Griffin's poor performance through the season culminated with elimination from the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) league this Wednesday after losing to SANDBOX Gaming in the lower bracket of the league's summer promotion series.
Ahead of 2020 season, almost all LCK teams went through some massive roster changes, but no other squad had quite as turbulent offseason as Griffin. The Kanavi-incident led to the departure of Griffin's two key players in top laner Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon and mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon, while Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok opted to remain in the LPL.
Without Chovy and Doran, Griffin entered 2020 season deprived of a lot of quality they had last year when they won both LCK Spring and Summer regular seasons and their struggles became very obvious early on. Outside of Week 2, when Griffin won both of their fixtures against SANDBOX and APK Prince, Choi "Sword" Sung-won and co. failed to consistently win matches, finishing the regular season last with a humiliating 28% win rate and the league-worst 5-13 series and 16-29 map record.
Despite the organisation's worst placement in their history, Griffin still had a chance to climb their way into the LCK with LCK 2020 Summer Promotion, where they met with Korea Challenger (CK) teams Seorabeol Gaming and Team Dynamics, as well as LCK ninth-place team SANDBOX.
In round one of LCK Summer Promotion, Griffin suffered a shock defeat against CK Champions Seorabeol Gaming (1-2), and later got swept by SANDBOX Gaming (0-2), who sealed the doors into LCK shut for Griffin, who will return to CK for the first time since 2018, when they won 2018 CK Spring with a perfect 14-0 record.
By being eliminated from Korean top-flight, Griffin effectively saw an end of an era, during which Sword and his squad established themselves as one of the most promising Korean League of Legends rosters in the world. Unfortunately, the internal controversy, which involved their former coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho, the team's management and Kanavi started to rot this team from the inside out.
Although Griffin still fielded some very talented individuals this season, it became obvious how important of a role their ex-mid laner Chovy played for this squad. The mid-jungle synergy between Choivy and Lee "Tarzan" Seung-young was one of the most feared throughout 2019 season, as there were not many teams that could match up the pressure Griffin were able to put on the map. But Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon, Chovy’s replacement, failed to live up to the expectations.
Adding to their struggles was also Sword's underwhelming performances throughout the season. The 22-year-old top laner, who was recognised as one of the best players during LCK 2019 Summer Split, ended this split with 2.01 KDA, 58.1% KPAR, 17% KS and only 20.7% GS, which made him one of the worst top laners in the league. Griffin's ADC Park "Viper" Do-hyeon saw some more success with his performances, but even he was not nearly as efficient as he was last season.
On the other side, Griffin's former players saw immense success in their endeavours this split. Chovy and Doran, who left for DragonX ended the regular season at third place with 14-4 record (tied-first) and later pocketed bronze in the playoffs after suffering a 1-3 loss to the eventual champions T1.
Kanavi, who decided to stay in the China's Pro League (LPL) ended the regular season as the league's Most-valuable player and is now set to make an appearance in the grand finals on Saturday, May 2, where JD Gaming will meet with Top Esports.
Written by KrajnikT
Tit Krajnik (KrajnikT) is an esports writer for onlineesports.com, where he reports news, features and writes other content related to the players, teams, industry and the esports scene as a whole.
He has previously worked as a news and betting-related articles writer in the "traditional" sports scene but later opted to turn his attention to esports, where he managed to combine his love for video games and the growing esports industry with his work.
Krajnik has started his journey as an esports writer by covering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, which he also played since its launch, but later broaden his skill-set to include other major esports titles including Dota 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Call of Duty.