2017 LCK Spring Split Roster
Gu 'Expression' Bon-taek in Top Lane
Jungle 'Crash' Dong-woo in the Jungle
Song 'Fly' Young-jun in Mid Lane
Kim 'Pray' Jong-in as ADC
Kang 'GorillA' Beom-hyeon as Support
Manager - Dong-Hoon 'Hirai' Kang
Coach - Kim 'SSONG' Sang-su
Subs - Moon 'Cuzz' Woo-chan (Jungle) | Kwak 'Bdd' Bo-seong (Mid)
A shaky 2016 Spring and Summer Split followed by a strong finish at IEM XI Oakland was just the tip of the iceberg behind Longzhu Gaming's roller coaster of a season. If you've ever wanted to see roster turnover, you've come to the right place. The team rebranded from the Incredible Machine to Longzhu Gaming on January 4th, 2016 and fired into the Spring Split with a roster of Flame in top, Chaser in jungle, CoCo in mid, Cpt Jack as AD and Pure as support. Only Expression and Crash from the current roster were on that team as substitute players. The team placed 7th in the Spring Split, beating the teams they should have but not quite having the skill to overcome bigger names losing out to KT Rolster 0-2, ROX Tigers 0-2 and drawing with both Samsung and SKT T1 1-1. Their overall record had them at 8-10 (21-23) as they missed the postseason and that's when the wheels came off the bus.
2016 Roster Juggling
To keep a long story short, Longzhu Gaming went through one of the most volatile roster periods of any team in the top-flight of Korean League of Legends from the end of the Spring Split until the end of the 2016 Summer Split. It all started when the team brought in AD Emperor from G2 Esports who would be their sub to Fury playing in eight games and largely disappointing in that time frame. LZ followed that up with signings of Flame in the top lane (currently with Immortals in NA) and Frozen in the mid lane (currently on 1907 Fenerbahce). The team then brought in Justice in November who never featured on the main squad. With so many players on the roster the bubble was bound to burst and burst it did on November 30th with a mass exodus of Expression, Flame, Chaser, Coco, Frozen, Emporer, Fury and Pure all leaving the team. Expression would later re-sign in December and the team would bring in Pray, GorillA, Fly and Bdd in a three day span. This doesn't even include the 30-day ban Coco was given for account sharing on August 20th but rememeber - long story short.
Building off Strong IEM to 2017 Spring Split
Much like LZ's Spring Split, the Summer was not kind to the squad as they finished in 8th place with a 7-11 (16-24) record narrowly missing the relegation zone. With that finish, nobody could have foreseen the strong showing at IEM XI Oakland that LZ displayed. As the team representing South Korea, LZ boasted a lineup of Expression in top, Chaser in jungle, Frozen in mid, Fury as AD and Pure in support. They easily handled WC team Chief eSports Club 2-0 before falling to Flash Wolves 2-0 in the semifinals. The team took home $10,000 in prize money but more importantly the knowledge that they could finish 3-4th in a major tournament.
Now, it's no secret that all the roster shuffles Longzhu have gone through are to the detriment of the team. Chemistry is extremely important when it comes to MOBA games and constantly having to adapt to new players and playstyles is not a recipe for success. On a positive note though, the team made it through two grueling LCK splits with all the shuffling going on so it's safe to say the players that they've got are certainly skilled enough to compete with the world's best. Whether they can do that or not over a 10 week consistent period remains to be seen.
There are some fantastic teams in the Korean LCS and even the lower sides such as Kongdoo Monster and MVP come in with some momentum. I'm predicting that Longzhu Gaming will fall into the relegation zone in the upcoming Spring Split and it'll be up to the promotion playoffs to see if they can keep their LCK spot.
Agree or Disagree with our prediction? Let us know in the comments!