We’re here to cover the latest League of Legends team news, roster changes, and player acquisitions.
NRG eSports roster implosion
NRG eSports was one of the three new LCS squads featured in this year’s North American Spring Split along with Immortals and Echo Fox. While they found moderate success and finished 9-9 during the split, this was a team that struggled to a sixth place finish.
The last quarter of the split we saw a team that regressed as player communication and team synergy became glaring issues. They were subsequently dispatched in the quarterfinals of the Spring Split Playoffs by Team Liquid.
Rumors of roster changes immediately began after the end of the Spring Split, with Cloud 9 approaching NRG about a deal for top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong (more on that later).
Meanwhile, Johnny “Altec” Ru and Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon were having compatibility issues in the bottom lane, with Altec going so far as to approaching management about replacing KonKwon.
Well, NRG eSports’ management was definitely listening, releasing both Altec and KonKwon from the team. Also released from his contract was Galen “Moon” Holgate, a jungler with a lot of potential but inconsistent performances during his first LCS split.
It seems NRG eSports’ management is sending a message by releasing Altec. This organization expects professionalism from its players, and the fiasco near the end of the split, with Altec essentially benching himself for one week of play, seems to have been the start of a souring relationship.
Despite Altec’s perceived abrasive personality, he is still one of the most skilled AD Carries at the professional level. It didn’t take long for him to find a new team to land on, with Cloud 9’s new Challenger squad offering him a spot at ADC alongside longtime Cloud 9 support, Daerek “LemonNation” Hart. Altec’s former support, KonKwon, has also found a spot on rival Apex Gaming’s Challenger team.
While the roster hasn’t been finalized, it appears NRG will be bringing in former Team Liquid top laner, Diego “Quas” Ruiz.
Quas abruptly retired from League of Legends after Team Liquid indefinitely suspended him for undisclosed reasons (it was rumored that an incident happened at the team’s headquarters in Los Angeles). Quas hasn’t played in the LCS since 2015, when he was considered one of the best top laners in the NA LCS.
He was projected to be a crucial component of this year’s Team Liquid squad, but it appears the relationship between Quas and management could not be repaired. Quas originally started his professional career with Team Curse after moving to Los Angeles from his home country of Venezuela.
Replacing Moon in the jungle will be former Team SoloMid jungler, Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen. Santorin brings experience in the NA LCS at the jungler position, having played at last year’s Worlds before TSM released him.
He has since played for both Team Huma and Team Ember, two Challenger squads that have had difficulty supporting their teams financially. Santorin was one of the sought-after junglers during this roster blitz, with Renegades also offering him a contract.
North American LCS fans were all smiles after NRG stated they would be signing former Dignitas Support, Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen. KiWiKiD stated he was ready to retire after Dignitas was relegated from the NA LCS unless he could find a team with a competitive roster.
NRG pushed hard to sign him, with NBA legend and investor Shaquille O’Neal personally reaching out to him.
The only returning member from last split’s team will be Lee “GBM” Chang-seok. GBM finished last split with the highest Kill Participation (75.1 percent) for mid laners who started more than 20 games, showing a propensity to roam and help set his team up. He’ll have to improve his CS Per Minute though, as he finished last for mid laners with a 7.9 CS Per Minute average.
Will this team find the success after all of these roster changes?
The organization has publicly stated that communication was a huge issue last split, and it wanted a team that could cooperate amongst each other. There are a lot of questions still left to answer, as well.
Neither Quas nor Santorin have competed in the LCS in almost a year. The AD Carry position is still open too. There’s no doubting that KiWiKiD is still an exceptional support player, but he needs (and deserves) a strong AD Carry at this point in his career.
One thing is certain, this team is filled with veteran players. If they can find the right synergy amongst each other, another chance for the Summer Split Playoffs is definitely in the mix.
Impact incoming: Cloud 9 roster changes
In perhaps the biggest acquisition during this brief lull between Spring and Summer Split, Cloud 9 has traded for the contract rights to Impact from NRG eSports. The team also announced through their partnership with Red Bull additional roster changes.
Cloud 9 finished the Spring Split at 12-6, resulting in a third place finish. Losing to Team SoloMid in the Quarterfinals of the playoffs definitely helped fuel these changes, and upgrading over Balls with Impact in the top lane will provide immediate dividends for the team.
Impact was one of the founding members of SK Telecom T1 and has established himself as an elite player in the top lane. He rose to fame after SKT swept Royal Club 3-0 to win the Season 3 World Championship. Before joining NRG eSports, Impact also played for North American Team Impulse.
With Hai moving on to other ventures (we’ll be covering Cloud 9’s new Challenger team in our Summer Split preview), adding Impact provides another veteran voice who can help shot call. One of his main tasks for NRG eSports last split was providing a leadership role to the team.
He’ll provide the team with the unique experience of having won it all, something Cloud 9 has never had on their roster.
Cloud 9 has also announced that BunnyFuFu will be the starting support next split. He had mixed results when he did start in the Spring Split, with the team struggling to find unison under his shot calling. He spent most of the Spring Split analyzing Hai, and we’ll see if that will help his play and shot calling.
The presence of Impact will definitely help in this department.
After abruptly retiring last year, Meteos will make his return to the starting jungler position for the LCS Summer Split. He’s remained actively involved with the Cloud 9 organization, focusing on the organization’s Challenger ventures. He’s also spent a copious amount of time streaming his ranked games during his absence from the LCS.
Cloud 9 has also announced they will be sending their entire organization to Korea to boot camp.
YellOwStaR leaves Team SoloMid
Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim has announced he will not return to TSM’s roster following the end of the Spring Split Playoffs. While an exact reason hasn’t been publicly announced, the team’s YouTube series, TSM: Legends, provides some insight.
“Even before practicing for playoffs, I asked the management what I could do better. I even asked if it was a good decision for me to step down and let someone else maybe be replaced.
It was a really short amount of time right before playoffs, so we came to a conclusion that it would be the best for the team, for me to continue and give it everything so we might have a shot to actually win the Spring Split.”
YellOwStaR would go on to further explain that he was feeling homesick living abroad. Even though YellOwStaR stated he would stay on with the team if they really needed him, team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh thought it best to allow YellOwStaR to seek a position on a team in Europe.
It was apparent during the Spring Split that there were issues between YellOwStaR and the rest of the team. While YellOwStaR is still a gifted support, there was a serious disconnect in team coordination and in-game playstyles.
We would have loved to see YellOwStar stick it out for the Summer Split given TSM’s relative success in the playoffs, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and for YellOwStaR, that’s home.