It’s been an exciting and chaotic start to the offseason as teams try to make a winning roster for the 2019 season. With some huge moves already announced, fans are already starting to rank the strength of teams within their own regions. So now let’s take a look at some of the early winners of the offseason and just how strong the competition will be in the coming season. If you want to learn about some of the rosters that have already been fully confirmed, check out this article!
Let’s start with the big one in North America. The first big move of the offseason took place when it was announced that Cloud9 mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen would be transferred to Team Liquid. They followed it up by signing former Gen.G support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in to round out their roster. With these moves, Team Liquid has upgraded their weakest positions and now field a roster of players that are all top three in their respective roles.
Now that Jensen is on the roster, ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng won’t need to be relied upon as the primary carry of the team as much. With a second threat in Jensen, Team Liquid has only become more dangerous. They’re definitely the favorites to win NA LCS again, but how will they perform at Worlds now?
While Team Liquid started the offseason with a big move, 100 Thieves might have had the biggest move so far in North America. Coming off a disappointing end to the 2018 season, 100 Thieves started their offseason with the announcement that world-class top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho will be staying with the team. Following this news, 100 Thieves proceeded to announce the signings of former Counter Logic Gaming mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and two-time world champion ADC Bae “Bang” Jun-sik.
With this roster, 100 Thieves is set to dominate the NA LCS once again. Thanks to the addition of two amazing carry players in Ssumday and Bang, Huhi can play his roam heavy style as opposed to being relied upon to carry the game. Because of this, Ssumday and Bang will be given every opportunity to take over the game and carry. Along with the continued improvement of jungler Andy “AnDa” Hoang, this team will be a force to be reckoned with.
Keeping in line with big name Korean players joining a Western team, we move on to Misfits Gaming in the newly rebranded LEC. They made upgrades in their weakest positions of mid and support by bringing on mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and support Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon. While top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris left the team, Misfits Gaming was able to bring on a fantastic replacement in former Fnatic top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.
With these moves along with the uncertainty of top teams like Fnatic, Misfits Gaming looks like the strongest European team on paper so far. With a huge upgrade in the mid laner, jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian won’t have to focus heavily on mid lane, which will free him up to snowball other lanes. While the loss of Alphari is tough, sOAZ has proven himself through his long career that he’s able to play any role and as such Misfits Gaming will have a lot more freedom in their pick bans thanks to the addition of sOAZ. With all these amazing roster changes, will we see another underdog run from Misfits Gaming at Worlds again?
SK Telecom T1
We can’t talk about early winners of the offseason without bringing up SK Telecom T1 and their complete overhaul of their roster. Only three players remain from the 2018 season, the bot lane of Han “Leo” Gyeo-re and Lee “Effort” Sang-ho; and most importantly, the best player in the history of League of Legends Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Afterwards they would proceed to sign multiple players. The highlights of these signings include top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha; ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-seong; support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong; and junglers Kim “Clid” Tae-min and Kang “Haru” Min-seung. However, SK Telecom T1 is not yet done, they’re still looking for another mid. No matter who they get, it’s clear that they’re already an early winner of the offseason.
A few things stand out with these signings. First, this may be one of the most mechanically talented roster SK Telecom T1 has ever fielded. Second, the team will once again have a carry threat in all three lanes thanks to Khan and Teddy. Third, personally, as a fan of Teddy, I’m very happy that he’s on an amazing team now. With these roster moves, will SK Telecom T1 be able to contend for a LCK title again? Even better, will they be world champions again? Only time will tell.
While these teams made some huge moves already, there are other huge moves that aren’t talked about. From Gen.G signing Han “Peanut” Wang-ho to the more recent announcement of Optic gaming signing Lee “Crown” Min-ho , this has already been a crazy offseason.
However, this should’ve been expected due to a few factors. For starters, the under-performance of Korean teams throughout the year will make the region motivated to do better and take back their throne. As such, we see a nuclear arm race to make more super teams to better compete against China and top teams from around the world. Second the franchising of Europe will cause the same craziness to take place in Europe. This is further amplified by the European players that have the desire to return from North America.
It’s been one week of the offseason, and it’s already been quite busy. So for now, let’s simply enjoy the ride and see where it takes us!
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