Jin Air Green Wings will not return to the LCK in 2020.
The organization has been officially relegated to Challengers Korea after losing to Hanwha Life Esports. The two teams met in the 2020 LCK Promotion tournament lower bracket, where Hanwha took the series with a clean 3-0.
Throughout the series, Jin Air looked lost on the rift. The team heavily relied on jungler Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong to win the game early and had no real back-up plan if things went awry.
That inability to adapt dogged them throughout the season and resulted in the enduring LCK team sliding out of the league. This result is the conclusion of a year of struggles for the squad.
Jin Air was the LCK’s biggest loser this year, finishing the summer season without single a win.
Initially it seemed like it was just a matter of bad luck, but as time went on it became clear that things were more dire than it initially seemed. Even when they were in control, Jin Air consistently struggled to close out games and allowed victory to slip away.
This saw the organization transform into the “easy win” of the LCK, a label they unsuccessfully tried to shake with repeated changes to their starting lineup.
Even in their last match in the promotions tournament, Jin Air lacked identity. The team had no clear strengths and no particularly threatening strategy. It’s a situation reminiscent of Team SoloMid in the LCS, which has been struggling to find itself for two years now.
Things weren’t always this bad for Jin Air. 2016 would go down as the best year of the organization, earning enough championship points to take part in the regional qualifier. That was the last achievement for the team.
Jin Air has never been a particularly fearsome opponent, but it has long been competitive in the LCK. They faced relegations once before in the 2017 LCK Spring Split and earned back their spot by completely dominating the competition.
They would stay out of relegations for three splits in a row, but now find themselves washed out by the LCK’s new wave of talent.
Despite their best efforts, Jin Air failed to adapt to the new reality of the LCK. The competition in the league has gotten considerably better in the last two years and Jin Air couldn’t keep up.
The LCK has seen a number of new teams burst onto the scene and take over. The new wave started in the 2018 LCK Summer season when Griffin qualified from Challengers Korea and took the LCK by storm. Damwon Gaming and Sandbox Gaming would make their way into the league in the 2019 LCK Spring season.
These three teams have upended the LCK’s establishment in a big way. The league is no longer about the team with the biggest name or the biggest budget. The rookie squads have made names for themselves purely through their skills, and have become trendsetters both at home and abroad.
Their success has left many old favorites reeling, but there is no denying their impact. The LCK finally won Rift Rivals in very convincing fashion, a feat Korea hadn’t been able to accomplish prior.
Jin Air couldn’t find their place in the new version of the LCK. The league became too much for the organization, which is now part of the Challenger Circuit. Jin Air has the chance to play its way back into the LCK, but other organizations like MVP and bbq Olivers have been unable to do so.
Regardless, Jin Air has left an undeniable impression on the LCK that will continue forward, including introducing fans to SK Telecom T1’s bottom laner Park “Teddy” Jin-seong who is heading to the 2019 LoL World Championship. Jin Air will be missed.