The 2019 League of Legends World Championship has yet to conclude, but the LCS isn't wasting anytime starting its off-season. According to a report by ESPN Esports' Jacob Wolf, Evil Geniuses is set to acquire Jungler Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen and Support Tristan "Zeyzal" Stidham from Cloud9 ahead of the 2020 LCS season.
Cloud9 most recently competed at Worlds 2019, but failed to escape from Group A and finished the tournament with a record of 2-4. The outcome of Group A was the first time in five years, and only the second time in LoL Esports history, that Cloud9 has failed to qualify for the WKnockout Stage in its seven consecutive Worlds qualifications.
Evil Geniuses acquired Echo Fox's LCS franchise slot at the conclusion of a convoluted process that involved Riot auctioning the spot on FOX's behalf after the organization was unable to come to agreeable terms to proceed of its own volition.
Zeyzal took over the starting position of Support from Andy "Smoothie" Ta during Cloud9's revolving door routine of roster swaps in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split. As one of three rookies on the 2018 squad with Jungler Robert "Blaber" Huang and Top Laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie, Cloud9 swept Afreeca Freecs out of the Worlds Quarterfinals. It was the first triumph for NA against a South Korean team in a best-of-five in LoL Esports history and the first Worlds Semis berth for the LCS.
After an up-and-down stint as TSM's Jungler in 2016 and 2017, Svenskeren has been rebuilt by the C9 organization and secured MVP honors for the 2019 LCS Summer Split. However, C9 has had its eyes on Blaber for the future since acquiring him in the 2017 NA Scouting Grounds draft, and moving Svenskeren to give the team-developed Jungler full control of the future makes sense for the organization in the long-term.
Zeyzal's move could imply that Cloud9 is looking for a partner to better suit Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, or that the organization may be looking to change out its bot duo in full for the first time since the organization's entry into the NA LCS in the summer of 2013.
The deal between C9 and Evil Geniuses cannot be executed until the start of the free-agency period, which opens on Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. PT. When reached out to by ESPN, both orgs declined to comment.
UPDATE Nov 9 2:56pm PST:
ESPN Esports updated its report with a tweet, stating that Cloud9 would also be sending Top Laner Ziqing “Kumo” Zhao and Bot Laner Matthew “Deftly” Chen to EG in the reported deal. Like Blaner, Kumo was drafted by C9 at NASG 2017, but hasn’t had much of a chance to start outside of Licorice’s injury in the 2019 LCS Summer Split. Deftly, who was acquired in a late-summer trade with Golden Guardians, will be jettisoned as part of whatever plan C9 has for 2020.
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