League of Legends 2019 Off-Season Roster Changes
With the season coming to an end, let’s focus on the upcoming League of Legends 2019 off-season roster changes and how they might affect each individual/team going forward! The 2019 World Championship will soon end, which means every region (and team that’s competing) will enter an endlessly fascinating part of the year: the off-season.
2019 has been downright spectacular if you’re a fan of high octane, top-tier professional League. It was competitive. It had a lot of back-and-forth action between all the major regions, new challengers rose to the occasion, and for the first time in history, it felt like a handful of teams had the opportunity to win it all and potentially upset the status quo.
We still don’t know how the season will end, but we’re bound to find out sooner rather than later. Once the champions are crowned, many think everyone gets to take a breather, to recollect after many months of grinding. But that’s not the case, at least not for most players.
In other words, this is just the calm before the storm. With the LEC finding tremendous success after franchising, it is only natural to expect all 10 permanent partners to continue investing in their line-ups, coaching staff, online presence, and so on. With more money coming into the region, we can expect many fascinating roster swaps, and maybe even a couple of imports from other regions.
The North American LCS is in a somewhat fascinating position as well, although not in a positive sense. After fostering multiple fantastic line-ups, all signs were pointing towards a triumphant showing on the World Championship stage. But for one reason or another, not a single LCS representative managed to get out of groups. That’s a pretty underwhelming result, even when we factor in North America’s perennial failures on the international stage.
The LCS permanent partners are already investing ample resources into the scene, and seeing how they’re still unable to find success, they will surely undergo immense change during the off-season.
Or so, one can hope.
Such change is a necessity now, at least if North America ever wants to compete with the likes of Korea, China, and Europe on even footing. We still don’t know how LCS teams will approach the upcoming off-season (whether they’ll invest even more or cut their losses), but it should be an exciting one regardless of the way things ultimately unfold.
We’ll add weekly changes and updates to each segment of our League of Legends 2019 off-season roster changes, so make sure to tune in as often as possible to get the latest news!
Official Roster Changes
[LCS][Team SoloMid] Tony “Zikz” Gray > [100 Thieves]
This one was kind of expected. After a pretty tumultuous 2019, changes were bound to happen with Team SoloMid. That includes players, coaching staff, and ultimately, the head coach.
Now, Zikz is certainly one of the best, most accomplished and revered coached in all of North America. His experience is vast, and he even though he didn’t find the most success over the last couple of splits, it’s downright impossible to label him as a mediocre coach.
The many internal issues present behind the scenes resulted in the organization basically replacing Zikz with Parth “Parth” Naidu and Zhang “Peter” Yi, their Academy coach. It definitely wasn’t a good look, but the fact that it didn’t yield any results is what’s even worse. Team SoloMid prospered once Zikz came on board, and with his guidance (and a couple of intelligent roster changes), they were able to reach the Spring Split finals and were just one game away from dethroning Team Liquid.
In the end, however, Team SoloMid did what most expected from them: they imploded, in true TSM fashion. Who’s going to take up Zikz’s mantle still remains to be seen. The unfortunate thing is that no matter the staff or head coach, the perennial LCS titans were simply unable to get back to their winning ways. The organization is trying to fix an age-old issue, by using the exact same method — and it’s not yielding any results. As a result, Team SoloMid is stuck in a constant, perpetual state of limbo.
As for 100 Thieves, this is quite an intelligent signing. They need a veteran coach within their ranks, and it’s hard to get someone better than Zikz, all things considered. We’re still waiting to see who they’ll sign for the 2020 season (or keep from the current line-up, rather), but the outlook is bright for the former 2018 Spring Split finalists.
[LCS][Cloud9] Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen > [Evil Geniuses]
The 2019 Summer Split MVP has found a new team to call home: Evil Geniuses. Read more about this roster change by clicking here.
[LCS][Cloud9] Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam > [Evil Geniuses]
Cloud9’s support has decided to follow Svenskeren over to Evil Geniuses. You can read more about this change by clicking here.
