Here we are, with one leg firmly in 2020, yet the memories of 2019 are still as vivid as ever, especially for League of Legends fans who witnessed a monumental year for League of Legends esports, that shaped the scene forever. From Europe finally winning the MSI, North America falling flat again and China claiming the second World Championship in a row, many memorable moments took place throughout 2019, yet the biggest game-changers were the retirement of some LoL pro players, who decided to hang up their mouse and keyboard at the end of the season.
In memory of some legends that opted to leave the professional scene, Riot Games put together a video in which they said their final goodbye to Tamás "Vizicsacsi" Kiss, Go "Score" Dong-bin, Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan, Gu "imp" Seung-bin, Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong and Ming "Clearlove" Kai, who will no longer be seen on the Summoner's Rift.
Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan (December 2012 - November 2019)
Wolf started his career in December 2012, when he joined NaJin Shield, where he replaced support Chae "viNylCat" Woo-cheol, who took over the coach position. During his time at NaJin Shield, Wolf played alongside some LoL legends such as former TSM, Team Liquid and Golden Guardians coach Choi "Locodoco" Yoon-seop as well as former SKT T1 ADC Bae "Bang" Jun-sik.
In June 2013, Wolf joined Chunnam Tech U, but after only four months he packed his bags to join SKT T1, where he remained for four years. While at SKT T1, Wolf played as their main support, but also enjoyed a short stint as their jungler.
During his time at SKT T1, Wolf has earned a status as one of the best support players in the world, helping his team win two World Championship titles in 2015 and 2016 and even finished second in 2017. Adding to his impressive display on the Worlds stage, Wolf also helped SKT T1 win IEM S10 World Championship, 2016 MSI title and claimed silver at 2015 MSI, just to name a few accomplishments.
In November 2018, however, Wolf parted ways with SKT T1 and joined a Turkish LoL team SuperMassive eSports which plays in TCL. There Wolf claimed silver medals in TCL 2019 Winter and TCL 2019 Summer, before announcing his retirement on November 30, 2019.
Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong (October 2012 - December 2019)
Mata was another legendary South Korean support who has announced his retirement in 2019.
Mata, just like Wolf, started his career seven years ago, when he joined BBT in October 2012, however, he soon found himself packing his bags to join MVP Ozone in February 2013. Later the same year, MVP Ozone rebranded into Samsung Galaxy Ozone and later into Samsung Galaxy White.
During his time with Samsung Galaxy Ozone and Samsung Galaxy White, Mata made two LoL World Championship appearances in 2013 and 2014. The first year, Mata and SOO finished ninth-10th, while the next year, Mata wrote history as won the 2014 World Championship with Samsung Galaxy in what is to date regarded as one of the most dominant performance at Worlds, which earned Samsung Galaxy White and Mata a spot in the LoL Hall of Fame.
In November 2014 Mata joined up with ViCi as a result of "The Great Korean Exodus" and later teamed up with RNG where he helped the Chinese juggernauts win 2016 LPL Spring and finished second in 2016 LPL Summer. The same year, Mata also made a return to Worlds and finished fifth-eighth after losing to the eventual champions SKT T1 in the quarter-finals.
In December 2016, Mata made a return to South Korean when he joined with KT Rolster. In 2017, Mata claimed a silver medal at 2017 LCK Spring, 2017 Rift Rivals, and 2017 Korean Regional Finals as well as the title of champions at 2016 KeSPA Cup. Unfortunately, KT Rolster did not make it to Worlds that year after losing to Samsung Galaxy in the LCK Regional Finals. That, however, changed in 2018 season, where KT Rolster finished third in 2018 LCK Spring Split and won the Summer Split, thus making their way into the World Championship.
At 2018 Worlds, KT Rolster famously lost to the eventual champions Invictus Gaming in the quarterfinals, thus claiming an underwhelming fifth-eighth spot finish. Shortly after 2018 Worlds, Mata joined SKT T1, where he finished fifth-eighth at 2018 KeSPA Cup, won the 2019 LCK Spring Split and finished fourth in the Summer Split. SKT T1 also finished third-fourth at 2019 MSI and ended their 2019 World Championship venture at an underwhelming third-fourth place.
