The biggest free agent in League of Legends is off the market and, surprise surprise, he’s going to a Chinese team.
Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan has signed with LGD Gaming, moving to China after a 2015 World Championship run where he led SK Telecom T1 to its second ever world title while earning MVP honors as the team’s top laner and shot caller. Jang showed why people dubbed him the “Faker of the top lane,” in reference to his former teammate mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, during the month-long world championship, showcasing his ability to carry games on a wide variety of champions while also leading his team.
For LGD, that kind of in-game leadership must be enticing. The rich Chinese organization made huge splashes in free agency last year by acquiring world champion AD carry Gu “Imp” Seung-bin and two talented top laners, adding them to a roster with Chinese stars like support Chen “Pyl” Bo and mid laner Wei “pAinEvil” Shen (formerly GodV). At times, the team looked like the best in China, like a world-class side capable of challenging for a world title. Indeed, they earned the region’s top seed heading into that event by winning the second season of the League of Legends Pro League (LPL). But at the world championship, the team collapsed, putting on one of the worst performances from a favorite ever seen at such a big event.
Critics point to the team’s coaching staff and leadership as a key problem, and Jang offers aid in both categories. He’s certainly an upgrade in talent over Lee “Flame” Ho-jong and Choi “Acorn” Cheon-ju, the two men he’s replacing, but he also offers experience shot calling for a championship team. Plus, the addition allows Choi to move to an assistant coaching position under new head coach Lee “Heart” Gwan-hyung, bolstering a big sore point for the team last season.
In an offseason where superstar players are changing teams left and right, MaRin was the biggest name in the market. Going to LGD Gaming, a team where he can emerge from the shadow of his former teammate Faker and still challenge for a world title with a roster of world class players around him, is the perfect step in the next stage of MaRin’s career.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr
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