Now that 2019 is almost over, all teams are preparing for the start of the 2020 season. Usually, the top teams leave for bootcamps overseas, often to Korea. Now, some teams are opting to go to China and even Europe.
However, that doesn’t mean teams are done with beefing up their rosters. Some teams are only just making official announcements. On top of that, there are a few cases of contracts falling apart after a long while regardless of the hype surrounding the move.
There are also cases of veteran free agents who couldn’t find a place to go and finally decided to hang it up. Such is the case for a couple of the items on this list.
Mata returns to RNG as head coach
Cho “Mata” Se-Hyeong decided to retire and become the head coach of his former team, Royal Never Give Up. Mata previously played as RNG’s support from December 2015 to November 2016. He will join his former teammate and close friend Choi “DanDy” In-kyu who’s already part of the coaching staff.
Mata retires as probably the 2nd best player of all time, second only to Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. While many will argue that Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao or even Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong deserve 2nd best, no one can deny Mata’s contributions to the evolution of the game. While Hong “MadLife” Min-gi is credited with popularizing hook champions, it was Mata who made playing support look cool. With DanDy, he revolutionized the vision control and macro game that modern League of Legends will eventually balance around. Moreover, Mata won Season 4 Worlds MVP through the same vision control and macro they innovated.
After winning Worlds, Mata went to China and played shortly for Vici Gaming before transferring to RNG where he won his lone LPL title. He played with Uzi for a split, but decided to return to Korea for KT Rolster, where he also won a title. Then, he spent the last season alongside Faker in SKT T1, where they would win two LCK titles together. Unfortunately, they failed to make it past semis in both MSI and Worlds.
After Worlds, Mata reportedly became open for offers but suddenly announced his retirement and subsequent signing as RNG’s head coach.
FPX sign top laners Khan and GimGoon
The defending World Champions aren’t content with their current lineup. They retained Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem while adding former SKT T1 top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. They will reportedly be sharing the top lane position. GimGoon has been a member of FunPlus Phoenix since 2017, while Khan will be returning to the LPL after a few years in the LCK.
This move is interesting, given Khan’s ability to hard-carry games off of jungle-mid pressure. Khan and GimGoon play opposite styles and will undoubtedly provide FunPlus Phoenix additional options and styles to play with. With star mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang’s versatility, we will likely see them flexing positions and picks even more next season.
SofM joins Suning Gaming
Vietnamese jungler Lê “SofM” Quang Duy of the LPL transferred from LNG Esports to rising team Suning Gaming. With rumors that former World Champion Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo will also be signing with Suning, they will form a great core that could challenge for top 4 in the LPL.
Vici Gaming signs iBoy, officially announces kKoma as head coach
Vici Gaming made their official announcement for the signing of League’s all-time greatest coach, Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun. He reportedly turned down a multi-year extension from T1 and chose to rebuild the Vici Gaming roster instead. He will be off to a good start, as the team acquired former EDG ADC Hu “iBoy” Xian-Zhao.
iBoy started as a trainee for Edward Gaming back in 2016. He was promoted to the main team when Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu left to return to Korea.
Clearlove retires, becomes Edward Gaming’s new head coach
Another legend retires. Ming “Clearlove” Kai retires as one of the most decorated and beloved LPL players of all-time. He started his career for an unknown team back in 2011 before making his official debut as a mid laner for Team Phoenix in 2012. However, we would rise to prominence as Team World Elite’s jungler during their prime, alongside legends Gao “WeiXiao” Xue-Cheng and Yu “Misaya” Jing-Xi. In 2014, he would transfer to Edward Gaming and become the team’s leader through five LPL titles and the inaugural MSI in 2015.