4 crazy roster changes that nearly happened

These Roster changes may not seem that big today, with intercontinental transfers being the hottest new trend but at the time where these offers were on the table, they would have been game-changing.

CLG MakNooN

If there was ever a proposed roster change guilty of becoming a meme then CLG MakNooN was it. The phrase ‘CLG MakNooN please’ was plastered over message boards after MakNooN’s departure from NaJin Black Sword in May 2013 and again after his departure from the Kt Rolster Arrows in October 2013. While now we know MakNooN as an entertaining streamer and victim of Uszat interviews it’s important to remember that MakNooN is an OGN Champion, the MVP of OGN Winter 2012-13, MLG finalist and all around legend of the competitive LoL scene. Wielding his aggressive ‘do dive’ strategies, it was his NaJin Sword (MakNooN, Watch, Ssong, Pray, Cain) that set the world on fire at the Season 2 World Championships, ripped through OGN Winter 2012-13 and was the first Korean team to truly defeat the Frost and Blaze empire. What somehow went under the radar was that MakNooN actually discussed joining CLG all the way back in OGN Summer 2012 (back when the CLG lineup was Voyboy, HotshotGG, BigfatLP, Doublelift, Chauster). ‘[CLG] actually considered dropping me at the time and bringing in I think it was MakNooN or something, before the World Championships…’ [Voyboy Grilled]. We have also double checked this with a source that is close to the heart of the CLG organization. The parallel world where the offer for CLG was accepted would’ve been very different for League of Legends. NaJin Sword are, in terms of storyline alone, one of the most important Korean teams and without their team captain MakNooN it’s impossible to imagine them having the same impact on the game: – The loss to Sword at the Season 2 Korean Regionals was what caused Reapered to leave Blaze when he did (I think it’s safe to say that Azubu Blaze wouldn’t have beaten TPA at Worlds though). – With Reapered staying on Blaze then it’s difficult to say which Korean organisation would’ve picked up Flame. – It was Pray’s performance at OGN Winter 2012-13 that got the world to recognise him as one of the greatest ADCs in the history of LoL. – Sword’s crushing defeat of Frost certainly pushed the retirement of Woong forward, it’s possible Woong might’ve stuck around for OGN Spring 2013. – Currently Watch, alongside dade, is one of the only two players to make OGN finals with two different teams and yet it’s likely his career would’ve never taken off without MakNooN. – The legend of 6 Ssong would’ve never been born. I’m not going to speculate on what CLG MakNooN would’ve meant for CLG because I don’t think it would’ve lasted. CLG have been, for the longest time, a real heart-breaker of a team and I don’t believe the personalities on CLG would’ve let MakNooN operate as he did on NaJin Sword. It wouldn’t have been quite as bad as the Locodoco support era but I think a change after a disappointing Season 2 World Championship or IPL5 result is really realistic.

CLG Wh1t3zZ

Remember this screenshot? How there was mad speculation about it and how it never seemingly came to anything? The time was after Season 3 World Championships, Royal Club had both shocked and disappointed the world by reaching the finals and then crashing to SK Telecom T1 K in an equally spectacular fashion. Tabe and Wh1t3zZ had always maintained that after Season 3 World Championship, regardless of result, they were going to retire. Tabe cited poor paying conditions for Chinese players and while the squad limped onto the WCG 2013 Chinese Qualifier (that they did not perform well in) they decided to throw in the towel afterwards. What most people don’t know is that CLG instigated several talks with Wh1t3zZ about him playing midlane for CLG and switching Link to jungle. While we know now CLG picked up Dexter for the jungle and kept Link in the midlane this was primarily due to Wh1t3zZ sticking to his guns and retiring. Had Wh1t3zZ chosen to accept then CLG would be a different team. First off it can be said that, just in terms of laning, Wh1t3zZ might be the closest to perfect anyone’s ever seen (just remember the spanking he gave xPeke at Season 3 World Championships). Yes his team fighting was mediocre (he typically just focused on protecting Uzi and didn’t really land any big ultimates or flashy plays), his roaming needed work and his champion pool was weird (not neccessarily weird in a bad way though, he had a lot of pocket picks) but he could’ve done serious work for CLG. Just look at how Bjergsen crushed through NA in the first few weeks of the NA LCS, his razor sharp laning from a different land was too much for his NA rivals to handle and he carried games off the back of that alone. While it’s true that Bjergsen fell off a bit as the season progressed (differing trends in champion pools that he didn’t keep up with, Link returning to midlane, Shiphtur finding his competitive identity and Hai stepping his game up) it’s difficult to argue that Wh1t3zZ wouldn’t have  been an even greater monster in the North American midlane. I really can’t stress enough how perfect this guy’s laning was and how he could’ve melted the entire North American LCS. Dexter obviously got offers back home in Europe in an amoungst all the roster reshuffles that took place in the off season. Both the Copenhagen Wolves and SK Gaming seem like extremely likely candidates to give Dexter a spot given how high of a regard he is held in back home (Dexter commented that no currently top 4 EU team at the time offered him a spot so he decided to go overseas) and it’s possible that either of those teams would’ve been stronger with him. Follow the rabbit hole deep enough and that’s where he can get really interesting. Suppose Dexter did join Copenhagen Wolves, would that have affected their ADC tryouts that ended with FORG1VEN joining? And with the news of TSM Amazing being made public it’s possible that we’d see TSM Dexter if the events stayed the same. It can be said certainly said that if Dexter joined CW then Amazing would’ve never gotten the exposure to make the big transfer to TSM possible, interesting to think about at least.

