With the LCK set to start in February and the rosters now locked in, the early picture of which teams will have a shot of winning the Spring Split title has become more clear. While it’s clear which teams won the off-season overall, how well have these teams navigated the off-season chaos on a team-by-team basis? Let’s take a look at each team’s off-season changes will be graded to find out just how well these teams did!
Overall, APK’s off-season was fairly disappointing. While the team picked up a few substitute players for their roster, the potential upgrade simply isn’t high enough for the squad to compete against the rest of the LCK. Along with that, they took a huge hit in the loss of jungler Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, who was by far one of their best players. While replacement jungler Sung “Flawless” Yeon-jun has the capability of filling the hole left by KaKAO, it’s going to be a rough road ahead. Overall, APK’s off-season was fairly disappointing as they needed to do much more in order to be competitive in a much stronger field in the LCK.
With the complete collapse of the amazing young roster of Griffin, the team seemingly did their best to pick up the pieces with whoever they could get. While Griffin could’ve easily gotten a failing grade, the new recent acquisition of Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon in the mid lane helps ease the pain of losing Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon among others. Along with that, Griffin did nothing of worth to address their weakness in the top lane as bringing on Park “Untara” Ui-jin is simply not enough of an upgrade over Choi “Sword” Sung-won. As a result of their terrible off-season, Griffin has effectively gone from Worlds contender to a team that is hoping to simply avoid relegation.
Coming into the new season, one thing was clear for KT Rolster: the roster needed to be blown up and rebuilt. In the end, that’s exactly what they did as an entirely new roster now represents KT. While the pickups of Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng, Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and Park “TusiN” Jong-ik gave the team a great start to the rebuild, KT wasn’t able to stick the landing. While the pickup of Jeon “Ray” Ji-won for the top lane was solid, their overall top lane and jungle strength is fairly weak if KT wants to compete against the top teams of the LCK. So while they had a decent off-season, it wasn’t great overall.
Hanwha Life Esports
After losing the long-time bot lane tandem of Gwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yun and Kim “key” Han-gi, change was clearly coming for Hanwha. With some former Gen.G teammates to take over the top half of the map in Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and Kang “Haru” Min-seung, Hanwha has the potential to compete against any team as long as the two don’t struggle. On top of that moving Kim “Lava” Tae-hoon to the bot lane was a risky move but is saved by the addition of support Son “Lehends” Si-woo. While there are some question marks regarding the roster, Hanwha has the potential to be a dark horse entrant into the playoffs in the Spring Split. At the very worst, Hanwha will likely stay stagnant and remain around the 6th place mark. In the end, there is nothing to lose with this roster.
After just missing out of Worlds last season, SANDBOX was able to make changes to their weakest point in the bot lane as ADC Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun was replaced by Moon “Route” Geom-su and Han “Leo” Gyeo-re, both ADCs that are capable of being much better than Ghost. Along with that, bringing support Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyun back to Korea could prove to be the change he needs for yet another resurgence. Overall, SANDBOX’s changes were all great on paper as they kept their strong solo lanes and jungle intact. Now it’s up to the team to perform.
In a perfect world, T1 would have been able to keep their previous roster intact. Unfortunately, that was not the case as changes came in the jungle and top lane. While the initial change will be a downgrade, it could prove to be an upgrade in the long run. Both Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan and Kim “Canna” Chang-dong have the potential to become better players than their predecessors. Overall, T1’s grade could be a lot better if Cuzz and Canna continue to grow and develop with time. But for now, their potential won’t be enough to help T1 defend their LCK title against a stacked field of teams.
While it’s hard to fault DAMWON for sticking with a roster that took them into the playoffs of Worlds, it would’ve been nice to see DAMWON attempt to upgrade their bot lane. At the end of the day, as long mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su and top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon don’t struggle out of the gate again, DAMWON should have some solid results. While their bot lane can still be a problem at times, they’re still one of the better bot lane tandems in the league and should be enough for the team to contend.
If there was one move that could give a team an A grade, it would be bringing one of the best ADCs in the world back to Korea. This is exactly what Afreeca has managed to do as they brought on Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun. Along with a solid supporting cast for Mystic and top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in in mid laner Song “Fly” Yong-jun and support Son “Jelly” Ho-gyeong, Afreeca is looking good going into the LCK. However, a lack of change in the jungle could prove to be an issue as Afreeca has shown that they rely heavily on the shotcalling of jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon who mechanically is heavily outmatched by jungler Lee “Dread” Jin-hyeok. In the end Afreeca should still be a very strong team, but the lack of jungle changes does hurt their grade in the end.
If there was one team that had a perfect off-season, it would be Gen.G. After another mostly disappointing season, the team tore it down while retaining the bot lane tandem of ADC Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and support Kim “Life” Jeong-min. With a strong bot lane locked down, Gen.G was able to upgrade the rest of the roster with some of the best players in their respective roles. While there are some question marks on the team like mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and how he’ll perform after struggling at times on KT Rolster, Gen.G on paper has the strongest overall roster going into the new season. With their amazing upgrades, Gen.G gets the A grade for their off-season.
Finally there’s DragonX. After a rough offseason with rumors of internal conflicts among other things, DragonX has managed to build a solid roster going forward. With a team filled with rookies and young players, the veteran presence of ADC Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu will be as important as ever. With the hype surrounding these young players like support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, it could be the right move in the end. But for now, the risks associated with the move makes it hard to give DragonX a higher grade. In the end, much like T1, DragonX’s grade could be higher in the future.
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Featured image courtesy of LCK Flickr.
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