the next generation of European players.
Misfits sign Razork, denyk, Ronaldooo, and Bvoy, retain Dan Dan and Febiven
What it means for MSF: Misfits Gaming finalized their 2020 Spring roster by announcing the acquisitions of jungler Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz, mid laner Ronaldo “Ronaldooo” Betea, bot laner Ju “Bvoy” Yeong-hoon, and support Petr “denyk” Haramach. The team will also retain top laner Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte and mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten.
Dan Dan will continue his run as the Misfits top laner, the lone holdover from the end of 2019 starting lineup. Dan Dan took over for Paul “sOAZ” Boyer at the same time Misfits benched their entire starting lineup for their academy team. Dan Dan was a bright spot on the team. He offered carry performances on Jax, Irelia, and Aatrox and is clearly someone MSF feel they can build around.
Razork takes over the jungling duties from Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian and Thomas “Kirei” Yuen. Razork spent 2019 playing for the Vodafone Giants in the LVP SLO with denyk. Razork is most comfortable on high impact early game junglers like Lee Sin, Elise, Jarvan IV, and Gragas, so he should bring an aggressive play style to MSF.
Mid lane is the only position to have two players on the main roster. Ronaldooo and Febiven will compete for playing time. Pedigree leads to Febiven having the advantage, but he was benched with the rest of the starting lineup to end the season. MSF also allowed him to explore other opportunities before he returned to the team. That, and the fact that MSF opted to sign a younger roster over another attempted superteam, points to Ronaldooo getting a legitimate shot at playing time. Ronaldooo played as a super-sub for Fnatic’s academy team in 2019, playing whatever role the team needed. His versatility and large champion pool make him an exciting mid lane prospect.
Bvoy will be handed the reins to the bot lane, taking over for the departed Hans Sama. Bvoy started 2019 splitting time with imp on JD Gaming but finished it playing on a mediocre team in the LLA. Bvoy is a mechanical talent who’s played in the LPL, but this is more of a “buy low” opportunity for MSF than a superstar import.
Denyk comes from the Vodafone Giants with Razork to team up with Bvoy. He spent most of 2019 playing tanks, specifically Nautilus, Braum, and Thresh. Denyk was also 8-0 on Rakan throughout the year. There are only so many support champions that are meta at a time, but it is interesting that he only played two games of Pyke in 2019. He seems to prefer beefier support picks.
MSF have gone the complete opposite direction of 2019. Instead of a superteam, they’ve put together a team of rookies and prospects. They are on the outside of the playoff picture, but they can be applauded for giving new players an opportunity, as opposed to recycling recognizable names.
Karsa leaves RNG, signs with TES
What it means for TES: Jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan has signed with Top Esports after leaving Royal Never Give Up. This is a huge signing for TES, a team that struggled through uneven performances from Xiong “Xx” Yu-Long throughout the year. TES have the LPL 2019 Summer MVP in mid laner Zhuo “Knight9” Ding, but the rest of the team outside of top laner Bai “369” Jia-Hao left much to be desired. The team never looked like they were on the same page. Now, TES add one of the most intelligent junglers available in a position of need. Karsa is an import from the LMS region, so it also confirms that one or both of bot lane duo Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook and Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun will be gone for 2020. That won’t break the hearts of any TES fans after the pair’s performance in 2019. Adding Karsa elevates what was already one of the elite LPL teams and makes them the primary threat to unseat FunPlus Phoenix in 2020.
What it means for RNG: Royal Never Give Up will feel the loss of Karsa, even if they didn’t always utilize him to his full capabilities. RNG have not been able to break away from playing the protect-the-Uzi playstyle they’ve fallen back on for years. That limited Karsa’s creativity on the map and made a star into a role player. Still, RNG need to find somebody competent to take on the role, even if it remains being a babysitter for bot lane. They have no junglers under contract. Uzi and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming’s contracts are up as well, though it’d be shocking to see them leave. RNG’s offseason decisions will tell us a lot about how they want to shape their team stylistically for the 2020 season after a disappointing (by their standards) 2019.
DECEMBER 5 ROSTER MOVES
KT Rolster signs Ray, SoHwan, Malrang, bonO, and Kuro
What it means for KT: KT Rolster overhauled their roster by signing top laner Jeon “Ray” Ji-won, top laner Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong, jungler Malrang, jungler Kim “bonO” Gi-beom, and mid laner Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng. Going by pedigree, Ray should get first crack at starting top lane. He’s played in the LCS and LPL as an import for the past three years, though he had to step down in 2019 Summer for EDward Gaming due to medical reasons. He has big carry potential and has the higher upside if he can stay healthy. SoHwan split time with Thal on Hanwha Life Esports in 2019, though he eventually won the starting spot. He actually had one of the best top lane KDAs in the LCK in 2019 Summer at 3.31, but his CS per minute numbers were among the worst in the league.
Malrang and bonO will compete for the jungle position. Picking up the junglers from the two teams that found themselves in relegation matches at the end of the season doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Neither made a lasting impression in their first year in the LCK, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two split time until one separates himself. This looks like a true competition heading into the season.
Of the additions, Kuro stands out as the marquee player on the new team. Kuro took Bilibili Gaming to the semifinals of the 2019 Summer Playoffs after spending two years with Afreeca Freecs. He is in the Doinb mold of being a field general more than mechanical star, but his teams always play the map well and are in the right positions to make plays. He is a good choice to lead an entirely new roster and should get the most out of his teammates.
That said, this is not one of the more talented rosters on paper. Top lane depends on Ray’s health and regaining his form, jungle looks to be among the worst in the league, and the bot lane of Aiming and TusiN is average at best. KT Rolster should be happy to make the playoffs with this roster, but that seems a tough task in a league where only 5 of 10 make the playoffs. They’ll need Kuro to work his magic — much like he did with BLG — to turn this into a memorable Spring.
Aphromoo joins Dignitas
What it means for DIG: Support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black will team up with rookie bot laner Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen for Dignitas. Dignitas are definitely getting an experienced voice on the team who should help smooth Johnsun’s transition to the LCS. It’s harder to say what they are getting in terms of skill level. Aphromoo is one of the best supports in LCS history, but he had a bad year with 100 Thieves in 2019 after an LCS MVP in 2018. Maybe a change of scenery will revitalize him, or maybe he’s just on the downswing of his career. Either way, Dignitas will get a chunk of aphromoo’s huge fanbase in their return to the LCS in addition to his mentoring of Johnsun. It makes sense from an organizational standpoint, even if it’s hard to envision their bot lane remaining competitive against teams like TL or TSM.
What it means for 100T: 100 Thieves moved on from aphromoo by promoting long-time academy player William “Stunt” Chen to the starting roster. Stunt will team with Cody Sun in what will likely be a “weak side” bot lane pairing in 2020. New jungler William “Meteos” Hartman is much more likely to play around top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho than 100T’s bot lane. Former OCE mid laner Tommy “ry0ma” Le is the wild card for the team. If he can be an above-average mid laner, 100T can make some noise in 2020 Spring.
Mithy retires as a player, joins Fnatic as head coach
What it means for FNC: Much like a jungler, Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez’s time as a support should help him quickly transition to a coaching role. He had to be constantly aware of the map state through the laning phase and was known as an important shot caller on every team he was on. As one of the best Western supports of all time, his ideas should command respect from the players. He will need to prove that he can manage players and their personalities, not just their in-game strategies.
What it means for OG: Mithy helped Origen have a memorable 2019 Spring Season before the team fell off and had a mediocre Summer and failed to make the World Championship. His skills had clearly declined, so the team opted to pluck Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw from OCE to pair with Elias “Upset” Lipp. OG loses a big voice on their team, though they hope to have gained one with the addition of jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir. Support is now the weakest position on paper for Origen, but that’s not saying much when the lineup is so loaded. They are firmly in the top three LEC teams heading into 2020.
Jizuke heads to NA, is final member of Evil Geniuses
What it means for EG: Evil Geniuses brought over three ex-Cloud 9 members so they could use two import slots to be competitive. Mid laner Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro is coming off a disappointing 2019 year with Team Vitality, so it’s a bit of a disappointment EG weren’t able to lure a bigger name, especially when Jiizuke was let go from his former team. Nevertheless, Jiizuke has shown the potential to be an upper-echelon Western mid laner and he’ll enjoy playing with the 2019 Summer LCS MVP Svenskeren. EG have big carry players in each lane in Kumo, Jiizuke, and Bang, so they won’t lack for mechanical skill. The question heading into 2020 will be if their solo lanes can hold up against the best teams in the LCS. They’ll need Kumo to continue the momentum he had filling for Licorice in 2019 and for Jiizuke to rediscover his 2018 form. EG are solidly a playoff team heading into 2020, though they might not have the same ceiling as Team Liquid challengers like TSM and Cloud 9.
What it means for VIT: Team Vitality made the decision not to bring Jiizuke back for 2020. Jiizuke missed two games for medical reasons in 2019 but started the rest of the games for VIT. The team still has fill-in mid laner Lucas “Saken” Fayard under contract through 2020, though the team has not announced he will become the starter. The other four starters from the 2019 season are still under contract through 2020, but more changes could be coming after a disappointing year. Vitality finished each split by losing in the first round of the playoffs only a year after being the darlings of the 2018 World Championship.
Untara and Naehyun join Griffin
What it means for GRF: Top laner Park “Untara” Ui-jin and mid laner Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun have joined Griffin to replace Doran and Chovy. These moves are underwhelming. Naehyun is a direct downgrade from Chovy, without even factoring in his synergy with Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong. However, Naehyun may very well have been the best remaining mid lane free agent available, so there was no realistic shot at someone better outside of a trade or buyout.
The bigger problem is the signing of Untara. Untara got his shot to play with Faker and SKT in from 2017 Summer to 2018 Spring and did not make the most of it. He was one of, if not the weakest link on the team and performed so poorly in 2018 Spring that he did not appear in another professional match until 2019 Summer with TCL squad 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports. The duo of Choi “Sword” Sung-won and Untara sets Griffin up to have the worst top lane situation in the LCK. It’s hard not to speculate that the drama and mismanagement of Griffin in 2019 has led to players shying away from signing with the team.
What it means for DRX: DragonX will take a swap of Naehyun for Chovy ten times out of ten. It’s tough to pin the blame of DRX in 2019 on Naehyun, but he isn’t an elite laner like Chovy is and DRX have raised their ceiling by making this mid lane upgrade. Chovy gives Deft another star player to take some of his burden. DRX are playoff contenders but have a large range of outcomes for 2020 Spring given their promotion of two rookies to the starting lineup. How quickly Pyosik and Keria transition to the LCK will determine DRX’s potential in 2020.
UmTi rejoins JAG after year with KT
What it means for JAG: The Jin Air Green Wings didn’t exactly get better in their year without jungler Eom “UmTi” Seong-hyeon. The team finished tenth in both splits, winning one match in the Spring but becoming the first team in LCK history to go winless in the Summer. The squad then dropped out of the LCK after losing 3-0 to Hanwha Life Esports in the promotion tournament. UmTi got more playing time than he probably thought he would when joining KT rolster, playing 14 games in the Spring and 9 in the Summer. UmTi should be an improvement over Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong and give JAG some more jungle carry potential. Jungler Kim “Seize” Chan-hee is also still under contract for KT, though he did not get as many starts as Malrang.
What it means for KT: The two teams essentially swapped junglers as Malrang has joined KT Rolster to compete for the starting position with bonO. This seems like a surprising downgrade for KT, especially because UmTi is leaving the LCK to play in the CK.
