JD Gaming had the best year in the organization’s history in 2020, but can the team stay on top of China and the LPL next year when some of its best players become free agents?
After winning the 2020 LPL Spring Split, making the final in the summer, and qualifying for the 2020 World Championship, JDG had an impressive year that they can be proud of. Going into 2021, the organization will have to fight hard to keep the roster together as the players have proven themselves as some of the best in the world.
JD Gaming was knocked out at Worlds in the quarterfinals by a Suning team that went all the way to the Worlds final before losing to DAMWON Gaming. Getting knocked out by a Worlds finalist is no shame, but JDG will look to get revenge in the 2021 season.
To do that, it is important for JDG to keep a solid core and take time to further develop as a team. What could get in the way of this scenario is the fact that the two Koreans on the team, jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok and bot laner Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook, will be free agents on November 17.
While there is still no word about LokeN and Kanavi for the next season, it is expected that JDG will try to re-sign both players. Kanavi especially impressed in 2020 after a turbulent time in the LCK with Griffin. Kanavi came back against all odds in the LPL and played well enough to be considered the best jungler in the world by many experts going into Worlds.
LokeN has also been a consistent force on JDG. While not being the flashiest bot laner, he has consistently been there when the team needed him during the 2020 LPL splits. LokeN joined JDG for the first time back in 2017, but went to Top Esports for over a year before coming back to JDG again. Time will tell if he will stay for good this time, or if LokeN will be getting better opportunities in either the LPL or LCK.
One thing is for sure: These two Koreans are star material, and both players could continue to improve further from here. LokeN is the oldest of the two at age 22, while Kanavi is only 20 years old and already a huge talent.
JDG is likely to keep its three Chinese players in top laner Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran, mid laner Zeng “Yagao” Qi, and support Zuo “LvMao” Ming-Hao, as they are all three on contracts set to last through 2022.
LokeN and Kanavi can sign a new contract beginning November 17.