As we prepare to kick off the Summer 2020 LOL Pro League season I wanted to take a more detailed look into the roster moves made by each team during the short offseason. Team by team I’ll discuss the most relevant moves they’ve made since the end of the season and how they may or may not affect the outlook for the team moving forward.
Jinoo (top) retires
Strange timing for a player that’s been just outside of the elite level for the majority of his career. There’s a chance this was just to get out of a contract so he wouldn’t be battling for starting time but could just be burnout. The scene will miss Jinoo but I suspect he’ll be back in some capacity.
EDG had much of their success with the combination of Aodi and Junjia, each of which vastly exceeded expectations this season. Jiejie is likely still an upgrade and doesn’t command an import slot which would allow EDG to make additional moves if necessary. Assuming Aodi and Jiejie can build chemistry this will still be a good team. It does reduce the overall ceiling for EDG but it doesn’t lower the floor at all.
Cryin (mid) to Royal Never Give Up, Fenfen (mid) joins, Dandy (former star player) to head coach
This was a strange move that I’m assuming had something to do with Cryin getting a better paying contract. You see this kind of move in the LPL fairly often. A standout player on a lower-budget team is essentially bought out by the bigger franchises. It’s a bit odd for RNG given that Xiaohu just put in one of his best seasons over the past few years but having more good players is never a bad thing and there is a chance that Xiaohu could be hanging up the mouse and keyboard soon as he’s been at this four almost seven years now, five at the professional level for RNG.
eStar are an organization that joined the LPL under the guidance of investor PDD who famously owned Young Miracles, the LDL team that has delivered many talented players to various LPL teams. They’ll need those prospects to replace Cryin who was outstanding and, in my opinion, the best rookie in the LPL this split. The challenge is that eStar are a highly synergistic team that rely more on their style and team play than their individual players. They aren’t just going to be able to plug-and-play any mid laner and have the same impact, it’s going to have to be someone with a similar style and skill set.
Fenfen has been a serviceable and fairly versatile mid laner in his time in the professional scene on Suning, LGD, and LNG and seems like a decent stylistic fit for how eStar like to play the game but make no mistake, this is a downgrade.
Former LCK and LPL star and one of the best to ever play the game Dandy will be coaching eStar in the Summer season. Whether that helps or not is up for debate but for a player that was as cerebral as he was, I can’t help but think this is a good move. Then again Mata was one of the best of all time too and has had a lot of drafting and macro issues with RNG so only time will tell. It’s certainly a fascinating addition.
Leyan (jungle) to Vici Gaming
Ning was still on the roster and got the start for the Mid-Season Cup with the news of Leyan leaving but was completely outclassed by the jungle talent at this tournament. For those that don’t know, Ning was the jungler for the World Championship winning iteration of Invictus back in 2018 but has been on a steady decline since and was essentially benched for Leyan. Frankly, Leyan wasn’t too great either and the jungle position is proving to be a real thorn in the side for this team. No announcement has been made as of this writing but I would expect Invictus to look into other options at the jungle position.
Royal Never Give Up
Langx leaves to LGD Gaming, 705 (top, former JDG) and New (top) added, Uzi (ADC) contract not renewed
Langx has been another underrated player during his time in the LPL and, along with Jinoo, is part of a collection of top laners that are just below the elite level. It wasn’t until May 30th that a replacement was announced which had many speculating that Xiaohu could be moving to top lane or a developmental player would be slotted in. Now they’ve added New, a prospect from the LDL team Legend Esport, and 705 who replaced Zoom on JDG for the majority of this season. I knew very little about 705 going into the season and he performed very well for JDG under short notice during Zoom’s absence. Obviously we know how good Zoom has been since then but 705 definitely earned himself a starting position somewhere and it turns out that will be with RNG.
This is another move that I think represents slightly decreased ceiling but a similar floor to the Jinoo situation on EDG. Along with the addition of Cryin, RNG have gotten significantly younger while making an overall small upgrade when combining the difference between Xiaohu/Cryin and Langx/705. I’ll be discussing it in my tier list post but RNG’s biggest problem wasn’t their players but their coaching staff and much of their results this season will depend on improvements in that area.
