Chinese esports organization LNG Esports has announced the departure of mid laner Xie "icon" Tian-Yu. icon competed for LNG Esports throughout the 2021 LPL season.
In the announcement on LNG Esports' Twitter account, the organization highlighted some numbers from icon's time with the team. In his 347 days with the organization, icon played 124 matches. In those matches, he played 28 champions and racked up 365 kills alongside 697 assists.
LNG Esports was a mid-tier team at best at the start of 2021, finishing 8th in the LPL Spring Split, but became a post-season dark horse in the LPL Summer Playoffs after a shocking upset of 2021 Mid-Season Invitational champion Royal Never Give Up. LNG finished in 4th place in the Summer Playoffs and qualified for the 2021 LPL Regional Final.
In the Regional Final, LNG Esports swept Rare Atom 3-0 to qualify for the 2021 World Championship as the #4 seed from the LPL. LNG Esports was the strongest team in the Play-in and qualified for the main event of the tournament without much difficulty and was seeded into Group D alongside MAD Lions, Team Liquid, and Gen.G Esports. The group ended with all four teams finishing 3-3 and having to play multiple tiebreakers, but LNG was unsuccessful in avoiding elimination.
icon received heaping helpings of criticism due to previously stating in an interview with Inven Global that he felt LPL mid laners were stronger than LCK mid laners.
The criticism reached critical mass when icon was solo killed twice in the span of one minute by Gen.G mid laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong. Following LNG Esports' elimination from Worlds 2021, icon responded to critics regarding the questioning of his motivation to compete due to his performance.
Where icon will end up is currently unknown, but his fluency in English may generate interest from Western teams. However, with most teams in the LCS and LEC having already announced starting mid laners, icon will likely remain in the LPL for 2022.