The 2019 League of Legends world champions, FunPlus Phoenix, announced the departure of jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang on Wednesday, November 17. The news follows FPX’s disappointing performance at the 2021 LoL Worlds, where the Chinese powerhouse bombed out of the group stage.
Tian Leaves FunPlus Phoenix
FunPlus Phoenix announced the departure of jungler Tian from the team on Wednesday. It marks the second roster change of the 2021 LoL offseason after the team released top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon a day prior.
— FPX (@FPX_Esports) November 18, 2021
Although it was not revealed why Tian left the team, the decision likely has to do with FPX’s poor run at 2021 LoL Worlds. There, the 2019 world champions struggled to achieve the same level of success as expected of them, crashing out of the group stage.
Admittedly, the team as a whole underperformed; however, it was Tian who has found himself under fire for his individual performances. Widely regarded as one of the top junglers in the world, Tian’s performance in Iceland left a lot to be desired.
He struggled individually and never reached the same level he displayed two years prior when he won the LoL Worls 2019 MVP award. That said, it was later revealed by his teammate, Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem, that Tian has been struggling with an injury in Iceland.
“He didn’t want to play it, but the situation changed, and he must play it. I think he tried his best,” said GimGoon.
The same injury saw Tian step away from the active lineup during the 2021 season twice. He first stepped down from FPX roster in January and once more in February, shortly after his return to action.
Future Remains Uncertain
It has yet to be revealed what Tian’s plans for the future are. As it stands now, he is a free agent and available for pickup by any team.
However, it seems likely that Tian might want to take a break from competing and focus on his physical wellbeing. But since the 21-year-old has yet to announce his future career path, we’re left only speculating what’s on the cards for the 2019 LoL world champion.
Similarly, the situation with FPX remains uncertain. The team already parted ways with top laner Nuguri and jungler Tian, with rumors suggesting their star mid laner, Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, is also on his way out.
However, even if rumors prove to be true, FPX already have replacement players ready. Ping “xiaolaohu” Xiao-Hu, who has joined the team in July 2021, could replace Nuguri in the top lane, while academy jungler Yang “Beichuan” Ling could take over for Tian.
Similarly, FPX have an academy mid laner Hu “Qing” Jia-Ju ready to step in for Doinb, if the latter leaves the team.
As for FPX’s bottom lane, there have been no announcements about possible departures. However, it’s important to note that their ADC Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiangand support Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song will have their contracts run out on November 22.
A New Roster For 2022?
It remains to be seen whether FPX will look to rebuild their roster for the 2022 season, but it does seem like a real possibility. With many top names leaving their teams ahead of the 2022 season, there is a good chance FPX will want to sign a few and start fresh.
Some rumors suggest FPX could look to sign three former DWG KIA players in mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su, jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, and support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee, who all left the team earlier this month. Likewise, FPX could look to add the reigning world champion ADC Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, who will enter free agency.
The signing of the four players would form a new Asian LoL superteam and one of the strongest rosters in the history of competitive LoL. While it may sound too good to be true, there is a slight chance it could happen.