Today, SK Telecom T1 showed that even world champions aren’t immune to this year’s ruthless roster mania.
Top laner and shot caller Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan will not return to SKT ahead of the 2016 season. Also leaving the team are two backup players who saw regular playing time, mid laner Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon and Im “T0M” Jae-hyeon. The reigning League of Legends champions have renewed the contracts of the rest of their roster, meaning four of their starters at Worlds will return.
The departures of Easyhoon and T-M won’t worry fans of the world champions too much considering neither player started for the team during their run to the title, though Easyhoon proved to be a useful backup player throughout the course of the year. Both players leave seeking an opportunity to play in a full time role, something they’ve both proven capable of during their time in SK Telecom T1. But the departure of MaRin, the MVP of the 2015 World Championship event, is a big blow to the SKT team.
As for MaRin’s destination or the reasons for his departure, we’re left to speculation. He showed he’s capable of incredible performance in the top lane on his way to winning that MVP award, and perhaps he desires to play on a team where he can emerge from behind the shadow of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the best player in the world. Maybe MaRin, a 24 year old, aging in League of Legends terms, is using his 2015 performance to secure his financial future. Perhaps, like many other Koreans who leave their home country, he wants to explore the world and play in a different region.
Wherever he ends up, SK Telecom T1 will sorely miss him, both as a player and as an in-game leader. But if any team has shown they’re able to replace talent, it’s SK Telecom T1. They still have Faker, who renewed his contract earlier this offseason, as their star carry and they retained their top notch coaching staff, including head coach Choi “L.i.E.S.” Byoung-hoon and Kim “KkOma” Jeon-gyun. Whether SKT picks up a veteran player or seeks one of those solo queue talents they’re famous for developing, like MaRin and Faker before him, they’ll recover.
But it goes to show that no one is immune to change in this tumultuous League of Legends offseason.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr