Honor, money, or just simply to be included in the starting lineup; the purpose may be different for each player, but many players of the LCK left South Korea after the end of the 2018 season.
For a long time, LCK dominated the League of Legends scene. The finals of the World Championship has consisted of two LCK teams for quite a while, until last year. The teams of LCK failed to reach the finals in the 2018 World Championship for the first time in many years. This may not be the main reason, but after 2018, several players left the league and joined teams of a league far from home; to LCS, LPL, LEC, etc.
Over the past two weekends, the regular seasons of the LEC and LCS were concluded. Today, we’ll have a look at how the ‘rookies(?)’ of the LEC and LCS that came from the LCK are doing. Some may not be actually rookies to the league, but let's have a look anyway.
Gorilla (Kingzone DragonX → Misfits Gaming)
Kingzone DragonX had a successful spring season, nearly dominating the LCK. However, starting from the MSI, they started to fall. Kang “Gorilla” Beom-
However, Gorilla’s performance wasn’t very consistent. His KDA (2.25) is near the bottom among the supports with 58 deaths. Misfits failed to reach the playoffs this season, despite their 3-0 start. The biggest problem of the team was the inconsistency and making wrong decisions. The Baron attempt against FC Schalke 04 is one of the biggest examples of their misjudgment. Misfits finished the season in 8th place with an 8-10 record.
Pirean (SK Telecom T1 → SK Gaming)
After spending a year as the ‘understudy’ of the legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik moved to the LEC. As a coincidence or not, the team he joined was again SK. Fans had high expectations for this player who spent a year as Faker’s sub.
Over the 2019 Spring Split, Pirean played in all SK Gaming’s games and contributed to the team reaching the playoffs. Although he did reach the playoffs, his performance on paper wasn’t that extraordinary. Pirean had a KDA of 2.82 which is a bit below average among the mid laners in the LEC. One positive stat for him would
Mowgli (Afreeca Freecs → Team Vitality)
Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha, joined Team Vitality from Afreeca Freecs. He wasn’t able to be on the starting lineup of Afreeca Freecs, and he left home to seek more play time and take on a new challenge. As the starting jungler of Team Vitality, Mowgli was able to play in all 18 games of the spring split.
Most of Mowgli’s stats were around average in the LEC. He wasn’t able to secure any MVPs in their wins; the positive side of his performance would be that Team Vitality secured a spot in the playoffs. He mentioned that his English isn’t as good enough yet so his shotcalls are still simple. The team would look forward to when Mowgli’s English gets better.
IgNar (bbq Olivers → FC Schalke 04)
Not necessarily a ‘rookie’ the European League of Legends scene, Lee “IgNar” Dong-
IgNar wasn’t able to reach the playoffs this season falling short after a tiebreaker with SK Gaming. Still, his results are better than what he had in the LCK. Compared to being relegated to a minor league in Korea, IgNar still had a shot at the playoffs. IgNar’s stats weren’t that bad as well; he had a KDA of 3.12 which is only 0.06 away from the 4th placed
CoreJJ (Gen.G Esports → Team Liquid)
Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in returned to NA after spending a few years in the LCK. In 2017, he won the World Championship as the support of Samsung Galaxy. He must have missed his years in the US though, as he returned to LCS to play for Team Liquid.
CoreJJ’s performance this season certainly shined. He tied in 1st place for MVP awards with 5, and the team finished the regular season at 1st place. Several team members and head coach Jang “Cain” Nu-ri praised CoreJJ’s performance and leadership within the team.
Team Liquid finished the regular season with a 14-4 record, in 1st place. Looking at the details of CoreJJ’s performance on paper, he was clearly one of the top-performing players in the league this season. CoreJJ had the highest assists per game among the players that played more than two games, highest kill participation among supports (third overall), and the highest KDA among supports (fifth overall). CoreJJ would be one of the best candidates for MVP this season.
Bang (SK Telecom T1 → 100 Thieves)
As one of the most decorated AD carries in the world, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik had high hopes when coming into 100 Thieves. The team transitioned Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook to assistant coach and signed NA resident Choi “Huhi” Jae-
Many people, as did I, expected Bang to stomp the league. However, he wasn’t able to show much as 100 Thieves fell with a 4-14 record -- in the last place. Bang was certainly not the problem as his stats say otherwise, but his lone performance wasn’t enough to maintain the good results 100 Thieves had last year.
Bang’s stats as the last place ADC aren’t that bad at all; his KDA is at 4.08, above WildTurtle, Piglet, and Stixxay. His average deaths per game
Crown (Gen.G Esports → OpTic Gaming)
Lee “Crown” Min-ho had won the World Championship as a member of Samsung Galaxy in 2017. He did miss most of the summer split in
OpTic was a win shy of the playoffs, with a 7-11 record. What was noticeable with Crown this season was the number of MVPs he got. Among the 7 wins, Crown was awarded 5 MVPs; tied with CoreJJ and Froggen in 1st place. Especially, his performance on Corki in their game against Echo Fox was exceptional. Crown played 11 champions in the 18 matches of OpTic and boasted his wide pool of champions.
However, his overall stats such as KDA, CSPM, etc. were near the bottom of the league among the mid laners.
Rush (kt Rolster → Echo Fox)
Like CoreJJ, Lee “Rush” Yoon-
Rush returned to the LCS in Echo Fox. Early in the season, he wasn’t at his old form where he was awarded MVP. After sitting out a week to play in the Academy, Rush returned strong. He went 4-0 after returning, leading the team to the playoffs. In their 4-0 run, Echo Fox even brought down TSM and Cloud9.
After Rush took a break, he had
※ Image source: Riot Games