One year ago, five Chinese guys moved to America to make their dream of playing professional League of Legends on the world’s biggest stage a reality. They succeeded.
LMQ had to start from the very bottom, but they climbed their way through the challenger scene and qualified for the League Championship Series. They led the league for much of the season before qualifying for Worlds by placing third in the LCS playoffs. LMQ would not make it out of group stage at Worlds, but they won a couple matches and performed well on the big stage. Now that chapter in their history is closed.
The departing players have each chosen a different path on their exit from the team. The jungler Zhou is returning to China and retiring as a player. Xiao wishes to continue his career in China. Last year, he had success there as a member of the Royal Club team that reached the finals at Worlds. Li will not follow his teammates home—he hopes to find a spot on a different North American team next season.
The future remains murky for LMQ. The team will hold tryouts to replace their previous players, with no clear prospects on the horizon so far. Plus, with the team retaining one and potentially two players of Chinese origin, communication may be an issue for the squad next season. Even if LMQ imports two more Chinese players, a fifth spot must still be filled by someone from the North American region per the new Interregional Movement Policy. Though if ever there was reason to hope, last month’s World Championship is it: Star Horn Royal Club reached the finals with a mixed nationality team communicating with a mix of broken languages.
LMQ lived the American dream in 2014, coming to the land of opportunity and seizing it. But despite their successful season, LMQ ended it marred in controversy regarding ownership and management. Whether those issues contributed to the departures is a question that will likely never be fully answered, but at this point it’s clear: the Cinderella story has ended. Now LMQ and its players must build a different future.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr