2021 was quite alright for the LCK as the league qualified three teams among the top four at the World Championship and although it took no international titles home, it was still a successful run for South Korea.
The 2022 offseason was the first stove league since LCK's franchising, and it left a rather clear division between the winners and title contenders and the tanking teams who will likely have to watch from the wayside this year.
Top: Kingen, Destroy → Kingen
Jungle: Pyosik → Pyosik
Mid: SOLKA, Jett → Zeka
Bot: Bao, Taeyoon → Deft, Taeyoon
Support: Becca, Jun → BeryL
Coach: cvMax → Kim
Despite reaching Spring Playoffs, DRX had a disappointing 2021 Summer, falling into a slump and caching just two wins by the end for a ruinous 2-16 record — something that could be explained by their predominantly rookie roster, with very little cumulative pro scene experience to show for.
Heading into 2022, DRX made several changes. They signed star veteran Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu along with former world champion Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee. They also called in Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo from the LPL and put Worlds-winning coach Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo in charge. The changes for DRX are definitely positive, as the 2022 roster looks like a clear upgrade. They are one of the dreamers for the next season.
Top: Hoya → Sw0rd, Morgan
Jungle: UmTi, Chieftain → UmTi
Mid: Lava, Yaharong → Lava
Bot: Hena → Hena
Support: Delight → Delight
Coach: Edgar → Edgar
Fredit BRION had a consistent 9th place record throughout 2021, finishing both Spring and Summer with 5-13. Yet despite bottom-table results, BRION only made one roster change, signing Choi “Sw0rd” Sung-won and Park “Morgan” Gi-tae to the top lane.
Sw0rd's acquisition was rather shocking, as the former Griffin top laner (and one of the most stable top laners in the league in his days) had been taking a break for over a year. Fredit BRION’s 2022 will be determined by how much synergy the old teammates will develop with the new top laners. With nearly the same roster, it’ll be easier for them to do so. Fredit BRION just might become a dark horse next season.
Hanwha Life Esports
Top: Morgan, DuDu → Dudu
Jungle: yoHan, Arthur, Willer → OnFleek, Willer
Mid: Chovy → Karis
Bot: Deft → SamD
Support: Vsta → Vsta
Coach: Kezman → Kezman
Hanwha Life Esports had a disappointing Summer season but miraculously got through the regional qualifiers, ultimately reaching top 8 at Worlds 2021, in large thanks to the solo-carry potential of ace mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon.
Chovy's departure in the 2022 offseason was a big loss for the time. Things got even worse when the team also lost star bot laner Deft. Now, HLE are filling the voids with new prospects. The shoulders of Kim “Karis” Hong-jo and Lee “SamD” Jae-hoon will be quite heavy in 2022 as Hanwha Life Esports’ year will be looking at them with the expectations of season-defining growth.
Top: Doran → Rascal
Jungle: Blank, GIDEON → Cuzz, GIDEON
Mid: Dove, Ucal → Aria
Bot: Noah, 5kid → Aiming
Support: Zzus, Harp → Life
Coach: Hirai → Hirai
Per KT Rolster tradition, 2021 was an emotional roller-coaster, as their performance see-sawed up and down, and up and down, all throughout the year. At their peak, they were as good as the best teams in the league, but at their bottom, they would lose to anyone. 7th places in both Spring and Summer left them just shy of a playoffs spot.
Determined to stabilize things for the better, KT made drastic changes for 2022. All five starting members are different, mostly upgrades compared to before. Lee “Aria” Ga-eul would play is coming in as a key point to the new KT Rolster, hot off of a great Worlds 2021 run and into an LCK debut. Aria will now have to face the best mid laners in the world as he puts on the big boy pants.
Top: Kiin → Kiin
Jungle: Dread → Ellim
Mid: Fly → FATE
Bot: Leo → Teddy, Leo
Support: Lehends → Hoit, MapSSi
Coach: Cain → Cain
Afreeca Freecs signed a naming sponsor deal with Kwangdong Pharmaceutical and will have a fresh start with the name Kwangdong Freecs. Ending 9th and 6th place in 2021 wasn’t satisfying for the team, so thorough changes were initiated.
