For years, Jin Air Green Wings has been among the consistently worst teams in the LCK. Their last playoffs appearance was in 2016, when JAG finished fourth, but since then, the Wings have been on the bottom of the table, one split after another. They finished 7th and 8th in the 2018 Spring and Summer Splits, respectively, but dropped even lower in 2019, finishing dead last both splits.
It wasn’t because there were one or two teams just slightly better than JAG, beating them by a small margin. On the contrary: JAG’s 2019 run will go down in history as one of the worst ones in the LCK, where the team won a total of one series across both splits.
JAG were never a title contender but so far, they could at least gate-keep the aspiring Korean teams out of the LCK. The likes of MVP, KongDoo Monster, and bbq Oliver could not outperform JAG, which in return meant that they were not good for the LCK, and so their campaigns there were shortlived. But now, JAG is no longer the benchmark for judging who’s worthy for Korea’s prime stage. Wings surviving the Spring Split relegation was their last stand against the new wave of challengers. Today, JAG lost the Summer Split relegation and as such are out of the LCK.
The defeats JAG suffered in the relegation brackets weren’t even close, further reiterating the notion that the team no longer belongs in the LCK. APK Prince bested JAG 3-1 in the winners bracket final to take the first LCK spot. Down in the lower bracket, JAG suffered another rough beating, a whitewash loss to Hanwha Life Esports. The 2-0 against Team Dynamics in the first round of relegation was the only series JAG won this split.
While some fans might be sad to bid farewell to a brand that has been with the LCK since 2014, it’s ultimately for the better. APK Prince’s LCK promotion means the return of legendary jungler Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon to the league. Hanwha Life, on the other hand, showed a promising 2019 Spring Split and the extra life they earned today should answer the question which of the 6th place in Spring or the 9th place is the more accurate representation of HLE’s potential.
With JAG out, KT Rolster are the prime candidates for the new title of LCK gatekeepers. KT had a terrible 2019, but just like JAG, they easily survived the Spring Relegations and showed enough improvement in the Summer to stay out of the bottom 2. It is now up to them to judge whether APK Prince and HLE will have any future in the LCK or will go the way of so many orgs, that were little more than passer-byes.