[LEC] Schalke 04 – Elias “Upset” Lipp
Upset has announced that he will no longer play for Schalke 04 coming into 2020. We still don’t know which team he’ll sign for, but he mentioned he isn’t willing to move across the pond and go to North America, so it’s fair to say that he’ll still compete in Europe.
[LEC] Schalke 04 – Kim “Trick” Gang-yun
The legendary two-time MVP jungler will no longer compete under the Schalke banner. Trick revitalized Schalke coming into the 2019 Summer Split, as his leadership and experience elevated the team to Top 3 status quickly. His play, however, deteriorated over time, which meant the team couldn’t compete at a high enough level when it mattered the most.
What he’ll do next is anyone’s guess. Maybe he’ll move back to Korea and sign for an LCK team. What is for certain, however, is the fact that he’s more than willing to compete on European soil, so we could see him back in the LEC come Spring Split.
[LCK][Griffin] Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho > [DragonX]
cvMax did one heck of a job when it came to coaching Griffin. Obviously, the players do a lot of the work themselves, but having an experienced coach that guides the whole team in a positive direction is of the utmost importance. His two-year tenure with Griffin fostered many great results, which is one of the main reasons why DragonX (formerly known as Kingzone DragonX and Longzhu Gaming before that) decided to sign him as their head coach for the 2020 season.
Having a coach that’s a proven quantity will definitely improve DragonX’s chances of attaining success next year.
[LCK][Afreeca Freecs] Kim “Kiin” Gi-in [Renewed Contract]
Many fans and analysts consider Kiin as one the best top laners in the world, and a Top 3 player in his role over in the LCK. That said, he wasn’t exactly able to shine throughout 2019 because of a rather mediocre team, at least by LCK standards. There were some moments of brilliance, that’s for sure, but they were too few and far between to actually warrant a spot higher up the rankings. Many felt that they failed to reach their full potential but that’s also somewhat understandable seeing how they were one of the youngest line-ups in the region.
Fortunately for Afreeca, they will keep one of their most important and valuable players as Kiin decided to renew his contract for three additional years. If the organization rebuilds and manages to keep Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon as well, then they might stand a chance of upsetting the status quo next year.
This is the rumor mill. Anything written below should be taken with a grain of salt as it’s mostly based off solo queue accounts, Twitter drama and the like. That said, if it’s plausible, it’s worthy of looking at.
The rumor mill is in full effect this week. This one is coming straight from Tarzaned, a popular (albeit horrendously toxic) League of Legends streamer. Now, while this isn’t exactly where you want to get your rumors from, Tarzaned has a solid track record of leaking roster changes during previous off-seasons, and he was among the first to report that TSM was going to sign G2 Esports’ bottom lane duo and even bring over Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung. So, as with any rumor, take this with a grain of salt. That said, everything listed below seems perfectly reasonable and is more than plausible.
[LEC][Splyce] Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup > [Team SoloMid]
One of Europe’s finest AD carries is supposedly moving across the Athlantic and will sign for Team SoloMid. He will replace their current AD carry (a European legend in his own right) and is expected to be a starter on their main line-up. This is big news overall, as Team SoloMid stands a lot to gain from such a stellar player.
Kobbe is an individual who has managed to persevere through many years and roster changes which is a testament to his work ethic and overall longevity. He’s also incredibly consistent and is capable of producing highlight reel plays when his team needs them the most. He’s not the kind of player that’s going to blow your mind with his laning or mechanical prowess, but when push comes to shove, he’s an individual you can count on.
The fact that he’s moving over to North America isn’t all that strange. While he did reach Worlds with Splyce this year, he’s been an EU-regular for the longest time. It’s fairly obvious that every other top-tier organization already has an AD carry signed, so he might as well try his luck abroad. Whether he’s the kind of player Team SoloMid needs is a completely different matter, but if things pan out as well as they can, expect Kobbe to dominate come 2020 Spring.
[LCS][Counter Logic Gaming] Vincent “Biofrost” Wang > [Team SoloMid]
Yet another rumor regarding Team SoloMid. The organization has supposedly agreed with Counter Logic Gaming to exchange supports. Biofrost is a veteran player and is as accomplished as they come. He’s one of the best and most successful native supports the region ever fostered and is still playing at the highest of levels even after many years of competition.
