The former G2 and Schalke player has big shoes to fill at SK Gaming but as he showed last season, he can make a huge impact on a team.
For Kim "Trick" Gang-yun, Berlin is his home away from home. Outside of a short and unsuccessful stint in Korea and Turkey, Trick has had a tremendous career and has enjoyed the majority of it in Europe. Now, the Korean jungler will get to experience yet another season in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) as he has signed for SK Gaming.
The jungler is a four-time European champion and made a successful return to the region earlier this year as he was brought in by Schalke 04 for the LEC Summer Split. The Royal Blues had looked like title contenders in the Spring Split but collapsed on the final stretch and eventually finished outside of the playoff spots.
Trick acted as a catalyst for the team and turned Schalke’s fortunes around as the squad ended up placing third in the Summer Playoffs though the roster was still unable to qualify for the World Championships.
Following on from a solid season, Trick will go into 2020 with the rather difficult task of replacing Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek. And on top of that, he will serve as the only true veteran on the team with the rest of the squad having one year or less pro play experience including new support Dino "Limit" Tot who will be in his rookie split.
Trick has had a long and storied career but still has a few chapters to go. If he can have a similar effect on SK as he did Schalke last season, he will have to go down as one of Europe’s greatest junglers.
A new challenge
Going into 2020, this will likely be a different experience for Trick and though he’s looking forward to the start of the season, he isn’t getting ahead of himself:
“I am kind of excited about next season but it’s nothing too crazy, the team definitely has potential. I think my performances last season were really good, I am more than ready for 2020 but I am just looking forward to working with my new teammates.”
And of those teammates, there was one player that instantly popped into Trick’s mind when looking forward to the Spring Split:
“I really wanted to play with Jenax, he didn’t play too many games last year but after seeing his performance I was really impressed. There’s a lot of talent here and I think we can reach playoffs.”
And developing a strong partnership with Janik "Jenax" Bartels will be more important than ever if the early signs of the preseason meta is anything to go by. Summoner’s Rift has undergone enormous changes with the update to dragons being particularly game-changing.
Objective control is even more crucial for junglers now and as a result, midlaners will need to roam more. In general, the jungle role has probably been affected most by the pre-season changes and Trick is relishing it: “I really enjoy that the game changes so much each year, it always gives me new motivation to learn the game. It keeps it fresh.
“The champs that are being played at the moment are all really aggressive. Counter-jungling is much more punishing for the enemy jungler, it’s very effective this season. It’s really fun playing champions like that, I’m a big fan of this new meta. Especially as in the LEC I can play any playstyle I want unlike in the LCK where you’re almost forced to play a certain style.”
"I’m a big fan of this new meta. Especially as in the LEC I can play any playstyle I want"
And isn’t only the chance to play more aggressive champions that has Trick excited either, the talent pool in the LEC is stronger than ever and there are many opponents he cannot wait to face off against.
“Playing against your former team is always exciting, so obviously I’m excited to face Schalke. I’ll admit I am scared of G2, they are really good but facing them is a fun challenge.
“There’s a lot of strong junglers in the LEC as well. I’ll be keeping an eye on Selfmade because I am really excited to see if he will perform in Fnatic. Inspired is very good too, I see a lot of potential in him.”
It will be fascinating to see how Trick performs in the next stage of his career. He believes any team can make it to Worlds with enough hard work but accepts that it’s difficult. Every year, the competitive LoL season is full of surprises and this SK line-up is certainly one teams won’t want to underestimate.