In the 2016 League of Legends World Championship, ROX Tigers were the favorites to win. Their roster of Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, Lee “kurO” Seo-haeng, Kim “PraY” Jong-in and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon was thought to be one of the strongest in the tournament. The team more or less met our expectations, making it into the Semifinals of the tournament and gifting us with the greatest best of five series in the history of League of Legends when they fought the two time World Champion SK Telecom T1 for the spot in the Finals, losing the match after a nailbiting five game series.
After that, ROX Tigers played in an won the 2016 LoL KeSPA Cup, but the players left the team, leaving the org to try and find an entirely new roster for the next season. No matter which players ROX Tigers signed, it was a fact that their fans would be disappointed. The management found themselves in a very hard situation, where they faced the possibility that they won’t be able to live up to their results in the previous season. Despite that, with fans’ expectations weighing on their shoulders, they announced a new team.
The Top Lane will be taken by two players, Park “Shy” Sang-myeon and Heo “Lindarang” Man-heung. Once upon a time, Shy was one of the best Top Laners in Korea. Now, his star is falling, ROX Tigers might actually be his last hurrah, following a long career on Azubu Frost and CJ Entus Frost and CJ Entus, spanning almost 4 years. He started his bigtime LoL pro career in June 2012, after all. It’s likely that Shy is intended to act as a mentor for the talented youngster, Lindarang, who started his own professional career on afreeca Freecs in January 2016.
The Jungle role will be filled by the former afreeca Freecs Jungler, Yoon “Seonghwan” Seong-hwan. The 19 year old joined his first team together with Lindarang in January 2016. Different from his past and present teammate, however, he played less games in the LCK Summer Split. So far, the roster doesn’t look that promising, to be honest. At least if you’re like most ROX Tigers fans and expect great things from the team. Conventionally, you can’t achieve great things with players who come from a middle of the pack team like afreeca Freecs, which placed 5th in the Playoffs and Regular Season of the 2016 LCK Summer Split.
Mid Lane is taken by afreeca Freecs’ former Mid, Sun “Mickey” Yong-min. The player has been rumored to have joined Origen, which plays in the EU LCS, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case after all. Comparing him to the rest of his afreeca Freecs teammates so far, Mickey is a bit more experienced, though his first serious LCK team was still afreeca Freecs. The only difference is that he was signed a month or so earlier.
The new ROX Bot Lane will have the last former AF player, Kwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yoon as the AD Carry and Han-gi “KeY” Kim from Ever as Support. Looking at the whole team as a whole, it’s prospects aren’t very bright if we put the same expectations we had for Smeb, Peanut, kurO, PraY and GorillA. If, however, we accept that not getting relegated in the most competitive LoL league in the world is a worthy achievement, we might not be disappointed. ROX Tigers have left the apex of LoL greatness. Now, they have to be somehow able to keep themselves at least mediocre or risk getting relegated.