The 2020-21 League of Legends offseason was one of the most active periods that the game’s professional scene has ever seen. Trades, transfers, and free agent signings were plentiful last winter, with many of them completely changing the landscapes of certain franchises and leagues across the globe.
Now, halfway through the 2021 season, many of the deals made last winter have had long-lasting impacts on the game at its highest level. Here’s how we’re grading the biggest deals inked last offseason halfway through the 2021 season. Keep in mind that this list won’t include players who signed midseason deals. So names like Abbedagge, Selfmade, and Shad0w won’t find themselves getting a mention, regardless of how much value they’ve been bringing to their new teams this summer.
All of the stats used in this article are up to date as of June 17.
Rekkles, G2 Esports
G2 Esports knew exactly what it was getting when the franchise broke the bank for Rekkles this past offseason. And so far, the greatest AD carry in the history of the LEC has lived up to every expectation. Despite the fact that G2 failed to qualify for international play this spring, Rekkles still posted MVP-worthy numbers. Rekkles ended the Spring Split with 101 kills, the second-most in the LEC, while his 12.6 KDA was one of the highest in the world this spring, according to League stats site Oracle’s Elixir.
But G2 didn’t sign Rekkles to win domestic MVP awards. It signed him with the sole intention of finally sealing the deal on a years-long international buildup. With three straight Worlds semifinals appearances, Rekkles was brought on to finally help the team lift the Summoner’s Cup in 2021. If he manages to do that, his contract could go down as the most beneficial deal from not just the 2020 offseason, but potentially in all of League history.
Cloud9 couldn’t have asked for much more from Perkz to start the 2021 season. The team’s newly acquired “million dollar man” immediately brought the franchise an LCS title, in addition to its first trip to the international stage in almost two years. Sure, C9 didn’t have the greatest performance at MSI last month (not making it past the rumble stage was a bit of a disappointment for fans), but Perkz is still managing to put up some eye-catching performances right from the get-go—despite not playing the mid lane position throughout a whole season for several years. His 4.2 KDA this season is on track to be the highest mark of his mid lane career, according to League stats site Games of Legends.
Nuguri, FunPlus Phoenix
Nuguri is still doing Nuguri things with FunPlus Phoenix this year. The reigning world champion has already established himself as one of the best players of the season thus far. But if there’s been any major issue for Nuguri in 2021, it’s that the competition in the top lane position in the LPL is so fierce, it’s making him look as though he’s regressed a bit since his time in Korea. Nuguri is no longer rolling over the LCK’s top lane competitors. Instead, he’s facing off against LPL titans like TheShy, 369, and Xiaohu—all of whom have given Nuguri some trouble on occasion.
With a roster as good as FPX’s, failing to reach the Mid-Season Invitational was certainly underwhelming. But there’s still a whole second half to burn through and FPX are most definitely in contention for a Worlds berth later this year. If the team somehow manages to collapse and miss the tournament after signing the best top laner in the world, however, Nuguri’s hefty contract is going to be looked at differently for the one-time Worlds champion.
FlyQuest signed Licorice ahead of the 2021 season to be a dependable piece that the team could rely on to help develop young talent. The only issue is that Licorice hasn’t played up to his usual standard. His statistics are down from last season in every major category, with his KDA notably plummeting from 4.2 in 2020 to 1.9 in 2021, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Additionally, his early-game statistics from this season showcase the fact that he’s simply not as dominant as he once was. Licorice has only been ahead in CS at 15 minutes in 46 percent of FlyQuest’s games this season and he’s consistently found himself down by an average of 225 gold at the 15-minute mark as well.
FlyQuest’s sole veteran “rock” has been anything but that this season and it’s showing in the team’s lackluster 9-15 record. While the team’s rookies like Josedeodo and Palafox continue to develop, FlyQuest will need its top offseason signee to carry a bit more of the load through the summer.
SwordArt’s early-season performances in the LCS Lock In tournament, as well as the first week of the LCS season, left a lot to be desired. His 2/35/44 scoreline across TSM’s first nine games propelled the team to a 3-6 record during that lackluster stretch. But the team’s destitute results at the top of the season were enough to light a fire underneath the veteran support. Since Feb. 7, TSM have gone 24-14, while SwordArt has posted a 3.5 KDA, one of the best marks among all qualified support players during that stretch, according to Games of Legends.
If SwordArt continues to stand out among the ranks of the LCS’ supports, bringing much-needed firepower and veteran presence to a TSM roster that’s historically struggled at the position, he’ll be worth every cent of his record-breaking $6 million contract.
Chovy, Hanwha Life Esports
There aren’t many moves that are quite gutsier than a mid-tier organization signing a top-tier talent, but Hanwha Life did exactly that when it signed Chovy to helm the mid lane position ahead of the 2021 season. Sure, one player can’t turn around an organization in a heartbeat, but Chovy is one of those rare players who can elevate those around him. On paper, players like Chovy make Hanwha Life a top-four team in Korea. And with four slots open to the LCK at this year’s World Championship, it would be inexcusable for Hanwha Life to miss the tournament altogether.
Chovy’s presence on Hanwha Life has led the team to a total match record of 13-10 on the year. And so far in 2021, Chovy has been able to beat up on the mid laners that he’s supposed to beat. But when facing roadblocks in ShowMaker, Faker, and Bdd (players which he posts a 1-7 match record against this season), Chovy has fallen flat. If Hanwha Life are going to make a deep postseason run this year and get its money’s worth out of one of the world’s best mid laners, they’ll need their centerpiece to start taking down the main obstacles in the team’s path.
Poor Broxah. The man can never seem to find luck when it comes to visa issues during the early portion of a season—and by the time he does, it’s far too late. For the second straight year, he’s come into the fold in the LCS far too late for his team to have a chance at contention. This year, matters are even worse considering CLG’s horrendous 5-13 record was carried over into the Summer Split due to an update to the LCS format, shoving the team into a hole right off the bat. At least last season, Broxah and Team Liquid were able to wipe the slate clean in the summer before qualifying for Worlds.
This year, it appears as though a Worlds berth is already out of the question for Broxah since CLG have opened the Summer Split with a record of 1-5, bringing the team’s record to 6-18 on the year. Through no fault of his own, Broxah has been unable to lift the sinking ship that is CLG out of troubled water. As the year winds down, playing out the string feels like the only option for the former Worlds finalist.
Rogue finally seemed to acquire the shot in the arm that it’s needed for years by bringing in Odoamne ahead of the 2021 season. The veteran top laner carried Rogue to their first LEC grand final in the spring, coming just one game away from an LEC title. When the dust settled on the Spring Split, Odoamne finished second in MVP voting, while also earning second-team All-Pro honors. And Odoamne has naturally fit in with Rogue’s playstyle. Fellow veterans in Inspired, Larssen, and Hans sama have only elevated Odoamne’s game. In comparison to last year, Odoamne’s stats suggest that he’s grown on the roster of a serious contender in Rogue.
A large factor in Odoamne’s success in 2021 has been his ability to turn every early game into a complete “lane kingdom.” Odoamne’s early-game stats have skyrocketed between 2020 and 2021. He’s been up in CS at 15 minutes in 81.6 percent of Rogue’s games this season (up from a mark of 65 percent in 2020) and he’s managed to earn 109 percent more gold at 15 minutes this season in comparison to 2020, according to Games of Legends. If he continues to play and improve at his current rate, there’s no doubt that Odoamne will be worth the investment made by Rogue this past offseason.
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