The hottest team in League of Legends right now is probably Griffin. The upstart team made it from the LCK promotion series all the way to summer playoff final in just one split. Now they’ve started off the 2019 League season with a bang by winning the KeSPA Cup while not dropping a single map.
While it’s true that the KeSPA Cup is hardly a reliable indicator of future performance, the fact is, we’ve seen more than enough from Griffin over the last year to know that they’re for real. They have top-level talent in multiple lanes and know how to play together as a team. And now, that team will stay together for another three years as Griffin announced on social media that all of its players had been extended through 2021.
Griffin formed in 2017 as a challenger squad built around top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won and jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong. They stomped the Korean challenger circuit in the 2018 Spring Split and dominated the summer promotion tournament to take their place in the LCK for the Summer Split.
And what a split that was. They won their first six matches, continuing a win streak that they carried from the lower league that ended at a ridiculous 22 matches. And it wasn’t like the schedule was easy either—that streak contained wins over MSI finalists KINGZONE DragonX and three-time world champs SK Telecom T1. So impressive was their start that the team paid each player a $9,000 bonus in the middle of the split to commemorate their amazing run.
It took a concerted effort from an all-star kt Rolster roster to beat them in last summer’s LCK final, and even that series went to five games. They only missed out on Worlds because they didn’t have enough Championship Points because they only played at the LCK level for that one split.
Now, Griffin is rewarding its players even more with a long-term commitment. It’s fun to see a group of young players figure out how to play with each other on the fly. It’s also a lesson in how to build a team from the inside by focusing on a few core players and adding pieces one at a time. Never in the process did Griffin bring in an established star who might upset their balance.
Finally, this contract is a shot at all the other LCK teams. Griffin is here to stay, and they’ll around for a long time.