The League of Legends (LoL) Free Agency for 2023 hasn’t officially begun yet, but rumours in various regions, especially in the LoL European Championship (LEC), are already flying.
While several teams are already gearing up to complete their rosters for the coming year, a handful of huge names from the LEC found themselves in a predicament after negotiations within the off-season did not go favourably.
G2 Esports former mainstay jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, G2 Esports former bot laner Victor "Flakked" Lirola Tortosa, Fnatic bot laner Elias “Upset” Lipp, and MAD Lions Bot laner rookie William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen have all confirmed that they won’t be playing in the LEC in the coming year.
G2 Esports – Jankos
First to confirm his status was G2 Esports jungler Jankos on YouTube two weeks ago, when he told everyone that he was “allowed to explore his options”.
This announcement came soon after G2’s disappointing showing, having won only 1 match in Group B at the Group Stage.
In his stream, Jankos talked highly about all his teammates at G2. “I felt like we grew a good bond. I just felt like everyone had a lot of fun,” he said. “I truly am grateful that I got to play with all of them.
Jankos started his LoL career in 2013, playing and winning smaller LoL tournaments in his first year. After competing in and out of the Esports scene for a couple of more years, he joined G2 Esports in 2017, where he has been the team’s mainstay jungler for five years.
During his stay at G2, he won six regional titles and one Mid-Season Invitational championship in 2019. He and G2 consistently qualified for Worlds and reached the semifinals.
In 2019, he and G2 mid laner Ramsus “caPs” Borregaard led their team to win the 2019 MSI and reach the Worlds 2019 finals, where they lost to Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix.
In 2022, G2 won the LEC Spring Championship and placed third at the 2022 MSI. However, despite finishing first during LEC Regular season in the Summer, G2 lost against Rogue in a 3-0 upset that gave their opponents their first title. G2 then had a disappointing showing at Worlds after finishing last in Group B with a 1-5 standing.
Jankos is currently in South Korea, where he took a week-long break from LoL and is grinding in the South Korean solo queue for about three weeks or so. He plans to return to Europe after a month and will “probably be looking for a team.”
Whether Jankos finds a team before the season starts is yet to be known since he’s still contracted with G2 until the end of 2023, making it hard for other teams to buy him out.
The G2 jungler mentioned in a more recent stream that he’s considering swapping to full-time streaming in 2023 since his contract is expensive, and it might be hard for him to find a team.
Upset was statistically one of the LEC's finest ADCs. Despite Fnatic's struggles during the regular season, he maintained a KDA of 5.74 and averaged 9.7 CS per minute throughout the 2022 LEC Summer Split.
While the team was eliminated at Worlds, his performance during the Play-ins and in the first round-robin of the group stage was pretty strong.
Following rumours circulating about the return of Carl Martin Erik “Rekkles” Larsson to Fnatic and Rekkles cryptically tweeting: “I’m back,” Elias “Upset” Lipp posted a few hours later about his circumstances.
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 probaly gonna stream quite a bit of it. I am confident in my return in great form.
— Elias Lipp (@FNC_Upset) November 8, 2022
The tweet implies that a contract buyout did not go well for Upset, and with the alleged return of Rekkles to FNC, the 2022 FNC bot laner would be displaced from the main roster. Upset’s contract with Fnatic expires on November 2023, which means he faces the same predicament as Jankos.
Flakked also confirmed on Wednesday (9 November) that he too will not be part of G2’s starting roster.
Mi gente ya que están casi todos los rumores fuera ya, confirmo [sources] no empezaré en la LEC el año que viene. Ha sido una offseason un poquito loca y por x o por y no he encontrado hogar.
— flakkkk (@Flakked_LoL) November 8, 2022
“It's been a bit of a crazy offseason and for x or for and I haven't found a home,” he said in a tweet translated by Twitter. “About my future, I still don't know much, but my only goal is to return to the LEC and show a much better level than I have shown.”
While G2 floundered at Worlds, Flakked’s overall individual stats in the LEC are quite solid, with an overall average KDA of 6.54. Flakked’s contract with G2 expires in 2025. There are rumours that former Team Liquid bot laner Steven "Hans sama” Liv is returning to the LEC to join G2 to replace Flakked, but this is yet to be confirmed.
LEC rookie William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen of MAD Lions tweeted on Thursday (10 November) that he won’t be playing in the LEC in the coming year.
Unfortunately, I will not be playing LEC this next year. I think my biggest feeling is disappointment since I believe I had a great rookie year going to worlds and making 1st all-pro. Thanks for all of the support I received this year, I am going to make it back in one day.
— Unforgiven (@UnforgivenLoL) November 9, 2022
2022 was the first year UNF0RGIVEN played as starting ADC in the LEC, where his team finished 7thin the LEC Spring, 4th in the Summer Playoffs, and qualified for Worlds but was eliminated in the Play-ins. His contract with MAD ends in 2024.
It may feel a bit weird for us not to see some of these names next year, but with the offseason still ongoing, we’re crossing our fingers that they’ll find a new esports home soon. They may even come back stronger, and who knows, might be the player that carries LEC out of their Worlds title drought.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.