A professional player’s career is like a mountain range, with huge mountains and deep valleys, rising and dipping for strangest of reasons. Austin “Link” Shin’s professional career was similar. After more than a year of retirement, Link, just like a phoenix, is rising from the ashes of his ruined career, joining Team Liquid as a substitute Mid Laner, intended to substitute Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer when needed in what could turn out to be a similar arrangement to the one enjoyed to great effect on SK Telecom in 2015, where the Korean giants constantly switched out both Mid Laners.
Link’s professional career truly started in May, 2012, when he was signed to play for CLG Black. At the end of the same year, in December, he was called up to play on the organization’s LCS team, Counter Logic Gaming, playing for it until May, 2015, replaced by Eugene “Pobelter” Park. Following Link leaving the team, he posted a long rant about the backstage matters in Counter Logic Gaming, starting a big scandal, throwing a lot of shade on Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, the star player of the team at that time. With such a hissy fit marring his image, it was quite likely that Link would never play for a team again.
Signing Link makes a certain amount of sense, at least in theory. Goldenglue, while okay, is nothing to write home about, with not much LCS experience. It remains to be seen how the lengthy break from the competitive scene affected Link’s in game skill, however, what he does have over Goldenglue already is LCS experience, even if the game was different when he last entered the Rift in an LCS match.
If that wasn’t enough, by joining TL, Link is entering once more into a situation where the team is built around its AD Carry, Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin, where CLG was based around Doublelift. The only real difference is that Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin is a much stronger Jungler than Link had on CLG. The different level of Supports (with CLG winning out massively) more than makes up for it.
If it sounds like we’re making Link out to be the preferred choice as the main Mid Laner of Team Liquid, it shouldn’t. While he was decent once, he has to prove himself again. After a long time to work on his weaknesses and bide his time, however, Link should have every opportunity to take over from Goldenglue. The fact that Team Liquid actually signed a player of Link’s stature as a sub shows that they do not have full confidence that Goldenglue is really good enough to bring victories in the 2017 NALCS Spring Split. Unfortunately, it’s not certain at all that Link is the one to do it either. Once upon a time? Maybe. Now? We will just have to wait and see.