DECEMBER 4 ROSTER MOVES
Altec and Hakuho form new IMT bot lane
What it means for IMT: Bot laner Johnny “Altec” Ru and support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent have joined Immortals as their starting bot lane duo. This is one of the more underwhelming bot lane duos in the LCS. Hakuho spent 2019 toiling away on a bad Echo Fox team, though he was far from the problem. He has been known as an average enough player, though he never took a leap to become one of the best supports in the region. Altec has been involved in the NA scene since 2012, but did not play in a professional game in 2019 after being cut loose by Echo Fox mid-2018. These guys are experienced veterans, but they’ve had plenty of opportunities in the LCS and are on the downswing of their careers. They don’t represent a discernible upgrade over Arrow and Big, though they are at least both NA residents. Immortals look closer to competing for 10th place in 2020 Spring than a playoff spot. They still need to sign a top laner after Niship “Dhokla” Doshi’s departure to TSM Academy.
What it means for EG: Evil Geniuses, the team that took over Echo Fox’s slot in the LCS, pried Zeyzal away from Cloud 9 to fill their support role earlier this offseason. He pairs with Bang to form one of the more interesting duos in the LCS. Additional ex-C9 members Kumo and Svenskeren man the top half of the map while EG searches for a mid laner to round out their roster. EG are a definite playoff contender with the potential for more, depending who they secure for their final spot.
Bot laner Patrick joins Excel
What it means for xL: Bot laner Patrik “Patrik” Jírů has joined Excel Esports for 2020. Excel still has incumbent bot laner Jesper “Jeskla” Klarin Strömberg under contract through next season, but it would be surprising if Patrik was not named the starter. He is the definition of a solid player, much like Apollo “Apollo” Price in North America. Patrik spent the 2019 year with Origen laning with Mithy. Though an upgrade, this isn’t the type of move that moves the needle enough to consider Excel a serious playoff contender in 2020 Spring. Their roster is littered with players who were previously replaced on contending teams.
What it means for Origen: Origen are happy to have gotten one of the top two bot laners in free agency in Upset. Patrik wasn’t a problem for OG, but he’s not the same dominant laning force that Upset is at this point in their careers. The real question mark for OG is how well former OCE player Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw adjusts to playing in a more competitive region. Laning with Upset will put a lot of eyes on him to begin 2020. OG should be considered a top-three team in Europe.
LPL caster Raz leaves role to coach GGS Academy
What it means for GGS: Barento “Raz” Mohammed is leaving his role as an LPL caster to become the head coach of Golden Guardians Academy. Raz was one of the most knowledgeable casters in the scene, so it makes sense that a team recognized his potential to head a team. GGS gives him a very talented lineup to work with, headlined by mid laner Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Antonio Abbott. If Raz gets GGSA off to a hot start and the main roster struggles, we could see Ablazeolive get a chance in the LCS sooner rather than later.
Amazing transitions to strategic coach for Misfits
What it means for MSF: Amazing was disappointed to not receive any suitable LCS or LEC offers after parting ways with 100 Thieves, but he’s moved on to take a prominent role on Misfits Gaming’s coaching staff. Amazing’s 6+ years of experience as a professional jungler make him a natural fit to run the strategic decisions for a team. Much like a catcher in baseball, a point guard in basketball, or a quarterback in football, the jungler sees the whole map and is most involved in deciding when and where plays happen for the first half of the game. Amazing’s experience in that regard, as well as playing champions who often lead the engages, should be beneficial to the team, especially the starting jungler. Right now Thomas “Kirei” Yuen is under contract through 2020, but it’s possible MSF add to the position before the start of the season. Amazing also makes for a nice fallback option if the jungler isn’t working out for the team, though that could make it tougher for MSF to recruit a new jungler.
What it means for 100T: Amazing announced his departure from 100T days ago. The writing was on the wall when the team brought Meteos back for a reunion. Amazing helped turn the ship around after a disastrous 2019 Spring, but a new regime wants to bring in their own players. Meteos also has a bigger brand in North America. The new starting lineup for 100T is Ssumday, Meteos, ry0ma, Cody Sun, and Stunt. If ry0ma can hold his own, 100T should be a playoff contender in 2020 Spring.
DRX signs Chovy and Doran, promotes Pyosik and Keria
What it means for DRX: DragonX looked like they could be in trouble when head coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho was hit with a suspension to begin the offseason. But with a postponement among new allegations, DRX capitalized by filling out their roster with a couple of cvMax’s old friends in top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon and mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon. Though Doran was replaced by Sword for the 2019 World Championship, that decision was made after cvMax was let go — in no small part because he believed in Doran over Sword. Even if DRX add another top laner this offseason, Doran should get every opportunity to start a full season. He has carry potential to replace Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee.
Still, the biggest get here for DRX was Chovy. Chovy is at the very least a top-three mid laner in the LCK, if not the best. This is the position that DRX have struggled to fill around Deft during his time with the team. The combination of Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun and Heo “PawN” Won-seok was the clear weak spot for DRX in 2019. Unfortunately, mid lane has been the most important role for the majority of the game’s lifespan. DRX now have two massive carries in two of the most important roles and Chovy should prevent opposing teams from collapsing down on Deft as frequently.
Jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon and support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok round out the rest of the starting lineup. Both have been trainees in the organization and their potential has garnered them a chance to play with what should be a legit playoff contender. Keria has been in the organization since late 2018, but has yet to appear in a game with DRX. Pyosik joined DRX only a month ago and has already beaten out their other trainee junglers. That DRX have promoted the pair instead of pursuing external options speaks to the exciting potential Pyosik and Keria possess. While other teams recycle old names, DRX are joining the new age of Korean roster-building by promoting young talent.
DRX are instant playoff contenders with the addition of Chovy and Doran. The inexperience and relative lack of information on Pyosik and Keria tempers the expectation of competing for a title right away, but they should be one of the most interesting teams to watch early in the season. If the rookies look like they belong in the LCK right away, DRX definitely have the talent to beat anyone in Korea.
What it means for GRF: Griffin knew they would be losing Doran and Chovy after they opted out of their contracts. That they chose to reunite with cvMax suggests that his former players still want to play with him, regardless of the allegations of abuse. Chovy specifically mentioned that he turned down larger offers in China and North America for the chance to make the World Championship with cvMax. Griffin can still build a playoff team if they retain Tarzan and Viper, but they are not an LCK title contender as constructed. They will be forced to downgrade at mid lane, though they still have reasonable options for top and support.
DECEMBER 3 ROSTER MOVES
No notable roster movement.
DECEMBER 2 ROSTER MOVES
Broken Blade remains with TSM for 2020
What it means for TSM: Top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik looked like one of the best pickups of the offseason in the Spring Season, destroying Team Liquid’s Impact in lane and helping TSM get a game from an LCS title. Things didn’t go as well in the Summer Season. As junglers were subbed in and out and the team environment deteriorated, so did Broken Blade’s play. TSM are opting to stick with him and his huge potential for another season. His large champion pool is an excellent complement to Bjergsen’s offering TSM great draft flexibility. TSM knows he can carry, but they’ll need to see him do a better job of holding up against enemy ganks in 2020. If TSM can bring it all together, they will be one of, if not the most talented team in the LCS. Sound familiar?
Contractz to join 100 Thieves Academy
What it means for 100T: 100 Thieves announced their academy team today, loading it up with players who have LCS experience. Top laner Aaron “FakeGod” Lee, jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia, and mid laner Max “Soligo” Soong all played in the LCS in 2019. Contractz has been a starter in the LCS since the beginning of 2017 when he broke into the league with Cloud 9. He was known for his aggressive play style and considered one of the best junglers when he left to sign with Golden Guardians in 2018. Contractz never looked as good on that team, though his playstyle didn’t mesh as well with Froggen as his mid laner. He’ll have a chance to rebuild his standing with what should be one of the best academy rosters in NA.
What it means for GGS: Contractz never lived up to being the cornerstone of the new LCS franchise, struggling to play with lesser talented players than his debut year with Cloud 9. Golden Guardians moved on this offseason by signing import jungler Closer from the TCL. Closer will team with Goldenglue to form a new mid-jungle duo for a team searching for answers in 2020. They are on the outside of the playoff picture for Spring as they try to get former ADC and new support Keith up to speed on the role.
Former SK Gaming support Dreams joins S04
What it means for S04: Support Han “Dreams” Min-kook has been picked to lane alongside Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou to begin FC Schalke 04’s 2020 season. Dreams had an excellent year with SK after spending the first three years of his career bouncing between a LEC substitute role and academy. Even though Dreams has only played professionally in Europe, he is technically a Korean resident and thus counts as an import. S04 currently only need to sign a jungler after Memento’s announcement that he will not be playing in the LEC to begin the year. The roster of Odoamne, Abbedagge, FORG1VEN, and Dreams is a solid, if unspectacular, looking team on paper. Much of it will depend on the form FORG1VEN is in and if Abbedagge can take a step forward in his second year of LEC action.
What it means for SK: SK Gaming have now lost arguably their two best players in Selfmade and Dreams this offseason. That doesn’t bode well for a team that finished 6th and 7th in their return splits to the LEC. The team has also moved on from mid laner Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik. Top laner Toni “Sacre” Sabalić, mid laner Janik “Jenax” Bartels, and bot laner Juš “Crownshot” Marušič all remain under contract through 2020. SK Gaming will need some dynamite signings to give themselves a realistic shot at the playoffs in 2020.
What it means for HLE: This is a huge pickup for Hanwha Life Esports. Support Son “Lehends” Si-woo is one of the best in his role in the LCK. Griffin’s drama is HLE’s gain, as HLE surely weren’t expecting Lehends to be available heading into the offseason. He is a definite upgrade over key and should help HLE attract a better bot laner. Lehends’ former teammate Viper has yet to opt-out of his Griffin contract, but if he does, we could see the two reunite to make a suddenly interesting HLE team. The top half of the map is still mediocre at best, but HLE have a chance to build their team around the bot lane. Bot hasn’t been as impactful over the past two years, but anything could happen as teams build rosters for a new season meta that isn’t even fully developed.
What it means for GRF: Though Lehends, Doran, and Chovy all announced they would leave earlier, this is the first domino to fall. Lehends has been Viper’s only duo since the two entered the LCK. Griffin will be happy if they can hold onto Tarzan and Viper, but the reality is that the team won’t enter 2020 as strong as they ended 2019. Mid laner Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop and support Jeong “Kabbie” Sang-hyeon remain under contract through 2021, but the team will likely try to fill those spots with more veteran players. It would also be surprising to see top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won continue on the team after his involvement in the drama.
Popular Korean streamer creates team, adds Thal, Lira, and Sangyoon
What it means: Popular streamer Lee Sang-ho has created a team called Seorabeol Gaming in Korea to attempt to climb into Challengers Korea, and later, the LCK. Sang-ho tabbed three recognizable names as the first players to join the team: top laner Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk, jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, and bot laner Gwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yun. Thal spent his 2019 season with Hanwha Life Esports, splitting time with Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong before eventually losing out in the competition. He previously played for SK Telecom T1. Lira has spent the past three years in North America, most recently making a World Championship run with Clutch Gaming. Sangyoon also spent 2019 with HLE, starting every game alongside support Kim “key” Han-gi. None of these players were exactly hot commodities on the open market, but each were good enough to play in a major region, and in Thal and Sangyoons case, proved they were better than challenger players. This wouldn’t be a story like Griffin, DAMWON Gaming, or SANDBOX Gaming rising up to be the next generation of Korean players, but they should pose a legitimate challenge in the CK when they qualify. The team is still searching for a mid and support player to fill out the roster.
