Lee “Duke” Ho-seong will replace Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan in the top lane for the world champs, Korean site Fomos reports. Lee, 20, broke into the scene in 2013 as a member of KT Rolster Bullets, debuting at the IEM Season VIII World Championship where KT ran the table to take the title without dropping a single game. He joined NaJin Black Sword midway through 2014 and spent 2015 starting for NaJin e-mFire, earning the Champions league MVP award in the Spring season despite his team only placing sixth, missing out on the playoffs.
Few players are capable of carrying a team like Duke, as exhibited by that MVP award, and plays like this one:
Of course, he has some big shoes to fill. MaRin took the MVP award at the World Championships for a reason, and it wasn’t just for his ability to perform on a wide variety of champions, including tanks and damage-dealing top laners. He also served as shot caller and in-game leader for SK Telecom, something which Duke likely will not be able to do. But with veterans like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Bae “bengi” Seong-woong on the team, both of whom already contributed to SKT’s in-game decision making, the champs may not miss a beat.
They’ve certainly found a player capable of matching MaRin’s contributions, skill-wise. While Duke may not have the profile of some other Korean top laners like Kim “ssumday” Chan-ho and Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, that’s in large part because he didn’t play at the recent World Championship. And that wasn’t entirely his fault—as that MVP award indicates, he did his part to take his team there. On SK Telecom T1, with a better support staff and lineup surrounding him, Duke will get his chance to truly shine.
It may be disappointing for the champs to lose a key player like MaRin, but they won’t be hurting in the top lane when the 2016 season begins.
Screengrab via Twitch/OGN
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