Promotion weekend in League of Legends is one of the toughest in esports. While two teams earn the right to continue their pro gaming careers for another season, two teams lose that opportunity, six months or a year of hard work and dreams culminating in heartbreak.
The victory continues an LCS see-saw for Team Coast, who will compete in their third straight Spring Split of the league despite missing the previous two Summers.
During the Spring season this year, Team Coast set a new record for worst season in the LCS with a 1-14 record. Thanks to a new rule, that meant they were automatically relegated from the league. Promoted in their place was Enemy, who dominated the Spring season of the Challenger Series. In the past, those two teams would have played a best-of-five series for the right to compete in Summer. Team Coast didn’t get that match until last weekend.
Of course, the team that played Enemy, who put up a 4-12 LCS record in their rookie season, wasn’t the same as the Coast who lost at a record pace. Led by new Korean jungler Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon and coached by veteran Brandon “SaintVicious” DiMarco, this version looks like they belong in the LCS, sweeping Enemy in three games.
Of course, even with their new talent, it was top laner Cristian “Cris” Rosales who dealt the deathblow, solo killing Enemy’s nexus in the final game as Olaf. Rosales has developed a reputations as an LCS gatekeeper. This will be his third time in the LCS, but his previous two appearances were flanked by seasons outside it.
Team Coast will be joined in the LCS by Team 8, who defended their spot from Imagine Gaming in the final series of top laner Steven “CaliTrLolz” Kim. When Team 8 entered the league at the end of 2014, it was in large part thanks to Kim and his aggressive top lane style. During the Spring Season, no top laner was even close to Kim in kills at season’s end, with a tiebreaker on the final day of the season the only thing keeping them out of the playoffs. But the Summer Split wasn’t as kind to Kim or Team 8, who lost mid laner Andrew “Slooshi” Pham midway through the season. They put up a 6-12 record and found themselves fighting for their spot in the LCS.
For Kim, it was a bittersweet end to his League playing career. He has an obligation to return to pharmacy school after he took a year-long leave of absence to participate in the LCS. Winning the Promotion Series over Imagine by a 3-1 score and keeping Team 8 in the league after a mediocre 6-12 season was a parting gift from Kim, who is now stepping down.
His teammates, though, will continue their pro gaming journey. That’s really what promotions and relegations are all about.