Between North America’s LCS, Europe’s LEC, Korea’s LCK, and China’s LPL, practically every team made a change to their roster this off-season. Even reigning World Champions FunPlus Phoenix added former T1 superstar Kim “Khan” Dong-ha to their starting line-up, showcasing that even the greatest of teams has a potential change to be made.
With the state of China’s current scheduling, it’s hard to gauge just how much of an effect Khan will have on the FPX line-up. In fact, there’s only one roster change from the LPL that we’ll take a look at in this top-10 mid-split roster shuffle rankings, and it’s based off of an off-season showing that breathed new life into an otherwise stagnant squad.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in – starting with that aforementioned LPL roster move.
For Li “XLB” Xiao-Long, expectations were at an all-time high heading into 2020. The rookie jungler came straight from China’s equivalent of the Academy League, having played under an incredibly hyped Young Miracles banner – a premier organization, the likes of which had produced World Champion junglers Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning.
While the player hasn’t necessarily had the most ample amount of chances to strut his stuff – with the LPL being on a significant hiatus since the first week of competition – his performances on carry junglers is unparalleled. Aggressive posturing that takes an already high-octane environment like the LPL by surprise results in some of the most beautiful highlight-reel worthy plays one could hope for.
Lee Sin, Rek’sai, and other early game picks complement XLB’s playstyle fantastically and adds a high-tempo early game dynamic that RNG otherwise lacked, often falling back on their superior teamfighting skills in seasons past.
RGE Hans Sama
It feels strange seeing Steven “Hans Sama” Liv without the Misfits tag in front of his name, but hey. The once-franchise player of the boys in red and black has now #GoneRogue full time, having departed following Misfits’ complete implosion of their shortcoming superteam and landed on his feet on EU’s fourth best team.
And he slots in admirably, accompanying the three talented young rookies and veteran support Oskar “Vander” Bogdan all the way to the top, systematically dismantling any team below them in the standings. For Rogue, their players can go toe-to-toe mechanically with anyone else in the League, but it is the strength and guiding presence of this new-but-old botlane that makes them truly potent come teamfight scenarios.
Consistent to a fault but with the volatility required to establish himself as a legitimate carry threat, Hans Sama belongs on Rogue.
Considering the team he is on is legitimately bottom of the standings in terms of both gameplay and raw talent, credit has to be given in droves to Can “Closer” Çelik, who manages to stand out even now. The Turkish MVP jungler made his debut in NA this split, following in his close friend Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik’s steps, and immediately became the player to watch on the Golden Guardians.
Unfortunate results and tumultuous weeks aside, this was the roster move that made GG a clear contender for playoffs, even if they aren’t expected to get far should they make it.
Tristan “PowerofEvil” Schrage has had an interesting career. Moving wherever the money beckons, the mercenary in the midlane has his own unique picks and playstyle that he brings to every squad he’s been a part of. Now entering a renaissance in his career on FlyQuest the reason why this team sat in the second place of the leaderboard for a majority of this split was through his confident roams and carry potential.
When you think of PowerofEvil, you think of control mages with… questionable itemization, farming away until teamfights. One massive carry performance on Qiyana later, though, and the German midlaner showed North America that he still has plenty of tricks up his white, green, and floral-printed sleeves.
The roster move that held up the entire off-season, Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme had a spectacular 2019, but was often overlooked in favor of his flashier teammates. Look at where all those players are now, however, and you may very well realize just how influential Vulcan was to Dignitas’ successful 2019 – and Cloud9’s impressive 2020.
Finding avenues into fights that other support players may shy away from, Vulcan’s dedication to constantly upping his game is matched only by his dedication to aggressive vision control and engages. People look at C9’s impressive marksman Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and his equally impressive KDA, but if you turn your attention to the man holding the vanguard next to him, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun is an enigma. Initially fairly underwhelming in his career, the marksman went through a renaissance after joining China’s Team WE over five years ago. Tumultuous victories and narrow defeats alternated throughout his career, but every time that team won it was through Mystic’s impressive carry performances and seamless teamfighting.
Now back in his home country of Korea after riding out his tenure on WE, Mystic has brought the AFS an additional carry threat and is one of the best teamfighters in the entire league – if not the entire world. It’s crazy that a player can have so many ups and downs in his career and yet still be consistently fantastic for a prolonged period of time to this day, and you should keep an eye on Mystic. If not, he may just snipe you with an Enchanted Crystal Arrow from across the map.
The only team that has two entries on this list (the next one is ranked even higher), DragonX had the off-season of a lifetime, and the acquisition of superstar in the making Jeong “Chovy” Ji-Hoon is what has driven them straight to the top of the standings.
The 1v1 machine enables the rest of his squad thanks to opening up windows other teams can only dream of, showcasing both a wealth of talent and flexibility in his play that every other sololaner seems behind on. As long as Chovy can stay focused, he seems like an appropriate candidate for the burden hardest to bear – the title of the best midlaner in the World.
I mean, I could just leave this clip here and that could be enough said.
However, it would do Eugene “Pobelter” Park a disservice if I didn’t at least attempt to go into detail in regards to what his reintroduction into the CLG starting line-up four and a half years after his departure has done to rejuvenate the squad. Able to consistently go toe-to-toe with the import midlaners that have historically dominated the LCS, Pobelter is both an insane 1v1 player and legitimate teamfight threat.
In fact, it is his commitment to continue to both hold his own and apply pressure that opens up opportunities for the rest of CLG now. Where before they would have a losing midlane and Ray “Wiggily” Griffin would have to play on the defensive more often than not, CLG’s rising star in the jungle now has the luxury of having actual lanes to play around. Pobelter not only brings his veteran presence and disciplined shotcalling to a team that was otherwise lacking cohesion, but also adds an additional carry threat for both himself and the players surrounding him.
Somewhat slept on heading into 2020, people that weren’t up-to-date on the happenings of Korean solo queue may have been perplexed by aspiring title contenders DragonX’s acquisition of rookie Ryu “Keria” Min-seok. The young support player – just now having hit seventeen this past October – had been a trainee under the organisation’s banner for the better part of a year, but never really had his chance in the spotlight due to professional League of Legends’ age restriction.
Now able to play, Keria has shown up more than any LCK enthusiast could have expected. Aggressive, facilitating, and creating both offensive picks alongside space for his carries to flourish, Keria is – for the moment – the most impressive player in the LCK to analysts. Unfortunately, his influence from the support role is perhaps not super recognisable for fans, but this guy is the real deal.
Did I mention “real deals” enough? Because EU was once known for breeding carry junglers like no tomorrow, and Misfits Gaming’s Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz is the premier rookie heading into the 2020 LEC. The reason why MSF are in the top half of the standings is this player, who had a somewhat uninspiring 2019 in the amateur scene but then became absolutely insane through either magic tricks or a hyperbolic time chamber.
Drawing an Ekko ban against himself in almost every game, Razork’s aggressive pathing and commitment to counterganks alike really do separate him from the rest of the pack. Can you say “1v9 machine?”