What it means for HLE: Hanwha Life Esports moved on from Thal and Sangyoon after a disappointing 2019 season. CuVee is the new top laner, while Zenit is the only bot laner under contract so far. We expect HLE to add another player bot. They have made some big money signings and Zenit looks primed to be a substitute.
What it means for DIG: Lira came on strong to end 2019, but he still was not at the caliber you’d expect from an import player. Though he played six unique champions in his six Worlds 2019 Main Event games, he had a very limited champion pool and was not effective on non-tank picks. Lira used to be known as a fantastic Lee Sin and Nidalee player, but he’s evolved into more of a safe, map control player. Dignitas have not yet announced their replacement, but they only have one import slot available with the re-signing of top laner Huni. Dignitas’ only other player under contract is new ADC Johnsun.
DECEMBER 1 ROSTER MOVES
Hanwha Life sign Zenit and Vsta, Tempt rejoins
What it means for HLE: Hanwha Life Esports signed bot laner Jeon “Zenit” Tae-gwon, support Oh “Vsta” Hyo-seong, and re-signed mid laner Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu. Zenit was the starter for KT Rolser in the 2019 Spring Season before the team signed Kim “PraY” Jong-in. Zenit is young, but the team had to fight off relegation during his only season, indicating he might not be ready to be a starter in the LCK yet. Likewise, Vsta has not appeared in a professional game since late 2018 and is more likely to be joining in a substitute role. Tempt split time with Kim “Lava” Tae-hoon in 2019 and the pair return for 2020. Tempt played in the final 27 games to close out the year for HLE, including all ten relegation matches. It stands to reason that HLE has promised him a significant role to get him to return with Lava still under contract until 2021. HLE signed top laner Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and jungler Kang “Haru” Min-seung earlier in the offseason. These signings give HLE players in each role for the upcoming season, but we expect them to bring in more competition in bot lane.
What it means for KT: Zenit played the majority of the games for KT Rolster in the Spring Season but was replaced by PraY in the Summer. KT looked to a more seasoned bot laner in Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram to address their needs this offseason. KT will probably bring in a substitute bot laner to compete with Aiming. They still need to address their top, jungle, and mid positions after the departures of top laner Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon, top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin, jungler Eom “UmTi” Seong-hyeon, and mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong.
NOVEMBER 30 ROSTER MOVES
No notable roster movement.
NOVEMBER 29 ROSTER MOVES
Excel bring back mid laner Mickey
What it means for xL: Korean Son “Mickey” Young-min returns to Excel Esports after taking over the starting mid lane spot in week 2 of the 2019 Summer Season. The mercenary mid laner is on his fourth region as a pro. While Mickey was near the bottom of most statistical categories among LEC mid laners, he did have one of the highest kill and gold shares. Mickey has always been a good player mechanically, but his language barriers and attitude problems have gotten in the way of his previous stops. This will be his fourth year on an English speaking roster, so his communication has surely improved from his early days with Team Liquid. End of season starters Ki “Expect” Dae-han, Marc “Caedrel” Robert Lamont, and Jesper “Jeskla” Klarin Strömberg all remain under contract for 2020. Only support Patryk “Mystiques” Piórkowski is a free agent. Excel could turn back to Raymond “kaSing” Tsang instead. KaSing was Excel’s first big signing as a new LEC organization, only to underwhelm and be replaced by Mystiques in both Spring and Summer.
C9 announce Blaber as jungle starter
What it means for C9: This comes as no surprise after Cloud 9 let Svenskeren walk to Evil Geniuses in free agency. Though Svenskeren was the LCS MVP in 2019 Summer, Cloud 9 used Robert “Blaber” Huang for three of their six World Championship games. Blaber is an elite jungle talent who has no problem reaching the top of the ladder in solo queue and performing on both carry and tank junglers. He’s come close to taking over the starting position on Cloud 9 before, earning starts in the 2018 Regional Finals and at 2018 Worlds, only to see Svenskeren eventually continue in his role. Now C9 commit to Blaber for 2020 and we finally get to see what he can do with a full season on the main roster. His aggressive playstyle should mesh well with Licorice and Nisqy as his solo laners. The challenge for Blaber will be to improve his decision making and prove he can play a more passive playstyle when the composition and situation calls for it. C9 will again be among the favorites to win the LCS heading into 2020.
What it means for MAD: Splyce is no more as the team has been rebranded to MAD Lions for the upcoming LEC season. Coupled with the rebrand, MAD announced their starting lineup for the 2020 Spring Season: top laner Andrei “Orome” Popa, jungler Zhiqiang “Shadow” Zhao, mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, bot laner Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság, and support Norman “Gistick” Kaiser. Only Humanoid returns from the 2019 starting lineup, but Orome has been promoted to a starting spot after the retirement of Vizicsacsi. Shadow, Carzzy, and Gistick come up from the European Masters league as MAD attempt to rebuild from the bottom up. This also means that Tore’s (formerly Norskeren) time with the team is up. Tore had a year remaining on his contract with Splyce but was not announced in the new lineup. MAD would have to vastly exceed expectations to compete for a playoff spot in 2020 Spring after losing arguably their three best players in the offseason.
What it means: Former SK Telecom T1 legend Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan has announced his retirement from professional play. Wolf told Inven in an interview that he is retiring to focus on his mental health. Wolf suffers from depression, adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Wolf won the 2015 and 2016 World Championships with SKT playing support. He also stepped in to jungle for SKT in the 2018 LCK Spring Season. Wolf then played with the TCL’s SuperMassive in 2019, falling just short of Worlds qualification. Wolf will be remembered for his versatility, shining in a tankier meta with Alistar in 2015 and a ranged support meta in 2016. He is a great LoL mind who could step into a streaming analyst role after doing his own commentary during the 2019 World Championship.
What it means for OG: Jungler Jonas “Kold” Andersen has mutually parted ways with Origen and will not participate in the LEC to begin 2020. Origen signed Xerxe to replace Kold earlier in the offseason. Kold left Origen late in 2019 for personal reasons. He announced on twitter that he has “almost fully recovered” from whatever problems led to his hiatus, but he won’t pursue a roster spot for 2020 Spring. Kold is a solid jungler who would definitely earn consideration for lower tier LEC teams, though the time off certainly doesn’t help him. He could attempt to replace an underperforming jungler for Summer or look to take on a coaching role. Origen will move on with one of the best jungler in the LEC in Xerxe. Their starting lineup of Alphari, Xerxe, Nukeduck, Upset, and Destiny should be top three in the LEC.
NOVEMBER 28 ROSTER MOVES
Freeze will not play in the LCS or LEC to begin 2020
What it means: Bot laner Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek was once one of the most hyped ADC prospects in the West. He hasn’t given up trying to reclaim his former glory, but he again wasn’t able to find a starting spot in either Western league to begin 2020. Freeze last played in the top leagues in 2016, starting with Renegades in the Spring before moving to the LEC and H2k-Gaming in the Summer. Freeze bounced around the minor leagues after playing for Tempo Storm, Royals Bandits, Splyce Vipers, and most recently MAD Lions. Freeze has had success during this time, winning TCL Rift Rivals, the 2018 TCL Summer Season, and the 2019 SLO Spring Season. But his team success has not been enough to get back into the LCS or LEC. Freeze’s career has never recovered from the extended break he had to take due to wrist issues in 2016. He will try again to work his way back up by exploring his options in academy and European national leagues.
Kanavi goes back to JDG after being released by Griffin
What it means for JDG: Kanavi was JD Gaming’s starting jungler to end the 2019 season. Even if he didn’t get the starts for the majority of the year, Kanavi played the most important series in the Regional Finals versus Invictus Gaming. That JDG want him back show that they intend on using him and using an import slot on jungle. With the retirement of Gu “imp” Seung-bin, JDG have another import slot open. They could use that to find their replacement ADC, or could give top laner Park “Morgan” Gi-tae a starting spot over Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran. Zoom is one of the best top laners in the LPL, but JDG think Morgan can potentially be even better. Don’t be surprised if they trade one of them away before the start of the season to free up even more money. They could use it to solidify their bot lane and add competition to Zeng “Yagao” Qi in mid lane.
NOVEMBER 27 ROSTER MOVES
Dignitas signs second player: former TSM Academy’s Johnsun
What it means for DIG: As expected, Dignitas has opted for at least one budget player on their roster after their lucrative extension with Huni. Bot laner Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen is a former TSM Academy player who has a world of potential, even if he was behind Edward “Tactical” Ra on the academy team. Johnsun originally joined TSM as a trainee because of his standout solo queue rankings. He has at times had as many four accounts ranked in the top 20 of NA solo queue. Though he didn’t win any of his four games on TSM Academy in the Summer, his tantalizing potential was enough to get him a spot on Dignitas’ new roster.
What it means for TSM: As mentioned, Johnsun was actually behind both Kobbe and Tactical in TSM’s bot lane pecking order. Even though there has been a lot of turnover in their bot lane, TSM has to believe Kobbe and Biofrost are the answer after spending so much to get them this offseason. Tactical and Erik “Treatz” Wessén are signed through 2020 and also probably the best academy bot lane duo, so they have a viable backup option if something truly strange happens.
What it means for FLY: Mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage will be the final member of FlyQuest’s 2020 starting roster, joining support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun as free agent additions. Top laner Omran “V1per” Shoura, jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, and bot laner Jason “WildTurtle” Tran will reprise their roles in the starting lineup. FLY have had an import slot open for a while, but it is curious to see them use it on PoE. PowerOfEvil is an incredible mage player, but the melee mid laner meta did not suit him in 2019. It’s impossible to project out what the meta will look like by the time the Spring Season starts, much less the Summer, but his champion pool limitations will hurt FlyQuest’s draft flexibility. Pobelter had a poor 2019 Summer, but he was able to flex carry picks with V1per and even swapped top for a game in the LCS Regional Finals. If the meta turns back to ranged mages, this pickup will look much better than it does today.
What it means for CLG: Counter Logic Gaming already announced their signing of Lee “Crown” Min-ho to replace PoE in mid lane. Crown undoubtedly had a better Summer Season than PoE and was even an MVP candidate before OpTic’s late-season dive. He is a mage-first player like PoE, but did show a willingness to play Sylas, Irelia, and Akali in 2019. As long as the language barrier isn’t a problem, CLG will be happy with their mid lane swap.
Leo leaves SKT to join SB
What it means for SB: Bot laner Han “Leo” Gyeo-re has left SK Telecom T1 for SANDBOX Gaming. Leo is coming off a year without playing a game professionally. His last (and only) action was three games in the LCK 2018 Summer with SKT. Leo will probably take on the same backup role with SB as he had with SKT. However, he’s now behind Moon “Route” Geom-su instead of Park “Teddy” Jin-seong. No offense to Route, but Leo stands a better chance of beating him out than Teddy. Leo also gets to join another winning organization. This is a solid move for both him and SB.
What it means for SKT: SK Telecom T1 only used Leo in three games spanning two years, so they won’t be too sad to see him leave. Teddy is already one of the LCK’s best after his first season on a real contender. SKT signed Lee “Gumayushi” Min-hyeong to play Teddy’s backup role this season.
