TSM: After the 2019 season came to a screeching halt for TSM, the organization was left scratching its head and searching for answers. In the span of one night, they’ve managed to flip the script entirely and field a roster that has the on-paper talent to carry the team to a potential World Championship berth. The org managed to pick up one of the hottest commodities in the bot lane in Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup (according to reports), who proved he could put a team on his back en route to a Worlds quarterfinal appearance in 2019. Beyond that, TSM reacquired its former prodigal support, Vincent “Biofrost” Wang in a 1-for-1 trade with longtime rival Counter Logic Gaming that sent Andy “Smoothie” Ta to CLG.
Apart from a completely revamped bottom lane, TSM hasn’t made any changes to its active roster. But, with signs of improvement and dedication surrounding top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik and a steadfast veteran presence in Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, the team is clearly focused on creating a solid mixture of proven talent and developmental potential. As for the jungle position, however, TSM spent the later parts of 2019 trying to flesh out the role as three different players, Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, Mingyi “Spica” Lu, and Jonathan “Grig” Armao all were given starting nods down the stretch. A solution to TSM’s starting jungle dilemma needs to come to fruition sooner rather than later, and it needs to come from the inside. With many North American junglers already off the board and both of the team’s import slots taken up by Broken Blade and now Kobbe, it’s becoming more and more obvious that TSM’s answer will come from within the organization. Still, TSM has made strides in creating a winning foundation in 2019, as the team most definitely has the potential for a fruitful bounceback season.
Origen: Be prepared, Europe. The up and comers are back on the block. And this time, Origen has more firepower than ever. The additions of Elias “Upset” Lipp and Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir instantly bring two proven veteran presences to an Origen lineup that has prided itself on experience serving as the foundation of success. Last year, that veteran advantage came in the form of Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez, most notably. But, after the legendary European support retired from professional play earlier in the week, the position was left vacant. And in a surprising heel turn, Origen opted to take a gamble on the support position in 2020 instead of signing a proven regional veteran. The team signed Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw, an Oceanic support with a tract record of regional success in the Wildcard region with teams such as Dire Wolves and Mammoth. And although Destiny has had plenty of success in a lesser league like the OPL, he’s certainly going to be tested from Day 1 in the LEC. Regardless, Origen has put themselves in a prime position for a successful 2020 and could most definitely come out of Europe with a top 3 seed once the regular season comes to a close next summer.
Evil Geniuses: When Evil Geniuses acquired Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam, Colin “Kumo” Zhao, and Matthew “Deftly” Chen, they proved two things about the organization right off the bat: they’re willing to spend money, and they’re willing to invest in young talent. If an organization is doing both of these things from the very “beginning” of its lifespan in a league, they’re bound to do great things down the line. In one fell swoop, Evil Geniuses acquired a fieldable roster with just one trade while also setting the organization up for long-term success. From here, the potential for the roster is limitless as Svenskeren gives the team one of the best junglers in modern LCS history, while Zeyzal, Kumo, and Deftly give the team a young foundation to build the franchise upon for years to come. It isn’t guaranteed whether or not Deftly and Kumo will end up on the team’s starting roster, but they’ve shown enough signs of development to suggest that they may just get a prominent role within the organization. The great thing about all of these players is that all of them are proven commodities, yet are still young enough to get even better. EG absolutely nailed it with this move and from here, the team still has left plenty of doors open in regards to the top lane, mid lane, and bot lane positions.
100 Thieves: With the first day of free agency in the books, 100 Thieves made a total of 0 player-related moves – rumored or confirmed. After a season that saw the team fall from grace and finish with a final record of 12-24, falling immensely short of expectations in the process, one would expect 100 Thieves to come out of the gate here during free agency with a fire under the organization’s seat. However, the team saw the rest of the league pass them by even further as 100T was the only organization in the LCS to not make a single addition, subtraction, or extension to its live roster. And it’s not like the organization was in a stable enough place where it could afford to stay put and roll with the talent that they already had on board. There’s no doubt that 100 Thieves could use an upgrade at multiple positions, but to see the team remain completely still at the opening of free agency is definitely strange to see the least. Perhaps there’s some sort of calculated move waiting in the wings, but with a good portion of the free agency pool already dried up after just one day, it’s going to take a massive miracle for 100 Thieves to succeed at playing catch up.
Misfits Gaming: In Misfits, have another example of a team that has remained relatively asleep at the switch on the first day of free agency. In 2019, Misfits fielded a pretty solid roster headlined by Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian, Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun, Steven “Hans Sama” Liv, and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten. Of those starting five, only Febiven remains on the roster as of today. And after losing longtime franchise bot laner Hans Sama to Rogue, the team has found itself in a precarious situation where it can either resign sOAZ, Maxlore, and GorillA, or move on and begin their rebuilding process. When compared to the majority of the LEC, Misfits is lagging behind. It’s imperative that the organization decides on its future sooner rather than later because with how fast free agency moves in League of Legends, it’s only a matter of time until the team finds itself in the eleventh hour.
SK Telecom T1: Seeing SKT classified as a “loser” is unimaginable on its own, but these past 24 hours have not been kind to the giant of the LCK. Today marked the expiration date for the contracts of coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min, and top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. All three of these pieces have been instrumental to SKT’s success both domestically and internationally over the course of the past few years, and they were most definitely key factors in SKT’s run to the semifinal at this year’s World Championship. If the team is focused on bringing home another World title, locking down these three as soon as possible would be the strongest move. Khan and Clid are superstar pieces that SKT can build a winning culture around, as well as provide a safety blanket for Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok during games where the star mid laner might not have his A-game. Still, it’s important to note that the team already extended Faker this past week and even extended its shining support, Lee “Effort” Sang-ho for two more years.
However, if SKT doesn’t want to be left behind scrambling for answers, the team absolutely needs to make it priority number one to bring as many members of last year’s roster back as possible heading into 2020. The fact that kkOma, Khan, and Clid weren’t extended already and were even given the option to explore free agency is preposterous and is enough to warrant a net loss for SKT here in free agency unless the tides shift in the team’s favor quickly. Their respective searches for possible new teams needs to be nipped in the bud immediately.
Featured Image Credit: Riot Games, Lolesports