Gen.G’s Lee “Rich” Jae-won might have the most incredible comeback story in all of esports. Professional League of Legends is always ripe for amazing stories, but Rich’s could take the cake.
Right now in the LCK, there’s a tale developing about a player who was the very best at his chosen game, until that game’s developer completely dropped support for the professional scene. Transferring to a new, unfamiliar game within his organization, Rich has gone from one of the very best Heroes of the Storm players to the starting midlaner for a World Championship bound League of Legends team.
If you haven’t watched any HoTS, it’s hard to put into words how good Rich was at the game. In Blizzard’s entry to the genre, many of the most familiar elements of MOBAs had been distilled away. With no last hitting, no items, and a very basic economy, what was left was a sandbox for high-level mechanical play. And that’s where Rich excelled.
Rich was a three-time world champion, winning two under the Gen.G banner. But in December 2018, Blizzard announced they would be scaling back work on HoTS and cancelling the 2019 Global Championship Series. Like many HoTS pros, Rich was left wondering about his future. With only small, unofficial tournaments left to compete in, a career in HoTS was no longer viable.
Then in May, it was announced that Rich had transferred to his organisation’s Academy roster. A few months later and a roster shuffle saw the highly performing midlaner moved onto the main Gen.G roster, and he would be competing for a starting spot. Over the following split, Gen.G experimented with its midlaners, alternating between veterans Song “Fly” Yong-jun, Lee “Kuzan” Seong-hyeok and the HoTS transfer.
Finally, after a disappointing series of performances from his competitors, Rich will start for the team in the most critical games of the split. In the final game of the season Gen.G will face off against DAMWON Gaming, the league leaders. With just a single victory, Gen.G will secure their spot in the LCK Summer Playoffs, giving them a chance for Worlds qualification. If Rich can carry his team on Sunday, then the best player HoTS ever had will have become a world championship contender once again.