He was also a part of one of the best iterations of Team SoloMid and has multiple LCS titles behind his belt. How well he’ll synergize with Kobbe still remains to be seen, but the odds are definitely stacked in their favor.
[LCS][Team SoloMid] Andy “Smoothie” Ta > [Counter Logic Gaming]
Biofrost’s move back over to Team SoloMid means Smoothie will don the Counter Logic Gaming for the first time in his career. This is also a fairly solid roster change, although we still need to see Counter Logic Gaming’s full line-up before predicting anything with confidence.
Smoothie had a fair bit of ups and downs throughout his career, but his highs were much more prominent than his lows. He’ll bring a ton of experience and shotcalling to his new team, which is always a plus, especially when we consider the fact that Counter Logic Gaming didn’t always make the most logical of choices in-game throughout 2019.
[LCS][Clutch Gaming] Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme > [Cloud9]
This is where things get really interesting. According to Tarzan, Clutch Gaming’s support Vulcan is going to start for Cloud9 in 2020. That’s fairly surprising, but when you factor in the fact that Cloud9 already lost Zeyzal to Evil Geniuses, Vulcan is pretty much the best choice, if not the only one (excluding any imports).
While losing Zeyzal might be a noticeable hit, Vulcan is more than worthy of taking his spot. The Canadian support player has been turning heads throughout 2019 with his incredible play over at Clutch Gaming. He often doesn’t get his due credit, but he’s definitely a stand-out player. His engages (especially on Rakan) were often the deciding factor between a win and a loss, and his willingness to step in and make the right play for his team enabled Clutch more often than not.
While he’s not exactly a household name, he’s bound to become one if he continues playing at such a high level. Overall, a fantastic signing for the boys in black and blue.
[LCS][Team SoloMid] Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen > [Cloud9]
Next up, Zven is supposedly moving over from Team SoloMid to Cloud9. There’s not much that can be said about this roster swap, although it’s fair to say that Zven, with all of his recent shortcomings, definitely played a whole lot better than Sneaky. He wasn’t exactly a world class ADC per se, but he was certainly Top 5 material at worst.
We still want to see whom Cloud9 will pair him with before setting on any concrete prediction, but it’s fair to consider him an upgrade over Sneaky. But with Zven potentially taking Sneaky’s place, where does that leave the legendary Cloud9 ADC?
[LCS][Cloud9] Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi > [Streamer/Academy/Coaching Staff]
There are a couple of rumors regarding Sneaky’s next move. Some are saying that he’s going to stay with Cloud9 but focus on streaming/content creation and, potentially, being a part of the team’s coaching staff.
Others, however, have heard that he might sign for Team Dignitas (formerly known as Clutch Gaming) and be their starting AD carry. Finally, there’s another rumor that says he’s going to switch roles and become a support.
What will eventually happen with Sneaky still remains to be seen, but the fact that there are so many rumors flying around most likely means that a big change is coming.
The Big LCS List
There’s also a fairly massive list of potential trades and rumors coming straight from Travis Gafford. Take this with a grain of salt because they’re all in a WIP (work in progress) state and will surely change considerably by the end of the off-season. Some of these deals will go through, others might never happen for a wide variety of reasons. But despite the unstable nature of these rumors, they’re a fairly exciting pastime to get one’s imagination running.
- Team Liquid will probably not change much, if at all.
- Team Dignitas (formerly known as Clutch Gaming) was in talks with Hauntzer. Huni will potentially move over to the mid lane, and Sneaky might join as their ADC.
- FlyQuest will re-sign Santorin, Pobelter and WildTurtle. They’ll keep their most important three-man core and will potentially also bring over Olleh from the Golden Guardians.
- Golden Guardians will lose basically everyone but are looking to sign GoldenGlue.
- 100 Thieves will re-sign Bang as their ADC but will lose Ssumday.
- Counter Logic Gaming is (as mentioned above) losing Biofrost but signing Smoothie. They’re also supposedly losing their coach Irean. PowerOfEvil is also exploring his options.
