Immortals plan on declining jungler Jake "Xmithie" Puchero's second-year team option and acquiring former Origen head coach Andre "Guilhoto" Pereira Guilhoto, league sources told ESPN, initiating a rebuild for the team that finished eighth in spring and then 10th in summer in their first season back in the League of Legends Championship Series.
Xmithie, Astralis and Immortals declined to comment.
Xmithie would become a free agent for the second year in a row. He decided to leave Team Liquid in late 2019 after winning four consecutive domestic championships.
During the 2019-20 free-agency period, Xmithie was among the most coveted free agents, receiving an offer from Liquid to stay on and split time with Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen, as well as interest from TSM, Dignitas and Immortals. Ultimately, Immortals offered a large deal that saw Xmithie, who is one of the oldest players in the league at 29, make a high annual salary, sources said.
Xmithie's stock this year will not be the same as last, as FlyQuest jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen leads the pack of top junglers with expiring contracts in November. Other notable free-agent junglers or those available for buyout in North America and Europe include Broxah, Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao, William "Meteos" Hartman and Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir.
Immortals plan to pair Guilhoto with director of competitive esports Mike Schwartz -- who has served in an interim general manager role since the team let go of the coaching and managerial staff at the end of the season -- to retool the lineup. The team's sole remaining LCS starter on contract is support player Nickolas "Hakuho" Surgent, whose contract lasts through the end of the 2021 season. The team is expected to evaluate the entire landscape ahead of the 2020-21 League of Legends Free Agency period, which opens Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET.
As of Monday, Guilhoto remains under contract with Astralis. Prior to finalizing a deal with Immortals, he will need to secure his release from Astralis.
Guilhoto would join Immortals after his time on Origen, who rebranded to Astralis several weeks ago to match their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sister brand. At the time of the rebranding, Astralis management said Guilhoto's role moving forward was undetermined, but that he'd be sticking with the organization at least in the short term. Given previous successes on teams like FC Schalke 04 Esports, Guilhoto's services became in demand for teams in Europe and North America looking for a new direction.
Immortals marked their return to the LCS after a two-year absence following the decline of their franchise application for permanent partnership in the league. In mid-2019, Immortals Gaming Club acquired Infinite Esports & Entertainment, the Dallas-based parent company of OpTic Gaming and the Houston Outlaws. With that acquisition, Immortals rebranded the OpTic LCS slot to match their main brand.
After making a big free-agent swing with Xmithie, the team signed French veteran top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer and mid laner Jérémy "Eika" Valdenaire, as well as AD carry Johnny "Altec" Ru. The team then went on to perform poorly, finishing eighth in the spring and 10th in the summer. Midway through the summer, the team fired head coach Thomas "Zaboutine" Si-Hassen and general manager Keaton Cryer, installing Schwartz in the interim role after his work with the Los Angeles Valiant, another Immortals portfolio esports team. Following the end to the season, the team released sOAZ, Eika and Altec from their contracts.