The 2019 LoL offseason was full of surprising twists and revelations. Join us as we round up the best moves of the year.
As I have previously said, the offseason for organizations is a promise: a promise to do better, a promise to make up for the shortcomings of seasons past, and a promise to etch their names in League of Legends esports history. Of course, promises on their own are nothing: it has to be followed up by action from the organizations of our esport, so that we could be assured that they will follow through on their promise.
In this article we show the eight best roster moves of the 2019 LoL offseason, whether it be players or coaching staff changes.
We looked at the changes that changes that bolstered a team’s capacity to compete in the upcoming season to produce this piece.
Team Liquid dominated the entire North American League of Legends Championship Series, coming out of both playoff finals with 3-0 victories. Unfortunately, this domination never translated into international competition as we saw them fall way short at getting into the best-of-five phase at both MSI 2018 and Worlds 2018.
During the 2019 LoL offseason, we saw Team Liquid bolster their ranks. First off, they acquired arguably the best performing mid laner in North America in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. More importantly, they snagged two-time World Finalist and 2017 World Champion Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in from overseas.
Jensen specializes in low-economy mid lane play. His strengths are almost always tied to him getting his own advantages in the laning phase, and then using the said advantages to help other lanes. This is why Cloud9 has, in the past season most specifically, placed him on roaming-heavy mid lane champions like Galio and Lissandra. CoreJJ, on the other hand, is a lane-focused support, but he is also someone you can rely on as the game goes late.
Ultimately, Team Liquid’s acquisitions all point towards one thing — they want to empower Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng even further. Doublelift was already the catalyst for Team Liquid’s victories last season. Given the current state of the bottom lane, we’re left to wonder if doubling down on Doublelift is the best decision to make. But, since Doublelift remains the greatest AD carry North America has ever seen, we’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
DAMWON Gaming is one of the recently-promoted teams into the LCK. Boasting incredible solo queue talent in players like Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and Heo “ShowMaker” Su, they are believed to be the next generation of world-class players the LCK has to offer. With rumors that they were able to consistently win scrims against the top teams at 2018 Worlds like Fnatic and Invictus Gaming, they are slowly building up to be one of the teams to watch out for in the 2019 season.
In addition to their already strong roster, they were able to sign Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, a solo queue prodigy. He is a mechanically talented and aggressive jungler, which makes him a perfect fit for the current meta. Even if this is his rookie year, he could end up being the prize of the 2019 LoL offseason under the right guidance.
They also recently acquired Invictus Gaming’s 2018 World Championship coach, Kim Jeong-soo. Coach Kim’s prowess as a drafting coach is exceptional— he was able to guide Invictus Gaming towards the most prestigious award any team could get in a season.
DAMWON is looking to translate their scrim reputation into their performance on the big stage.
As a returning organization into European League of Legends, Origen had no roster and no coaching staff when the 2019 LoL offseason started. The challenge for them, then, was to build everything from scratch.
With Martin “Deficio” Lynge as General Manager, and backing from RFRSH Entertainment, they were able to create a formidable roster, with Barney “Alphari” Morris in the top lane coming in from Misfits Gaming, Jonas “Kold” Andersen from Unicorns of Love as their jungler, Erlend “Nukeduck” Holm as their mid laner from Schalke 04 Esports, Patrik “Patrik” Jiru, formerly Sheriff from H2K Gaming, and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez returning to the organization from Team SoloMid in North America. Origen was also able to acquire Andre “Guilhoto” Guilhoto and Fabian Broich as Head Coach and Assistant Coach respectively, both from Schalke 04 Esports.
They boast a robust coaching staff, and most of the players are experienced ones that can be depended upon to be decisive if the moment necessitates it. Origen’s return can be legendary if the team gets into the right groove for the 2019 season.
Suning Gaming is an organization that has always performed to be in the middle of the pack.
In the offseason, they clearly desired to rise towards a legitimate contention for the LPL title.During the 2019 LoL offseason, they have acquired League of Legends Master Series superstars Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang for the mid lane and Hu “SwordArT” Shuo-Chieh as their support. Both players need no introduction as they had dominated the LMS together with the Flash Wolves. Their laning prowess, team fighting, and their leadership will be massive assets to Suning. SwordArT will be with Han “Smlz” Jin in the bottom lane. Smlz is a serviceable bottom laner and could play mages in the bottom lane in addition to the usual marksmen.
