In the competitive realm of the League of Legends Championship Korea (LCK), Hanwha Life Esports stands out as a prime example of how financial investment in esports does not always translate into desired results.
Despite having a roster boasting three world champions, the team’s performance has been underwhelming, raising questions about the efficacy of their approach.
The High Stakes of Hanwha Life Esports
Background: Originating as the successor to ROX Tigers in 2018, Hanwha Life entered the LCK with high expectations. However, the team has struggled to replicate the success of its predecessor, despite significant financial investments.
The Big Bet on World Champions
- Notable Signings: The acquisition of world champions like Park Do-hyeon “Viper”, Hwang Seong-hoon “Kingen”, and Kim Geon-woo “Zeka” was supposed to catapult Hanwha Life to the top.
- Reality Check: Despite these high-profile signings, the team failed to qualify for the World Championship, exposing the limitations of a strategy solely reliant on star power.
The Fallacy of the Super Team Concept
The notion that assembling a team of champions guarantees success has been debunked by Hanwha Life’s recent performance. The team’s reliance on individual talent, exemplified by their overdependence on Viper, mirrors the strategy of other teams like Gen.G, who also struggled despite heavy investments.
The Pitfalls of Overreliance
- Viper’s Burden: Similar to Park Jae-hyuk “Ruler” at Gen.G, Viper became the go-to solution for Hanwha Life, a strategy that proved insufficient in the face of complex team dynamics and challenges.
- Off-Field Issues: The team faced additional hurdles, including a ban on one of its players due to misconduct, further complicating their journey.
2024: A New Chapter or Repetition of the Past?
Looking ahead to 2024, Hanwha Life Esports appears to be sticking to its high-spending strategy:
- New Roster: The addition of Choi Hyeon-joon “Doran”, Han Wang-ho “Peanut”, and Yoo Hwan-joong “Delight” indicates a continuation of the team’s approach to roster building.
- Gen.G’s Blueprint: Hanwha Life seems to be emulating Gen.G’s model, another team familiar with the pressure of high expectations and unfulfilled ambitions.
Coaching Conundrum: The Unexpected Choice
In a surprising move, Hanwha Life has opted to retain Choi In-kyu “DanDy” as head coach:
- DanDy’s Track Record: Despite a legendary playing career, DanDy’s coaching success has been limited, both with Hanwha Life and previous teams.
- The Missed Opportunity: The team passed on acquiring Go Dong-bin “Score”, the coach who led Gen.G to an LCK championship, opting instead to maintain the status quo.
Conclusion: The Perils of Misplaced Priorities
Hanwha Life Esports’ struggle in the LCK serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of prioritizing financial investment over a holistic team-building approach. As 2024 approaches, whether the team can redefine its strategy and achieve competitive success remains to be seen.