As we all get together on Christmas Day and enjoy our families during the holidays, some people are still clamoring for last second gifts, whether it be lipstick for their sister or a simple Riot Points code for a friend. While some people may suffer from procrastination, League of Legends teams across the world are set for 2019 with newly tooled rosters set for a chance at the Summoner’s Cup. Some teams did better than others, but these are the top ten offseason pickups– the top ten gifts from teams to their fans for the 2019 season.
1. Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seung to KT Rolster
Everyone and their mother was talking about Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s potential free agency, but that ended with the most probable outcome; Faker stayed with SK Telecom T1 and the team’s rebuild initiative. Instead, the fans received an actual blockbuster transaction with Bdd leaving Kingzone to join KT Rolster as Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon’s replacement. Fans initially panicked at the loss of Ucal, but acquiring Bdd was the greatest possible move for KT Rolster to make in the wake of his departure.
Bdd’s Kingzone struggled to put up results at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, as well as the LoL Champions Korea Summer split, but he never had such issues individually. When it comes to best mid laners in the world, Faker is number one and Bdd is number two. His immaculate control of the mid lane and seemingly endless pool matches the greatest player of all time to a near tee. It’s not often that a player of Bdd’s caliber moves often so he tops our offseason acquisition list.
2. Cho “Mata” Se-young to SK Telecom T1
Mata is a 2014 world champion, LoL Pro League champion, and LoL Champions Korea champion. He’s won a lot of trophies and may be the second best League of Legends player of all time, not just the second best acquisition on this list. As such, he failed to win a world title with KT Rolster and has moved over to the traditionally indomitable, but recently anemic, SKT.
SKT acquired numerous players in addition to Mata, but they’re small fish compared to this support legend. As arguably the greatest shotcaller and engage support of all-time, Mata transforms the teams he dwells in, bringing a new sense of leadership. It has been reported that Mata can be a bit abrasive when it comes to working with his teammates, but given the presence of legendary mid laner, Faker, and coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, he should be a bit humbled. As it stands, Mata is a slam dunk move for an SKT unit that failed to make it to an LCK final this year, much less Worlds.
3. Rasmus “Caps” Winther to G2 Esports
This is where things get dicey. Caps was one of the best mid laners at this year’s world championship and performed consistently well across the entire 2018 year. After making it to the Worlds finals with Fnatic, Caps has decided to take his talents over to G2 Esports, the team that first stole away the European throne from Fnatic. Joining the team, he takes over the mid lane, while star mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perkovic role-swaps to AD carry. The move is bizarre, but given Perkz’s performance on AD carries earlier in Summer, it seems to be a huge positive for G2 in 2019.
This move makes it to 3rd place on the notion that G2 upgraded two roles with a single move, as Caps proved to be a better mid laner than Perkz, while AD carry Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss occasionally limited the team’s playstyle. In addition to top laner Martin Hansen — who was our 10th best player of the year — G2 has a legitimate triple threat team set for 2019. In League of Legends, these haven’t worked out too well, but the actual skill ceiling of G2 is impossible to ignore.
4. Bae “Bang” Jun-sik to 100 Thieves
Bang’s jump to North America and landing on 100 Thieves could have easily been number one on this list if he was at the top of his game. Despite that, he is still number four and immediately jumps out as the best AD carry in the LoL Championship Series. As a two-time world champion, Bang brings a wealth of experience and level of class that North America seldom sees.
In terms of a positional upgrade, this offseason acquisition is probably the greatest, given the struggles of 100 Thieves AD carries, Samuel “Rikara” Oh and Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. Cody Sun was a solid AD carry for most of the year, but was subbed out at the world championship, while Rikara struggled greatly to match world class talent at his position. 100 Thieves made it to the finals in their first split, but made a poor impression on North American fans with questionable roster moves. Moving into 2019, Bang’s stardom and carry performances should erase some of that disdain.
5. Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in to Team Liquid
I just mentioned that Bang’s presence in North America is a rare type of champion presence, but CoreJJ also stands tall as a two-time Worlds finalist and 2017 champion. Replacing Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, the positional difference is not as great as Bang’s addition, but it is just as important. For a Team Liquid team that struggled with timely aggression or pro-activity in 2018, CoreJJ brings a strong sense of macro to the support position.
