Top 5 best (and worst) player transfers in League of Legends history
League of Legends has been a game known for having some of the most explosive and game changing roster moves with each and every offseason. As most teams reforge their ranks and look for new directions following the previous year’s campaign, the player swaps they make have the potential to take their team to new heights as they gamble on new blood to improve their chances. With another competitive season almost under wraps, it’s time to countdown the most impressive (and volatile) player transfers in League of Legends history.
Top 5 Worst Transfers
5. Masters 3 – Bae ‘dade’ Eo-jin
At one point in his career, Dade was the bonafide ‘King of Spring’ in Korea with his outlandish playmaking ability on champions like Yasuo and Zed. He made his name as part of a robust, young core group of excellent players on MVP Ozone, and finally came into his own with Samsung Blue as they captured the Summer Championship in 2014.
After the mass exodus of sister teams in 2015, dade was left with little options for a Samsung Galaxy team that was going under a major roster upheaval. Like many pros from Korea at the time, dade made his way to China for a lucrative deal as he joined Masters 3 the following year. The short stint in the LPL was nowhere near as successful as his Samsung run.
Masters 3 were eliminated from the tournament at the end of Spring Split as they clawed back to the LPL after a promising run at the Demacia Cup, but dade’s playmaking ability was never truly the same after that, casting him off as one of the biggest ‘what if’ pro players in League of Legends history once he retired from the scene just a year later.
4. Origen – Konstantinos ‘FORG1VEN’ Tzortziou
Once hailed as the next great ADC of Europe, FORG1VEN’s illustrious run as one of the most lane dominant players in the game was a hallmark to his success in League of Legends. After plying his trade for Copenhagen Wolves and impressing, but ultimately failing, to find success with Gambit Gaming, FORG1VEN’s career started to hit a bit of a snag given the slew of chemistry issues that followed him at every team.
This issue of player synergy was most pronounced when he joined Origen from H2K gaming back in 2016. Origen were looking for another blockbuster bot lane to fill the void Zven and Mithy left behind, but the honeymoon phase of FORG1VEN and Hybrid were extremely short lived as FORG1VEN called it quits just three weeks into the Summer Split, leading Xpeke to fill in at AD until season’s end, as they just barely held onto their LCS spot after a catastrophically turbulent year.
3. CJ Entus – Park ‘Bubbling’ Jun-hyeong
CJ Entus was a team long associated with some of the biggest and brightest talents to come out of South Korea since Season One. As the LCK era started to take off in their respective region, CJ started to lag behind in the necessary team cohesion needed to be the best. At the end of the 2015 season, CJ recruited a whole new roster in order to once again bolster their chances.
Among those new additions, Untara, Kramer and Sky were added to the team. Also in contention for a mid lane starting spot was the then 17-year-old BDD who made his name known on a struggling CJ roster. Every player on this original line-up went on to do great things in Korea and abroad, except their jungler, Bubbling.
From the start, Bubbling faced an uphill battle jungling for a roster that was younger than most, but the deficiencies in his own game were very pronounced as well. At the end of it all, Bubbling was the only player not to be picked up by a team after CJ Entus were eventually relegated, making him one of the most forgettable players on a young roster that was otherwise extremely potent.
2. Team SoloMid – Nicolas ‘Gleebglarbu’ Haddad
Back in 2014, Team SoloMid found themselves in an identity crisis as the history making all North American roster was no more. Following the addition of Bjergsen in mid lane, the onus to succeed was on the other members and certain players like Dyrus and Xpecial were under the crosshairs with their questionable performances.
In order to fix up loose ends, TSM looked to homegrown talent in order to boost their chances of regional success as they added Gleebglarbu and Amazing to the roster. While Amazing’s chances at success were always hindered by his limited champion pool, Gleeb’s failures on the roster were more behind the scenes as he had increasingly difficult times working with the roster and suffering from anxiety issues in the process.
In the end, the homegrown experiment went horribly wrong for TSM as they resorted to imports in order to increase their World Championship success towards the end of the season, and subsequently closing the chapter of Gleebglarbu as the next great Support from TSM.
1. Star Horn Royal Club – Zhu ‘NaMei’ Jai-Wen
Topping off our list as the most underwhelming signing in League of Legends history is none other than the legendary Chinese ADC NaMei after his high profile departure from EDG in 2015. His inclusion on this list has nothing to do with his ability as a player, but rather his lack of impact on the roster once he was finally included on the line-up.
After Uzi’s departure from the team after a disappointing World Championship run, Royal Club needed a new ADC with name value and serious credentials to fill in the spot. Due to Royal Club’s acquisition of NaMei after the transfer window, he was unable to compete for his new team for three months on suspension.
When he eventually returned, SHRC were never able to recover from their bad results as Insec suffered from an injury during the Demacia Cup, and NaMei never returned to top form during that stretch. Royal Club in turn suffered from the lack of star power on the team as they were failed to qualify for LPL Summer 2015 with two high profile carries on their roster.
