The off-season. That extraordinary part of the year in the League of Legends competitive scene where a Twitter follow means a player is bound to join another team, and a sarcastic Twitch comment from a retired pro signifies that he’ll be replacing your favorite ADC.
Some predictions are more educated than others, citing well-known (or vague) sources to back up their statements. Nevertheless, most unconfirmed roster swaps spawn from fans trying to piece together information, crafting possible theories. Doublelift just retired and FORG1VEN is taking offers from other regions? Well, now we know who TSM’s new ADC will be.
However fun it may be to put on a tin foil hat and start pondering what the 2017 LoL Esports scene is going to bring, there is always a list of confirmed, probable, possible and unlikely things that can happen.
Let’s start off with what has been formally confirmed by either players or teams. Easily a dozen players have announced free agencies, which basically means they aren’t under contract and are open to offers. The list includes names like FORG1VEN, Wunder, Sencux, Power Of Evil and Freeze from Europe, and Gate, Brandini and BIG from North America. Two other notable players that have left their former team are sOAZ and Amazing from Origen. These players could end up in anywhere, so until an official statement is made it’s hard to say who they will play with next split, if at all.
Over on the other side of the world in China’s LPL, Edward Gaming lost their AD Carry Deft and mid laner paWn, Mata left Royal Never Give Up and Dade departed from Newbee. These were the most talented players in the 2014 season and, to this day, hold up rather well against their competitors. With Deft and Mata expressing their desire to go back to Korea to compete, the LCK is going to get very interesting in 2017.
Speaking of the LCK, Arrow and Hachani, KT Rolster’s bot lane, have left the team. Finding a proper replacement doesn’t seem hard, as two top tier korean players just left China. In other news, ROX Tigers has allowed their players and coaches to take offers from other teams, with the exception of Smeb and Peanut, who weren’t mentioned.
With all the players who are known free agents out of the way, we can take a look at who’s already signed, or renewed, with a team. First up are Jankos and Odoamne, who both renewed their contracts with Europe’s H2K, as well as Trashy and YamatoCannon stating that they will remain with Splyce. Former ROCCAT AD Carry, Steelback, will now be playing for Vitality. G2 Esports and Unicorns of Love renewed contracts with all their players, which means that their rosters will most likely remained unchanged for the spring split.
In the NA LCS, the Immortals’ roster is suffering some big changes. Their star jungler Reignover has officially left the team and their support Adrian signed with Phoenix1. Team Liquid also parted ways with their jungler, Dardoch, more or less confirming the reports of Reignover moving to TL.
Regarding changes to teams, Apex was bought by the Philadelphia 76ers and merged with Team Dignitas. Also, the Cloud 9 Challenger team has yet to announce who they will sell their LCS spot to. The Challenger scene is also showing some promise and growth. In the EUCS, Schalke 04 and Paris Saint-Germain are going all in. The PSG even hired Fnatic’s former support player who retired from pro play, YellOwStaR, as their new head of Esports. Two times NA LCS Champion, Counter Logic Gaming, is also looking to form a Challenger squad. Furthermore, YouTube and Twitch personality Trick2g has announced a new team, Team Gates, that will be competing in the NACS Qualifiers.
The Probable, the Possible and the Unlikely
Unlike confirmed statements, these next ones are based purely on speculation and hazy facts. While some could be seen as credible and seem quite possible, others will come of as just flatout unreal. To start, let’s look at what can realistically happen next year. With ROX Tigers openly discussing their future plans, it’s a possibility that they disband or at least lose most of their players. On the other hand, KT Rolster could pick up both Deft and Mata, which would propel them to be one of the best teams in the LCK.
For the EU LCS, the only accurate prediction that can be made is that both Fnactic and Origen will rebuild, or mostly rebuild, their rosters from the ground up. After such a disappointing performance in the last splits, these two teams have their work cut out for them. As for NA, Dardoch will most likely join Echo FOX. He was previously set to join the team, but due to Riot’s regulations the deal was cancelled.
Apart from what’s been confirmed, nothing is true until proven so. Will Faker finally take that sweet retirement money and go play in China? Who knows. Will kkoma switch teams to prove his coaching prowess? Maybe. Is imaqtpie going to come out of retirement to be TSM’s new ADC? Probably not. Will anyone other than Korea win Worlds? Doubtful. Will fans continue to string together theories after X player follows Y team on social media? Most definitely. But the most important question that is yet to be answered is: Will the 2017 LoL Esports season reach a new height of competetition and create compelling storylines involving players and teams that will most certainly increase the fans’ viewing experience? We’ll have to wait and see.