Following reports of its entrance into the League Championship Series, Team EnVyUs has received Riot Games' approval to compete in the league and purchase the Renegades spot, the organization tells ESPN.
Additionally, the team has picked up three former Renegades members -- top laner Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong, mid laner Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo and support Nickolas "Hakuho" Surgent -- to be the core of its roster. The team is currently in close negotiations with a jungler and an AD carry and will finalize contracts with those players in the coming days.
Supporting the players will be two former Renegades staff members: assistant manager Matt "Matt" Akhavan, who will serve as general manager, and head coach David "Hermes" Tu. Those two were members of Renegades for the spring split.
Team EnVyUs managing director Mike "Hastr0" Rufail, a former Call of Duty pro player turned esports businessman, tells ESPN, "It's always been a dream of mine and our organization to be on the biggest stage in esports." A dream which will now be completed as his team enters the League Championship Series, one of the largest esports leagues.
"We've been growing extremely fast," Hastr0 tells ESPN. "We had one Call of Duty team in 2014. And beginning in 2015, we started our expansion with Counter-Strike, and now we have eight games. Over the course of 18 months, we've expanded into seven different games. So that's a big expansion for us. And the biggest missing piece was League of Legends. That's where we wanted to go."
Hastr0 and the EnVyUs team have done something difficult: build a new roster in between splits. Most player contracts last until November, following the World Championship each year, presenting big buyouts and other obstacles if players want to change teams in between splits.
"It was very difficult [to assemble a roster midseason]. It was not easy to do," Hastr0 says. "This was very, very time-consuming because I'm dealing with Koreans and North Americans at the same time and owners in both regions. You don't have time to sleep. It was just very time-consuming, very difficult to negotiate, and there are a lot of moving pieces in the LCS right now during the offseason."
"You don't have time to sleep. It was just very time-consuming, very difficult to negotiate, and there are a lot of moving pieces in the LCS right now during the offseason."
The move for Seraph and Ninja, the best players on Team Dragon Knights and two of the best on Renegades, was fairly easy, Hastr0 says. Prior to the competitive rulings against Team Dragon Knights and Renegades, Seraph and Ninja were set to return to Team Dragon Knights. Hastr0 says brothers Chris and Sean Shim, who were the owners of Team Dragon Knights, were helpful in the process of the transfer.
"I have a lot of respect for [Seraph and Ninja], especially the way Seraph has handled himself coming into North America," hastr0 says of his new top laner. "It also helps that Seraph is already grandfathered in as a North American player now, and that's really actually vital to being able to create two more import slots for us to go out and seek talent all over the world. That's important to us, and he's a crucial piece of that to us."
As for the mid lane, Ninja has shown great promise in the league, both last summer after visa issues and this spring after his competitive ban was lifted for alleged tampering last offseason.
"We feel like Ninja is one of the mid laners [in North America] that can actually compete with the best," hastr0 continues. "We wanted to put together a core team and Seraph and Ninja offer that as core players, along with Hakuho, that we can build around as a new team in LCS."
But like many LCS teams, expectations must be set. "Our expectations are certainly the same as when you buy into the LCS," Hastr0 says. "Don't get relegated, you know?"
"But really, the way our organization works, we want to win," he continued. "We're gonna try to win the LCS. That's our expectation. If you don't set your expectation to win and take first place, I feel like you're doing it wrong. You need to go in with the expectation and confidence that you can win."
In Counter-Strike, EnVyUs made a major roster change last summer and won a major tournament, DreamHack Cluj-Napoca, months later. In Call of Duty, the organization's oldest game, the team has always been a top competitor, taking several first-place finishes in tournaments over the past few years.
"Spread that [mentality] from the top part of the organization down," hastr0 says. "If you're not doing that, then the chances of you winning is greatly reduced. We're going in expecting to win. That's the way we've always ran our team."