Following the disappointing performance at 2019 World Championship, SKT T1 reconstructed their roster, which saw Mata part ways with the team in November 2019. He decided he will not continue his career as a professional player, but instead became a head coach of his former team - Royal Never Give Up.
Mata ended his career with a plethora of incredible achievements, yet the one which stands out is his 2014 World Championship title with the Samsung Galaxy White, which are to date seen as one of the best teams that ever stood in the Summoner's Rift.
Gu "imp" Seung-bin (May 2012 - November 2019)
Mata's former teammate and his bottom lane partner at Samsung Galaxy White, imp, also decided he will hang up his mouse and keyboard in 2019.
Imp started his career in May 2012 with MVP Ozone, which later rebranded to Samsung White. His achievement in early days are the exact replica of those of Mata, as they were playing together at MVP Ozone and later at Samsung Galaxy White. The duo parted ways in October 2014, when Mata left for ViCi, while Imp opted to leave for LGD Gaming, where he spent most of his career.
Unfortunately, success was hard to come by for imp during his time at LGD Gaming. His most notable achievements with LGD were a second-place finish at 2015 LPL Spring, a first-place finish at 2015 LPL Summer, a silver medal at NEST 2016 and bronze medal at NEST 2017. Throughout his four-year-long stay with LGD Gaming, imp also made one appearance at World Championship in 2015, where he finished ninth-11th.
In May 2018 imp left LGD Gaming to join with Team WE where he was a substitute ADC but failed to see much success besides sixth-place finish at 2018 LPL Summer - West. In December the same year, imp left for JD Gaming where he claimed silver at 2019 LPL Spring Split and 2019 Rift Rivals as well as a third-place finish at 2019 LPL Regional Finals.
Following the underwhelming result at LPL Regional Finals, imp announced he will retire from the scene as he struggled to recapture his form from 2015 when he was regarded as one of the best ADCs in the world. With that, imp's career ended after seven and a half years and is now retired at only 24-years of age.
Go "Score" Dong-bin (May 2012 - November 2019)
Score was a former ADC, top laner and junger, who spent almost the entirety of his career with KT Rolster.
His career as a professional League of Legends player began in March 2012, when Score joined StarTale, where he played as a top laner. However, his stay at the team was relatively short, as it disbanded in August the same year, with the majority of the roster leaving for KT Rolster Bullets.
Score remained with Bullets until December 2014, when the organization decided to merge their two teams KT Rolster Bullets and KT Rolster Arrows into one team - KT Rolster.
Despite playing as an ADC for KT Rolster Bullets, Score opted to change his role to jungler once he signed with KT Rolster, which was a role he quickly became familiar with and a role which made him one of the most recognisable names in the League of Legends scene.
During his time with KT Rolster, Score achieved a plethora of impressive results in the domestic league as well as international tournaments, with some of the most notable being first-place finish at IEM S8 World Championship in 2014, 2017 KeSPA Cup title and a silver medal at 2018 Asian Games.
While Score appeared in 2015 and 2018 Worlds, he never got a chance to lift the Summoner's Cup as KT Rolster never made it past the quarter-finals, ultimately meaning Score had to settle with a fifth-eighth place finish in both Worlds Championships.
Score announced his retirement in November 2019, ending an impressive career, which saw him dominate the LCK scene, yet failed to claim the title of the world champion with KT Rolster.
Ming "Clearlove" Kai (2011 - December 2019)
Throughout his career, which started in 2011, Clearlove played under many names such as Troll, Mann and Clearlove7, yet he will always be remembered as simply Clearlove.
Ming Kai started his career with an unknown Chinese team in 2011 and later moved to Team Phoenix in June 2012, where he took over the role as a mid laner. Unfortunately, Team Phoenix disbanded in August 2012, when Clearlove and his teammate Feng "Fzzf" Zhuo-Jun decided to leave for Team WE.
