Suning, Topsports get top marks in League of Legends Pro League offseason grades

A fan hoists a banner supporting the League of Legends Pro League during the League of Legends World Championship in November in Incheon, South Korea. Provided by Riot Games

The offseason is coming to an end, and the dust has settled across the four major regions.

The League of Legends Pro League in China ended the 2018 season at the top on the back of Invictus Gaming's victory at the League of Legends World Championship in November in Seoul. Despite the region's relative success, there was plenty of roster movement to follow.

The LPL entertained a traditionally explosive offseason with some teams opting to trust the process in 2019, some for better or for worse. Here's how the LPL teams did when it came to retooling for the 2019 season.

Expansion teams Victory Five and SinoDragon Gaming were not included in the ranking.

Bilibili Gaming: C+

Bilibili's offseason is defined by two fairly significant moves, but unfortunately for the team, one weighs down significantly more than the other. Bilibili gets a gold star for replacing exciting-yet-erratic mid laner Ka "Athena" Ha-woon with the reliable Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng. It's a solid upgrade and brings some star power to the team, but that addition is accompanied by the loss of support Yun "Road" Han-gil, who is being replaced by an inexperienced pair of Chinese supports in Xie "Kine" Chao and Peng "Mni" Fang.

In addition, top laner Shek "AmazingJ" Wai Ho made the move to Royal Never Give Up, and former MVP top laner Kang "ADD" Geon-mo is set to come in as his replacement. Individually, there is little changed in the top lane, but overall, ADD profiles as a weaker South Korean import than Road.

Bilibili succeeded in maintaining general positional strength but failed to make overwhelming improvements after losing one of their most important players.

EDward Gaming: B

EDward Gaming is one of the few teams to maintain its starting roster from the 2018 LPL Summer Split, and that bodes well for the perennial domestic league contender. While EDG struggled with their traditional early game issues in 2018, Chen "Haro" Wen-Lin rose as an explosive jungle prospect near the end of the year and gave EDG the spark to qualify for the world championship. That doesn't mean Ming "Clearlove" Kai is out of action, but Haro provides a different look for the often same-faced EDG.

It's not just Haro for EDG, either. Lee "Scout" Ye-chan and Hu "iBoy" Xian-Zhao remain on the team as enormous sources of firepower complemented by one of the best supports to play League of Legends, Tian "Meiko" Ye. EDG are sticking it out for another year, and that's probably for the best given the team's late-season results. The only question is if this talented roster will be enough to truly contend for a title again.

FunPlus Phoenix: A

FunPlus was a pleasant surprise in 2018, often punching above its weight and bringing another competitive layer to the LPL. For 2019, the lineup largely remains the same with the exception of one key acquisition: mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang. As one of the best and most creative mid laners in the LPL, he singlehandedly raises the level of a FunPlus team that was on the cusp of being truly competitive in China.

Given that Doinb is replacing the beloved-but-outpaced mid laner Yu "Cool" Jia-jun, the mechanical level of the position is also upgraded. Moving forward, FunPlus Phoenix will be even more competitive with a more stable mid lane situation to complement their strong side lane players in Kim "GimGoon" Han-saem and Lin "Lwx" Wei-Xiang.

Invictus Gaming: A

Well, when it comes to a world champion lineup, it's hard to assign anything lower than an A grade. Song "Rookie" Eui-jin is the best mid laner in the world, and Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok and Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo continue to develop as talents pining for the same title in their own roles. However, Invictus Gaming was still shaky for most of the year as a result of its less-than-cerebral playstyle.

All things considered, Invictus Gaming still has the most talented roster in the LPL and is coming into the spring split hot from a strong Demacia Cup title run to cap off 2018. Invictus Gaming had a scare at the start of the offseason with support Wang "Baolan" Liu-Yi expressing his desire to leave the team, but management quickly brought him back to keep the worlds-winning team together.

