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A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea’s Most Dominant Teams

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Samsung Blue - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams


Samsung Blue is widely regarded to be one of the best League of Legends teams of all time.

Playing in quite possibly the most stacked league in history,
2014 Season - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams


OGN Champions 2014, the five-man roster of
Acorn - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
Acorn,
Spirit - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsSpirit,
dade,
Deft - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsDeft
and Heart were able to take home a trophy in
Champions Spring Split, as well as a second-place finish in
Summer Season - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
Champions Summer Split. They had the distinction of being the only team, quite possibly in the world, that were able to consistently take down their sister team,
Samsung White - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
Samsung White.

They were damn good.

In 2014, the now-infamous “Korean Exodus” took place, and the Samsung Blue roster would go their separate ways overseas. Spirit would find success with
Team WE - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams


World Elite, Deft would win the following Mid-Season Invitational with
EDward Gaming - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
EDward Gaming, and dade would languish on a mediocre
Masters 3 - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsMasters3
roster.

And Acorn and Heart would go their separate ways for the first time since the team was first formed in October of 2012.


RoMg was an amateur team formed in the middle of 2012, who first rose to prominence when they qualified for the OGN Champions 2012 Summer Split. Considered to be one of the most competitive tournaments of its time, it featured the best teams from around the world, including China’s World Elite, Europe’s
CLG.EU and North America’s
Counter Logic Gaming - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
CLG.Prime, all playing alongside Korean powerhouses such as
Azubu Frost - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsAzubu Frost
and Najin Sword. In all honesty, RoMg were outclassed – after all, they were the only sponsor-less teams playing in the tournament. RoMg managed to take one game off of the eventual champions, Azubu Frost, before bowing out of the group stage in last place.

Due to their poor showing, RoMg would be forced to play in the 2013 NLB Winter Season, which acted as a secondary feeder league to The Champions. The bottom four teams from the previous season of Champions, as well as 16 teams coming from an online qualifier, would battle for a direct invite to the next season of The Champions as well as the grand prize of approximately $4,500 USD. For an orgless team like RoMg, this tournament was the best chance they had of potentially being picked up by a big sponsor.

Going into the NLB tournament, RoMg would rechristen themselves as
GSG, and would revamp not only their roster, but their names as well. Toplaner ChuChu became Cheonju, while jungler Nyang similarly rebranded as SoLo. Joining them on the bottom side of the map were three new faces – midlaner Easy, AD Carry
Clear (Kim Jae yeol - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsClear
and support ManDu. This roster found almost instant success, taking down the qualifier team “라스트두부즈” with relative ease in two back-to-back best-of-threes to lock themselves a spot in the round of 8.

GSG’s road back into the league would see them tested against three former Champions teams facing a similar predicament –
Incredible Miracle,
NaJin Shield - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsNaJin Shield
(a team that featured future SKT botlane Bang and Wolf), and CJ Entus. Incredible Miracle was a perennial bottom-feeder organization even in their heyday, and didn’t pose much of a challenge to the future superstars on GSG. NaJin Shield, on the other hand, were slightly more threatening, taking GSG to a game 5 before ultimately succumbing to their challengers. This set up a match between the amateurs and the legendary CJ Entus in the finals for a spot back into Champions.

CJ Entus was an org with a long history in Korean esports – the genesis of the team dates back to 2001, during the StarCraft: Brood War days. Much like GSG, their first entry into League of Legends was also during OGN Champions Summer 2012, when they picked up a team consisting of Longpanda, Eryuk, emboob, Pecko and kkinsh. To say this roster was underwhelming would be an understatement – they bombed out of the group stage in last place without a single win to their name. Going into the 2013 NLB Winter season, CJ would mirror GSG in making a multitude of roster swaps – adding now-legendary jungler inSec, midlaner dade and AD Carry
Space to their roster. With this revamped roster, CJ would stomp their way to the finals of the tournament, taking down
Xenics Storm - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsXenics Storm
and MVP Blue along the way.


It was a David vs Goliath matchup. CJ Entus, the legendary Korean esports org that had trophies aplenty to their name, taking on GSG – a sponsorless group of friends that were playing for their tournament lives at a PC Bang. Despite the newness of CJ Entus' roster, the legacy of their organization gave their team a certain level of prestige – a level that GSG had no hope of matching. Even though they had a strong showing earlier, this was where most expected GSG's tournament lives to end.

If GSG were going to go down, they weren’t going to go down without a fight. Game 1 was a slugfest, with both teams fighting scrappily and fighting often. Cheonju would be the one to put the game on his back, free-hitting from the backline with Caitlyn while SoLo’s Olaf and Clear’s Singed repeatedly dove onto the members of CJ Entus. Easy’s Kayle ensured that the frontline could live through whatever burst CJ threw at them, and when the dust settled, GSG found themselves 1-0 up in the series.

