League of Legends Pros - Retired or Taking a Break
In just a couple of months, we will see our favorite League of Legends pros back in action. Season 12 of League of Legends has officially ended and after DRX lifted the Worlds 2022 trophy, organizations and teams around the world quickly huddled around the table to pick out the new rosters heading into 2023. With all regions well into the free-agent announcement windows, the League of Legends offseason is in full swing. We’ve already had a string of rumors and reports and notably, most teams across the world have officially announced their 2023 rosters. A season is always promising since it offers new talent and academy players a chance to play at the highest level and this sometimes means that the best in the business get left behind. While some seasoned pros go in for a break and find a team the next season, some of them announce their retirements.
Here are the pros that are on a break from competitive League of Legends and the rest who have officially bid adieu to the esport.
What are these League of Legends pros up to in 2023?
Former world champion Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon officially retired from professional League of Legends on 28th November, after parting ways with Damwon Kia on 15th November. The announcement was confirmed by esports journalist . She posted, “Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon, the former top laner of DWG KIA and FPX, 2020 World Champion, has decided to retire from the professional League of Legends scene.”
He last played at Worlds 2022 alongside Damwon Kia and lost to Gen.G in the quarterfinal. Notably, he won Worlds in 2020 at the peak of his career and the following year, he moved to China to play for FunPlus Phoenix (FPX). During his time at FPX, Nuguri struggled to maintain his championship-winning form and was forced to take a break from the competition at the end of 2021. However, this break was rather short as he announced his comeback to Damwon Kia at the start of the LCK 2022 Summer Split.
Nuguri began his competitive career back in 2017 on I Gaming Star and competed in the Summer Split of Challengers Korea. He was pivotal in Damwon Kia's entry into the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK).
In August, veteran top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon decided to step down from the professional League of Legends scene after almost seven years. The star player was a part of the Team SoloMid (TSM) League Championship Series (LCS) roster and stepped down from the top lane in July after recurring wrist injuries. After this, Huni assisted the coaching staff of TSM and also made an appearance on the LCS broadcast as a caster. During his illustrious career, Huni played in three major regions – Korea, Europe, and North America. He was a part of iconic League of Legends teams including SK Telecom T1 (SKT T1), Fnatic, Immortals, Echo Fox, Dignitas, Evil Geniuses, and TSM.
League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team Bilibili Gaming (BLG) and iconic bot laner Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao parted ways on 1st June. Earlier in March, Uzi had decided to take a break from pro play ahead of the 2022 LPL Spring Playoffs. Uzi's first retirement was announced on 3rd June 2020 and two years later, the pro player was caught in a similar loop again. It is unclear if the attack damage carry (ADC) player will get back into competitive League of Legends in 2023. Notably, Uzi and his wife welcomed their first-born boy on 9th December.
Former world champion Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang parted ways with LNG Esports on 12th November and became a free agent. Most fans were expecting Doinb to join another organization soon enough. However, on 12th December, Doinb revealed on stream that he will be taking a temporary break from competitive League of Legends. According to a , Doinb said, “I lost confidence after this year. Last year you ask me if I could take [a] bunch of young talents to Worlds, I would say yes. Now I won't say so. So after talking with the team, I decided to rest and gain confidence."
Doinb added, “There are other teams contacting me other than LNG. For me, I need to join a team that can win Championships, I can't join a team that is not going to perform. Now I need time to regain confidence. For how long? Might be short, might be long.” He confidently asserted that he was not retiring.
Former Team Vitality player Barney “Alphari” Morris announced that he shall be taking a break from professional play and explained that his motivation to play the game has dipped. In a , Alphari stated that he won't be competing at the start of 2023 and added that he did not look for or even want to join a team. He talked about how his motivation to compete took a hit after he failed to achieve his goal of winning a split. Alphari also noted that he will either come back with newfound motivation and perspective or ascertain that it is more worthwhile to not play instead.
Former SK Gaming support player Erik “Treatz” Wessén released a lengthy statement on 15th November and explained his free agency status. He confirmed that he shall not be competing alongside a League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) team at the start of 2023. He wrote in his statement, “Honestly I'm heartbroken, I poured my heart and soul into my team the past two years and did everything I could (even role swap) for the greater good of the team. I realize in hindsight that this stunted my growth as an individual player in the short term, but I am not regretful because it taught me a lot of things about the game and team dynamics.”
He added that he believes League of Legends is more about fitting the correct puzzle pieces together rather than a single piece being very powerful and that he values himself highly as someone who can be very mouldable and contribute to any team.
Elias "Upset" Lipp was one of the top ADCs in the LEC in 2022 and also had a strong showing at Worlds 2022. However, the potential return of a former Fnatic star likely muddled the chances of Upset being retained by Fnatic in 2023. On 8th November, reporter Brieuc Seeger aka LEC Woloo revealed that star player Martin “Rekkles” Larsson will return to Fnatic as its ADC for 2023. Following this, Rekkles tweeted a short yet strong message: “I’m back.”
Upset explained on Twitter that he could not find a team to compete in the LEC. He said, “Sadly the circumstances around this off-season did not allow me to go to one of my desired places to compete. I will be grinding a lot of Soloq here and in Korea in the new season and probably gonna stream quite a bit of it. I am confident in my return in great form.”
LCS top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau announced that he too shall be taking a break from pro play in the 2023 season. Bwipo was part of Team Liquid in 2022 and he was allowed to explore his options in the off-season. However, after failing to find a team for 2023, he is now a free agent contracted to Team Liquid as a content creator.
He had signed with Team Liquid for the 2022 season. During the offseason, the organization had given him permission to explore options, but since he’s been unable to find a team, he’s now a free agent contracted to Team Liquid as a content creator. Bwipo moved to North America in 2021, replacing Alphari in the top lane.
Bwipo that he got an offer from Team Vitality early on in the off-season. While he initially verbally agreed to it, he pulled out later since he felt that it was not the right move after he moved his entire life to North America. He added, “I reached out to all ten LCS teams, [but] they did not want me.”
While it is not uncommon for pro players to retire or take a break from competitive play, it is certainly sad to see many of them get sidelined during the off-season roster mania. In the past, many League of Legends pros have come out of retirement and seen resounding successes in pro play. Here's hoping to see some of these familiar faces back on stage very soon.