- Immortals (formerly known as OpTic Gaming) will keep Dhokla as their starting top laner, they’ll upgrade Dardoch to the starting line-up (jungle), and potentially bring over Lost and Diamond as their bottom lane from Cloud9 Academy. As for their mid laner Crown, he’s almost surely not going to re-sign.
- Evil Geniuses are looking to bring Ssumday over from 100 Thieves.
- Cloud9 will keep Licorice and their head coach Reapered. Everyone else is “up for grabs.”
- Team SoloMid will keep BrokenBlade, they’re looking to sign a European ADC (with Kobbe being the one with the highest chance of getting signed) and are interested in bringing over Yoon “Homme” Sung-young from the LPL and sign him as their head coach.
[LEC] Misfits Gaming – Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian
Potentially signing for Team Vitality (replaces Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha). An exciting change, without a doubt, and one that could infuse Vitality with life after a very disappointing 2019 season. They need a jungler like Maxlore. Whether or not they’re aware of such a fact is an entirely different matter though. Finally, they need to make additional changes, as signing a new jungler simply isn’t enough.
[LCS][Cloud9] Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen > [Free Agency]
There’s a very fascinating rumor coming straight from Travis Gafford, a seasoned vetearn journalist with direct ties in the industry. According to Travis, Cloud9 is allowing their 2020 LCS Summer Split MVP jungler to explore his options. While that’s quite common overall, there’s a rumor floating around that he’s not exactly happy with Cloud9 at the moment which means he might sign for a different organization.
While Cloud9’s semi-relaxed approach definitely enabled him more often than not, it’s no secret that he was the one hard-carrying the team throughout 2019. That, in and of itself, isn’t the biggest problem, as it seems like he wasn’t getting the support he needed in order to make that a worthwhile endeavor. Cloud9, as a whole, disappointed in more ways than one, and if they really do lose such a stellar jungler — who is still one of the best players in the world — they’re bound to plummet even further.
We definitely hope Svenskeren finds a team to call home, and while this might seem a bit out of the blue, we have to give it creedence because it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
[LEC][Splyce] Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir > [LPL]
According to one of Splyce’s coaches, Xerxe (former 2017 Spring Split Rookie of the Split) is considering playing in the LPL next year. This, in a way, is pretty surprising. On one hand, it’s definitely a smart move on his end career-wise. On the other, he’s leaving Europe mere months after finally accomplishing something great. We would rather see him build on his most recent success rather than start over in a completely different region — a move that carries with it a fair bit of risk. And perhaps that’s putting it mildly.
Then again, his value skyrocketed after he finally proved himself on the biggest of stages, and there’s very little reason not to capitalize on such a development, earn more money and potentially make a name for himself in a completely different — equally as respected and dominant — region.
The potential payoff is quite big, although there are many hurdles and challenges which he would have to conquer in order to play at a high enough level over in China. He doesn’t speak Mandarin and will surely have many problems when it comes to team-wide communication. In a game where split-second decision-making determines the outcome, not being able to get on the same page in a matter of seconds is one of the biggest problems a team can have.
Be that as it may, watching Xerxe’s next move — whether it’s in Europe or in China — will be an absolute must. He’s one of the best junglers in the region and he was able to persevere and thrive ever since he started playing in the EU LCS for the Unicorns of Love. He also has experience playing in the TCL, so it’s not like he never moved around in an attempt to improve and grow as a professional player.
[LCK][DragonX] Park “TusiN” Jong-ik > [LCS]
Tusin is apparently leaving DragonX and intends to sign for a North American organization, although it’s still uncertain which one. He’s definitely a stellar, highly regarded Korean support player and will certainly improve any team he signs for.
That said, the fact that he’s supposedly looking to go over to the LCS is a worrying sign for a multitude of reasons. All signs are pointing towards a massive LCK exodus. Their players and teams — while not as strong as in years past — are still some of the most talented, hard-working and capable individuals the world of competitive League has to offer, Tusin included. And it seems that yet another disappointing year for the LCK (by LCK standards) was all Korean players needed to realize it’s time to look for opportunities elsewhere.
