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Chinese League of Legends (LoL) Esports powerhouse FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) have parted ways with three of their top players from the 2021 Season.
On 17 November, FPX announced the departure of their top laner, Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon, followed by jungler Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang. Most recently on Monday (22 November), the organisation stated that their mid laner, Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, had also left.
The departure of these three members comes after FPX's disappointing showing in the 2021 season. Despite having five former World Champions in the roster, FPX failed to claim a regional title this year, coming in second in both League of Legends Pro League (LPL) splits.
In addition, while they came in as fan favourites at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, they were eliminated in the Group stage. They placed last in their Group after unexpectedly losing against Cloud9 and Rogue in the “Group of Death”.
Today we are here to announce the departure of Nuguri.
We are very grateful for your dedication to the team over the past year. Your incredible performance throughout the journey will be remembered by all of us.
Wish you all the best in the next adventure, Nuguri❤️!#FPX #FPXLOL pic.twitter.com/DOJMsUTC50
— FPX (@FPX_Esports) November 17, 2021
Nuguri joined FPX in 2020, right after winning the 2020 Worlds title with DAMWON Gaming KIA (DWG KIA). During his time at FPX, he had a solid performance at the regional stage but it wasn’t enough to help the team win any titles for the year.
Nuguri is reportedly speaking with multiple South Korean organizations in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) for his fifth season. These include three-time World champion T1 and his former team DWG KIA. Since joining the Free Agency on 17 November, there have been no updates on his status.
Tian has been with FPX since 2018 and was integral in the team’s domination of the Chinese region in 2019. He also earned the Finals MVP award at Worlds 2019, where the team beat G2 Esports to become the 2019 League of Legends World Champions.
In 2020, Tian was featured as a side character in the Worlds 2020 anthem “Take Over” as Lee Sin.
— FPX (@FPX_Esports) November 18, 2021
Due to general health concerns and a severe wrist injury, Tian had to take a break earlier this year. He mentioned in a Weibo post that he would “suddenly feel unwell” due to pressure from the game and that he would “seek professional help”, as translated in a post by LPL journalist Ran.
Despite this, Tian rejoined the team’s roster for Worlds 2021, where he struggled to perform, primarily due to his injury. In a video stream, former FPX top laner Kim "GimGoon" Han-saem explained Tian’s situation, that Tian had to join the team roster for unforeseen reasons, and that he “did his best” despite his physical limitations.
There hasn’t been any update yet on Tian’s status for Season 2022, but it seems that a career break might be a possibility for the former FPX jungler.
— FPX (@FPX_Esports) November 22, 2021
As a member of the FPX roster since 2018, Doinb has played a vital role in the team's success, including the LPL 2019 Summer Split title and the Summoner's Cup victory at Worlds 2019.
FPX also mentioned in a Twitter post that Doinb’s "reliable leadership and affectionate energy" had "transformed the entire team into a cohesive family".
However, at Worlds 2021, FPX lost four of the last five games in the Group Stage after Doinb claimed in an interview that they "won’t lose one single game".
While they had good results in the first week of the Group stage, FPX bombed the second round-robin, resulting in their early exit from the tournament.
After being in the LPL for five years, Doinb earned his residency in 2019, making him one of China’s most sought-after LPL players.
The player confirmed in a stream that he would be joining LNG Esports next year, where he will be with fellow Korean player Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong.
“The official announcement will come out in the next few days,” the former FPX star said.
While there haven’t been announcements for the other team members, there have also been rumours that FPX will have a brand new roster for 2022.
This was also mentioned by FPX AD carry Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang in a stream, as first reported by Dot Esports on 30 October.
FPX have yet to announce the new members of their roster for Season 2022.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.