LCK sees several changes during off-season

By Lim Jang-won

Published : May 19, 2020 - 13:35
Updated : May 19, 2020 - 13:56

10 teams competing in 2020 LCK Summer. (Riot Games)


Changes in roster and coaching staff are happening daily before the June 17 kick-off of the 2020 League of Legends Champions Korea Summer Split.

The most exciting of the announcements made in the off season by Riot Games so far has been the Mid-Season Cup, to be held for four days starting on May 28, where the top four teams from China and Korea will compete for prize money of $600,000.

Going into the summer split, Team Dynamics will replace Griffin in the LCK, which will allow new faces to enter the scene while familiar faces were released to the market. Former Griffin players Viper, Untara and Ucal were released to the market as free agents Monday. Hanhwa Life Esports immediately announced that Park “Viper” Do-hyun would be joining them for the coming split, uniting former 2019 Griffin partnership of Viper and Lehends.

Where Tarzan and Sword are headed is being closely watched by the LoL community.

The biggest surprises were the changes in coaching staff.

Sandbox Gaming announced the hiring of Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi as head coach, making him the first non-Korean coach in the LCK. Mebdi is better known in Korea as the former coach of LoL European Championship team Vitality, who knocked Gen.G out in the 2018 group stage and showed a strong performance throughout the group stages.

“I am very excited and motivated (to come in as coach for Sandbox Gaming). This is a challenge of a lifetime. Sandbox needs to be reinvigorated. The team, the players and everything around it has a far higher potential and ceiling than what the team showcased in spring and I am coming in to remind players what they are capable of with the right mindset,” said Mebdi to The Korea Herald on Monday. “My plan is to make sure everyone on the team is utilized to their full potential, players and staff alike. We are going to explore everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and find an identity that works with our dynamic,” he said.

Hanhwa’s recruitment of a European coach also reflects its determination to learn from Europe to become creators of new playing styles and ideas, referred to as meta in LoL circles. Korea has been criticized for being followers of new meta and falling behind in recent years.

Gen.G also bid farewell to head coach Choi “Edgar” Woo-bum, who had won numerous tournaments during his five years with team Gen.G, including the 2017 LoL World Championships.

“We wouldn’t be here without Edgar and his incredible contribution to the team,” Gen.G Esports COO Arnold Hur said in an official statement Friday.

The slow-paced style that Edgar pursued, which focused on the late game, worked for the team in the past, but change in meta and a 3-0 defeat in the spring finals led fans to criticize Edgar’s focus on the late game.

A new standard for player contracts, released Friday, is another off-season change announced by Riot Games.

The contract aims to protect the players from unfair treatment, requiring consent from the player in many actions regarding loaning players. This change was prompted by Griffin’s lending of Kanavi to a Chinese team against his wishes, an incident that brought the need to have stricter standards to the fore.

During the spring split, the LCK had a record number of views, with a daily average of 4.6 million viewers, a 13.4 percent increase from the previous spring, according to Riot Games on Monday.

The number of concurrent viewers peaked around 820,000, of which 62 percent were from overseas.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)

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The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation