The off-season moves are already buzzing, with reports of Team Liquid signing Barney "Alphari" Morris, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg's retirement, Eric "Licorice" Ritchie's release from Cloud9, and so many more. The free agency period technically doesn't start until a few weeks from now, but teams and players are always working to get their next steps planned out. Among the many that will see free agency this off-season, there are quite a few big names that teams are sure to focus on. Here you will find the most valuable free agents this off-season across each region.
Disclaimer: This list includes players whose contracts are set to expire this November. While many might re-sign with their teams, the expiration date of their contracts has qualified them for this list as potential free agents.
There are four big names in NA that will officially be free agents this off-season, all of whom attended Worlds this year. Team Liquid's Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong and Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen contracts are both set to expire, as well as FlyQuest's Lucas "Santorin" Larsen and TSM's Erik "Treatz" Wessén.
Impact has been atop the list of best NA top laners for years, especially since his transfer to Team Liquid in Season 8. After three years with the team, he has been to Worlds all three years, MSI twice, winning four domestic titles in a row, and making it to the MSI Finals in 2019. He's an incredible talent, and with rumors of TL signing Alphari, he is one NA teams will be fighting for. He's also a former World Champion, and an NA resident, which heavily ups his value.
Jensen joined Team Liquid one year later after a long career history on Cloud9. He won two titles with the team, and also attended Worlds twice, and helped the team advance to the MSI Finals. Along with rival, Bjergsen, who recently anounced his retirement, Jensen has been talked about as a top NA mid for years, and he's the most successful NA mid internationally speaking. He's a valuable addition to any team.
Santorin has been in and out of EU and NA for most of his career but found new stability on FlyQuest in 2019. He's been considered a top jungler since he joined, and helped lead FlyQuest to their first two NA Finals appearances in both 2020 Spring and Summer Splits. He's the talk of the town for resident junglers, in an otherwise relatively weak role in the region.
Treatz is an up and coming star Support player that has shown promise with TSM. He played an integral role in the development of star rookie AD carry, Edward "Tactical" Ra, and made his LCS debut this summer, replacing longstanding veteran, Vincent "Biofrost" Wang. Biofrost came in partway through the playoffs and played all six games at Worlds, but Treatz is promising, and teams in NA should be looking to grab him if they have an import slot available, and EU should be making calls.
Europe is filled with talent, and there are many free agents beyond these that could level up a team, but these are the top five head-turners. Fnatic's Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov, Origen's Alphari, Schalke04's Felix "Abbedagge" Braun, and finally, Excel's Marc Robert "Caedrel" Lamont.
Rekkles is perhaps the most well known and loved player from Europe of all time, nearly rivaling Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok and Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao levels of fandom across the globe. Rekkles has only missed one Worlds since he joined FNC in 2014, and helped reach the Finals in 2018. He is a safe and consistent player who knows the ins and outs of the laning phase and mid to late-game macro and teamfights. His veteran status is invaluable, and his brand, maybe even more so.
Hylissang joined Fnatic in 2018, and helped the team make it to their first MSI and to the Worlds Finals in his opening year with them. They have since been overshadowed by G2 Esports, but Hylissang has always been a star and one of the best mechanical supports in Europe. Especially combined with his knowledge and history, Hyli would be a great veteran asset for any team.
Alphari may not have had the best results this year, finishing last in the 2020 Summer Split, but despite that, he was recognized as the best top laner in the league, which is incredible given their record. He's been on middling LEC teams throughout his time there, with the highlight of his career being a second-place run in 2019 Spring Split, but he's clearly performing well individually, which may be why Team Liquid (and others) have taken notice.
Caedrel may not be the first name you think of when it comes to the LEC jungle pool talent, but his name has created a huge buzz this Worlds with his time on the EU broadcast. He's open for team offers, but may just receive some from broadcasts and others as well. His brand value has skyrocketed, which will have everyone interested.
There are so many huge names from Korea that hungry NA orgs teams around the world will be interested in. Hanwha Life's Park "Viper" Do-hyeon, DAMWON Gaming's Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon and Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee, and DRX's Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon, Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu, and Ryu "Keria" Min-seok.
Viper had a quieter 2020, but his time on Griffin in 2018 and 2019 left a big impact that many will be hard-pressed to forget. Viper was famous for playing things like Vladimir, Darius, and even Teemo bot lane, showing a strong proficiency on extremely off-meta picks that really bolstered the Griffin dynamic, making them exciting to watch and hard to compete against.
Nuguri is perhaps the strongest individual player in Korea and at Worlds 2020. He has his signature 0/2/0 powerspike where he then goes on to take over the game, and much like Viper, seems to pick any champion regardless of where it's "supposed" to be played. He is downright disrespectful in lane and a monster in team fights, and would improve nearly any team from a pure talent perspective. His next step is winning the World Championship this upcoming weekend, and you can bet he'll receive a bunch of offers after that, regardless of DWG's result.
BeryL is on the opposite side of the map from Nuguri but was considered the best support in Korea and is at the top of the list at this year's Worlds as well. He roams effectively, has a strong champ pool, and is an overall rock that would compliment any roster. With support becoming such a more important role, recently, he'll be on the top of every list this year.
Chovy was with Viper on that famous Griffin roster, and he set the KDA record at over 100 in Spring 2019. He's still such a young player that has captivated the scene, and he's right next to DWG's Heo "ShowMaker" Su as the best mid in Korea, and even best mid in the World. Chovy was reported to receive offers in NA last year, and he's sure to receive offers from around the world again this off-season.