It's strange to say a team has room to improve after winning a world championship, but given how fast things changed at the end of this year, it's a fair expectation and criticism of Invictus Gaming going into 2019 as the team has yet to win an LPL title.

JD Gaming: C

Going into 2019, JD Gaming has lost two key players from its 2018 roster: Kim "Clid" Tae-min and Lee "LoKeN" Dong-wook. Fortunately for JD Gaming, the players were not necessarily the greatest contributors to the team, but unfortunately for JD, the replacements are clear downgrades.

At AD carry, JD Gaming have brought in Ju "Bvoy" Yeong-hoon, who has done little to impress, in addition to Gu "Imp" Seung-bin, who has failed to perform at a high level since LGD Gaming's implosion in 2015. Clid has been replaced by junglers Sung "Flawless" Yeong-jun and Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh. Fortunately for JD, the dropoff at that position is not as significant -- especially with Levi showing his all-star potential at numerous international events -- but the sentiment is the same.

LGD Gaming: F

Well, LGD are at it again. Ever since winning the LPL title in 2015 summer, the team has done little to inspire fans with consistently poor roster moves. The 2018 offseason delivered more of the same with LGD's best players, top laner Lim "Jinoo" Jin-woo and AD carry Wang "y4" Nong-Mo, heading to expansion team Victory Five.

In an even more puzzling move, LGD signed former MVP mid laner An "Ian" Jun-hyeong, who has traditionally been regarded as one of the weaker League Champions Korea mid laners. LGD also brought on Ha "KKramer" Jong-hun to shore up the AD carry position, but there's no doubt that y4 was just as talented and had no language barrier with the team. Overall, LGD lost its most talented players and failed to upgrade any position.


Much like LGD, OMG has seen better days in the LPL and narrowly avoided an F by showing up to the offseason in some capacity. Most notably for OMG, both junglers in Chen "World6" Yu-Tian and Hu "Jiekou" Zi-Xiang left the team, in addition to AD carry Pi "XuanXuanPi" Xiao-Xuan. Although none of the players were particularly notable, OMG failed to bring in any proven talent in their stead.

OMG will be running with rookie junger Zhou "13est16" Zhi-Li and AD carry Li "Chelly" Yu-Zhou once more. Stable talents like Hu "Xiyang" Bin and Xe "Icon" Tian-Yu remain with the team, but they seem to have reached their ceilings in terms of competitive play.

OMG don't exactly fail the offseason by keeping things together, but maintaining the status quo isn't enough to really pass.

Rogue Warriors: F

Rogue Warriors were one of the best teams in the LPL last year, just barely missing out on the world championship at the end of the year. During 2018, they were electric, but during 2019, they won't be anything close to the same team. After a successful 2018, the entire roster has been plucked with the exception of support Liu "Killua" Dan-Yang, who was arguably the least impactful player on Rogue Warriors last year.

Their 2019 roster primarily features inexperienced rookie talent from the LoL Development League, including some from Rogue Warriors Shark, the organization's Tier 2 team. Considering those talents against former Rogue Warriors players like mid laner Doinb, AD carry Han "SMLZ" Jin and even Seong "Flawless" Yeon-jun, the roster has dropped off a cliff. Potential is the name of the game for Rogue Warriors, but their promise is a world away from the domestic monster this team was last year.

Royal Never Give Up: B-

RNG was the best team in the world for 90 percent of the year, taking both LPL titles, the Mid-Season Invitational and contributing significantly at Rift Rivals and the Asian Games. The roster remains largely unchanged, save for the loss of top laners Yan "Letme" Jun-Ze and Liu "Zzitai" Zhi-Hao. The top lane position will be taken over by former Bilibili top laner Shek "AmazingJ" Wai Ho, who profiles as a reasonable downgrade from both players.