CoreJJ’s name is considerably less sexy than Mata’s when it comes to the offseason, but he was definitely the second most important support transaction this offseason. When fans consider that Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng is the best North American player of all time, his supports always struggle to match him. Now, he certainly has to play to match his support. Team Liquid dominated NA with ease in 2018 and that won’t change in 2019, but this move is for the international tournaments down the line.
6. Hu”SwordArT” Shuo-Chieh to Suning
This is a complicated one. SwordArT was arguably the best support in the world for most of 2018, but often struggled to secure significant results with Flash Wolves at international tournaments. When Flash Wolves subbed out SwordArT in the regular season this summer, the team looked completely out of sorts and several levels below their peak form. SwordArT’s impact is clear as day when it comes to his team’s success, but he can be forgotten or even blamed amidst their failures.
He is set to join Suning Gaming in 2019 and forms the bedrock of a team looking to vie for LPL glory. Suning now hosts numerous talented players, such as Han “SMLZ” Jin, but without a leader, may struggle to find results. SwordArT will be that leader in 2019 and that inspires great faith in the Suning lineup’s potential results. The team already looked solid at Demacia Cup, but were far from being a true contending team for 2019. As the strongest vision-focused support in the world, SwordArT will bring order to a new lineup that needs his guidance.
7. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen to Team Liquid
In a surprising move for North American and Cloud9 fans, Cloud9 transferred star Danish mid laner Jensen to Team Liquid. When considering players moving from NA team to NA team, Jensen’s acquisition definitely takes the cake. Considering Team Liquid, Eugene “Pobelter” Park was an instrumental part of the team, but never could quite match the best of the best. While a lot of his criticism in the past has been unwarranted, Jensen definitely brings a stronger “carry” presence to the mid lane.
Jensen’s international performances have flip-flopped from outstanding to non-existent, showing his grand potential and lowest lows. Jensen adds guaranteed mechanics to a dominant Team Liquid lineup that wants to contest on the international stage. It isn’t as surefire as adding Faker to the lineup, but it’s still a step in the right direction.
8. Huang “Maple” Yi-tang to Suning
Maple has often been referred to as the crowned jewel of the LMS along with ahq eSports Club top laner Chen “Ziv” Yi, but like SwordArT, has little international results to show for it. Maple struggled in 2017, but bounced back in 2018 to show why he is still a top level mid laner worthy of the biggest stage. Also like SwordArT, he joins Suning Gaming to form the bedrock of a team boiling over with potential. SwordArT is the brains of the operation, but Maple will have to be the stable muscle, willingly flexing to his team’s needs.
9. Paul “soaZ” Boyer to Misfits Gaming
There are other moves that could be seen as higher profile, but soaZ is one of the best European players of all time. The only reason his transaction isn’t higher on this list is because he had far less opportunities to play in 2018 due to the rise of Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau. Misfits were a strong team in 2018, but struggled to find consistency amongst their greatest stars. soaZ brings consistent, high-level tank play along with a great understanding of strategy and leadership. It’s no coincidence that soaZ has been around for this long and still continues to win titles, whether it’s Fnatic or Origen.
For a re-tooling Misfits lineup, soaZ is the greatest addition the team could have made within Europe. It perfectly addresses the struggles that Misfits had in 2018 and further complements Misfit’s offseason acquisitions of mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and the final player on our list.
10. Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun to Misfits Gaming
Former ROX Tigers and Kingzone support GorillA narrowly makes the list at 10th place, joining up with Misfits Gaming to play in the League European Championship next year. GorillA was hit or miss in 2018 with Kingzone, losing his status as a bonafide “top three support in the world,” but still profiles as one of the best supports overall. Mihael “Mikeyx” Mehle was good for Misfits last year, but GorillA brings another layer of potential for Misfits in 2019.
Normally, that would scare fans away, but the addition of soaZ makes this move a lot more secure. GorillA doesn’t have to be a leader on this team — he just has to be an accomplice. Look out for a revitalized GorillA with a brilliantly re-tooled Misfits lineup that will surprise in 2019.
Photo: Riot Games