In terms of their coaching staff, Suning was able to sign Lim “Comet” Hye-sung, formerly of the Afreeca Freecs, and former World Champion Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon. Not much is known of Easyhoon’s coaching, but Comet was one of Afreeca’s drafting coaches when they placed second in the spring and third in the summer. This can mean that Suning Gaming could possibly place higher in 2019 with the clear improvements that the management made with the roster and the coaching staff.
Misfits Gaming is seeking to redeem themselves after the 2018 season, where in the spring they failed to make playoffs, and in the summer they placed fourth, then eventually lost in the Regional Qualifier, failing to make Worlds. Since then Misfits has created a superstar-filled roster for the 2019 season.
With European legend Paul “sOAZ” Boyer replacing Alphari in the top lane, Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten replacing Chres “Sencux” Laursen in the mid lane, and LCK superstar Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon as their support, in addition to Misfits mainstays Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian in the jungle and Steven “Hans Sama” Liv, it is especially difficult to see exactly how this roster would not succeed. Jesse “Jesiz” Lee is stepping up into the head coach position, and the organization has signed Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon as an assistant coach, which further sets them up for success in the next year.
It is hard to see where and how this team would fail.
G2 Esports a huge gamble this 2019 LoL offseason, one that could either result into a return to glory or backfire and make them irrelevant for the entire season. The organization still retains top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen, jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, and Luka “Perkz” Perkovic. Although they did retain all their players from their top side, they have since moved Perkz from mid to the bottom. In addition, they have added Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle to help Perkz out as his support. Meanwhile, they gave Perkz’s former role to their latest addition, Worlds 2018 finalist, Rasmus “Caps” Winther.
Looking at their lineup, G2 Esports could do some serious damage at the LEC. However, the challenge for them now is to find a way to integrate three resource-intensive players as their cores. If they can do that, they’re a team that could take the LEC by storm. If not, don’t expect to hear a lot from G2 Esports all season long.
Topsports Gaming had very polarizing performances across the 2018 season. They were one of the bottom teams in the spring of 2018, but were playoff contenders come summer time. Understandably, this performance did not satisfy them and they desired to reach greater heights this season. First off, they promoted top laner Bai “369” Jia-Hao to the main squad. At the same time, they also acquired mid lane prodigy and former Suning Gaming player Zhuo “Knight” Ding; South Korean import AD Carry Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook from JD Gaming; Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun has moved from Team WE.
With the new roster acquisitions, Topsports Gaming now sports mechanically gifted laners capable of overpowering their counterparts. We saw this come into affect at the Demacia cup where they were the tournament runners-up. Despite forming just recently, this young squad put a legitimate scare in the hearts of the LPL giants.
If they can keep their performance up, Topsorts Gaming have a solid chance of achieving more in the 2019 season.
SK Telecom T1
After a rather disappointing 2018, SK Telecom T1 wishes to rise to glory once again. They led us all with news of the departure of most of its roster save Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Han “Leo” Gyeo-re, and Lee “Effort” Sang-ho. Soon after, news of the acquisitions came in. They’d brought in Kim “Crazy” Jae-hee and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha for the top lane; Kim “Clid” Tae-min and Kang “Haru” Min-seung in the jungle; Park “Teddy” Jin-seong in the bot lane; and finally,Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong as the support.
This is most certainly, one of the strongest rosters ever created in Korean League of Legends. However, the question now is, how well will this team perform? We already know star power isn’t enough to win Worlds. KT Rolster tried this before in 2017 and it only netted them an LCK title in the Summer of 2018, followed by a quarterfinal exit at Worlds 2018.
In addition to changing players, SK Telecom T1 also made changes to their coaching staff. Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong is now gone, off to serve his military service. At the same time, PoohManDu has also left the organization to go to Misfits Gaming. The team has since replaced them with former Jin Air Greenwings coach Kim “Fly” Sang-chul and Afreeca Freecs drafting coach Lee “Zefa” Jae-min. The latter is widely believed as one of the smartest drafting coaches in all of South Korea.
Armed with a team seemingly built to win, we can only wait and see if that’s exactly what they’re going to do this season.
With the 2019 LoL offseason having officially come to an end, we can now look ahead to the new season. If we learned anything from Invictus Gaming’s win at Worlds 2018, it’s that anything is possible.
As of right now, the field is completely wide open. There are no dominant teams, nor dominant regions. Everyone has a fair chance at eternal glory.
What do you think was the best roster move of the 2019 LoL offseason? Do you agree with our thoughts? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.