While that’s all fine on paper, the fact that a solid number of them will move over to North America isn’t a good decision when it comes to competitiveness, although it certainly brings a lot of monetary benefits. Then again, we can also view this as a positive because it will allow new players to enter the scene and perhaps once again propel the region towards greatness.
There’s also a rumor circulating that Griffin is interested in the LCK veteran as well, thus making Tusin’s options fairly diverse.
[LPL][Royal Never Give Up] Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan > [Invictus Gaming]
The legendary (albeit perennially undervalued) jungler is supposedly going to enter free agency, with a possible signing for Invictus Gaming also being on the line. An IG line-up with Karsa as their starting jungler would definitely be a step up from 2019. He’s a phenomenal player in every regard, and his longevity and cross-region dominance speak volumes about his innate talent and ability to adapt on the fly.
Invictus Gaming is also supposedly looking to sign Kim “Clid” Tae-min (then again who isn’t after his incredible 2019). In any case, they want an aggressive, mechanically talented jungler within their ranks which is definitely a step in the right direction.
While Invictus ultimately failed to defend their Worlds throne, the fact that they made it into Top 4 is still a seismic achievement considering the fact that many didn’t give them much of a chance coming into the tournament.
[LCK]DragonX] Yoo “Naehyun” Nae-hyun > [LCS]
Here’s an interesting one. Naehyun has supposedly already signed for an LCS team and will start in the 2020 Spring Split. Now, he definitely found redemption after a comically bad year over in Europe (back when he played for Origen) but he’s far from a top-tier signing, to say the least.
There’s no doubt that his worth and overall value went up in 2019, but the fact that a North American team is willing to sign a mid-tier (at best) LCK mid laner instead of someone a bit more proven (or, God forbid, invest in local talent) is quite puzzling, to put it mildly.
There’s a slight chance that things might work out, but the odds aren’t that favorable. The notion that a Korean mid lane import somehow solves team-wide problems is still present in North America, even though everything points to the contrary.
[LPL][Invictus Gaming] Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning > [Top Esports]
After a wildly successful stint with Invictus Gaming (and a fairly solid run at the most recent World Championship in Europe), Ning has supposedly signed an insanely lucrative deal to start for the LPL organization Top Esports. They could definitely use a player of his caliber and experience, and seeing how they nearly took down Invictus in the 2019 Summer Split regional qualifier, we know that they’re a worthy challenger that could, potentially, achieve even more success come 2020.
As for Ning, while he didn’t play for Invictus Gaming for a good portion of the year, we still saw his immense talent just mere weeks ago. He’s not exactly the most consistent player around, but when he’s at the top of his game, there are very few junglers in the world who can match his innate aggression and sheer impact. He embodies everything the LPL stands for, and as a former World Champion, it’s nice seeing him capitalize on a good deal.Free Agents
This is a list of players who either don’t have a team (at the time of this writing) or have announced online that they’re looking for offers. This doesn’t mean they’ll sign for a different team coming into 2020 (or that they’ll even sign for any team at all), but it does mean they’re looking to compete next year.
[LCS][100 Thieves] Neil “pr0lly” Hammad > [Free Agency]
100 Thieves will enter the 2020 Spring Split with a brand-new head coach, as they have decided to part ways with Neil “pr0lly” Hammad. For more information you can click here to read our full piece on this important roster change.
[LCS][FlyQuest] Kim “Wadid” Bae-in > [Free Agency]
Former G2 Esports support Wadid will no longer be playing for FlyQuest come 2020. This isn’t a big surprise overall as the two never clicked in the right way. The team itself failed to repeat their success from Spring and have struggled mightily throughout Summer. In the end, Wadid definitely wasn’t the missing link FlyQuest needed to get back into the playoffs as they ended Summer in ninth place.
On the one hand, we’re sad to see such a nice (and talented) player not find success across the pond, but on the other, this could be a start of something new and positive for the former Worlds semifinalist. It’s no secret that his transfer didn’t exactly pan out, so a fresh start could be just what Wadid needs. The only question now is: where does he go from here? He’s a known quantity, has a likable personality and already played at the highest of levels. He could find a team in North America, or perhaps go back to Europe/Korea. His options are fairly diverse at this point. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Wadid once the 2020 season begins.
