After a disappointing season of international results, Korea comes into 2019 with a lot of changes. With most teams fielding a new roster, the goal is clear. Win LCK, represent Korea at international events, and ultimately become the team that brings Korean back onto its throne. But which teams will have the best chance of doing this? Let’s take a look and see which teams will likely find themselves at the bottom half of the standing.
10.Jin Air Green Wings
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Jin Air find themselves at the bottom of the rankings. When you lose the best Korean ADC in Park “Teddy” Jin-seong along with top laner Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong and jungler Eom “UmTi” Seong-hyeon who both had a lot of potential, it’s hard to have a better team. While Jin Air were able to bring on Heo “Lindarang” Man-heung and Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong as replacements for top and jungle, it’s hard to see Jin Air doing any better without their main carry in Teddy.
Without a doubt, the new season will be a tough one for Jin Air to go through. While a spot in the playoffs is very unlikely for the team, they still need to fight and avoid relegation. If they be able to accomplish this task is yet to be seen, but with their new roster, it seems very unlikely.
The only other team that was hit hard by the offseason is likely Kingzone, who lost their entire starting roster. While former sub top laner Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee and sub jungler Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan are decent replacements, it’s still a huge downgrade. Luckily Kingzone was able to make an upgrade in the bot lane by bringing on ADC Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and support Park “TusiN” Jong-ik. The biggest issue of the new roster comes in the mid lane in the form of Heo “PawN” Won-seok, who has continued to struggle as seen during the recent KeSPA Cup. While bringing on Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun as a sub allows Kingzone to have a backup option, the team is still in a rough spot.
So far they have had to heavily rely on Deft to carry the team. While it will get them a few wins, it won’t get them anywhere as was seen by Jin Air and their reliance on Teddy. It is possible that the team can turn it around and potentially find themselves in the playoffs. For now though, fighting to avoid relegation will likely be their fate.
As one of the newcomers in LCK, SANDBOX will have a rough season ahead of them. While they kept most of their roster including mid laner Kim “Dove” Jae-yeon, the team took a big hit in losing top laner Lee “SoaR” Gang-pyo. The team had a solid showing at KeSPA Cup, but their destruction at the hands of Gen.G shows that the team still has a lot to work on.
If they want to have good results in the LCK, then they’ll be relying on the rest of the team to continue to improve. While Dove and SoaR were usually their main carries, the loss of SoaR requires the rest of the team to step up. If this doesn’t happen then SANDBOX’s time in the LCK may be very short.
After a fairly solid season in 2018, Hanwha come into 2019 with quite a few changes. Their biggest signing is former Flash Wolves jungler Kim “Moojin” Moo-jin, who will likely play a huge role in allowing Hanwha Life to succeed. Along with Moojin, the Hanwha bot lane of Gwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yun and Kim “Key” Han-gi will need to continue their solid play. If Hanwha wants to find their way back into the playoffs and make an actual run the team will need to take big steps forward.
While the team has some potential, it’s hard to see them beating out some of the top teams in the league this time around. If their players can continue to improve it’s possible for Hanwha to make a dark horse run. But for now they’ll likely be a middling team once again.
After a fairly disappointing Worlds 2018, Afreeca went through a lot of changes going into the new season. Their biggest upgrade came in the mid lane as they were able to bring on Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon to replace Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng. On top of that Afreeca was able to keep the best top lane in LCK last season in Kim “Kiin” Gi-in. However a downgrade in a bot lane that was already fairly weak will likely prevent Afreeca from replicating their successful domestic results of 2018.
If the new bot lane of Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and Son “Jelly” Ho-gyeong can slowly improve, then Afreeca can contend to win it all again. However for now, at best, Afreeca will likely act as a Gatekeeper for the top-tier of LCK teams.
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