The reigning League of Legends World champions, DWG KIA, have subbed out their ADC Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun, due to subpar performances. Replacing him is DWG KIA Academy jungler Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong.
DWG KIA Struggles Usher in Roster Changes
DWG KIA entered the 2021 LoL season with high expectations on their shoulders. As the reigning LoL world champions, the Koreans first started showing struggles at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
There, they lost three games en route to the finals, where DWG KIA got edged out by Royal Never Give Up, who denied them their second international trophy. Things didn’t improve early into the LCK 2021 Summer for DWG KIA and reached the boiling point on Sunday, June 13, when they lost against KT Rolster (0-2).
Much of DWG KIA’s struggles were linked to subpar performances of their bottom lane. While their top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, and mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su were all consistent, ADC Ghost and support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee regularly struggled to deliver.
The duo got outclasses by Cloud9, Royal Never Give Up, MAD Lions, and their league opponents’ bottom lane counterparts and were often the main reason why DWG KIA ended up losing games they should have won. This eventually led to DWG KIA making some needed roster changes.
Ghost Is Out of The Team
In the end, it was Ghost who got the short end of the stick, which seems justifiable. He hasn’t been performing well this season and has posted some of the worst numbers in his team.
In four LCK 2021 Summer bouts he has played in, Ghost posted the team’s worst KDA of 1.8. Although his numbers from the 2021 MSI look much cleaner (5.6 KDA), his on-stage showings were far from perfect as he was often bailed out by his teammates, who helped him get back into the game after underperforming during the laning phase.
It’s unclear where Ghost’s dip in form came from. He was one of the best-performing esports pro players during LCK 2021 Spring and during the 2020 LoL Worlds.
Ghost was one of the critical members of DWG KIA’s run to the LoL world championship title last October with the tournament-highest KDA (7.6), the second-lowest death count per game (1.4), as well as the highest GPM (445) out of 80 participating players.
It’s unclear whether Ghost’s benching is only temporary or a permanent solution for DWG KIA. However, the team have yet to announce their long-term plan and have decided on a shocking role swap to fill in the gap left behind by Ghost in the bottom lane.
DWG KIA Role Swap Three Players
For their first match without Ghost, DWG KIA unveiled quite a drastic roster change. Since the team doesn’t have a substitute ADC to replace Ghost, the Korean esports team instead decided to promote their jungler Malrang to their main roster.
With two junglers on the team and no ADC, DWG KIA “Macgyver” their way out of the situation by role-swapping their mid, top, and jungle.
DWG KIA entered their match with Afreeca Freecs on Thursday, June 17, with ShowMaker as their ADC, Khan in the mid lane, and Canyon in the top lane. BeryL and Malrang were the only two players who weren’t moved from their usual position.
This is quite a drastic change, with Khan, ShowMaker, and Canyon never playing out of their positions in their long and prosperous careers.
It’s unclear whether DWG KIA will continue playing with this formation for the remainder of the split. They have not announced whether this is a one-time thing or a long-term solution.
If ShowMaker ends up swapping to ADC permanently, he will become the second high-profile LoL esports pro to do so in recent history. In 2018, we saw Luka “Perkz” Perković step away from the mid lane to play ADC for G2 Esports, leading his side to the 2019 LoL World Championship finals.
Despite the roster swap, DWG KIA remain as the betting favorites to win the LCS 2021 Summer. Will they manage to justify their tag as the odds-on favorites remains to be seen, but DWG KIA will face stiff competition in Gen.G and T1, who have been showing exceptional form this split.