The off-season is a time in the seasonal esports cycle like no other, and because of this the Inven Global Awards process for naming the biggest winners of the off-season will be a tad different from our previous sets of nominees. Because multiple teams in regions worldwide have not finished, or at the very least, confirmed their rosters for the 2022 season, Inven Global has evaluated which teams with confirm rosters are the biggest winners of the off-season in their respective regions.
These teams aren't necessarily the best in their regions, but are the teams with confirmed roster who have made the largest margin of improvement in their new, on-paper rosters. In addition, because of the varying ecosystems throughout the global League of Legends esports scene, this Inven Global Award skips the nomination process entirely while awarding four winners, one for each of the major regions of China, South Korea, Europe, and North America.
Let's take a look at the biggest winners of the League of Legends esports off-season in the LPL, the LCK, the LEC, and the LCS leading up to the 2022 season.
BLG has been a mediocre team since they acquired their spot for the 2018 Season. 4 years of play, and almost nothing to show for it. However, it seems like Bilibili are finally taking their LPL spot seriously and signing players that have potential to win it all in the 2022 season.
Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han is the only remaining member from the original roster. He’s a solid jungle, and arguably the best player from the old BLG roster. Everyone else has been swapped out. Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan was on Bilibili back in 2020 and has been brought back after a solid 2021 on Rare Atom. Chen “Breathe” Chen, formerly of Team WE and Oh My God, is one of the best 1v1 players in the LPL. Not to mention, BLG has one of the scariest bot lanes in the LPL.
Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao is back, and he has former World Champion Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song at his side. On top of that, Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan (formerly PSG Talon and Beyond Gaming) has also been picked up by BLG. It’s worth mentioning that Uzi initially retired due to health issues, so hopefully the 6 man roster will allow him to be at the top of his game without compromising his personal well being.
Bilibili’s 2022 roster is good enough to go for the top of the LPL and beyond, and they’re a big team to watch going into the new season.
A top 4 finish at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship did not stop Gen.G from making sweeping changes to their roster ahead of the 2022 season. Only star AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk has been retained, but it's hard to argue that Gen.G's new roster, at least on paper, is the most improved roster of any LCK team heading into next season.
Son "Lehends" Si-woo, who played for Afreeca Freecs in 2021, has been signed in place of support Kim "Life" Jeong-min, who, after three-and-a-half years with Gen.G, has moved to KT Rolster. The top lane platoon of Kim "Rascal" Kwang-hee and Noh "Burdol" Tae-yoon have been jettisoned in favor of Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon, who played for KT in 2021.
Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong had the best international performance of his career at Worlds 2021, but it's undeniable that the otherworldly Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon is an upgrade in the position of starting mid laner for Gen.G. Jungler Kim "Clid" Tae-min is now a free agent, and Han "Peanut" Wang-ho, who enjoyed a career resurgence on Nongshim RedForce in 2021, will start his second career tenure with Gen.G in Clid's former position.
Perhaps more impressive than Gen.G making an individual upgrade in arguably every position is the composite strengths of the squad. Despite fielding a talented roster in 2021, Gen.G was criticized for their one-dimensional approach to competition. Oftentimes, Clid would be the sole point of aggression for Gen.G for the earlier portions of the game, but Gen.G's new roster matches superior invididual talent with far more points of perceived strength in their previously weak early game.
The LEC in 2022 is shaping up to be very exciting. Most teams have either tried to fill in cracks with a new player or two, or have completely reshaped their rosters. It’s led to where we are now with several teams looking like contenders for the LEC title. For the question of who won the offseason, though, there is no doubt the answer is Team Vitality.
Seriously, does this come as a surprise? Everything about this roster screams promise. They kept hold of Labros "Labrov" Papoutsak, arguably their most consistent player and one that is able to contribute without taking resources. Same with Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek — VIT kept their grip on one of the strongest European junglers in recent memory.
Then, there’s the new signings. Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság joining in the bot lane already looks promising, as he stated his desire to play with Labrov even before his signing there. Plus, he’s already willing to play a more supportive style to let his solo laners shine. The ones he’s letting shine are diamonds.
Barney "Alphari" Morris requires no explanation, he is simply one of the finest top laners the west has to offer. Luka "Perkz" Perković, who although seemed to phone it in at times throughout 2021, still had very successful results and was once again one of the best players in the world.
VIT won the LEC off-season in several respects. Not only did they gather the most talent, but the roster is very well constructed. Each of their choices wasn’t just based on the strongest player, but how that players style will impact the rest of the team. How they’ll actually do together has yet to be seen, but even so, VIT has won the offseason in Europe.
This off-season featured more shake-ups than any year previous in the history of the LCS, and while many organizations have taken on an interesting approaches and created some interesting matchups for 2022, none of the ten confirmed LCS rosters boast massive on-paper upgrades in a teamwide context. However, if one was to measure the marginal increases made by LCS teams in the off-season, Team Liqiuid are the undoubted winners when compared to the other nine franchises.
Team Liquid parted ways with the clear weak link of their 2021 roster in AD Carry Edward "Tactical" Ra, who experienced a sophomore slump this past season, and signed Steven "Hans Sama" Liv in his place, who is fresh off of the best performance of his career with Rogue at Worlds 2021.
The best-in-class jungle-support duo of Lucas "Santorin" Larsen and Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in were retained, and Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau, who roleswapped to jungle for Fnatic this past summer, has returned to his original position of top lane as the new starter for Team Liquid. Most notably, mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen has been removed from the starting roster in favor of Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, who came out of retirement after one year of coaching in 2021.
Bjergsen and Jensen, especially with Bjergsen coming off a year without competitive play, is a side-grade, but the former TSM mid laner has shown far more carry potential in previous years than Jensen has been able to bring to the table within the Team Liquid system despite strong individual play. Bwipo adapted surprisingly well to the jungle role in the 2021 LEC Summer Split, which points towards a return to the top lane after six or so months not being too difficult of an adjustment.
Team Liquid didn't have many ways to get much better on paper than they already were, but even with a few asterisks, the TL 2022 roster is an undeniable upgrade from the 2021 squad and has the potential to exceed the limitations of any LCS roster previously constructed.
More from the Inven Global Awards
Best top laner
Best mid laner
Best minor region player
Player of the year
Best coaching staff
Best play-by-play caster
Best color caster
Best story of the year
Biggest controversy of the year
Best in-game moment
Best content piece or series
Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)
Inven Global Awards panelists:
Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.