One of League of Legends’ greatest legends is one step closer to a triumphant return.
Alex “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin surprised the scene by moving to America with the hopes of reviving his pro gaming career, but he’s starting from the bottom. Challenger team BrawL, an esports team based in Mexico, introduced the legendary Russian player as their mid laner today, confirming a Daily Dot report last week. In addition, Team 8 has added the Russian mid laner as a substitute player.
Of course, whether that’s good or bad news for the player is up for debate.
If you said that Ichetovkin would be a substitute for a bottom tier League Championship Series team in America in one year’s time at the start of 2014, you’d be laughed at.
If you told someone he’d be starting for a challenger team in 2014, no less one based in Mexico, you’d be called crazy.
But here we are. It’s another twist in what’s been a tumultuous fall from the LCS for one of League’s most beloved figures.
“I am happy to join Team 8 as a substitute and hope it will help me prove myself again as top player,” Ichetovkin said, in the announcement on the Team 8 website. “I also want to thank Team 8 for giving me this opportunity to join the NA competitive scene.”
Ichetovkin left his long time team Gambit Gaming on May 8 last year, joining promising challenger team Ninjas in Pyjamas. But the Ninjas team struggled after Riot Games enforced bans on two of the team’s star players. Ever since Ichetovkin has struggled to make it back to the big LCS stage, seemingly drowning in a mire of visa issues and roster problems.
It’s led many fans to question whether Ichetovkin’s level really is that of a star, or even average player, at this point in his illustrious career. Ichetovkin is out to prove them wrong.
“I’m coming back with a lot of motivation, the support from my family, Team 8 and Brawl,” he said. “I’m grateful for this new opportunity and will use it to become one of the top players in NA.”
Moving to America, the land of opportunity, really might be what Ichetovkin needs to get back on track. For one, the United States offers athletic visas for League of Legends players.
In Europe, Ichetovkin and Gambit Gaming struggled with the seemingly inane visa process, forcing him into a difficult travel schedule and even making Gambit players miss LCS matches.
In America, Ichetovkin can in theory receive an athletic visa and avoid many of the issues that plagued him in Europe, at least over the course of a single LCS season.
He’s currently a member of challenger team Brawl, who just qualified for the challenger league through the ranked ladder. But that may not be enough to survive the visa process.
Joining the roster of Team 8, a professional squad competing in the LCS, even as a substitute, likely eases the visa process. For Team 8, it ensures they have a veteran backup player with experience at both the top and mid lane roles. It’s a win-win.
It’s also a win for Brawl, who gets a high profile free agent signing aiming for redemption. They believe that Ichetovkin’s motivation is in the right place, making him a powerful signing for a team trying to survive what’s looking to be an extremely competitive challenger scene.
“Alex is a great character, intelligent, very mature with his priorities set on his family’s well being. Many doubt that he can still be an effective player for many reasons, but we see him as motivated as ever to reach his goals,” Brawl co-owner Alex Christian Vielman said in the announcement, noting Ichetovkin’s drive, love for the game, and family as motivators.
“In a sport where you don’t lose athleticism, Alex still has a lot to offer to his fans out there holding hope to see the great Alex Ich once again,” he continued. “We will give Alex as much support as possible for him to reach his goals in the North American competitive scene.”
The newest chapter in Ichetovkin’s career is perhaps its weirdest one. But it also speaks to the man who used to be one of the most feared carries on the planet: his passion for League of Legends is certainly still there, burning hot enough to send him across an ocean to pursue his goals.
Only time will tell what the next chapter holds. Maybe next year we’ll be talking about the Russian savior who led America to the World title in League of Legends. That sounds unrealistic, but with Ichetovkin, you never know.
Image via BrawL/Facebook