Deft is one of the most well-known AD carries, especially for his time on EDG and KT Rolster, where he won multiple splits across the LPL and LCK. He's attended Worlds five times in the last seven years, making it out of groups each year. He would add veteran leadership and brand value to any org that picked him up.
Keria just finished up his rookie season in the LCK, and it was a strong one. Despite all the strong individual players there — especially those with big names and veteran status — he claimed second All-Pro this summer. He gets outshined by BeryL, but as such a young rookie, Keria should see some great options this off-season.
The LPL has some incredible talents, but most of them are still under contract throughout the off-season. There are four big names that become free agents next month though, two of which are in the World Championship Finals this weekend. Suning's Lê "SofM" Quang Duy and Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh, JD Gaming's Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok, and EDG's Tian "Meiko" Ye are all worthwhile additions to teams globally.
SofM has taken this year's World Championship by storm, becoming a key player in the group stage that helped define much of the meta this Worlds and in the LPL previously. In his Worlds debut, he's made quite a name for himself, and he's become a shining beacon of the Vietnamese League scene, being the region's sole representative this year. SofM is has dictated most of his games this Worlds, playing against the best teams and junglers in the world. He's smart, creative, and at the top of the list of free agents in 2020.
SwordArt will go down in history as one of the best supports of all time, having a long, legendary career in multiple regions and becoming a fan favorite year after year. This weekend marks his first ever Worlds Finals appearance, where he will meet BeryL and DWG. Regardless of the results, his play this year in the LPL and at Worlds make him a hotly contested pickup across the globe. He was a major part of the legendary Flash Wolves roster for so many years, and his brand value is through the roof with this Worlds run.
Kanavi is a player with history, having a rough time with contracts last year while on loan from Griffin. However, once out of that situation, he blossomed, earning the MVP of the LPL Spring Split and winning the title with his team. He advanced to the Finals again in summer, but fell to Top Esports, heading to Worlds as the LPL second seed. He's currently considered one of the best players in the LPL, and alongside SofM should see many offers this year.
Meiko is a bit of an outlier compared to the other three, but he is well known in the scene and has great brand value and veteran status. Teams looking to fill a support slot or find a veteran to lead an otherwise young roster could definitely use Meiko on their squad, especially considering his many Worlds runs and MSI victory in 2015 over SKT.
There are so many big talents among the emerging regions that deserve a shoutout. This year at Worlds we saw the most competitive Play-Ins of all time, with a European team getting eliminated by the Turkish representatives, and even an LPL team being nearly knocked out as well. Many of these players may not have the same history or status as those mentioned above, but they're strong enough to be heavily considered and a few are sure to find a place in a major region this year.
From the PCS, big popoff stars, Hsiao "Kongyue" Jen-Tso, Chen "Uniboy" Chang-Chu, Su "Hanabi" Chia-Hsiang, and all of Machi Esports, are available for signing. Kongyure and Uniboy were not supposed to attend Worlds, but they subbed in for PSG Talon in the Play-Ins and were the two most dominant players in the opening segment of the tournament. Hanabi has a strong history on the Flash Wolves, and Machi was the first seed in the region, with several members showing promise.
From the LCL, the entire Unicorns of Love roster will become free agents, many of whom are prime talents and could easily go to a major region. They were absolutely dominant in their own region and in the Play-Ins, and were also strong in the Worlds group stage, despite going 0-6. From the TCL, SuperMassive top laner, İrfan "Armut" Tükek, is a free agent this year. He was the shining point of their roster and Worlds run, and turned heads and truly made a name for himself. He's already been rumored to be signed by MAD Lions, who he knocked out of the Play-Ins.
Similarly, the entirety of the OCE playerbase is a free agent after the league's closure this off-season. They're all now officially NA residents as well, granting them premiere access to spots there. There are already a few strong and successful OCE imports in NA and EU, and provided they can work out their visas, there should be a few more with this change.
From the VCS, two players deserve a shot abroad, Hoàng "Meliodas" Tiến Nhật and Nguyễn "Palette" Hải Trung. Meliodas was incredibly dominant right out of the gate in his career and had a really strong showing at MSI 2019. He hasn't seen the international stage since, but he's got great potential. Palette has been to two Worlds tourneys and an MSI, and won the VCS summer playoffs and got second in spring this year (which would've sent him to his second Worlds, if not for the visa complications.) From the LJL, all of the legendary DFM roster is available this off-season, as is the entire V3 Esports roster that just attended Worlds. While they aren't the strongest region, many of those players had very good performances in their international games, and could be good pickups for the right team.
Finally, from Brazil, legendary AD carry, Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves, will become a free agent. He's not only the best ADC from the region, but he has an incredible brand and rivalry with Doublelift. Any team who signs him would immediately gain the support from his many fans, making him incredibly valuable. And from Latin America, Édgar Ali "Seiya" Bracamontes Munguía is available, who has been atop the mid laner list for his entire career and been to international events almost incessantly. He's got a long history of strong, consistent performance, and could be a great option for a team looking to make some interesting changes.
There are so many more great players that deserve recognition and that will see countless offers thrown at them in the coming month, but these are the best of the best across the globe. Who are you most excited about, and who missed the list? Let us know on Twitter!
Disclaimer: The original version of this article included a title and intro that might've been misleading to readers about whether a player is a confirmed or potential free agent. The article has been updated for clarity.
All images via: Riot Games
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