Top 5 Best Transfers
5. ROX Tigers – Song ‘Smeb’ Kyung-ho
Before 2015, the ROX Tigers (formerly HUYA Tigers, then KOO Tigers) were a middle of the pack to low tier LCK organization with little identity and even less star power. During the 2015 preseason, their fortunes started to change as Peanut joined the roster from Najin e-mFire and the star studded lineup of 2016 ROX started to take shape.
Leading the charge for ROX was their highly lauded Top laner Smeb as he went on a mercurial rampage through the LCK that year as ROX Tigers placed second in the Spring and First in Summer on their way to the World Championships. Even though Smeb’s run as the top dog in Korea was put to an end by SKT’s Faker, there was no denying the impact Smeb had on the Tigers and top lane overall as he redefined the tank meta and opened up carry top laners to the role once more.
4. Team SoloMid – Ham ‘Lustboy’ Jang-sik
2014 was a year of transition for Team SoloMid as they worked arduously to build off of their star mid lane talent Bjergsen in the aftermath of his move. In many respects, Bjergsen could very well be on this list due to his vastly superior skill in North America, but it was Lustboy’s acquisition in July of 2014 after benching Gleebglarbu that really took TSM from a top four team into the behemoth that they were in the Summer of 2014 and beyond.
Following a less than eventful run with CJ Entus Blaze, Lustboy was eager to get into greener pastures with head coach Locodoco as he worked well with coaching staff and players alike to guide his team to victory. His presence on the map, his playmaking on champions like Bard and Thresh, and his overall ability to dictate the pace of the game put him and WildTurtle over any opposition and gave TSM the ability to succeed in clutch situations.
Lustboy is on this list not only for his playing exploits, but also the beneficial stretch of time he spent with TSM as a coach and analyst to this very day.
3. Samsung Galaxy – Kang ‘Ambition’ Chan-yong
The story of Ambition through the years has been one for the ages within the professional League of Legends scene. After being deemed surplus by a CJ Entus team forced to merge their two squads, Ambition role swapped to jungle in an effort to reinvent himself and become an asset to his squad during the 2015 season. After a disappointing KeSPA Cup run in the 2016 preseason, Ambition left CJ for Samsung Galaxy in a sensational move that would change the fortunes of Samsung Galaxy for the rest of their history.
In a storybook ending to the 2016 regular season, Ambition and the Samsung Galaxy battled against all adversity to finish at the top of the gauntlet for a spot at the 2016 World Championships. After another hellacious run through the group stage SSG once again defied the odds as they were matched in the Finals against SK Telecom.
Although the 2016 Finals didn’t go their way, Samsung Galaxy continued their cut throat demeanor throughout the 2017 playoffs as they once again secured a spot amongst the top of the ladder and impressed their international fans at the 2017 World Championships, eventually beating their archrivals SK Telecom in a triumphant 3-0 sweep. The win for Samsung was another reminder that Ambition made the right choice, and although it took him longer than expected, he was confident enough in his abilities to achieve the ultimate goal for himself and his team.
2. Royal Never Give Up – Jian ‘Uzi’ Zi-Hao
Uzi’s path to greatness through the Chinese League of Legends ranks has been well documented since his arrival to the scene in 2012. As a member of Star Horn Royal Club, Uzi made history becoming the first two time finalist for the World Championship in 2013 and 2014. After a disappointing end to their Worlds campaign in 2014, Uzi left Royal Club for OMG in a sensational move that sent the LPL for a loop.
After a disappointing 2015 campaign, moving to three different teams in that span, Uzi returned to Royal Never Give Up in an attempt to regain his former glory as Royal Club were under a new banner. Although Uzi has yet to replicate his extremely high highs that he achieved as a youngster on the scene, Uzi has remained the sole constant in an otherwise revolving door of players that have achieved World Championship fame surrounding his carry ability.
In the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, Uzi played a key part in dethroning the clear favorites King-Zone in a triumphant series that marked the first win of a non-Korean team over a Korean team in a best of five series since the 2015 MSI Finals.
1. Fnatic – Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-hoon & Kim ‘Reignover’ Yeu-jin
Topping out our list at number one for best player transfers in League of Legends history is a two for one gamble that turned into history making success for Fnatic with Reignover and Huni leading the charge. Although this dynamic duo didn’t win the ultimate prize like the other well established veterans on this list, the reasoning for their top spot is the sheer surprise at recruiting not one, but two, game changing phenoms that appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
After failing his trial to be the starting jungler for SKT, Reignover took a starting spot with Fnatic and his synergy with Huni was truly a spectacle to behold. After a commanding Spring Split that saw them finish first and contest top teams like H2K and UOL, Fnatic’s roster were further reinforced for the Summer Split as Rekkles rejoined on ADC and went on to achieve a perfect 18-0 record for the Summer.
Once Fnatic beat Origen to secure the first seed for Europe in the 2015 World Championships, Reignover and Huni were already considered household names as they reinvigorated hope for European LoL fans who were hoping their team would pull off the victory on home soil. Although Fnatic impressed and fought valiantly against the best teams in the tournament, they were eventually bested in the semi finals by the KOO Tigers.
Even still, the impact that Huni and Reignover had on Western LoL was felt throughout the region as they both continue to influence the scene on separate teams.