By Isaac Chandler
November 11, 2019
Philadelphia 76’ers owned Dignitas, formerly Clutch Gaming, has re-signed their star top laner Huni to a two-year, $2.3 million guaranteed contract, according to ESPN Esports.
The move would make Huni, real name Heo Seung-hoon, one of the highest-paid players in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), with his contract just below that of Team Liquid’s Impact, who in 2018 signed a three-year deal with the org for a reported $3.4 million.
The move has come as a shock to many fans of Clutch/Dignitas, though not for the re-signing but the cost.
The love the team’s fanbase had shown towards Huni and his dedication to the team was sure to earn him a returning spot on the starting roster, but at $2.3 million that comes as a surprise.
That price is more than the $2.2 million 100 Thieves reportedly paid for Renegades entire CSGO roster, and skyrockets Huni to the top of pay in a position he isn’t even the top three in.
Huni’s form has been good but not quite as great as it had been in the past when he was on Immortals and Fnatic, leading many to assume he’d take a pay cut for this upcoming season.
In all likelihood, Huni’s appeal to Dignitas for a contract with that kind of pay comes down to two factors: his brand and his residency status.
Huni is a much-beloved figure in the League of Legends community, having played for top teams across three regions and showing a silly if not kind personality both on and off the rift.
Fans will always tune in to watch him play, come to fan-meets to get his autograph and buy merch related to him, and thus, in turn, he drives major sources of revenue towards Dignitas.
He also provides an easily marketable candidate for sponsorship opportunities, while also maintaining a strong level of play, a fantastic combination for a team restarting its whole brand in the scene.
What’s more, Huni will have NA residency starting in Spring Split 2021, meaning he’s no longer taking up an import slot on a roster.
This means Dignitas can still have a well-off top laner from Korea and still be able to grab an extra two imports for the squad, allowing them to get a huge boost to their roster’s competitiveness.
If that doesn’t work out, he’s sure to fetch a pretty penny for the team when another org looking for a non-import top laner comes knocking, likely more than the deal with the team is currently worth.
Either way, the contract signing is a huge boost for the league, though the rapid rate at which salaries are rising should be of some concern as fears of an impending bubble pop loom.
Personally, I’m torn on the situation: I like Huni, he’s a great face to have in the league, but I’m worried about whether or not he’s going to be able to keep up with younger players.
He’s never gonna become bad, but if he’s filling a niche role in the top lane (mostly mages and casters like Rumble and Lucian) does that justify such a price tag?
Then again, Huni has been on some eh rosters in the past, and while Clutch was not a bad team they were very one dimensional (there’s a reason the Rift Herald meme around them came about).
I want to see how Huni does in a multi-threat, multi-dimensional team.
If Dignitas can establish that and Huni pops off, the deal is totally going to be worth it.
If not, though, it’s gonna be a long two years for Dig, especially as the contract is guaranteed so cutting him would be less beneficial than just keeping him on.
It’s a risk any team takes when they sign these big contracts, but generally, they don’t do it at almost a record-setting contract value. We’ll have to see how this pans out over the course of the next year or two, but either way, it’s nice to see Huni finally get a big payoff.
Tags: League of Legends