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YamatoCannon joins SANDBOX Gaming as first Western LCK head coach

Riot Games

Former Team Vitality coach and League of Legends European Championship analyst Jakob "YamatoCannon" Mebdi will join SANDBOX Gaming as their head coach, becoming the first Western coach to join a League Champions Korea team in that position, sources familiar with the team's plans told ESPN.

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YamatoCannon will work remotely from his home in Europe until it's safe to relocate to Seoul, South Korea. South Korea saw rapid improvements amid the coronavirus pandemic but has recently experienced new concerns after more than 100 COVID-19 cases were traced back to the entertainment district of Itaewon in Seoul.

YamatoCannon joins SANDBOX after he worked for Riot Games as a desk analyst for the League European Championship in their Berlin studio, and then remotely from home, following the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. Prior to working as a full-time analyst, YamatoCannon was one of the most popular European coaches, serving as the head coach of Team ROCCAT, Splyce and Team Vitality, and being a frequent guest on the analyst desk. Before coaching, YamatoCannon played League of Legends professionally.

During his time with Vitality, YamatoCannon led the team to the 2018 World Championship in South Korea, where they nearly qualified for the quarterfinals. In that group, they went 3-3, defeating Gen.G twice and Royal Never Give Up once. The team ultimately did not qualify, with Royal Never Give Up and Cloud9 advancing out into the quarterfinals.

No other Western coach -- from North America or Europe -- has served as a head coach of a team in the LCK. Nick "LS" De Cesare, who is currently a commentator for the English-language League Champions Korea broadcast, served as the head coach of the BBQ Olivers from late 2018 through summer 2019, but at that time, BBQ Olivers competed in Challengers Korea, the amateur sister of the LCK.

The 2020 Spring Split spelled disaster for SANDBOX, as the team finished ninth overall -- the lowest in organizational history -- in the LCK. The team competed to retain their spot in the 2020 LCK Summer Promotion tournament and were successful in doing so after defeating Seorabeol Gaming.