Kanavi latest to leave Griffin
What it means for GRF: This was never in doubt as jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok’s unfair contract was one of the issues that kicked off the Griffin drama. Kanavi spent 2019 with JD Gaming, sitting most of the year before getting a chance late in the Summer Season. JDG went 5-10 in his games, including their 2-3 defeat to Invictus Gaming in the LPL Regional Finals. That is Kanavi’s only professional experience, as he is still just 19 years old. He will definitely have a market in Korea and China, though it may be optimistic to see him slotted into a team as an unquestioned starter in 2020. Griffin won’t miss Kanavi if they can retain all-world jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, but it never helps to lose a talented player for nothing. Had Griffin operated in good faith, they wouldn’t be in this position.
CuVee joins Hanwa Life
What it means for HLE: Hanwha Life Esports continue their roster makeover by adding former Gen.G top laner Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin. CuVee will take over for the departed Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong. CuVee is an interesting pickup because he’s been known for average performances during the regular season before turning it up a notch in playoffs. While nice on a contending team, HLE does not project to be top tier with a nucleus of CuVee, Haru, and Lava. They still have a chance to upgrade their bot lane, but their current roster construction points more toward trying to avoid relegations than committing to a rebuild or trying to contend for a championship. HLE are stuck in no-man’s-land, not surprising for a team that has come just one placing short of making the LCK playoffs in two of the last three splits.
What it means for Gen.G: Gen.G signed top laner Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee to replace CuVee and Roach. CuVee won a world championship with the organization in 2017 and will always be remembered for it, but his level of play during the regular season has dropped in recent years. Their revamped roster with Clid, Bdd, Ruler, and Life should be among the current LCK favorites with SK Telecom T1 and DAMWON Gaming.
What it means for RNG: There was always a little part of jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan’s tenure with Royal Never Give Up that felt wasted. RNG tried to move away from protect-the-carry comps early in 2020, even going as far as to sign top laner Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying for the Summer Season. Unfortunately, RNG always defaulted back to the same style, and Karsa was never really allowed to read the map himself. He played babysitter for Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming while ignoring Langx and the top half of the map. Still, RNG will miss his veteran presence. They could look for a higher upside player mechanically, but they will be hard-pressed to find someone with his pathing ability. That might not matter if RNG keep tilting their focus to bot lane. RNG will probably also look for a new mid laner as Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao’s contract expires.
NOVEMBER 26 ROSTER MOVES
Cody Sun rejoins 100T, ry0ma rounds out roster
What it means for 100T: Who would’ve thought? Not me! Sun “Cody” “Cody Sun” Li-Yu joins Meteos among the formerly exiled 100 Thieves members to rejoin the team this offseason. Their reconciliations suspiciously follow the departure of former head coach pr0lly. At any rate, Cody Sun was one of the best performing native ADCs in 2019 and helped Clutch Gaming turn their year around and qualify for the World Championship. He will lane with Stunt as 100 Thieves remake their bottom lane.
Mid laner Tommy “ry0ma” Le comes over from the OPL after a dominant year with the Bombers. New General Manager PapaSmithy took to Twitter to explain the move, perhaps in response to growing NA frustration that Pobelter and Damonte remain unsigned. PapaSmithy cited ry0ma’s good references and performance in tryouts in addition to his high skill level. It’s sadly notable that a team in North America offered tryouts to players in order to gather more data for decision making. Ry0ma can lean on veterans like Meteos and Cody Sun as he transitions to a larger region. He also has a support staff in PapaSmithy and Zikz who seem committed to building for the long haul. This is an ideal landing spot for him.
What it means for DIG: Dignitas took over for Clutch Gaming and have…gutted the entire roster that just made the World Championship, save for Huni. There are some who believe Cody Sun isn’t a special talent and has been carried by good supports throughout his career, but that just makes you wonder why they sold Vulcan to Cloud 9 to begin the offseason. As more and more players come off the market, it’s getting harder to see how Dignitas plan to be competitive in 2020. They intend to, if Huni’s contract is any indication, but they only have one import slot and a limited budget to make it all work from here. Don’t be surprised if we see an import mid laner and borderline academy players fill out the rest of the roster.
What it means for EG: Evil Geniuses continue their bid to build an entire lineup of 2019 Cloud 9 members by announcing Colin “Kumo” Zhao will be their starting top laner for 2020. Kumo was one of the best academy top laners while with C9, though he ceded time to Flávio “Jukes” Fernandes in Summer. Kumo stepped in for Licorice for a portion of the Summer Season and acquitted himself well. C9 went 3-1 as a team while Kumo had a 4.1 KDA on Jayce and Aatrox. Kumo is a talented carry player who should have some built-in synergy with Svenskeren. This confirms that there will be at least one rookie player to begin the LCS season. EG now only needs to fill their mid lane position and have an import slot available to do so. Considering Pobelter and Damonte are not expected to begin 2020 in the LCS, it seems likely they will use it.
What it means for C9: The Cloud 9 academy machine keeps churning out LCS caliber talent. Kumo was stuck behind the best top laner in North America, so it’s no surprise to see him moved to Evil Geniuses with Svenskeren and Zeyzal. C9 do a good job of developing talent and dealing the players to desperate teams from a position of strength. Kumo and Zeyzal’s buyouts likely gave the team enough money to buyout Vulcan, their preferred choice to pair with Zven. Their academy team still has the talented Jukes, though he could not sub in for the main squad without replacing another import.
Exile will take a break from competitive play
What it means: Mid laner Fabian “Exile” Schubert announced he will be taking a break from competitive play after spending most of 2019 on Excel’s academy team. Exile had been a mainstay in the LEC, playing for Unicorns Of Love for three years before joining Excel Esports in 2019. Excel jumped from Exile to Joran “Special” Scheffer to Son “Mickey” Young-min during their 9th and 10th place campaigns. Exile likely would not have had any LEC offers and would have to prove himself in a lower league to earn reconsideration at the top level.
Memento will not be playing in LEC to begin 2020
What it means: Jungler Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi confirmed he will not be playing in the LEC to begin 2020. Memento most recently played with FC Schalke 04, playing with the main roster in the Spring before being replaced by Trick in the Summer. Memento was still signed through 2020 but it looks like S04 will be looking to the outside to fill their jungle vacancy. Memento has been in and out of the LEC since he debuted in 2016 with Roccat. Memento confirmed on Twitter he will look for academy or national league offers.
Rogue extends Finn’s contract through 2022
What it means for RGE: Rogue commit to top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestål for three more years, making his the longest contract in the LEC. Rogue already completed their 2019 starting lineup on the first day of free agency by bringing in Hans Sama and now have turned their attention to locking up their young star. The rest of the Rogue lineup is also signed through 2021, so the team will have a chance to grow together for the foreseeable future. It’s promising to see an organization commit to the young players that have grown with them.
SKT completes starting lineup with Roach and Coach Kim; adds four backups
What it means for SKT: As player-driven as esports has been, the biggest story here is the departure of long-time coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun. KkOma has been coaching SKT since their inception in 2012 and is the most respected coach in League of Legends history. He won three world championships with SKT. It will be very weird to see SKT on stage without him for the first time.
However, Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo is an excellent replacement. Kim won LCK 2017 Summer with Longzhu Gaming and the World Championship with Invictus Gaming in 2018. He spent the past year coaching DAMWON Gaming from a team full of rookies to the quarterfinals of the World Championship. Kim is known for getting the best out of his top laners, having coached CuVee, Ssumday, Khan, TheShy, Duke, Flame, and Nuguri.
He will get to work with Kim “Roach” Kang-hui this year on SKT. Roach spent the 2019 season with Gen.G after spending three years with Kongdoo Monster. Roach is still only 20 years old and is a carry player who split time with CuVee. That coach Kim picked Roach to succeed Khan speaks to his upside as a player. Faker and Teddy should be able to carry the load if Roach needs time to adjust to start the season.
SKT also finalized their roster by adding top laner Kim “Canna” Chang-dong, jungler Ellim, bot laner Lee “Gumayushi” Min-hyeong, and support Choi “Kuri” Won-yeong. While none of these players are expected to play a role early, we need only look back to 2019 to show that SKT are willing to promote a player to the starting lineup. Effort, now the current starter, replaced all-time great Mata in 2019, so this might not be the last time you hear of these players.
What it means for Gen.G: Gen.G signed Rascal earlier in the offseason to replace CuVee and Roach in top lane. Gen.G will happily swap Roach for Clid this offseason, no matter how good Roach may turn out to be. Gen.G’s new starting lineup of Rascal, Clid, Bdd, Rule, and Life is one of the best in Korea, if not the world. They will be at the top of the list as LCK favorites to begin 2020.
Haru leaves SKT to join Hanwha Life
What it means for HLE: Former SK Telecom T1 jungler Kang “Haru” Min-seung is joining Hanwha Life Esports for the 2020 season. Haru only played four games in 2019, going 1-3 during the LCK Summer Season. He joins an HLE squad that had to fight off Jin Air Green Wings to remain in the LCK in 2020. HLE then let everyone but mid laner Kim “Lava” Tae-hoon go in free agency. Haru is the second signing for HLE and is expected to get another shot to start in the LCK. Haru has previously started in the LCK with CJ Entus and different iterations of the Gen.G organization. HLE still has a lot of work to do to fill out the rest of their roster.
What it means for SKT: SK Telecom T1 lost starting jungler Clid to Gen.G but looked to the outside for a replacement to their starting roster. With Cuzz taking over for Clid, Haru moved on to find a better opportunity to start games in 2020. SKT have confirmed Choi “Ellim” El-lim will be the second jungler on their 10-man roster behind Cuzz. Ellim played six games for Seoul in the 2018 KeSPA Cup, going 3-3 with games on Olaf and Lee Sin. Ellim is 19 years old.
NOVEMBER 25 ROSTER MOVES
Pobelter and Lira can’t find starting LCS spots
What it means: It’s not overly surprising to hear jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo can’t find a starting LCS spot to begin 2020. Lira had an absolutely dominant season with Team EnVyUs after joining from Afreeca Freecs, but his play fell off a cliff in the past couple of years with Clutch Gaming (now Dignitas). With the depth of jungle talent in North America and teams like GGS importing new jungle talent like Closer, Lira is a hard sell as an import at this point in his career.
The exclusion of Eugene “Pobelter” Park, however, is downright baffling. He is coming off the worst split of his career, but that he was trending upwards to end the season and is one of the most accomplished mid laners in LCS history. Pobelter has been a mainstay in the North American competitive scene since he debuted with Team Curse in 2011 and his status as an NA resident-only makes him more valuable. It will be very interesting to see who teams like FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves, and Dignitas have picked over him. Players like Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Henrik “Froggen” Hansen remain unsigned, as does Tanner “Damonte” Damonte. But it’s hard to imagine no LCS team could benefit from slotting in a talented native mid laner to free up an import slot for another position. Pobelter will almost certainly find his way back to an LCS roster by Summer, if not sooner.
Shernfire joins Team Liquid Academy on two-year contract
What it means for TL: Jungler Shern “Shernfire” Cherng Tai is only joining Team Liquid’s academy team for now, but this is not a typical academy signing. Shernfire will be one of the most talented players playing in North America in 2020, assuming he plays. His attitude and toxicity have seen him receive multiple suspensions, including a 2-game suspension at Worlds 2018. But when he’s playing, he’s a great player. He dominated the OPL with Dire Wolves and has consistently hit the top of the ranked ladder in NA and Korea. Team Liquid signing Shernfire is a very savvy move given their roster composition. Broxah is an import like Shernfire, so Shernfire can move up to the main roster without any further shuffling. Shernfire’s two-year contract also puts him under team control a year after Broxah’s contract expires. It’s pretty unlikely TL will ever get out-bid for a player they want in NA, but it’s always nice to have a fallback option.