[LCS][Clutch Gaming] Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin > [Free Agency]
One of the most famous AD carries of all time is once again looking for a new team. Now, saying that Piglet failed to find success over in North America would truly be an understatement. We’ve seen his level of play, and while he wasn’t bad by any means, his biggest highs could perhaps be defined as “mediocre.”The former World Champion also mentioned that he’s up to play mid and support, along with his original role. How such a transition would turn out is anyone’s guess at this point, but at least he’s looking to branch out.
[LEC][Fnatic] Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool > [Free Agency]
The six-star general will no longer be coaching Fnatic come 2020. This isn’t exactly the most shocking development, but it’s still an intriguing one nonetheless. You can read more about this roster change by clicking here.
[LCS] OpTic Gaming Academy – Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore his play on the Rift. Dardoch was always able to wreck house for every team he played for, and while his career took a couple of weird turns over the years, it feels like he’s finally matured enough and is ready to get back into the thick of things. He’s a huge boost for any team in the LCS and is more than deserving of a starting spot. Finally, Dardoch — even though he rarely got the recognition he deserved — played for the who’s who in the LCS. Team Liquid, Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming, Echo Fox, OpTic Gaming, and so on.
He’s a veteran in every regard, even though you couldn’t tell by the way things unfolded after the whole Team Liquid fiasco. Regardless, he’s one of the hottest free agents in North America right now and would be a perfect addition to a team like Echo Fox or the Golden Guardians.
[LEC] – Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou
A legend in every regard, and also one of the best and most respected European AD carries in history. But for all his immense mechanical talent and inherent potential, FORG1VEN never quite left a mark in the grand scheme of things. Who’s to blame for such a thing doesn’t matter now. After all, the days when he dominated on the Rift feel like ancient history.
What is important, however, is that FORG1VEN still has what it takes to compete at the highest possible level and is more than worthy of playing in the LEC, LCS or any similar region. He might not be as dominant as in years past, but he’s still an absolute behemoth in most facets of play.
The fact that he has hordes of fans behind is back is just added icing on the cake. Signing FORG1VEN is not only a fantastic roster move, but it’s also a move with ample marketing benefits as well.
[LEC] Schalke 04 – Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi
One of the more fascinating free agents in the entire region. Over the recent couple of splits, Memento did become a household name. He never attained any great success overall, but the level of play which he displayed quickly garnered him both praise as well as attention from peers and coaches alike.
He is well-known for his aggression and mechanical talent, but he didn’t exactly have a stellar 2019. That’s a fact, and everyone’s aware of it. Then again, we’ve seen what he’s capable of when he’s at the top of his game. In a recent TwitLonger post, Memento said that he’s hungry to get back into action and that he wants to showcase his immense growth and potential once again on the biggest of stages.
He’s a shotcaller, impactful on both tanks and bruisers alike and a leader in-game with a likeable personality and is also a Top 5 jungler when in form. What’s not to like? He brings many positives to any team he goes to, and if he cleaned up his play and wants to start anew, we’re willing to give him another shot.
That’s it for our list of League of Legends 2019 off-season roster changes. We’ll keep the list up-to-date and will cover as many major regions as possible. You can expect absolute chaos to break out once Worlds concludes. Hopefully, the many impending roster changes that’ll happen over the coming months will create an even more exciting 2020 season.
[LPL][Invictus Gaming] Lee “Duke” Ho-seong > Free Agency
Former SKT T1 and Invictus Gaming Duke has decided to enter free agency. He’s been with the former World Champions for three years now and he could definitely use a change of scenery, especially considering the fact that thing really didn’t pan out as well as they could have.
It’s still unknown whether Duke will sign for another team (LPL, LCK, LEC, LCS, he has many options, that’s for sure) or perhaps — as some have speculated — transition into a coaching role. He’s probably looking to get back into the thick of things after warming the bench for Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. And that’s not a knock on Duke either, as it’s hard to find someone who can actually compete with one of the best top laners to ever play the game.