SK Telecom drops three players

What does this mean for Piglet, h0r0, and PoohManDu?

Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube

On the eve of the $2.2 million Riot World Championships, the teams that failed to make it are already gearing up for next year.

Winners of last year’s World Championships, SK Telecom T1 K didn’t qualify to defend their title, depriving fans of the chance to watch the best player in League of Legends, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, compete on the biggest stage of the year.

They’ll try to return next season with a new bottom lane. Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin and Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon will not return to the team.

Chae, one of the stars of the documentary series Riot Games released heading in to Worlds, will take a break from pro gaming before deciding his future.

Lee will retire and return to school. The support player, who won Best Support in 2013 at the Korean eSports awards, took a break from gaming in January after SK Telecom T1 K’s world title last year. But the team pulled him back into the lineup in April, missing his star level play.

This time, the team will need a permanent replacement. The two releases also preclude another roster move: the removal of jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung, who receives plenty of criticism for his failure to have a huge impact from the jungle despite playing with the best mid lane player in history.

Just to be clear: Bengi almost certainly staying with K since they need 3 players to retain their Champions seed.

— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) September 17, 2014

Sister team SK Telecom T1 S will also seek a new player. Jungler Chae “H0R0” Jae-hwan will seek a team in the western scene, as SK Telecom T1 will not renew his contract. One of the founding members of SK Telecom’s League of Legends team, Chae has been a staple of the organization since 2012, their longest tenured player until now.

All eyes are on the Riot World Championships starting tomorrow, and the teams who came closest to reaching it are already trying to reach the next level. SK Telecom T1 K came one series away from a berth at Worlds. Curse Gaming, who also removed a member of their bottom lane today, was in the same position. But in professional sports, it’s win or go home—the harsh reality for four players from three different teams today.