The IEM League of Legends tournament used a fan vote to decide which teams from each region would attend the showdown, and the results had a resounding message: We want to see Curse Gaming and their blockbuster free agent pickup Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. The former world champion and current practice rat, hitting masters on the ladder today, is the highest profile import from Korea the Western scene has ever seen.
But Curse Gaming abdicated their invite due to visa issues, needing extra time in the United States to get them prepared for the upcoming LCS season. Team Dignitas will take their place in Cologne.
Dignitas, with newly re-signed Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo taking over as team captain, still has two open slots on their official roster. The team is returning support player Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen and mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le, and will showcase two “Riot-approved” but as of yet unannounced players in the top lane and mid lane.
All signs point to those spots as filled by two Korean imports, Jo “Core” Yong-in and Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin.
Jo last played for Bigfile Miracle, but the roster was released after a winless stint in Champions Summer. He has a reputation for impeccable mechanics, rivaling Chae himself.
Noh served as a substitute on Samsung Galaxy Blue behind Choi “Acorn” Cheon-ju, but like his former teammates has left the organization.
The pair have been duo battling up the North American ranked ladder, reaching Masters tier in short order (Noh used the nickname “Loopercorn,” an homage to the two Samsung Galaxy top laners of last year, Choi and world champion Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok).
Assuming the pair really are Dignitas’ mystery men, it’s a big gamble for the organization. They’re betting on individual talent and sacrificing communication to make it work, something that failed for Counter Logic Gaming last season with their top lane pickup in Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong. But there are reasons to think Dignitas’ move may pay off compared to the Shin acquisition—Shin struggled with nerves and his play style did not fit Counter Logic Gaming’s style, issues Dignitas likely won’t have.
Either way, we’ll get to see in Cologne from Dec. 18-21. Dignitas will compete against Fnatic, Gambit Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Moscow 5, and a Turkish team to be determined, a stiff test for their new lineup. Of course, most of their competitors are also in flux—Counter Logic Gaming has only two players under contract, and Fnatic just lost superstar marksman Martin “Rekkles” Larsson to Alliance. Plus, the event will feature the recently released Season 5 preseason patch, with massive changes to the metagame. It’s going to be an exciting tournament, even with Curse Gaming out of the action.