AmazingJ isn't near the bottom of LPL top laners, but he does little to differentiate himself from the middle of the pack. As a carry-focused top laner joining an unchanged RNG lineup, it is unlikely he will contribute as effectively as the painfully underrated Letme. The move doesn't break RNG, but it's a clear step below the team that dominated the 2018 circuit.

Snake Esports: D

Snake Esports has been an enigma in the LPL since as long as fans can remember. Following the 2018 offseason, the team's puzzling nature probably will continue as it continues to search for stable AD carry and mid lane talent. Most notably, Snake replaced mid laner Zeng "Guoguo" Jun-Li with South Korean mid laner Yang "Mala" Hyeon-jong, who profiles as a sidegrade for the Snake mid lane with an assumed language barrier.

That same sentiment extends to the bot lane with Lu "Asura" Qi stepping in to replace Wang "Light" Guang-Yu. As an LDL-level talent, it's hard to say that he's an upgrade, but rather another attempt at plugging the position since longtime carry Yang "kRYST4L" Fan became inactive earlier in the year. Snake made basic moves and largely remain the same moving into 2019.

Suning: A+

All players considered, Suning are the absolute winner of the LPL offseason. After being a fringe competitor for much of 2018, Suning acquired star LoL Masters Series talents Hu "SwordArT" Shuo-Chieh and Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang to significantly bolster weaker positions on the team. It's not just that, either; Suning also signed away Rogue Warriors' star AD carry Han "Smlz" Jin, and that addition makes Suning a triple-threat-type lineup.

Suning maintained its strongest players from the 2018 season in Xie "XiaoAL" Zhen-Ying and Yang "H4cker" Zhi-Hao while also upgrading the remaining positions. Suning didn't perform as well as expected at Demacia Cup to end the year, but the level of talent is apparent, and Suning gets its grade for building a roster that should contend for an LPL title in 2019.

Team WE: C

Despite making it to the semifinals at the 2017 world championship, it feels like ages ago that Team WE were near the top of the LPL. Following their 2018 offseason moves, it appears that trend will continue. Most notably, Team WE have brought in numerous talents from the LDL while also losing Hu "Pepper" Zhi-Wei to Victory Five and Nam "Ben" Dong-hyun to Topsports Gaming. The team's saving grace this offseason was re-signing star carry Jin "Mystic" Seong-jun.

After a tough year in 2018, Team WE is playing around with a lot of young talent to complement mainstays like Ke "957" Chang-Yu and Su "Xiye" Han-Wei. Unfortunately, much of the talent was not well-regarded in the LPL, and these players do not profile as immediate upgrades or top-level talent. It's going to be another year of musical chairs for Team WE as they search for the players that will solidify the jungle and support roles.

Topsports Gaming: A+

Suning is considered the offseason winner with its overall stable of replacements, but Topsports contests that title with the acquisition of a single player: Zhuo "Knight" Ding. Knight struggled with contract issues for most of the year -- at one point playing for Suning Gaming -- but was regarded as the talent locked away. After an explosive Demacia Cup performance and return to competitive play, Knight is set to make Topsports one of the best teams in the LPL.

Although Knight stood out as the golden goose of the LPL offseason, Topsports also acquired Lee "LokeN" Dong-wook and Nam "Ben" Dong-hyun to form a strong competitive bot lane for the 2019 season, profiling much higher than their Chinese bot lane last year. After pushing Invictus Gaming in the Demacia Cup, it's not hard to see why everyone is excited for this re-tooled Topsports lineup.

Vici Gaming: D

Vici Gaming suffered a notable loss in AD carry Tan "Martin" Qi this offseason but was able to bring back XuanXuanPi while also adding more supplementary talent. Unfortunately for Vici, the roster is far from contending for middle of the pack, much less a playoff spot. Such has been the case since Vici Gaming's re-entrance into the league last year.

Maintaining solid domestic talent like Zhao "Aodi" Ao-Di is all well and good, but it hardly makes for an explosive offseason. There's always a chance that the new LDL talent will rise to prominence, but that remains be seen.