Promisq will not start season in the LEC
What it means: Former G2 Esports support Hampus Mikael “promisq” Abrahamsson confirmed he was unable to land a starting spot in the LEC to begin 2020. Promisq played in two games for G2 during the 2019 season while starting support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle was dealing with health issues. Promisq has played for Elements, FC Schalke 04, Paris Saint-Germain, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and H2k-Gaming in addition to G2 in his five-year career. He was formerly known as “sprattel” before his 2018 run on H2k. In addition to his experience, he can also point to his year learning from and fitting into one of the best environments at G2. Promisq will not retire and will look to join a lower league with the intention of joining the LEC for the Summer Season.
Stunt replaces aphromoo as 100T support
What it means for 100T: Support William “Stunt” Chen will get another chance in the LCS as the starting support for 100 Thieves. Stunt has had stints with Phoenix1 and FlyQuest in the league but was replaced after one split each time. Stunt has been playing on 100T’s academy team since the beginning of 2018, playing a few games in the LCS in place of aphromoo sporadically. Stunt is a solid player who has been passed over in his career in favor of teams looking to find the next big rookie. Stunt becomes the third confirmed member of 100T’s starting lineup, joining top laner Ssumday and jungler Meteos. 100T have one import slot left to use on either ADC or mid lane. Max “Soligo” Soong remains under contract in mid lane but has not been named a starter for the LCS team.
What it means for GRF: Griffin’s parent company STILL8 announced that they would revise existing contracts to remove unfair clauses or allow players to become free agents. Top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon, mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, and support Son “Lehends” Si-woo have all exercised their rights to free agency. While a good moral decision to allow the players to leave, it is nevertheless a massive blow to the team and their 2020 prospects. Griffin have been one of the winningest teams in the LCK since their promotion and Chovy and Lehends have been an important part of their core. Doran was also being groomed to take over for Choi “Sword” Sung-won. Chovy was the 2019 LCK Spring Season MVP and is still growing as a player, so his loss will be felt the most. ADC Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and star jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong remain for now but could follow their former teammates out the door. If they remain, Griffin will still be competitive with two of the best players in their role. If not, Griffin could end 2020 fighting off relegation after breaking up one of the most promising rosters in the LCK.
Mia joins APK Prince
What it means for APK: Support Choi “Mia” Sang-in is the eighth player to join new LCK team APK Prince for 2020. Mia has spent the last two years as a sub for Kongdoo Monster and KT Rolster. Mia played four games in the KeSPA Cup last year, going 2-2 on Leona, Thresh, Pyke, and Tahm Kench. He got no playing time in the LCK behind No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong. Mia will compete with incumbent support Park “Secret” Ki-sun for playing time on APK.
NOVEMBER 24 ROSTER MOVES
HyBrid joins new LCK team APK Prince
What it means for APK: Though APK Prince agreed to terms bring back their ADC Trigger, he might not be the starter heading into 2020. Trigger was the fourth member to be re-signed by APK after their promotion to the LCK, but he was one of the worst-performing ADCs in the CK league. On the other hand, new signee Lee “HyBriD” Woo-jin was one of the best playing for Brion Blade, one of APK’s top competitors. HyBrid led ADCs in CS per minute, gold per minute, kill participation, kill share, and gold share. Obviously some of Trigger’s low numbers and HyBrid’s high numbers are due to the way their teams played (or did not) around them, but HyBrid’s numbers also show an ability to create advantages for himself. He is the second member of Brion Blade to leave for the LCK this season, following mid laner Yoo “FATE” Su-hyeok and his departure to SANDBOX Gaming.
Mystic leaves LPL, heads to AF in LCK
What it means for AF: This is a huge win for Afreeca Freecs in their bid to build a contender around top lane star Kim “Kiin” Gi-in. After suffering through a year of mediocrity with Aiming and even Spirit laning bot, AF went out and plucked Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun from the LPL. Mystic is a Korean resident, but it’s impressive for AF to wrestle away a star player from an organization like Team WE. Mystic was unquestionably one of the best ADCs in the LPL, a region rich with ADC talent. He will likely pair with support Park “Senan” Hee-seok, AFs 2019 starter who remains under contract through 2020. AF will be interesting again in 2020, but they will need to add a more impactful mid laner than Fly to truly be a threat to win a title.
What it means for WE: This is a massive blow to Team WE, even if it makes sense for Mystic to return home to Korea.. Mystic was their star player and who the whole team was built around. WE were already a fringe playoff contender at best and now drop considerably. Mid laner Su “xiye” Seong-jun’s contract is also up, so WE may have to completely revamp their carries. Top laner Kim “Poss” Min-cheol, jungler Jiang “beishang” Zhi-Peng, and support Lou “Missing” Yun-Feng are all still signed through 2021. Coming off a ninth-place finish in the Summer Season, Team WE are trending in the wrong direction heading into 2020.
TSM completes roster by signing former Splyce ADC Kobbe
What it means for TSM: ADC Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup was the best western ADC available in free agency and TSM snatched him up. He will pair with Biofrost to form what should instantly be one of the top bot lanes in North America. Kobbe was a legitimate LEC MVP candidate in 2019, though G2 Esports’ dominance captured them both awards. Kobbe is as consistent as they come at ADC and should add stability to a lineup that had several meltdowns and “throws” in 2019. He completes TSM’s revamped roster in 2020. They are once again one of the most talented rosters in the league on paper, though that obviously hasn’t worked out the past couple of years.
What it means for SPY: Splyce had already confirmed Kobbe’s departure earlier in the offseason. No team gets better when losing a player of his caliber. Splyce have to replace their three most experienced players in Kobbe, Xerxe, and Vizicsacsi. Humanoid and Tore (formerly Norskeren) are the returning starters.
Aphromoo and Amazing depart 100 Thieves
What it means for 100T: It isn’t surprising to see 100 Thieves move on from jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider and support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black. The team signed Meteos earlier in free agency to signal the end of Amazing’s tenure, while aphromoo had an expiring contract that wasn’t expected to be renewed as 100T retool their lineup. Ssumday and Meteos are the only confirmed starters for 2020, so 100T still have some work to do. Mid laner Max “Soligo” Soong is still under contract, though his role hasn’t been defined. He opened the year as the starting mid laner for 100T before dropping to academy in favor of Ryu’s shot calling.
TheShy confirms he will not leave iG
What it means for iG: Top laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this offseason, but he stated for the record that he will stay on Invictus Gaming for 2020. TheShy is under contract through 2021, so it isn’t as if he could have just signed somewhere else. But if a player of his magnitude wants out, there would be teams lining up to buy him out at one of the highest numbers in League of Legends history. TheShy took over as the backbone of iG when Song “Rookie” Eui-jin went on hiatus in 2019 and is one of the top players in the world. iG are better off with him around. They will now focus on putting together a bot lane and jungle that can complement the best pair of solo laners in the world.
Wadid will not play in LEC or LCS in Spring 2020
What it means: Support Kim “Wadid” Bae-in has been a solid, if unspectacular, support in his career. He made it to the semifinals of the 2018 World Championship with G2 Esports and improved FlyQuest after replacing incumbent support Juan “JayJ” Guibert. If he was a resident of North America, he would have no problem finding a team. Unfortunately, he is not. Even though he only ever played in Korea for six months in 2016, Wadid is a Korean resident and thus has been an import in the LEC and LCS. Wadid would have a better shot in the LEC than LCS, given their relatively shallow pool of support players and the number of import slots spoken for in North America. Regardless, it appears he’s heading for an academy team to begin 2020.
NOVEMBER 23 ROSTER MOVES
EU mid Eika will join IMT
What it means for IMT: European mid laner Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire has signed with Immortals coming off a season with Team-LDLC in the La Ligue Française. This is somewhat of a shocking signing, considering Eika isn’t a rookie and seemingly already had his chance in a top league. He played in the EU LCS in 2016 for Elements before joining LDLC. That isn’t to say Eika doesn’t deserve another shot, as he was one of the best mid laners in his league in 2019. But it is rare for a player to return to the top level after three years at a lower level, especially as in import. IMT head coach Thomas “Zaboutine” Si-Hassen is also French, so it’s possible he has the inside scoop on Eika, but it’s confusing to see IMT use an import slot on a largely unproven mid laner when domestic talents like Tanner “Damonte” Damonte and Eugene “Pobelter” Park are still on the market. It’s possible IMT sign another player to compete for the spot, but for now, it looks like IMT are banking on Eika’s improvement and untapped upside.
NOVEMBER 22 ROSTER MOVES
Summit re-signs with SB
What it means for SB: Top laner Park “Summit” Woo-tae will return to SANDBOX Gaming after a successful 2019 season. Summit is one of the better top laners in the LCK, often performing well on ranged champions like Jayce, Kennen, and Karma. His large champion pool and ability to flex champions with mid lane, allowing SB to be more creative with their drafts. SB seemingly have their starting lineup set for 2020, though they could always add more players for internal competition. SB looks to be a stronger playoff threat than a year ago with their new bot lane duo of Route and GorillA.
Trigger re-joins APK
What it means for APK: The newly-promoted LCK team APK Prince now return four of their starters as ADC Kim “Trigger” Eui-joo re-signed with the team. Trigger had some of the lowest numbers among CK ADCs statistically in Summer 2019, including the worst CS per minute, kill participation, kill share, and gold share. He has only been playing pro for a year and has room to grow, but he is more of a supporting actor than star on the team. Only Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon remains un-signed for APK.
Hauntzer and FBI re-sign with GGS, Keith role swaps to support
What it means for GGS: Golden Guardians have now set their starting lineup for 2020. Top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and ADC Victor “FBI” Huang have re-signed to join jungler Can “Closer” Çelik and mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. The surprise is that GGS are promoting their academy ADC Yuri “Keith” Jew to the main roster and role swapping him to support. Keith is not the first ADC to swap to support later in his career, like CoreJJ of Team Liquid, but Keith couldn’t even crack and LCS lineup in 2019. GGS are banking on his ADC mechanics to turn him and FBI into one of the better laning duos in the league. GGS still have Juan “Conctractz” Garcia and Henrik “Froggen” Hansen under contract. The team will likely try to find buyers on the market, as neither is a fit for an academy team. GGS are building one of the least experienced rosters in the league. They are on the outside of the 2020 playoff picture.
Dardoch leaves IMT for TSM
What it means for TSM: Buckle up. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett is one of the most talented NA players, regardless of position. That he spent most of the 2019 season in academy serves as a reminder that talent isn’t the only factor in terms of success. Dardoch may have gotten screwed by the Echo Fox situation, but that still doesn’t explain why no team went and bought him out before this offseason. That said, it also shows just how unsettled TSM’s jungle situation has been. They have spent years trying to get a more proactive player to fit into their team, so this will be the ultimate test. Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham had flashes of success, particularly in Spring, so we know it’s possible to jungle aggressively on TSM. Dardoch thrived on Echo Fox when he wasn’t the only star on the team and could play around Huni. Having Bjergsen and Broken Blade will be the best test of his career. But if things go south, playing on TSM has a way of amplifying those issues. TSM is taking a big gamble on talent with Xmithie, Svenskeren, and Meteos off the market.
