Throughout his almost four year career, Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong has been a journeyman. When he first traveled to North America in 2014 to become one of original Korean imports to play in the LCS with Counter Logic Gaming, great things were expected from the NaJin White Shield substitute. A dynamic player with a signature Nidalee that terrorized the solo queue, the South Korean top laner was seen as a future star before he even made his professional debut.
Following a disruptive stint with CLG, Seraph has found various homes in North America, most notably with Team Dragon Knights. But after playing for three different teams in the 2016 spring split, it ultimately feels like the now-veteran has found himself a permanent home: the Renegades.
Seraph played for Team Impulse, TDK and Renegades this split, but he was traded from the Dragon Knights to Renegades before the March 1st roster lock. The trade sent Seraph and his ally Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo from the Korean-speaking Dragons to the more English-prominent Renegades. For Seraph, the shift in team language hasn't hindered him, as his English has improved to near-fluent levels when conversing with his teammates.
"Renegades use English to communicate, but TDK use completely full Korean," Seraph mentioned as one of the biggest changes. "Gamestyles, TDK is more -- to be honest, this current meta is carry jungle meta, and [Kevin "Kez" Jeon from TDK] is more defensive. [Alberto "Crumbz" Rengifo] is also defensive, but he can play aggressive sometimes. So he can change the style [of the game], and I think that's the biggest difference."
Saying the Renegades' inaugural season has been bumpy would be an understatement. After winning its first game of the year in spectacular fashion, issues with visas, starting lineup changes and inept decisions in the late game took REN on an almost season-long losing streak. Before the trade between TDK and Renegades, which sent over the new Korean duo, the Renegades were looking to go down as one of the worst teams in NA (or EU) LCS history.
"Ninja and I are best friends," Seraph said. "We always use the double teleport, or Ninja is always roaming top or I go roam mid. So we coordinate really [well]."
The pickup of the two best friends has spearheaded REN's comeback in the lower half of standings. Heading into the final day of the regular season, the team still has a chance to grab eighth place in the ladder and give itself two chances to requalify for the summer split. However, if REN fails to pull itself out of the 10th hole, Seraph will have a meeting with his old team, the Dragon Knights, in the first round of the promotional tournament, with the series loser being sent to the minor leagues for the rest of the year.
On whether either of the two Challenger teams -- Apex Gaming or TDK -- could pose a problem for the rebuilt Renegades, Seraph said that while Apex was the stronger overall team, his former teammates' knowledge of his playstyle could cause problems if they met up. When I asked him to make a prediction on what two teams would be sent down to the minors, Seraph replied with confidence that his team would definitely make it back to LCS for the summer split -- and the other four are very closely matched and can fight it out for the two final slots.
Although no longer competing in Korea, the former Najin player keeps up with his home country's games. In the most competitive and deep pool of teams in LCK history, Seraph thinks the ROX Tigers are head and shoulders above the rest, and current standings are telling of each team's power. "I think the current rank in the LCK is correct," he said. "Jin Air is second, KT, CJ, etc."
With the NA LCS shifting from Santa Monica to Las Vegas in less than a month, Seraph also didn't shy away from the squad he believes will be hoisting the championship:
"In the current NA LCS, no one can stop [Immortals]," he said. "No NA team can beat them, unless they improve. But [right now], I don't think they can win."
Moving from organization to organization can be difficult for a player. When I questioned Seraph on the player or people who've helped him the most or been the best influence since moving over, he quickly brought up the team's star AD carry from Europe, Ales "Freeze" Knezinek.
"Freeze is a really funny guy," he said. "He's a really good teammate. Sometimes we lose scrims...but Freeze makes us [more relaxed]. He helps us forget we are losing and brings us back into a good mood. ...He also has really good skills, so I really respect him."
Wanderer, journeyman and now Renegade -- this could be the organization in which Seraph finally calls home.