After a disappointing spring split, with Longzhu missing the playoffs, the team has decided to alter its starting roster, confirms coach Ham "Lustboy" Jang-sik. The current starters include Expession in the top lane, Crash/Chaser in the jungle, Coco in the mid lane, Fury/Emperor in the AD carry position, and Pure in the support position.
Lee "Flame" Ho-jong, who many consider to be one of the greatest top laners to play, and stalwart mid laner Kim "Frozen" Tae-il have been benched but will remain with the organization as practice members. Jang "Zzus" Joon-soo, the team's substitute support player who saw the least amount of playing time last split, will also be on the practice squad. All three players are benched for the first round, meaning none of them will be on the Rift for the first nine games of the summer split.
At the beginning of 2016, Longzhu appeared to be ready to challenge the giants of South Korean League of Legends. The rebranded club had big-money investors from China, a new strategic coach, and an impressive roster to go along with it. After a disappointing split, Longzhu finished out of the top five and missed the playoffs. So Longzhu decided to alter its starting roster from 10 to seven for the upcoming season.
"We've been thinking [a] 10 man roster is inefficient since even before spring," Lustboy told ESPN. "Choosing Coco [over Frozen] and Expession [over Flame] was based on the database we have, and consideration from the coaches."
Veteran Kang "Cpt Jack" Hyung-woo will be moving away from professional play and taking on a commentating role, and current European champion Kim "Emperor" Jin-hyun, is coming over from G2 Esports to join Longzhu. Coincidentally enough, Emperor was the player who took over for Jack two years ago in the CJ Entus Blaze bottom lane, which was anchored by Lustboy. Lee "Fury" Jin-yong will share AD carry duties with Emperor, as the former Samsung ace had a tough time adjusting to his new team after a suspension that kept him out of the entire first half of the spring split.
Besides the AD carry position, jungler is the only other position on the Longzhu roster where there will be competition this split. Lee "Chaser" Sang-hyun was one of the region's strongest junglers in 2015, but he'll need to keep it up over rookie Lee "Crash" Dong-woo, who dazzled in his limited time in the spring split and currently holds the No. 1 rank on the South Korean solo queue ladder.
Pound-for-pound the most talented team in Korea, and thus the world, Longzhu's greatest setback in the spring was coordination and comfort. The 10 man roster didn't work out, even with the likes of Flame, Coco and Chaser on the roster. So Longzhu is attempting to rectify that with a smaller, less topsy-turvy starting roster. We'll get our first look at the newly polished Longzhu Gaming when it kicks of the 2016 Champions Korea summer split on Wednesday against the Afreeca Freecs.