Looking at Kwangdong Freecs’ roster, they look like “the little T1”. They brought in Choi “Ellim” El-lim, Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, and Ryu “Hoit” Ho-seong from T1, and Yoo “FATE” Soo-hyeok from Liiv SANDBOX. Star top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in will continue on as the franchise star of the team. Most evaluate the new roster as a big upgrade. They no longer have to wait for Kiin to do everything, and all the players are capable of carrying.
Top: Summit → Dove, Howling
Jungle: Croco → Croco
Mid: FATE → Clozer
Bot: Prince → Ice, Envyy
Support: Effort → Kael
Coach: Micro → Micro
Liiv SANDBOX had a good run towards the end of the Summer Season as rookie jungler Kim “Croco” Dong-beom started to show potential. However, they may have to start from ground zero again in 2022.
LSB lost star top laner Park “Summit” Woo-tae and the three players in the bot lane have no experience in the LCK. To make it more difficult, it’ll be the first season Kim “Dove” Jae-yeon will be playing as a top laner. Still, Liiv SANDBOX signed hot prospect Lee “Clozer” Joo-hyeon from T1 and hopes are still high for Croco’s sophomore year. If Dove’s transition turns out to be a success like Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao, Liiv SANDBOX would have a chance to fly high.
Top: Canna, Zeus → Zeus
Jungle: Oner, Cuzz → Oner
Mid: Faker → Faker
Bot: Teddy, Gumayusi → Gumayusi
Support: Keria → Keria
Coach: Daeny/Stardust → Polt
T1 had their ups and downs through 2021, but still ended on a somewhat high note with a top 4 at Worlds, securing a much-needed big-stage experience for the young players on the team.
Fans expressed disappointment toward T1 for the many departures but no new signings to the team, but T1 did manage to keep the most important player: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Although Kim “Canna” Chang-dong has left, the other four members that led T1 at Worlds are still there, and Choi “Zeus” Woo-je is considered one of the hottest prospects in the scene. T1 will definitely remain as one of the contenders for the championship next year.
Top: Rich → Canna
Jungle: Peanut → Dread
Mid: Gori → Bdd
Bot: deokdam → Ghost
Support: Kellin → Effort, Peter
Coach: sBs → sBs
Nongshim RedForce had a great run in the summer season. Jungler Han “Peanut” Wang-ho’s return to the LCK was a big success, mid laner Kim “Gori” Tae-woo was named Player of the Split on MVP points, and the team ended up in 3rd place (4th in playoffs) in the regular season of summer.
The beginning of Nongshim RedForce’s stove league began with some roster tampering controversy, but they ended up with a pretty good team, made up of a colorful mix of top players. As the only team in the LCK with a completely new roster, Nongshim RedForce’s biggest assignment will be building teamwork and synergy.
Top: Rascal, Burdol → Doran
Jungle: Clid, Youngjae → Peanut, Youngjae
Mid: Bdd → Chovy
Bot: Ruler → Ruler
Support: Life → Lehends
Coach: oDin → Score
Over the last two years, Gen.G have maintained a consistent top-ranking position, but have equally consistently struggled to convert that into championships and a domestic second place and a semifinal finish at Worlds were the best results the old roster could pull off.
As their “Fellowship of the Ring” roster didn’t quite work out, Gen.G were set to make a big change in the offseason and if there was to be a winner of the LCK hot stove league, that'd definitely be Gen.G. They have another star-studded roster, even including some players with a history in the org. GenG's 2022 is definitely looking bright.
Top: Khan → Burdol, Hoya
Jungle: Canyon, Malrang → Canyon
Mid: ShowMaker → ShowMaker
Bot: Ghost → deokdam
Support: BeryL → Kellin
Coach: kkOma → Daeny
DWG KIA had another great run in 2021, but they fell short in the international competitions, losing both the MSI and Worlds finals. With two domestic titles, however, they remained the undisputed #1 in the region.
During the stove league, DWG KIA achieved their number one priority of re-signing key players Heo “ShowMaker” Su and Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu. Their top laner pursuits, however, came back blanks, as Kim “Khan” Dong-ha retired and Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, who was expected to return to DWG KIA, announced that he’ll be taking a break. Therefore, DWG KIA will be starting prospects in the top lane, while running the very hot bot duo of Seo “deokdam” Dae-gil and Kim “Kellin” Hyeong-gyu. Their new roster looks like a side-grade, which is quite enough for one of the best teams in the world.