With a slight lead, the ever-eccentric GSG got to experimenting, with ManDu picking a support Syndra in Game 2. At the time, Syndra was a far cry from the lane bully she is today – her skills were buggy and unreliable, which put her in a near unpickable state. Unfortunately for GSG, the Syndra support was the least of their worries – inSec’s Xin Zhao worked together beautifully with dade’s Ryze to find pick after pick around the map, and before long CJ Entus had tied up the series, 1 game apiece.

Not to be perturbed, GSG went back to basics in Game 3 with Cheonju and SoLo back on Caitlyn and Olaf respectively. Clear this time would be the one to take over the game, closing out a 44-minute victory for the amateur team with a quadra kill on Kha’Zix. With one game standing between them and a spot in Champions, GSG drafted more of the same for Game 4 – strong backline dive with Shen and Nocturne, coupled with consistent AoE DPS from Ryze and Graves. And while CJ Entus was able to keep the game even throughout the first 25 minutes, GSG would slowly begin to open up a lead in the mid game with a couple of picks onto inSec’s Lee Sin and dade’s Twisted Fate.

GSG’s teamfight comp was starting to pull ahead, and they knew it. Posturing around Baron, they aimed to cement a lead for themselves and close out the game. And that’s where CJ Entus made their last stand.

Longpanda’s Singed found himself in the GSG backline courtesy of a Blitzcrank hook from ManDu, but Insanity Potion coupled with Singed’s innate tankiness helped him stay alive as the rest of CJ made their way to the fight. As GSG valiantly tried to burst down Longpanda, Space’s Trueshot Barrage rang true through the river, leaving the blue team carries with a sliver of health.

“It’s gone all pear shaped for GSG!” shouted PapaSmithy, as inSec and dade corralled the remaining members of GSG within their own blue side jungle. On the other side of the fight, Space had complete agency to free hit the tankline of GSG, eventually taking down the survivors. A nearly perfect ace for CJ Entus, which they translated into Baron, and eventually the game.

2 – 2


Let me paint you a picture. GSG, who had been one Baron away from qualifying for the mecca of League tournaments, were now fighting for their tournament lives in a sudden-death match vs CJ Entus. This meant everything to them. This was their best chance at a sponsor – if they lost, they likely wouldn’t be able to continue pursuing competitive League. This was a team that was still meeting up in PC Bangs to scrim, a team that was making untold personal sacrifices just to continue chasing a dream. A dream of making it to the very highest echelons of professional League of Legends.

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Win, and you become a legend. Lose, and no one will remember your names.

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At first glance, GSG’s draft for Game 5 seemed all but standard – Caitlyn for Cheonju, Olaf for SoLo, Twisted Fate for Easy – all champions that they had played to great success throughout the tournament. CJ Entus had neglected to ban Blitzcrank, but ManDu’s Blitzcrank in the previous game was manageable enough, so they thought nothing of it.

Until the last two picks were locked in for GSG.

“OOOOOH, IT’S HEIMERDINGER!!” yelled Pastrytime through the broadcast, as ManDu locked in his final pick for the tournament. Next to his champion portrait, two odd-looking summoner spells sat waiting – Flash, and Smite.

If support Syndra was considered off-meta at the time, then Jungle Heimerdinger completely broke the concept of a meta. The last time Heimerdinger was played competitively was in 2010 during the World Cyber Games tournament – before the concept of an established meta had even been invented! And this wasn’t even touching on the fact that it was being played as a jungler, and by ManDu no less – the support player for the team!

From Level 1, something was remiss with GSG’s side of the map. As Space and kkinsh made their way to their bottom lane, no opposing champions appeared on the map for GSG. 10 seconds later, Cheonju’s Blitzcrank showed up in the mid lane, followed closely by Easy, SoLo and ManDu sporting a red buff. And they just… started pushing the lane.

The four-man death squad of GSG had one goal – push the wave in as fast as possible and hit the turret. Cheonju’s Blitzcrank stood menacingly in front of the wave, threatening a possible hook onto the defending dade and inSec, while GSG’s trifecta of ranged champions unrelentingly threw autoattacks towards the turret. And by three minutes, the first turret of the game fell in favour of GSG.

CJ knew that they were dead in the water if they didn’t make a play. inSec’s Cho’Gath, posturing close to the turret, found a two-man rupture on Cheonju and Clear, which was the signal dade needed to jump in with Kha’Zix. The CJ Entus midlaner flashed forward, focusing down Cheonju’s Blitzcrank before finally dropping to Caitlyn. But that wasn’t enough for CJ – with Lpanda’s Shen approaching the grouped up members of GSG, Space and kkinsh looked to re-engage and put an end to the endless turret pushing.

Flash Shadow Dash taunted two of GSG, but Space was nowhere to be found – Lpanda had gone in far too early. Clear, standing in the back, had complete freedom to land auto attack after auto attack on the Shen, and before CJ knew what happened, their toplaner had dropped.