What it means for IMT: It’s unclear whether OpTic Gaming were open to trading Dardoch in 2019 or whether new management in Immortals opened that possibility, but Dardoch was not going to be the starter here after the team signed Xmithie. IMT cash in on an undisclosed buyout that they can use to build out the rest of their roster. Getting Xmithie was a good first step, but they need to surround him with some playmakers if they want to be anything other than an also-ran in 2020.
Kobbe confirmed to be leaving Splyce
What it means for SPY: Losing ADC Kasper “Kobbe” along with Xerxe is a massive blow to the Splyce organization. Kobbe is one of the best ADCs in the West and there are few top tier options remaining at the position. Only two players remain from their Worlds run: mid laner Humanoid and support Tore (formerly known as Norskeren). Splyce won’t be expected to repeat their success from 2019. It may be in their best interest to use 2020 as a rebuilding year to try to develop the next wave of European talent.
What it means for S04: He’s back. ADC Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou makes his triumphant return to the LEC by replacing Upset on FC Schalke 04. FORG1VEN has not played in the LEC since 2016 with H2k-Gaming. He took time off from competitive play to complete military service for his home country, Greece. FORG1VEN announced his availability in the middle of 2019 but did not end up signing with a team. His stated desire of joining a winning organization as a full-time starter is now fulfilled, assuming S04 round out their roster with suitable players. Odoamne, Memento, and Abbedagge all return for 2020, though Memento was benched for Trick during the Summer Season. FORG1VEN was one of the most dominant laners of his era and will certainly want a like-minded support player. His natural talent has allowed him to take extended breaks while still reaching peak form on his return. He has had personality clashes in the past, so how he fits in with his new teammates will be a storyline in 2020. It’s hard to say FORG1VEN is an upgrade over Upset, but S04 may not be as hurt by his departure to Origen as originally thought.
What it means for EG: Bae “Bang” Jun-sik is the perfect ADC for Evil Geniuses to pair with Zeyzal. Bang isn’t the type of ADC that needs to rely on lane bullies. He’s one of the best Ezreal players in the world, a champion that will allow Zeyzal to get out of lane and roam around. Svenskeren’s new ability to declare himself an NA resident allows EG even greater roster flexibility to fill out their final two spots. Damonte and Pobelter are the best available NA mid laners on the market. Otherwise, top lane features more talent domestically to allow EG to use their final import slot on mid lane. Bang and Zeyzal’s self-reliance bot lane will allow 2019 LCS Summer MVP Svenskeren to play around his new solo lanes, assuming they are talented enough to be worth it.
What it means for 100T: Bang was one of the better ADCs in NA, but was a luxury signing for 100T. ADC has not been a focal point in the meta for the past two seasons, so using an import slot on an ADC should only be done when the rest of the roster is elite. That wasn’t the case with 2019 100T. The team couldn’t function without Ryu subbing in for Max “Soligo” Soong mid lane, forcing 100T to bench top laner Ssumday. With the realization that they aren’t a world-class team right now, 100T make the wise choice to move Bang’s salary off their books. 100T have insisted they plan to build a sustainable team, so it would make sense for them to find an NA resident at ADC in 2020. With Ssumday and Meteos confirmed, 100T are still a playoff contender, even without Bang.
NOVEMBER 21 ROSTER MOVES
TusiN completes bot lane with Aiming on KT Rolster
What it means for KT: KT Rolster secure their bot lane by adding support Park “TusiN” Jong-ik to ADC Aiming. TusiN teamed with Deft to form one of the best bot lanes in the LCK in 2019. It is telling, however, that DRX opted not to reunite TusiN with Deft. TusiN is a solid support who’s thrived on tanks and can be a solid engage option for his new team. KT will continue their roster overhaul by finding players for their top half of the map. They will need to sign some playmakers to be considered a playoff contender in 2020.
What it means for DRX: If Deft wanted to play with TusiN again, TusiN would still be on DragonX. They continue to sit out free agency after agreeing to terms with Deft the day before it opened. Even if it’s a longshot and his laning skills have declined, Mata is a free agent after being cut loose by SKT. At the end of the day, Deft will decide which support he wants to play with, and it will be up to DRX to find an agreement.
JackeyLove to move on from iG
What it means for iG: A year after running back the 2018 World Championship roster, Invictus Gaming will look different in 2020. The first to go is ADC Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo. JackeyLove is a mechanical monster who was seemingly held back at times by subpar support play. He took turns with Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok carrying iG while Song “Rookie” Eui-jin was on hiatus and Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning was struggling. It’s hard to see iG losing JackeyLove and still retaining Baolan, so the team will likely have an entire new bot lane. TheShy and Rookie take up iG’s import slots, so it limits them to Chinese bot laners. Still, no team in the world has solo laners as strong as iG. If iG can surround them with the right pieces, they’ll be right back among the World title contenders.
Peanut moves to the LPL, joins LGD Gaming
What it means for LGD: LGD Gaming used four different junglers in the 2019 Summer Season. Four. With all due respect to returning junglers Zhang “BadeMan” Yu-Nong and Ding “Kui” Zi-Hao, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho will get the jungle starts in 2020. Peanut comes off a lackluster 2019, but it’s hard to truly judge his form based on his teammates. CuVee isn’t the type of player you can play around as a jungler and Gen.G had a revolving door of mediocre to bad mid laners. Peanut will be able to return to his aggressive ways in the bloodthirsty LPL and should at least make LGD games more exciting.
What it means for Gen.G: Gen.G got the best available jungler on the market in Clid, so they won’t miss Peanut. Peanut would’ve fared better with new solo laners Rascal and Bdd backing him up, but he won’t get the chance. Gen.G’s lineup is set for 2020 and should be one of the favorites in the LCK.
Xmithie re-joins IMT after run with TL
What it means for IMT: Xmithie was the best NA jungler on the market, so this is obviously a win for IMT. They let Meteos go to 100T in free agency and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett still remains under contract through 2020. IMT can use Dardoch as insurance like they did in 2019 or look to sell him to a jungle-needy team, especially with Xmithie and Meteos off the market. IMT’s roster isn’t currently loaded with talent, so they will need to make more moves to be considered a legitimate playoff contender. Xmithie isn’t the type of player to hard carry a team, but he will make everyone on his team look better.
What it means for TL: Team Liquid decided to “upgrade” to Broxah and let Xmithie leave in free agency. TL are betting on Broxah’s better mechanical talent and hoping the team synergy doesn’t take a large hit, especially when they have a year to figure it out before the next World Championship. Barring a catastrophe, TL will be there.
Dignitas re-signs Huni
What it means for DIG: After confirming the departures of three-fifths of their starting lineup, Dignitas finally announced someone who would be part of their team in 2020. Top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon returns to the team after an improved Summer Season. He still wasn’t the force he was earlier in his career, but he still has the ability to solo carry games. He and Cody Sun are all that remain from their run to the World Championship. Dignitas have two strong carries, so they can get away with signing more supportive style players at jungle, mid, and support.
Selfmade replaces Broxah on Fnatic
What it means for FNC: Just as Team Liquid had a reason they were comfortable letting Xmithie go, Fnatic were comfortable transferring Broxah to Team Liquid because they are adding jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek. Selfmade was named Outstanding Rookie in Spring, his debut season with SK Gaming. He will reunite with former MAD Lions teammate Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek. Selfmade and Nemesis should have instant synergy, helping offset the usual learning period. Broxah fell off from his 2018 form in 2019, but Fnatic are betting on Selfmade to continue to get better early in his career. He also brings a new personality to a team that openly struggled with personality clashes in 2019.
What it means for SK: SK Gaming won’t get better from losing Selfmade. The rest of their starting lineup from 2019 remains under contract, but that doesn’t mean the roster will stay intact through the offseason. SK do not have another jungler under contract, so they will look to free agency to fill the hole. SK Gaming Prime jungler Gerrit “Phrenic” Stukemeier’s contract is also up. Selfmade was SK’s star player, so they are trending downward so far in the offseason.
Odoamne re-signs with Schalke 04
What it means for S04: Schalke 04 keep a much-needed veteran presence by re-signing top laner Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu for the 2020 season. IgNar and Upset have already found their new teams and Trick is next. S04 have jungler Memento and mid laner Abbedagge signed through 2020 but will need to find a new bot lane. They could also choose to bring in competition for Memento, who was replaced by Trick in the Summer Season. Odoamne often played weak side of the map in deference to Upset and IgNar. If S04 brings in a rookie bot lane, Odoamne could be featured more as a carry in 2020.
SKT re-sign Effort, add Cuzz to replace Clid
What it means for SKT: It’s no surprise to see Lee “Effort” Sang-ho return after SK Telecom T1 announced the departure of Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and did not reference Effort as one of their players exploring free agency. Effort came in for Mata in 2019 and upgraded SKT’s laning phase, pairing well with an up-and-coming star in ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-seong. Effort is an important keep for SKT in this tumultuous offseason. While SKT surely would have preferred to keep Clid, Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan is about the best replacement SKT could have hoped for. Cuzz is a highly-skilled, aggressive jungler who’s coming off his best season. Sound familiar? SKT will have to rebuild their synergy, but Cuzz is plenty capable of unlocking Faker.
What it means for DRX: Just as Clid’s departure meant SKT would downgrade at jungle, Cuzz’s departure means DRX will downgrade with Clid off the market. Again, their plans are in flux with cvMax’s suspension. How that affects DRX and the players they can recruit to build around Deft remains the dominant storyline for the team. As good players fall off the market, their worries will only grow.
FATE and Gorilla set to join SANDBOX Gaming
What it means for SB: Mid laner Yoo “FATE” Su-hyeok joins SANDBOX Gaming from Brion Blade after an outstanding CK 2019 Summer Season. FATE was at or near the top of all statistical categories for mid laners in the league and joins Kim “Dove” Jae-yeon on the roster. Dove is still signed through 2020, so it remains to be seen who will get the bulk of the playing time. Meanwhile, support Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun is expected to start over Cho “Joker” Jae-eup in the revamped bot lane with Moon “Route” Geom-su. SB have added competition to their roster hoping to raise their talent ceiling as a team in 2020. While featuring great team play, they have seen skill deficiencies hold them back from taking the next step in the LCK.
What it means for MSF: GorillA’s departure was a foregone conclusion when he headed home to Korea during the Summer Season. The star-studded lineup just didn’t work out. Keeping GorillA wouldn’t make financial sense as Misfits Gaming try to rebuild their roster with younger talent. They have both Mads “Doss” Schwartz and Aleksi “H1IVA” Kaikkonen under contract at support through 2020. Don’t expect Misfits to be among the LEC playoff contenders in Spring 2020.
ikssu, Cover, Secret re-sign with promoted LCK team APK
What it means for APK: The newly-promoted APK Prince will enter the LCK with three of the five players that got them there. Top laner Jeon “ikssu” Ik-soo, mid laner Kim “Cover” Joo-eon, and support Park “Secret” Ki-sun have all extended their contracts through 2020. Jungler Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon and ADC Kim “Trigger” Eui-joo have announced they will be moving on. It’s disappointing that we won’t get to see the full roster that defeated Hanwha Life Esports and Jin Air Green Wings to get here, but the new talent won’t be going anywhere. Griffin, SANDBOX Gaming, and DAMWON Gaming have all had incredible LCK debuts. APK hopes to be next in line.