Jinjiao (ADC) switches role to support, 13est16 (jungle) and Wings (ADC) join from LDL roster
Jinjiao had arguably the best individual season of his long career but it was announced a few weeks ago that he’d be switching to support. Many thought this heralded the arrival of a big-name free agent such as Uzi but after a few weeks of silence, BiliBili announced that they’d moved 13est16 and Wings up to the main roster from their developmental team. Both have seen action, albeit limited, in the LPL before. 13est16 played 18 games in LPL Spring 2020 with OMG and Wings had just one game with BiliBili in the Demacia Cup coming into this season.
I typically like the move to younger developmental players but I can’t help but feel that BiliBili were maneuvering to pick up a big free agent and didn’t land one. Still, this team had a significantly improved second half and looked more like they did when they finished third in Summer 2020.
Mark and Xiye leave, no replacements announced
A couple of serviceable starters but nothing special here as Dominus are going to stick with their lineup of Natural, Xiaopeng, Xiaowei, GALA, and Bless moving forward. Doesn’t particularly move the needle in either direction.
Garvey (top) to main roster, Langx (top), Mark (support), and Xiye (mid) join, Cult (top), Chance (support), and BadeMan (jungle) all leave
LGD are a bit of a running joke with their large and constantly churning roster of mostly journeymen but Langx was a pretty big score in this case. As mentioned earlier, Langx is arguably the best of the non-elite (best of the best like Zoom, etc) top laners in the LPL. This has been a position of need for this team for a long time and it appears that they’ve finally landed a worthwhile player. Combined with Peanut and Kramer, this team has a fairly solid core moving into the Summer and will likely be added to the collection of teams competing for the final few playoff positions which is a significant upgrade for a team that’s been toward the bottom of the table for many years.
Asura (ADC) leaves, Steak (former RNG, Rogue Warriors, Flash Wolves) joins as coach, former head coach and analysts leave
Asura has been in the top half of the leagues ADC players for awhile now but is frequently overshadowed because of the amount of quality players at the position in the LPL. Light had a rough Summer 2019 but was quite a bit better in his starts this season. Still, this is a slight downgrade on a team that definitely needed more good news than bad this offseason.
Additionally, LNG added Steak, former professional player for the Flash Wolves and former coach of both RNG and Rogue Warriors. While I think his contributions are slightly overrated by the broadcast due to his recognizable character and history as a player, Steak has still been a solid coach over the years delivering quality teams and at the very least not subtracting value from good rosters. He left RNG after last season and draft and macro issues plagued the team for the majority of this season. LNG were an overly stubborn team and it will probably help to get some fresh eyes from the coaching staff. This is a good move for LNG although I don’t see them being that good of a team this coming season.
Oh My God! (OMG)
Kane (ADC) leaves, new assistant coach added, Aliez (top/mid) and Sora (support) join as subs
OMG add some depth players and substitutes, none of which will likely see playing time. Kane was the backup ADC and wasn’t close to unseating SmLz as the starter. The addition of a new assistant coach, about which I’ve been unable to learn much, could be a good thing. OMG’s biggest issue this season was that they were very stubborn about having a prolonged laning phase. It made sense given the construction of their roster with two elite solo lane talents but often, teams that played well with tempo and on forcing action around the map were able to get them out of their comfort zone. Perhaps a new set of eyes can get them to loosen up a little and become a more versatile team. Overall this doesn’t really change my outlook on OMG too much.
Youdang (jungle) joins from EDG Youth, Wuming (mid) added to starting roster
Youdang has received some good reviews from analysts and followers of the LDL but will have to battle the solid veteran Haro for the starting job. Rogue Warriors were a good “punch up” underdog this season with their decisive and aggressive play style. They aren’t a bad team but they’re probably not a playoff quality team either. If Youdang can make a meaningful impact as a rookie then there’s a chance they could challenge for a playoff position. I would have liked to see more younger players added to try out looking forward to 2021 but Rogue Warriors want to be competitive this season and I’d expect them to perform similarly to the Spring split.
