In an announcement made on his Instagram this Tuesday morning, Lee Min-ho, more commonly known as Crown, has officially retired. His last team, OZ Gaming, finished the summer playoffs in third. Crown was sharing the mid lane starting spot with Ian, with both of them being contributing factors to the team making it as far as third. With OZ Gaming seemingly not making it into the LCK franchising, the remaining players on the team are expected to become free agents.
Today’s article will take a look at the career of Crown, the mage expert of the LCK.
A rough beginning
Crown started out his career in Brazil, joining a team called Team 58ers. Soon after, Kabum bought out the 58ers, and so Crown joined a new organization. Since Kabum already had another roster, the 58ers became the second team that the org had. However, the pro scene in Brazil was still very amateur, and the two tournaments that Crown played were small, post-season tournaments. Feeling unhappy with the situation, and feeling homesick, Crown decided to return to Korea, to try to build his career there.
Samsung’s glorious rebuild
After Samsung White winning Worlds in 2014, the team merged with Samsung Blue, but kept neither of their rosters. The newly built roster didn’t do well in Spring 2015, being forced to play in the promotion series. To further promote their rebuild, Samsung picked up Crown, a player that most fans knew little about.
However, Samsung and Crown did well in Summer. Even though the team fell just short of playoffs, they looked much better. With a few pieces being changed around for 2016, the team looked even better, and as the year went on, they started to look more and more like a potential threat to the other top teams.
After running the gauntlet and going all the way to Worlds 2016 Grand-Finals, the fans could taste Samsung’s return. Coming into 2017, Samsung were viewed as a team that could win it all. However, they would always fall short of taking the LCK trophy home. None the less, once again, Samsung would run the gauntlet and go to Worlds. Once again, they faced SKT in the grand finals, but this time, Samsung would be the ones to lift the trophy. Lee Min-ho would finally be able to wear a crown that was fitting of a king.
No king rules forever
After winning Worlds, Samsung and Crown’s performance started to dip. Despite keeping their head well above water, KSV, formerly Samsung, seemingly lost their flare. Crown even admitted that he felt empty and had no goals left to work for. Gen.G, who bought out KSV, had a poor performance at Worlds 2018 and that was the last straw, as Samsung and Crown failed to make it out of groups.
Moving over to NA, Crown joined OpTic, where the team had mediocre performances throughout all of 2019. Joining CLG in Spring 2020, the team failed to impress, and Crown decided to leave NA, returning to Korea once again. Crown then decided to give it one last go, joining OZ Gaming for the tail end of Spring. He remained with the roster for the summer split, where he helped bring the team to playoffs. OZ took down team RunAway, but then fell to Awesome Spear, who would then go on to defeat Jin Air in the grand finals.
For his entire career, Crown always had to deal with people calling him second best. He never reached the stardom that other mid laners found, but that never stopped him from trying. After failing to defeat Faker in 2016, it was his desire for a rematch that fueled his desire to return to Worlds. With brawlers and assassins never being his forte, Crown doubled down on his mage play. A legacy Viktor, Orianna, Cassiopeia and Malzahar player, Crown would always fall back to comfort when he had his back to the wall.
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Follow JJ on Twitter: @NeonColouredJay.