After joining Team WE, Clearlove became a jungle main which quickly became his preferred role. With Team WE, Clearlove saw a huge amount of success, claiming numerous tournament titles. He also participated at Worlds Season 2 in 2012, where Team WE finished fifth-eighth. In February 2014, shortly after claiming the bronze medal at World Cyber Games 2013, Clearlove decided to move to EDward Gaming where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
Despite his immense success with Team WE, Clearlove's career reached new heights at EDG, where he dominated the LPL scene as the team's main jungler. From 2015 to 2018 were EDG's “golden years” as they were the top dogs of the Chinese LoL scene, winning five LPL titles, including three in a row from 2014-2015, which is to date the league's record.
However, despite his success in the domestic league, Clearlove failed to see the same results on the Worlds stage. Since joining EDG, he made five appearances at the World Championship but never managed to get past the quarter-finals, finishing fifth-eighth in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, while claiming an underwhelming 12th-13th place finish in 2017 when EDG failed to make it out of the group.
Clearlove decided to retire on December 16, 2019, when he left the active roster and decided to put his expertise to use by becoming EDG's new head coach, meaning he will continue his path with EDG for years to come. Clearlove already saw success as EDG’s head coach as he led his team to the second-place finish at Demacia Cup where EDG lost to Mata's RNG in the grand finals.
Tamás "Vizicsacsi" Kiss (April 2013 - November 2019)
Vizicsacsi decided to end his career as a professional League of Legends player in November making him the only European LoL legend to retire in 2019.
The Hungarian LoL pro his career in April 2013, when he joined Animate eSports, an English esports team, which was assembled of only home-grown players, making Vizicsacsi the only non-British player that played for the team throughout its relatively short life span.
Vizicsacsi remained with the team until August 2013, when the organization fell apart and released their players. A month later, in September 2013, Vizicsacsi joined Eternity Gaming, where he continued to play as a top laner, however, disaster struck shortly after, as the organization decided to disband the entirety of its roster, leaving Vizicsacsi without a team once more.
After two failed attempts to start his career on the right foot, Vizicsacsi was not involved in the scene until January 2014, when found his home at Unicorns of Love, where he remained for almost four years.
UoL were at the time one of the strongest European teams, which allowed Vizicsacsi to start building his name as a successful top laner. While the team failed to reach any remarkable results, Unicorns of Love were for years keeping up the pace with Europe's best teams and even got extremely close to making it to 2016 World Championship, but lost to Splyce (2-3) in the grand finals of 2016 European Regional Finals.
A year later, UoL got another shot at making it to Worlds, but once more crashed out of the Regional Finals, where they finished third. After their failure to reach the most prestigious LoL tournament of the year, Vizicsacsi decided to leave the team and joined up with a German team FC Schalke 04 Esports. There he continued to make waves in the European LoL scene, but again suffered a loss in the EU Regional Finals in 2018, meaning he got denied entry to Worlds for the third year in a row.
After spending one year with Schalke, Vizicsacsi opted to leave for Splyce, where he re-joined with his former teammate Xerxe and finished third in LEC 2019 Summer Split, which allowed Vizicsacsi to finally set foot in the LoL World Championship. Splyce were seen as heavy underdogs entering 2019 Worlds, but they managed to make noise as they finished fifth-eight after losing to SKT T1 in the quarter-finals.
After 2019 World Championship, Vizicsacsi announced his retirement, while his teammate Xerxe and Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup decided to leave the organization for Origen and TSM respectively. On November 21, 2019, Splyce rebranded themselves to MAD Lions E.C., marking the end of Splyce as we know it.
Despite his struggles to reach the World Championship, and a bumpy road at the beginning of his career, Vizicsacsi left behind an impressive portfolio of accomplishments, which made him one of the most recognisable names in the European League of Legends scene and the second most successful Hungarian esports player.