Weiwei (jungle), Biubiu (top) leave, View (jungle) added to the main roster
Suning are probably in line for some positive regression given that their underlying statistics were much better than their results but to just blindly believe such would be faulty. Suning have their issues, they’re very linear in how they approach the game but they have talented players and if they can eliminate some of the big errors in games they’ll likely be a competitive team challenging for the final playoff positions. Weiwei wasn’t a huge contributor given SofM got most of the starts but a lot of people are critical of SofM as a player (I’m a bit more bullish on him than most). Regardless, adding a developmental player to the main roster suggests we’ll see at least some sort of time share. This doesn’t change my expectation of Suning at all, if anything it will help to have fewer people disrupting the roster in multiple positions.
Leyan (jungle) joins, Chieftain (jungle) leaves, Loong rejoins as assistant coach, Maokai (asst. coach) leaves
What’s interesting about this move is that Leyan and Forge spent time together on Invictus’ LDL team and have played together on the professional stage during Summer 2019’s brief hiatus for the starters on Invictus. They did not perform well, however they were also forced into a context that wasn’t exactly suited for them with the style that Invictus played at the time. Still, there’s reason to believe that the Invictus coaching staff saw a lot of promise in the duo when they promoted them to replace Rookie and Ning who had just come off of a World Championship win in 2018 and a dominant Spring.
While I think Chieftain is an underrated commodity as a player, I like this move. Reuniting two players that had success together and in a completely different setting that should allow the two of them to more freely express their individual styles should be a good fit. Kkoma will also be another season more experienced in the LPL as a coach and as we’ve seen over the years, uses information and sample size to make adjustments better than arguably any coach in the history of League of Legends. I’m optimistic for Vici going into the Summer.
Biubiu (top), Weiwei (jungle), SamD (ADC), ppgod (support), Xinyi (jungle) join, Xinyi (jungle) renames to Ping, Aliez (top/mid) leaves
Victory Five are coming off of arguably the worst single season of professional League of Legends in history with one game win in sixteen best-of-threes. Predictably they’ve taken a “kitchen sink” approach throwing a bunch of new players into the mix. Some players like Biubiu, Weiwei, Xinyi, and Aliez have LPL experience to varying degrees of success but none have been particularly good. Others like SamD and ppgod represent prospects with high upside.
When you’re a team in Victory Five’s situation and you have next to nothing in terms of valuable assets you need to find some diamonds in the rough from the castoffs from other teams or the developmental leagues. I like the approach and Victory Five can’t really get any worse than they were last season but this is still very likely the worst team in the LPL.
Photic (ADC) to academy roster, no changes otherwise
With JackeyLove playing as dominantly as he has been since rejoining the LPL it’s no surprise that Photic will head back to the LDL to keep his chops up. Photic was, by no means, a bad player and unfortunately fell victim to some over-critical analysis once the JackeyLove news was announced. Photic is a good player and could be a starter on a number of other teams. The only thing he’s done wrong is not be as good as JackeyLove. We’ll be seeing Photic again.
There were no roster moves however, Khan has started every game at the Mid-Season Cup which perhaps indicates how FPX will be operating moving forward. Both are excellent players and only a larger sample size will tell. It will be a situation to monitor closely, especially for DFS players moving forward.
JD Gaming have announced no changes to their roster. No surprise here.
Winners: LGD Gaming, Invictus (addition by subtraction potentially), Vici Gaming, Victory Five (can’t be worse)
Holding Steady: everyone else
Overall, the landscape of the LPL hasn’t changed too much. We’ll likely have LGD Gaming in that playoff conversation now but I don’t think any of the five or so teams that were battling for the final playoff positions gained or lost a substantial amount so it just adds another team to the equation pushing us to the twelve team range battling for eight playoff positions.
The LPL starts again on Friday, June 5th and I’ll be here covering you with analysis for every single game this season as well as my selections. Look out for my pre-season tier list and futures strategy article sometime in the middle of this week!
See you then!