NOVEMBER 20 ROSTER MOVES
Ssumday will remain with 100T, return to starting lineup
What it means for 100T: Top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho will remain with 100 Thieves for 2020 despite being benched late in the 2019 season. 100 Thieves had shot-calling issues and needed to insert Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook into the starting lineup, meaning one of Ssumday or Bae “Bang” Jin-suk needed to be benched. Aaron “FakeGod” Lee took over for Ssumday as 100T fell just short of a playoff berth after a late charge. By retaining Ssumday and signing Meteos, 100T look more competitive than expected for the 2020 season. It will be interesting to see how they fill out the rest of the lineup, as they will search for a mid laner and possibly a support. Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black’s contract is up and neither he nor the team has discussed his future.
Biofrost makes his return to TSM
What it means for TSM: TSM didn’t know what they had in Vincent “Biofrost” Wang until he was gone. Now they bring him back to head a fresh bot lane for 2020. Biofrost flourished on CLG, adding shot-calling experience to his resume. He is one of the best native supports in North America and performed better in 2019 than Smoothie, though TSM’s team issues didn’t help. New part-owner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg clearly wanted Biofrost back on board, indicative of a strong relationship. TSM will need to find a new ADC to replace Zven and will look to upgrade their jungle position to round out their roster. Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik, Bjergsen, and Biofrost is one of the strongest cores in the LCS.
What it means for CLG: Biofrost’s departure was obvious after CLG announced their addition of Smoothie. Biofrost is the more prized player at this point in his career, so TSM likely had to incentivize CLG to make the swap. Stixxay and Biofrost had great synergy bot and were referred to as the second best LCS bot lane by Doublelift. CLG hopes Smoothie will pick up where Biofrost left off as a vocal leader.
Crown leaves Immortals for CLG
What it means for CLG: Counter Logic Gaming trades one import mid laner for another, going from Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage to Lee “Crown” Min-ho. Crown looked washed up after a dreadful performance at Worlds 2018, but he ended up being one of the best mid laners in NA to end 2019. In their current form, this is a pure upgrade in performance for CLG and will hopefully eliminate some of the champion pool problems that PoE brought with him. CLG also have fellow Korean Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min remaining top lane to ease the language barrier burden. Coupled with their signing of Smoothie, this completes CLG’s roster. They are a solid playoff team with the possibility of pushing for top three if things break their way in 2020.
What it means for IMT: Immortals have now lost two of the best players in free agency in Meteos and Crown. Academy mid laner Marcel “Scarlet” Wiederhofer performed admirably when Crown was sidelined in 2019, but his contract is also up. Immortals have holes all over their lineup and have yet to make any noise in free agency. As a new organization, they may look to make a splash in the next few days.
Turkish MVP Closer and former C9 mid laner Goldenglue join GGS
What it means for GGS: Both jungler Can “Closer” Çelik and mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer join a crowded Golden Guardians roster. Juan “Contractz” Garcia and Henrik “Froggen” Hansen remain under contract through 2020, but it sounds like Closer and Goldenglue are expected to be the starters for next season. This is a youth movement for GGS, looking for a fresh injection of talent to their lineup. At the same time, replacing the top half of their map is much less important than figuring out their bot lane. ADC Victor “FBI” Huang and supports Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung remain under contract through 2020, but GGS are expected to address bot lane with new pickups. Closer takes an import slot, meaning GGS could not start both FBI and Olleh. Until they address their bot lane, GGS are not a contender in 2020.
What it means for C9: Goldenglue was supposed to split time with Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer heading into 2019, but Nisqy took all the playing time on stage and left Goldenglue to dominate academy. With nothing left to prove in academy, C9 let Goldenglue move on but re-stock their academy team with promising mid laner Cristian “Palafox” Palafox. While Goldenglue is more LCS ready now, C9 can see if they can coach Palafox into an LCS player.
Zeyzal is transferred from C9 to EG
What it means for EG: Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam gets to partner again with Svenskeren as the second member of Evil Geniuses. Zeyzal is known for his shot-calling and ability to communicate what the team should do at the moment and in the future. He’s not known as the most mechanically gifted of supports, so EG would do well to pair him with an ADC that is good at safely farming to scale. He has built-in support/jungle synergy with Svenskeren that should help EG be more cohesive than the typical new team.
What it means for C9: Zeyzal is too good for academy and had to go somewhere after Cloud 9 announced their pickup of Vulcan. Cloud 9 saw a higher ceiling for Vulcan as a player, opting to make a move for him while packaging Zeyzal with Svenskeren. C9 will need new voices to step up as leaders in 2020. Licorice should have a stronger voice on the team, while Zven has also been known to be one of the more vocal ADCs. C9 have gotten stronger mechanically, but they will need to prove that the pieces fit together.
IgNar to third region in three years, joins FlyQuest
What it means for FLY: FlyQuest decided to upgrade their import support for 2020, bringing in Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun to replace Kim “Wadid” Bae-in. IgNar teamed with Upset on FC Schalke 04 to form one of the best bot lanes in Europe, though they never reached the level of Luka “Perkz” Perković and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. IgNar is an aggressive style support who should pair better with Jason “WildTurtle” Tran than Wadid did. FLY still have an import slot to upgrade mid, as Eugene “Pobelter” Park announced he is looking for other opportunities. FlyQuest would be a playoff contender with an upgrade at mid and another year of seasoning for Omran “V1per” Shoura.
What it means for S04: IgNar was the third player to depart FC Schalke 04, following lane mate Upset and jungler Trick. It’s hard to see how S04 will field a stronger lineup than the one they had in 2019, but they’ve shown the propensity to spend in free agency. They will have to do so to attract top players, as their leftover core of Abbedagge and Memento is not enough to entice players to take a discount. They have a lot of ground to make up in the offseason to be anything more than a fringe playoff contender in 2020.
Racal, Clid, Bdd to join Ruler and Life on Gen.G
What it means for Gen.G: On paper, this is a team that will not only challenge for LCK titles, but also a World Championship. Clid is one of the best junglers in the world and Bdd is a massive upgrade over the revolving door that was Gen.G’s mid lane position in 2019. Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee is a more consistent option than Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin, even if he doesn’t have the same ability to take over games. That won’t be needed with the star power at every other position on the team. Things change quickly in League of Legends and esports as a whole, but it’s also notable that these new players are also signed through at least 2021, meaning Gen.G should get at least two cracks at glory with this lineup. That’s important because, as we saw with SK Telecom T1, you can have a problem keeping star players that elevate each other to new heights. It’s an LCK title and deep run in the World Championship or bust for Gen.G in 2020.
What it means for SKT: This is a massive blow for SK Telecom T1. Clid was their best player in 2019 and meshed well with Faker. He was the first jungler in a long while that was able to take some pressure off Faker and be a focal point for the team. The impending loss of Khan will also hurt, but there are plenty of talented top laners available on the market. The same can’t be said for junglers. The dream scenario for SKT would be to pry Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong away from Griffin, but that’s a long shot unless things continue to deteriorate with the organization. No matter who ends up joining the organization, it will take time to build a rapport with Faker and the rest of the roster. This downgrades SKT for 2020.
What it means for DRX: DragonX were ready to blow up the roster after a disappointing 2019, so Rascal moving on was no surprise. He played well as a supportive actor to Deft, but those types of players are more replaceable than carry players. DRX’s roster-building may be on hold as Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho has been indefinitely suspended following Riot Korea’s investigation into mental and physical abuse allegations. Deft may already regret re-committing to DRX before free agency opened.
What it means for KT: KT Rolster is another team blowing it up after a disappointing 2019. None of their members will return for 2020. KT were not rewarded for making a splash move to bring in Bdd in 2019, but that wasn’t really his fault. Smeb and Score sharply declined in quality and the addition of Kim “PraY” Jong-in for Summer Season was not enough to fix their problems. KT Rolster have signed Aiming but have four more roster spots to fill. It would be surprising if they could manage to field a lineup any better than fringe playoff contender for 2020.
NOVEMBER 19 ROSTER MOVES
Meteos re-joins 100 Thieves
What it means for 100T: Not expected to be major players in the free agency market, it’s surprising to see 100 Thieves strike a deal with William “Meteos” Hartman to fill their jungle position. Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider acquitted himself well when he joined for the Summer Split and is still under contract with the organization through 2020. Meteos returns to the organization after a controversial split in the middle of 2018. Meteos had asked to explore his options as 100T tried to incorporate Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh onto the main roster, leading to 100T trading him to FlyQuest. It seems all has been forgiven as Tony “Zikz” Gray has taken over for Neil “pr0lly” Hammad. Meteos is one of the best junglers in NA and can mentor younger native talents if 100T opt to reign in their spending for 2020.
What it means for IMT: Meteos is one of the biggest brands in the LCS, so losing him hurts their team and their marketability as a new LCS organization. They do have jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett still under contract through 2020 and will have other options available in free agency. The team has inherited several expiring contracts, so only Dardoch, mid laner Lee “Crown” Min-ho, ADC Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, and ADC Toàn “Asta” Trần under contract for 2020. Assuming they keep Crown and Arrow, Immortals will have to find NA talents to fill their top and support roles.
Zven and Vulcan team up to form new C9 bot lane
What it means for C9: First and foremost, it marks the end an era for Cloud9. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi will no longer be the starting ADC for the organization. Regardless of whether or not Sneaky still has it as a player, he and support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam were the weak links of the roster in 2019. ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme look to improve the team for 2020. Zven had another down year on TSM, notably getting caught out in crucial situations in big games, but brings elite talent and a strong work ethic. Vulcan is a rising in the league, leading Clutch Gaming to a Worlds berth and receiving enough interest from C9 to be bought out from Team Dignitas. The addition of Zven further cements Blaber as the starting jungle, as C9 has filled both import slots.
What it means for TSM: While C9 sees Zven as the answer at ADC, TSM were ready to move on after a second disappointing year. Expectations were sky high when TSM kicked Doublelift and Biofrost for Zven and Mithy, but the decision backfired as the TSM bot lane has only regressed. With Smoothie and Zven departed, TSM will look to build their bot lane from scratch for 2020. They will have an open import slot they can use to address any of jungle, ADC, or support.
What it means for DIG: Dignitas, taking over the LCS spot of Clutch Gaming for 2020, agreed to transfer Vulcan to C9, so they will get a nice chunk of change for their investment. It’s tough to lose one of the best native supports in the LCS, but Dignitas can use that money and savings to spread across the rest of the roster. The contracts of top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo are up, while mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte has announced he will move on in free agency. Only ADC Cody “Cody Sun” Sun is under contract for 2020. Dignitas will have to search for a native support if they want to keep both Lira and Huni.
What it means for TL: This is why Team Liquid decided Xmithie was expendable. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen represents a mechanical upgrade over Xmithie on a TL roster that now has another import slot available with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen becoming an NA resident. Broxah was one of, if not the best jungler in season 8 in Fnatic’s run to the World Championship finals. Broxah will bring a fresh perspective in the jungle for a team that has stalled out on the biggest stage the past two years. He should provide a stronger early presence to team with Jensen. TL were already and will remain the LCS favorites in 2020 as their roster is loaded at every position.
What it means for FNC: Broxah was outstanding on Fnatic, but the team culture never seemed to be ideal. He and Fnatic struggled at times in 2019, leading to Fnatic opening jungle competition between Broxah and Daniel “Dan” Hockley. Dan never threatened Broxah as he regained his form as one of the best junglers in the world. Broxah leaves a big hole, but not one that Fnatic thinks they can’t fill. They controlled Broxah’s rights and traded him to Team Liquid, so they clearly have a replacement in mind. With the rest of the roster still under contract through at least 2020, Fnatic will remain one of the top contenders in Europe.
