As we continue to progress through the offseason following the 2015 League of Legends World Championship, a plethora of roster changes and retirements have been announced as teams regroup/retool.
We’re here to cover all of the major announcements and get you prepared for next year’s Spring Split.
SK Telecom T1’s roster purge
Following SKT’s dominating performance at Worlds that saw them earn their second World Championship title, major roster changes are underway. The main reason? Money, of course.
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, arguably the best player in the world, will remain on the team, but the loss of Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan will be a huge blow.
Not only was MaRin consistently a top performer, but he was also SKT’s shot caller. He had a huge showing at Worlds and played a crucial part in SKT only dropping one game the entire tournament (he earned MVP honors for his exceptional play). It’s unclear at this time where he will be headed, but early speculation points to financial prosperity on another team.
The other two members leaving the team are technically considered backups.
Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon saw extensive playing time as a change of pace to Faker’s aggressive playstyle. It’s unclear what team he will play for next year, but he’s stated that a full time spot was the major reason for his leaving.
Meanwhile, backup jungler Im “Tom” Jae-hyeon will also be leaving the team. The emergence of Bae “bengi” Seong-ung in the jungle makes this less of a blow to SKT, but it still limits their playstyle somewhat.
SKT has been phenomenal at finding talent so expect them to be contenders again next year. They’re well known for finding solo que talent and developing players, but the loss of MaRin will leave huge shoes to fill.
Faker will need to step up and become more of a leader as his playing time will undoubtedly increase with the loss of Easyhoon. Questions remain who will be the primary shot caller as well.
Counter Logic Gaming and Doublelift part ways
In a surprising and unexpected move, CLG has terminated the contract of Peter ‘Doublelift’ Peng. Doublelift has often been considered one of the premier AD Carry’s in not only North America but the entire world. He wasn’t on the free agent market for long, as Team SoloMid quickly picked him up.
Doublelift’s competitive career dates all the way back to season 1 and he brings a ton of experience to a revamped TSM roster (more on that later). Paired with support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black when he played for CLG, the duo were a lethal combo and widely respected in international tournaments.
In his first public comments, Doublelift seemed determined to prove CLG had made a huge mistake by releasing him:
“Joining TSM will be a new chapter in my life, one that I am both excited and proud to be a part of. I hope to prove myself and earn the welcome of TSM fans worldwide.
I am determined to use this fresh start to break through my current limits and dominate the competition harder than ever.”
He further stated, “I will now be playing for an organization I believe that will respect my loyalty and hard work.”
The move to go with Doublelift at ADC now means Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has been demoted to a substitute position for TSM. The team has granted him permission to seek a starting position on another team, and ironically CLG took a hard look at him. However, it appears at this time that they will be going in a different direction.
TSM’s other roster changes
Debuting next year will essentially be a completely new team for TSM.
The only returning playing will be standout mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. One of the most recognized players in North American history, Marcus “Dyrus” Hill, announced his retirement shortly after TSM was eliminated from Worlds.
Dyrus has been playing League of Legends since its beta phase and has appeared in all five World Championships (YellOwStaR is the only other player with this accomplishment). Dyrus is also the only player in North American history to have played in every NA LCS split. Dyrus will be moving to the TSM Retirement House.
Also retiring is longtime support Jang-sik “Lustboy” Ham. Before spending his last competitive year with TSM, Lustboy played for Azubu Blaze. Lustboy with remain with the TSM organization, moving to an analyst position.
Finally, TSM has cut ties with Lucas “Santorin” Larsen. After a volatile year, the two parties mutually agreed it was best for a clean start. Santorin had an excellent Spring Split, but following a disappointing showing at the Mid-Season Invitational, he was never the same player again.
It’s unclear who will officially be on next year’s roster besides Bjergsen and Doublelift. At the recent IEM San Jose tournament, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell was present in top lane. Hauntzer formerly played for Gravity Gaming and Curse Academy before that.
Journeyman Raymond “kaSing” Tsang was featured supporting Doublelift. This is kaSing’s eighth organization that he has played for, dating back to his start on H2K-Gaming in 2012.
Replacing Santorin was another fellow player from Denmark, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. He is the former jungler for SK Gaming.
Cloud9 roster moves
Longtime support Daerek “Lemonnation” Hart has retired after stating during the Summer Split that this would be his last year playing competitively. He has since been moved to the analyst team for C9, effective immediately.
Replacing him will be Hai “Hai” Lam, who was brought out of retirement last year to jungle for C9. Lee “Rush” Yoonjae, who played last year for Team Impulse and LMQ before that, will be the starting jungler next year.
CLG replaces Pobelter
After essentially demanding that Eugene “Pobelter” Park split time with Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun next season, Pobelter has decided to leave the team and find a full time starting position elsewhere. Fans have been critical of the move (they were already irate that the team cut Doublelift), and HuHi’s showing at IEM San Jose didn’t do anything to ease those qualms.
In other CLG news, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes made his pro debut at IEM San Jose as the starting ADC. Previously Stixxay was the starting ADC for CLG’s Challenger NA team, CLG Black, and a substitute for Misfits. He played well at IEM, but it’s unclear if he will be the permanent starting ADC for CLG next year.
Team Dignitas EU is sold
New rules passed by the pro-gaming League of Legends circuit, prohibiting an ownership group from having a majority stake in more than one team, has resulted in the Team Dignitas brand separating.
Team Dignitas will have exclusive ownership of the North American team, while Follow eSports has acquired the rights to the European team. Original estimates of the team value were pegged at $500,000, but reports indicate that Follow eSports paid close to $1,000,000.
Four of the Dignitas EU player contracts will be transferred to Follow eSports, including Martin “Wunderwear” Hansen, Chres “Sencux” Laursen, Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Nicolai “Nisbeth” Nisbeth.
The team will hold tryouts for the last available position as well as actively search for a head coach and player analysts. Dignitas EU has already qualified for next year’s League of Legends Championship Series and will have a chance to compete for a spot in Worlds.
Fnatic loses Huni and Reignover
Coming to a team in North America soon, Huni and Reignover!
After negotiations failed with Fnatic over adequate compensation, Seong “Huni” Heo and Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin have stated they will be looking to join a North American team together.