Now that the free agency period officially begun, teams all around the globe are scrambling to build their 2020 rosters. Even big name players aren’t exempted from the annual roller-coaster post-Worlds. Considering how the entire season played out, teams are hopeful of their chances of moving closer to winning the Summoner’s Cup. Even though China won the past two, Korean and European teams aren’t out of the conversation. Unlike the past Korean-dominated era, the major regions all pose a threat to take each other out come international tournaments. With that said, let’s recap all the roster changes so far per region.
LCS (North America)
After all three teams bombed out of groups again, I became certain that North America will surely make the most moves this offseason. After all, their #1 team, Team Liquid, failed to build on their MSI finals appearance at Worlds. They went 3-3, losing the final game that would have brought them to the quarterfinals. Some analysts blamed the poor showing on jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and his lack of solo queue practice. This meant the rumors were indeed true, they were shopping for a jungler and all signs pointed to Fnatic’s Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen. Xmithie is reportedly finalizing deals with former team Immortals.
For Cloud 9, NA’s #2 seed at Worlds 2019, they’re undoubtedly in rebuild mode. They traded most of their young players to Evil Geniuses in a huge deal. Moreover, they are set to replace the last original member of their team, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, with former TSM ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. Zven will duo with former Clutch Gaming support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme. Given Sneaky’s history with the team, I don’t think this move will please fans at all. C9 also agreed to trade Greyson “GoldenGlue” Gilmer to Golden Guardians for Cristian “Palafox” Palafox.
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) October 20, 2019
North American crowd darling Team Solomid retained the services of Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg by promoting him to part-owner. TSM look like they are also going for a soft rebuild around Bjergsen and Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik. They’re reportedly in the process of acquiring Splyce star carry Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup. Also, they traded their support, Andy “Smoothie” Ta to Counter Logic Gaming for Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, who debuted for TSM in Summer 2016. Biofrost was part of the core that won three straight LCS titles.
For the rest of the LCS, they are yet to make their big moves. Immortals retained Optic Gaming’s old roster but will most likely trade its players prior to the start of the season. Former FC Schalke 04 support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun is also rumored to be joining Flyquest.
League of Legends European Championship (LEC) G2 Esports ultimately fell short of the goal of winning Worlds but the entire region is quite optimistic about their region moving forward. G2 Esports will likely stay put and give their entire lineup another year. However, the same cannot be said for the rest of their league. G2’s utter dominance should prompt the rest of EU to retool their rosters for the 2020 season. Fnatic will surely make a few moves in light of Broxah’s departure. They are reportedly finalizing the acquisition of young SK Gaming jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek to replace Broxah. He will have massive shoes to fill.
— LEC (@LEC) November 15, 2019
Meanwhile, Origen made a huge splash in the first day of free agency. First, support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez announced his retirement and subsequent move to the head coach position. Then, they released bot laner Patrik “Patrik” Jírů to make room for the acquisition of FC Shalke 04 superstar Elias “Upset” Lipp. Along with Upset, Origen also acquired Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir from Splyce, fresh from a quarterfinals appearance against SKT at Worlds. Also, they picked up another Worlds 2019 participant, Mammoth Gaming support Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw, to pair with Upset. With their firepower, expect Origen to challenge Fnatic and G2 Esports for the top dog position in Europe.
Not to be lost in all this, Rogue picked up Misfits star bot laner Steven “Hans Sama” Liv. Also, they’ve secured the services of veteran support Oskar “Vander” Bogdan for two more years. On the other hand, Misfits and Splyce will most likely dip into the amateur scene to replace their stars. Misfits already broke up their superteam even before the summer split ended. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian and Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyun are all still teamless.
Adding to the mayhem, Excel Esports are in the final stages of acquiring Patrik and Splyce support Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen, another Worlds 2019 participant. Also, Team Vitality will sport two new names next season. They signed Vodafone Giants midlaner Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić and LDLC bot laner Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos. Lastly, SK Gaming signed veteran jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun, who last played for Galakticos in the TCL.
After the news of Deft and Ruler staying put, SKT T1 made their own moves and retained Lee “Effort” Sang-ho for two more years. This meant Effort will be their starter for at least the next two years. They also released Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, but he’s rumored to be retiring and moving to SKT’s coaching staff anyway. They’ve also announced the free agency of longtime coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and Kim “Clid” Tae-min. Do note that SKT always announces the end of their players and coaches’ contracts before announcing their re-acquisition so this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re headed elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Afreeca Freecs signed recently released Song “Fly” Yong-jun to replace Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon, which in my opinion is, unfortunately, a straight downgrade. However, Afreeca still has Kiin and a few open slots for other pickups. Don’t keep your hopes up though, the ADC market is basically non-existent now. KT Rolster signed Afreeca’s former bot laner Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and Sandbox Gaming picked up the last of the known bot laners, Moon “Route” Geom-su. To be fair, there are plenty of young subs and trainees in Korea for every team to choose from. Despite the constant Korean importation of other regions, the LCK manages to stay on top.
The offseason had just begun. We’ll keep you posted about the next roster moves for 2020. Stay tuned!