Svenskeren leaves Cloud9, becomes first member of Evil Geniuses
What it means for EG: Evil Geniuses first move as a new member of the LCS is to bring in the reigning MVP of the league. Not bad. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen comes off his best season as a pro and is flexible enough to fit in any type of team EG builds around him. His ability to establish himself as an NA resident this year only adds to his value, allowing EG to go abroad to fill out their roster. It also never hurts to weaken what will be one of their main obstacles to domestic success in Cloud9.
What it means for C9: Cloud9 have a history of losing great players, so this offseason is no different. Fortunately, they also have the best track record of success with homegrown talent. Robert “Blaber” Huang has been the best academy jungler in NA for a while now — depending on how you feel about Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and his status as an academy player — and was actually subbed in for Sven in very important World Championship games. Blaber is a solo queue terror and insanely talented. He should finally get his shot to be the undisputed starter on the revamped Cloud9 roster.
Xerxe, Upset, and Destiny join OG to complete roster
What it means for OG: Origen expect to be one of the big three in Europe with these roster moves. Jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and ADC Elias “Upset” Lipp are clear upgrades over Jonas “Kold” Andersen and Patrik “Patrik” Jírů. Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw joins from MAMMOTH of the OPL and will replace Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez at support. Origen clearly targeted mechanical upgrades in the offseason and got them. Super teams haven’t always worked out — see Misfits Gaming — but there’s no denying this is one of the strongest rosters in Europe on paper. How the team meshes in terms of personalities and communication will determine their success in 2020. Anything short of a Worlds berth would be considered a disappointment.
What it means for SPY: Splyce are looking at a total rebuild in 2020. Xerxe was the best available jungler in Europe, while current free agent Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup is up there with Upset for best ADC. Those losses, coupled with the retirement of Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss, leaves Splyce with only mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda and support Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen returning in 2020. Top laner Andrei “Orome” Popa is also under contract through 2020. Humanoid will go from rookie to team building block in only a year’s time. Splyce will look for a less heralded free agent to rebuild with, but their stock takes a big hit heading into 2020.
What it means for S04: While Upset was regarded as one of the biggest free agents like Xerxe, FC Schalke 04 do at least have a comparable player at ADC on the market in Kobbe. Outside of signing Kobbe, S04 will also be looking at a downgrade with this departure. Upset joins Kim “Trick” Gang-yun in leaving S04 this offseason. Top laner Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu and support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun are also on expiring contracts, but have not yet announced their intention to leave. Jungler Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi and mid laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun are the only players under contract for 2020. Known for attracting top talent, S04 have the ability to import to fill out their roster.
What it means for JDG: The former World Champion is calling it quits after a very successful career. Gu “imp” Seung-bin never quite lived up to his Samsung White glory days once he moved to the LPL, but had a resurgent 2019 season after splitting time to start his JD Gaming career. Imp still had top-notch mechanics and shined in the metas that favored champions like Vayne and Kai’Sa, allowing him to express that skill. JDG are loaded with talent in top lane with Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran and Park “Morgan” Gi-tae, but now have holes throughout the rest of their roster. Assuming they start Zoom over Morgan, JDG will have two import slots to fill their jungler and ADC roles for 2020.
Fly signs with AF after leaving Gen.G
What it means for AF: Though experienced at the LCK level, mid laner Song “Fly” Yong-jun is undoubtedly a downgrade from Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon for Afreeca Freecs. Fly spent his 2018 season with Gen.G, getting the bulk of the starts in mid lane until late in the Summer Season. He has never been considered a star carry, filling the role of a more supportive, wave clear oriented mid laner. It’s possible that AF aren’t done adding in the mid lane, as Fly has often shared playing time during his career. This could be a situation where AF look to add a younger talent and start Fly until that player is stage-ready.
What it means for Gen.G: Gen.G looked to have already moved on from Fly at the end of the Summer Season, opting to give Kim “Roach” Kang-hui, Lee “Rich” Jae-won, and Lee “Kuzan” Seong-hyeok starts in his place. Gen.G are starting over after failing to qualify for Worlds in 2019, announcing the departures of Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho in addition to Fly. Gen.G will look to build around star ADC Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk, one of the best players in the world. Support Kim “Life” Jeong-min remains under contract for 2020.
November 18 Roster Moves
What it means for SB: The next Jin Air Green Wings ADC to get a shot on a better team, Moon “Route” Geom-su replaces Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun on SANDBOX Gaming. Route had better numbers in most statistical categories, despite playing on the much worse team in 2019. Part of that was being funneled gold, much like Teddy was before him, but Route offers more carry potential than Ghost. With the rest of the roster signed through 2020, SANDBOX Gaming should be one of the top contenders in the LCK again, keeping their young foundation and adding at their biggest position of weakness.
What it means for JAG: Jin Air Green Wings continues to be a farm system for the better teams in the LCK, though they will fall into further irrelevance as they demote to the CK in 2020. The team will set their sights on qualifying back to the LCK after their 0-18 Summer Split, but JAG will be left to fight over players at an even lower caliber than the ones who piloted them to a demotion.
Xmithie announces departure from TL
What it means for TL: Team Liquid doesn’t lose top talents for a lack of money, so it’s telling that Jake “Xmithie” Puchero is set to move on in free agency. Xmithie has never been the greatest mechanical jungler, but has nevertheless been seen as the best in NA for years. TL has bigger aspirations than remaining dominant domestically. After failing to advance out of Groups again in 2019, they’ve chosen to shake things up at arguably their weakest position. Whether that works out for them remains to be seen. The last time we saw an organization break up a dominant LCS team to push for greater international success — TSM in 2017 — it didn’t go so well. TL will still be the LCS favorites no matter who they sign to play jungle in 2020, but they hope to raise the ceiling internationally.
What it means for CLG: Counter Logic Gaming move on from Vincent “Biofrost” Wang to Andy “Smoothie” Ta at support. This is a lateral move at best, as Biofrost had the better 2019 season, especially as he transitioned to a more vocal role on CLG. But assuming they couldn’t keep Biofrost, Smoothie is a good pickup for a team that wants to remain competitive in 2020. He will team with Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes to form a decent bot lane, though each has shown top tier potential in the past. Smoothie comes with some shotcalling experience, so he should be able to help fill some of the void left by Biofrost.
What it means for TSM: All signs point toward a reunion with Biofrost, as it is seemingly no coincidence that Biofrost and Smoothie were each announced to be leaving their respective teams in quick succession. Smoothie performed adequately with Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen on TSM, but they were clearly hoping for more when they moved on from Biofrost and Peter “Doublelift” Peng in 2018. Assuming TSM keeps their imports in top and ADC, they will need to field an NA resident in 2020.
Mata leaves SKT; Khan, Clid, and kk0ma enter free agency
What it means for SKT: After finally putting another contender around Faker, SK Telecom T1 faces a crossroads in 2020. As great as he has been in his career, support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong had been passed up by the more lane dominant Lee “Effort” Sang-ho. Mata’s departure is a clear signal that SKT intends to re-sign Effort, as is his non-inclusion in the announcement of the other free agents. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha will be one of the most sought after top laners in the LCK, while Kim “Clid” Tae-min already has experience playing abroad in the LPL. On a team with the best player of all-time, Clid was SKT’s best player in 2019. And just like it’s impossible to imagine SKT without Faker, it’s impossible to see SKT without head coach Kim “kk0ma” Jeong-gyun. SKT notes that they are still talking with these three, though it does not bode well that they were unable to lock them up before free agency. SKT will be weakened by any of their departures, though Faker and Teddy is an enviable core.
Aiming joins KT Rolster as Kingen, Smeb, Score, Bdd, Pray, and Zenit leave
What it means for KT: KT Rolster are moving on from their entire roster after an incredibly disappointing 2019. Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Go “Score” Dong-bin, and Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong were supposed to form one of the most formidable combos in the world, but they all regressed from 2018. Smeb in particular went from one of the best top laners in the world to not even being one of the ten best in Korea. So it makes sense that KT would blow it up, looking to start 2020 fresh. Their first signing in Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram is a solid pickup, if not one to build a team around. Aiming was a middle-of-the-pack ADC in the LCK in 2019, playing a more supportive role around Kim “Kiin” Gi-in and Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon. KT will need to add players with more carry potential around Aiming if they want to compete in 2020.
What it means for AF: As mentioned, Aiming was a solid ADC for Afreeca Freecs in 2019, but this was still the same player that AF kept on the bench for parts of the Spring Season in favor of playing Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon in bot lane. AF have been built around their solo lanes, and there’s no doubt that Kiin will remain a focal point, even as Ucal moves on. AF still have Seo “SSol” Jin-sol under contract and can explore outside options for 2020.
Hans Sama joins, Vander to remain with Rogue
What it means for RGE: Rogue wasted no time in securing their roster for 2020, announcing minutes into free agency that they had signed ADC Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and re-signed support Oskar “Vander” Bogdan. ADC was a weak spot on Rogue in 2018, so they hope Hans Sama will be an upgrade and will work well with Vander. Hans Sama has shown incredible mechanical potential in his career, leading to big expectations for him and Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyun on Misfits. But like the rest of the team, the duo struggled to live up to expectations and are looking for fresh starts. With the rest of their 2018 team intact, Rogue should be expecting to be in the playoff mix in 2020.
What it means for MSF: Misfits seemingly want to wipe their hands clean of their “superteam” 2019 roster that failed to live up to expectations. Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík, part of the academy team that took over for some weeks in the LCS, remains under contract for 2020, though Misfits have not committed him to the starting role. After their disastrous — and probably very expensive — 2019, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Misfits give Neon another shot or look to develop a similarly inexpensive option for 2020.
November 17 Roster Moves
Faker re-signs with SKT through 2021
What it means for SKT: Was there ever any doubt? Mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok will remain with SK Telecom T1 for at least the next two years as the face of the franchise and of League of Legends itself. The greatest League of Legends player of all-time, Faker rebounded from a tough 2018 season with one of his best in 2019. SK Telecom T1 won both splits of the LCK season and made it to the semifinals of the 2019 World Championship with a rebuilt core surrounding Faker. How much of it will return in 2020 remains up in the air, as all but Park “Teddy” Jin-seong are on expiring contracts.
Meteor re-signs with BLG through 2022
What it means for BLG: Retaining jungler Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao is an important move for Bilibili Gaming this offseason, especially considering the possible loss of leader Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng. His status as a native resident will allow BLG to explore an import mid laner to replace Kuro, as the rest of their roster remains under contract. Status aside, Meteor had an incredible Summer Split. He earned Second Team All-Pro and finished tied for fourth in the LPL MVP standings with Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang. BLG did well to keep him under wraps and will be a playoff contender if they can find a suitable mid laner for 2020.
Deft re-signs with DRX
What it means for DRX: It’s never a bad move to lock down one of the best ADC players in the world. Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu is still one of those, even if he and the rest of DragonX (formerly known as Kingzone DragonX) failed to qualify for the 2019 World Championship. The former World Champion looked as good as ever, but the team around him was not good enough to challenge the top LCK teams. Following the announcement that the rest of the roster will be moving on, Deft hitches himself to DRX despite the roster uncertainties. Given that playing with Heo “PawN” Won-seok was one of the main reasons Deft joined in 2018, it’s very likely that Deft will have a strong say on the new roster and has assurances that DRX will look to be competitive in 2020.