Since the dawn of professional League of Legends, many eSports professionals have enjoyed new-found glory pursuing their passion and utilising their talents. The strain of 12 hour practice sessions, seven days a week can be extremely fatiguing for the players fighting to stay at the top of the game. For the fortunate few who have reaped rewards for their dedication, the commitment feels entirely worthwhile – but spare a thought for those with nothing to show for their careers. With the 2017 Spring Split imminent, four players in particular will be looking for redemption and a shot at glory.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
Dardoch entered the league scene as somewhat of an unknown prodigy, a mechanically gifted Jungler with a lot to prove. During the 2016 Spring Split he surpassed all expectations, leading Team Liquid to a first place finish during the regular split. Naturally, as the Rookie of the Split entered the Summer months, his potential was re-evaluated, fans now expected success.
His play wasn’t lacking during the summer split, but it certainly didn’t compare to the ‘Spring Split Dardoch’. A gradual decline in form and some serious personality clashes within the Team Liquid ranks resulted in Team Liquid pushing Dardoch to the exit. Initially, it appeared that Hartnett would join Echo Fox and settle for mediocrity…
But developments in the off-season have re-written Dardoch’s immediate future. Driven to succeed, the former Team Liquid man hasn’t settled for just any B-Tier team with an open door, rather he moved to a rebooted Immortals squad, looking to rebuild after a roster overhaul in the summer.
With a supportive organisation behind him, Dardoch will hope 2017 gives him the opportunity to rebuild his reputation and reap the rewards of his evident hard work and talent.
Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert
Tabzz joined the competitive League of Legends scene in 2011, making him a veteran relative to majority of the players competing on the European stage. First finding fame with LemonDogs and travelling with them to the 2013 World Championship, Tabzz tasted his first disappointment with a lacklustre performance, failing to get out of groups.
Tabzz later joined the star-studded roster boasted by Alliance and enjoyed a series of consecutive successes – being the first team to de-throne Fnatic doesn’t go unnoticed – though sadly, the demand for ’emerging talent’ cut short his spell with the ‘super team’.
After spending time on LCS and Challenger teams, he has finally been picked up by none other than the reformed Origen. As the team looks to rebuild from scratch after a diabolical 2016, Tabzz looks to be the main man on the roster, positioned as the one beacon of hope in an otherwise gloomy looking lineup. It’s with Origen’s band of misfits that he hopes to find redemption:
“Retiring with my reputation in it’s current state would be a mistake I’d regret. That’s why I’m back to prove my worth to both myself and the world.”
Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert
It’s clear that Tabzz isn’t ready to hang up his mouse, though whether he has what it takes to continue competing at the highest level remains to be seen. Any comeback he makes will have to be spectacular, as he’ll need to carry the rest of Origen with him.
Wonseok “Pawn” Heo
For any well-read League of Legends fan, Pawn should be an instantly recognisable name at this point. Unlike others on this list, Pawn burst onto the League scene and instantly demanded respect by solo-killing Faker in one of his first competitive outings.
His fame wasn’t going to stop there, as he joined Samsung White, arguably the best team to have stepped foot onto Summoners Rift. As the Mid Laner for SSW during the peak of their powers, Pawn formed an invaluable part of the roster that stormed through to a near flawless World Championship in 2014.
Following their incredible 2014 run, Samsung White collapsed. With big money deals flooding in from China, all of the players saw ¥ signs in their eyes and left for the Chinese pay checks. None of the players who moved ever proved their worth overseas, ironically the year after the Korean exodus, China provided it’s worst World Championship performance on record.
Now that Pawn is back in his homeland and on the heavily stacked roster of KT Rolster, he will need to make his comeback into the scene and once again prove his worth as a top tier Mid Laner. Another Solo kill may well make up for the past two years of dormancy.
Byung-Kwon “KaKAO” Lee
After staying loyal to the cause through four KT Rolster roster iterations, KaKAO decided to sample the Chinese lifestyle – by this point China was regarded as a graveyard for Korean pros. Before leaving he was considered to be the best Kha’Zix in the world and a competitor for the title of ‘best Lee Sin’, a truly world class Jungler.
After trying (and failing) to make a comeback on two Chinese teams, KaKAO has now landed himself a place on the promoted Misfits roster. Now that is he is somewhat the shining star of his team all eyes turn to KaKAO, not only to see if he can bring the Misfits roster together as he did with KT Rolster, but also to see if he can finally announce his comeback as one of the best Junglers in the world.
The odds are surprisingly in his favour, with many analysts considering Misfits to be a top team in Europe. All the cards are in KaKAO’s hands, he now has to show he is worthy of the praise that could potentially await him in the EU LCS.