The new League of Legends season is right around the corner and that means that the esports scene is returning again to provide the fans a new year to root for their favorite teams and players. This year, we’ve been given a treat as some of our beloved LoL pros return to the stage once again after announcing their retirement a year or so beforehand. However, these returning players make the fans question how and why LoL pros return after coming out of retirement.
LoL Pros Returning to the Competitive Scene!
The League of Legends esports scene is ecstatic that a lot of our favorite players in the past, who have taken a piece of us when they announced their retirement, would once again be competing in major tournaments to pick up where they left off. It wasn’t just one player making a coming but potentially three players were interested in competing again despite only two had actually been able to find a team that would take them in as starters in their respective positions.
These comebacks are considered the biggest offseason changes since no one really expected them to return. However, there are a lot of reasons why they have done so and we’ll be talking about each of them in this article. In traditional sports, a player retiring means that they’re ready to end their careers in the big leagues but esports has a much lower age bracket for retirement so it doesn’t really apply in the same way which means that they can always come back but that is only one reason.
Why Can Retired LoL Pros Return to Esports?
There is no rule in any competitive esports or sports for that matter that prevents any player from returning to play after announcing their retirement. However, there are restrictions that come when pro players officially announce their retirement. One example is that players aren’t allowed to play professionally for at least 1 year after announcing their retirement. That essentially means that they can return after the 1-year restriction has already been met.
As mentioned before, LoL pros can also readily return to esports easily because they don’t have the hard restrictions that traditional sports players have that force them to retire such as degrading bodily functions. League of Legends is a game that can be played by any player regardless of age bracket but younger players tend to have better mechanics. A lot of players are also simply brand players which means that even if they suck, orgs will still want them because it’ll make them profit.
Returning League of Legends Pros
Now that we know why it’s allowed for LoL pros to return to the scene after announcing their retirement, we can take a look at some of the biggest names that will be making their epic comeback. These players are guaranteed to be in the starting roster unlike players like Clearlove who have returned only to be benched for an entire season. Let’s take a look at why they retired and the reason they will be returning to the scene after spending a few years on break.
The King of the LCS is coming back to the Mid Lane in Season 12 after spending an entire season as a coach for TSM FTX. He announced his retirement which caused the entire NA League of Legends community to mourn the loss of the man who has been their centerpiece for so long. However, his transition from coach to player has eased some of the pain that fans had to endure after he left since they knew that he’d still play a part in the organization’s success even though he’s not in spotlight anymore.
The season as a coach may have been what Bjergsen needed to get his competitive spirit back as it was reported that he’d be returning to pro play. However, he wouldn’t be returning to TSM FTX as their mid laner but will instead go to Team Liquid as their main starter, which is one of the biggest surprises in the season. A lot of people are saying that this is his way of getting back at TSM FTX Reginald after ridiculing him during his time as a coach which might make some sense.
Uzi has long been considered the King of the Bottom Lane and is the greatest ADC player of all time. However, Uzi was forced to retire after his health started to decline, which has been ongoing for a few splits but doctors recommended that he stop altogether when they discovered chronic injuries that might lead to even worse situations. Unlike Bjergsen, Uzi didn’t choose to go into retirement and spent 2 years rehabilitating his body away from the harsh training routine of a pro.
The two years may have been enough for him to get into top shape since he has announced that he’ll be making a comeback. He also won’t be joining his old team since he signed with Bilibili Gaming. BLG also signed an additional ADC so we might expect that Uzi won’t be playing full-time but will be reserved for the important matches which is similar to his situation before he retired so it shouldn’t come off as a surprise. Most LoL pros returning to the league after more than 1 year are also benched since they need to practice their mechanics again.
Reasons why LoL Pros Return to Competitive Play
Most of the LoL pros that have announced their retirement have really stopped playing competitively but recently, there are some who have chosen to play again. While the data pool is too small to make an accurate conclusion on why LoL pros return to competitive play, we do have some ideas to explain why some of these players have decided to come back instead of spending their days living out an entirely different life or branching out towards a different side of esports.
1. Desire for Fulfilment
This is probably the most common reason for LoL pros to return and is the reason why we never see world champions come back to professional play. The need to desire their lifelong dream of becoming a world champion is probably the main driving force to reignite a player’s fighting spirit, especially if they know that they have what it takes to do so. This may be the reason for both Uzi and Bjergsen as well as Doublelift since he expressed that he has plans to come back in the future.
While these individuals have achieved a lot in their career, the League of Legends World Championship is too much of a prominent title to give up on. It’s understandable for players to become frustrated after failing so many times and deciding to quit only to realize later that their decision was done too hastily. Until these players win a World Championship, they probably won’t be satisfied with their careers even if their forced out of the scene by other reasons.
2. Need to Compete
Another big driving force for players to come out of retirement is the need to compete. While they’re not necessarily looking for big goals like winning worlds or anything at all, they realize during their time off that their bodies and minds are strapped to the idea and culture of competing in the esports scene. Playing solo queue or being stuck behind watching others compete is simply not enough to satiate their need to be on the rift and trying their best.
This might seem like a silly concept but players who have spent years competing will definitely find it hard to retire from playing. This is the biggest reason why some of your favorite players tend to join really bad teams despite having so much potential or no potential to compete at all. While we’re not necessarily calling it an addiction, there is a constant need to practice with your team and compete with other teams. It’s like an itch that won’t go away unless you scratch it.
3. Primary Source of Income
This probably doesn’t apply to the players that we have today who have returned from retirement but a good reason for future players to come out of retirement is that they need a primary source of income but don’t know how to do anything else other than play. This is a reason that can definitely happen to a lot of players since a lot of pros drop out of school early to pursue their esports career full-time. If they haven’t saved any money during their careers, they might end up broke with no alternative choice.
A lot of the players that we see who have retired have either accumulated a large sum of money already or has successfully transitioned into other parts of life. For a player to fall into this situation, they either need to be extremely irresponsible with their money or did not earn enough in their careers. However, they might have difficulty finding opportunities in the esports scene if that’s the case because top players earn enough money to secure their future.
What happens if a LoL pro retires for a 2nd time?
No LoL pro has retired for a 2nd time yet so it’s hard to really say for sure. However, there’s really nothing that prevents a player from coming back to professional play after retiring so they can theoretically retire as many times as they want and come back each time provided they follow the restrictions. The biggest concern would be their relevance and their ability to find a team after spending so much time away from competitive play that might cause their skills to downgrade.
When LoL pros return from retirement, it’s a huge deal but if they do it too many times, the fans might just find it ridiculous. This is relevant because the reason why some orgs take a chance on returnees despite spending time away from pro play is that they draw a large fanbase that becomes profitable. If a player’s brand is no longer profitable, their chances of making it into a new team fall down significantly.