A day after South Korean organisation DRX announced that their entire League of Legends roster entered free agency following the expiry of their contracts, one of their key players has already signed to another team.
DRX made the official announcement on Tuesday (22 November) on Twitter, thanking their 2022 starting roster for the team’s "most brilliant journey", which saw them make history as the first team from the Play-Ins to lift the League of Legends Worlds championship.
Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, a key piece of DRX's amazing run, was quickly announced as DAMWON KIA Gaming's new bot laner on Wednesday.
Despite Worlds 2022 supposedly being Deft’s last dance, DRX’s championship title seemed to have reignited his desire to continue playing.
In a story for The Players' Tribune, Deft said he had no plans to retire, though at that time he said he would most likely re-sign with DRX for the 2023 season.
That was, of course, not the announcement that was made on DWG KIA’s Twitter account on Wednesday.
DRX announces the contracts with Hwang 'Kingen' Sung-hoon, Hong 'Pyosik' Chang-hyun, Kim 'Zeka' Geon-woo, Kim 'Deft' Hyeok-gyu, Jo 'BeryL' Geon-hee have been expired.
DRX sincerely appreciates the five players being on the team’s most brilliant journey. pic.twitter.com/smWslgfRYO
— Worlds 2022 Champions DRX (@DRXGlobal) November 22, 2022
The other 2022 World Champions, consisting of Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon, Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon, Lee “Zeka” Ju-han, and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee are still available in the market.
DRX also released all three coaches into free agency following the expiry of their contracts as well.
DRX mentioned in a follow-up tweet that they would "communicate with [them] the players" on their contracts.
DRX’s Season 2022 journey
The World champions weren’t exactly the favourites to win Worlds this year, let alone qualify and for good reason.
The team had a less-than-stellar showing during the Spring split, where they finished 10th place in the regular season. Then in Summer, the team finished 6th place in the Playoffs.
Fans and analysts predicted that either KT Rolster or Liiv SANDBOX would take the fourth slot coming into Worlds. However, this DRX roster defied expectations and snatched the LCK’s fourth Worlds slot.
The team dominated the Play-ins in Mexico, which earned them first seed going into the Group Stage.
In the Group Stage, they secured once again top seed by beating the Lol Pro League's Top Esports and Vietnam's GAM Esports before beating 2022 LEC Summer Champions, Rogue, in a tiebreaker.
After shocking everyone in the Group Stage, DRX extended their run of success in the Knockout Round by claiming a 3-2 victory against the 2021 World Champions, EDward Gaming.
Even after the Dark Horse pulled off a series of shocking wins over the competition's heavyweights, fans and analysts alike still predicted Gen.G would win the semifinals. DRX, on the other hand, won the series in an upset 3-1 on their route to the finals.
DRX finished their Cinderella story by lifting the Summoner's Cup to win their first LoL World Championship championship and US$489,500.
Deft had previously talked about the free agency status of all former DRX members in a stream, saying, "it’s not 100% about money".
It’s a bit sad to see what fans dubbed “the power of friendship that won Worlds” go on separate ways, but hopefully, a new journey begins for new teams elsewhere.
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.