CST Helios

No this isn’t a typo, former CJ Entus Blaze and NaJin Black Sword jungler was in heavy talks with Team Coast around the time of relegation. For those of who don’t know, despite competing in NLB Winter with the same roster they used in OGN Winter (Limit, Helios, Nagne, Pray, Cain), it’s confirmed that Helios, Pray and Limit have moved out of the NaJin house (Limit’s sister confirmed on the NaJin fansite that Limit is practicing by himself in a PC Bang). While this may be a surprise to some, the InsideKLoL twitter account confirmed a little while ago that [“Najin e-mFire officially announced that Sword goes into full rebuilding mode after the NLB finished.”] and it’s pretty common knowledge that the big KeSPA teams don’t really care about NLB (the viewership and prestige pales in comparison to OGN Champions and Masters). After losing to Dignitas in the 5th place playoff Team Coast set about finding a suitable replacement for jungler Nintendudex and were pretty desperate to recruit Helios. Assuming his English is suitable (it’s safe to say that Team Coast wouldn’t try and acquire a player who couldn’t speak English on some level) then Helios would’ve been a potentially strong pickup and a certain upgrade over Nintendudex. Helios is an IEM World Champion, two time Spring OGN finalist (he even won OGN Spring 2012) and MLG Champion. Towards the end of his CJ Entus days Helios, like a lot of Blaze players, struggled with consistency but it’s safe to say that the team was no longer a good fit for the veteren jungler. Reportedly samwiched inbetween the enormous egos of Flame and Ambition, Helios struggled to have his voice heard in the team and his small champion pool was often left bare for the enemy team to pick apart. There’s no doubt that moving Helios to a further ailing Frost was a mistake and the midlaner changing everyday only exacerbated his problems. He had some impressive Lee Sin kicks and an impressive Baron secure but he struggled to make a proper impact in the hyper competitive Korean scene. In a surprise signing by NaJin Black Sword, Helios looked revitalised. Adapting more of the playstyle and champion pool used by White Shield’s jungler Watch, Helios picked up some impressive victories in Masters and Champions. However, being drawn into the group of death with Samsung Blue, Kt Rolster Bullets and the Jin Air Falcons was too much and the cracks began to show. Some good performances on their shoulder, the Kings of NLB descended again into their kingdom (nicknamed NaJin’s League Bitches) where they reached the final against long time rivals CJ Entus Frost. Helios does have his strengths and skills. His precise shotcalling did sort out a lot of the issues on Sword and he did secure some impressive ganks for the team. With exceptional Lee Sin and Evelynn play it’s clear Helios is a very clever and calculating player who’s still has something to give to a team (though he may be running out of Korean teams). I still use Helios’s transformation as an example of a player totally turning his career around to give hope to fans after their favourite player begins to slip in performance. It’s difficult to say how strong Coast would’ve been with Helios. While he would’ve certainly made the right calls for Team Coast it’s worth remembering that sometimes an issue with players not following the calls. Yes it’s true that Team Coast with Helios would’ve improved for the Summer Split but seemingly every team (except Cloud 9 and Curse) has had a dramatic roster change in the hopes of increasing their performance. Put simply, I don’t know if Team Coast would’ve been strong enough to fight off relegation, let alone make a serious attempt at a Worlds spot.

Alliance Rekkles

Back in the 2013 EU LCS Summer Split Rekkles, held back by age restrictions, was stuck watching the LCS from the substitute bench. In order to gain as much experience as possible, Fnatic loaned out the 16 year old to then promising amateur team Copenhagen Wolves. Rekkles and the Copenhagen Wolves won an impressive $78,000 from amateur events in 5 months and never placed below top 2 in a tournament. Perhaps it was nerves about replacing Puszu and causing Fnatic’s underperformance, perhaps it was due to his friendship with Shook, perhaps it was due to an unsatisfaction regarding the Fnatic player’s attitudes or perhaps it was simply due to him thinking the team that became Alliance would be the stronger team but it is true that Rekkles attempted to join the superteam in it’s infancy. It’s worth bearing in mind that the original superteam and the final Alliance lineup differed drastically and the only real constants were Shook and Froggen; Alex Ich, Kev1n and Jwaow were all considered and tried out for the toplane alone. Ironically I actually think this move would’ve had both Fnatic and Alliance worse off overall. After Froggen, Tabzz was really the carry of Alliance in their debut Split. Yes he may make the occasional positioning error but his laning, mechanical skill and champion pool are extremely strong (plus he has fantastic acting skills). Tabzz is a consistent player who puts up great results considering the low amount of resources he takes from his team. Yes he is ‘worse’ than Rekkles but he’s also more of a team player and it took Fnatic a good amount of time to adapt to Rekkles (Tabzz’s playstyle is somewhere inbetween Puszu and Rekkles). Rekkles may be the greatest Western ADC and potentially equal to the KeSPA elite (Piglet, Pray, Imp, Deft) but he’s also a player who really demands a lot from his team. It’s not his fault (I mean obviously the style of play works, look at his personal results) but simply an inevitability of his age and other factors (every player has a playstyle and it’s about how players adapt their habits to each other).