GSG had a lead, and they would do anything to hold on to it. SoLo, who had been farming all game, was all over the map with his Teleport Olaf, clearing waves both bot and top almost instantaneously with a couple of Qs. Meanwhile, the remaining four members of GSG continued to push down the midlane with reckless abandon, taking turret after turret – by 8 minutes, CJ’s midlane inhib tower was gone. When CJ tried to engage, Olaf would simply run them down with his experience advantage, and the rest of GSG would go back to pushing. Before 10 minutes, the first inhibitor of the game had fallen.

They could smell the blood in the water. Lpanda’s Shen was falling further and further behind to his lane counterpart, with the Olaf solo-killing him between towers by minute 12. On the other side of the map, more and more turrets were falling for the side of CJ – with the downed inhibitor forcing Space’s Ezreal to play base defense, the GSG members had a veritable shooting gallery of potential targets for their CC spells. One pick meant at least one turret, if not more. By thirteen minutes, they had accumulated a gold lead in excess of five thousand. All they had to do was close the game out.

It was panic time for CJ Entus.

With four members of GSG top-side, knocking down the last remaining non-Nexus tower for CJ Entus, Lpanda got desperate. Attempting to dash into the backline of GSG, the Shen instead found nothing but air as Clear’s Caitlyn wailed on him with auto after auto. inSec, trying to follow up the engage, landed a rupture where the GSG members would had been had Lpanda landed his taunt. With CJ’s engage tools down, SoLo would counterengage on the members of CJ Entus, running down inSec underneath the tower. Dade, sensing an opportunity, leaped in on the low health Olaf, but would be caught in midair by a Yordle Snap Trap, prematurely ending his life.

It was looking all but over. With super minions knocking on the Nexus turret of CJ Entus, GSG engaged one last time with a fantastic hook onto Lpanda from Cheonju, taking down the Shen for the sixth time that match alone. As the minions poured into the base of CJ Entus, dade’s team could do nothing but watch as GSG took down their Nexus in less than 20 minutes to secure their spot in the next season of The Champions.


Unfortunately, GSG would not be able to find success in the following season of The Champions, but their qualification run caught the eye of a notable organization in Korean esports, MVP. While MVP White were on an upwards trajectory, their sister team
MVP Blue was languishing at the bottom of the standings. On February 7th, 2013, the only remaining sponsorless team in The Champions was picked up by the MVP organization, and GSG would be rebranded MVP Blue. Cheonju, SoLo and Easy (now playing under the moniker Easyhoon) would stay with the organization, while ManDu and Clear would go their separate ways, Clear joining a Korean Challenger team called VTG Monsters and ManDu joining the now-legendary
SK Telecom T1 2 - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant TeamsSKT T1 K
roster.

This roster swap brought to the team a young ADC prodigy by the name of Deft, who joined the team alongside support FLahm. This iteration of the roster would again find little success during the Spring season of The Champions, and at the end of the season jungler SoLo would role-swap to support and rename himself Heart. This made way for a rookie jungler with little competitive experience beforehand by the name of Spirit to join the team. For the umpteenth season, Cheonju’s roster would find middling success, this time placing fourth overall in their group during the Summer Champions season. But despite this result, they were improving. And they were improving fast enough to be picked up by Korean electronics giant Samsung.

For the 2014 season, MVP Blue rebranded one last time, becoming Samsung Blue. And one last time, their top laner would change names, this time becoming Acorn. Easyhoon would leave to join the SKT organization, ushering in a midlaner by the name of
PawN. This finalized their roster as Acorn, Spirit, PawN, Deft and Heart, and for the first time in the roster’s history, they would make the bracket stage at a Champions event, placing Top 8 during
Winter Season - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams
Champions Winter 2014.

Prior to the Spring season, Samsung Blue would swap mid laners with their sister team, Samsung White, trading PawN for dade – the same dade that GSG had defeated years prior in order to qualify for The Champions. And finally, the roster clicked – going on to defeat
NaJin White Shield - A LOOK BACK IN LEAGUE HISTORY: How Jungle Heimerdinger Birthed One of Korea's Most Dominant Teams

NaJin White Shield 3-1 in the Spring finals to win Samsung’s first championship title. Their dominance continued in the summer split, making finals yet again and only narrowly losing to a red-hot KT Arrows team filled to the brim with future superstars.

ManDu – now PoohManDu – would go on to win the Season 3 World Championships with SKT T1 K, while Easyhoon would similarly win a Worlds title under the same organization in Season 5.

And to think, a simple game of jungle Heimerdinger was what started it all. For all the fame and glory, the bright lights and massive stadiums and multi-million dollar contracts that dominate the esports zeitgeist today…

… at the end of the day, esports is about the players. It’s about the game. It’s a place where anyone can rise to the top.


Why can’t that ascent feature a Heimerdinger in the jungle?


Read More:

When China’s Worst Team Took Down Korea’s Best Team

The Challenger team that took down the best team in the world

Twitter and Medium

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