Former SK Telecom T1 mid laner Lee "Easyhoon" Jihoon has signed with Vici Gaming.
Vici Gaming CEO Lu "HunTeR" Wenjun posted a photo to weibo of himself with the former SK Telecom T1 mid laner with the following caption:
"Every year for the team, I try to do well. I went to Korea four times a month, and finally it was not in vein. We hope that we will have a presence at the 2016 World Championship."
Several minutes later, Vici Gaming officially announced the acquisition of Easyhoon as their mid laner for the 2016 LPL season. The announcement told fans that they had learned they had to improve upon their performance last year and that many teams had been bidding over Easyhoon, but that they finally won out.
A fomos report said that a three-way bidding war had taken place over Easyhoon's contract, and that Vici Gaming won out by offering a salary of over $860,000 USD. The amount did not include the signing bonus or streaming contract that usually comes with big name Korean acquisitions in China, making it likely that his total pay will break the $1 million USD.
In a Naver interview (Reddit translation here), Easyhoon provided a long explanation for his departure from SK Telecom T1 and Korea. His words mostly revolved around sharing the glory with Lee "Faker" Sanghyeok and feeling as if he lacked purpose.
"The reason why I decided to move out of SKT was not because of teammates nor the coaching staff," Easyhoon said. "It was after I played in the semifinals of the World Championship. I had the opportunity to start, and had very satisfactory performance in games 1 and 2. So I thought I would play in game 3 also, but Faker started for that game. When I was leaving the stage and Faker got on, everyone cheered 'Faker!'
"While I was leaving the stage, I had a lot of thoughts. 'What role and meaning do I exactly take in this team? Don't people ultimately want Faker?'"
Easyhoon went on to explain that his age also impacted his decision to join Vici Gaming.
"If I were younger, I think I would've gone to another team in LCK to compete against Faker. Just because of the competitive side of me as a player. That would've been a worthy challenge," Easyhoon said. "However, I'm getting old. And I have to consider the future. I'm already at 4-5th year of my progamer career. I believe the fanship is right, but I can't continue with the burden of the fanship's attention or criticism. I would like to continue my career away from such spotlight.
"If I think about it, every game was a torture for me this year. Match against CJ, LCK finals, World Championship. Imagine what would've happened if I ever underperformed in those important matches... How would I have been portrayed in comparison to Faker? I would like to lay down that burden now."
Naver also reported that Vici Gaming's existing Korean support, Cho "Mata" Sehyeong, has terminated his contract with the organization. In Vici Gaming's announcement of Easyhoon's addition, however, Mata remains on their roster list.
The announcement also said that this will not be the final Vici Gaming roster for 2016 LPL. Since there exists a two foreign player limit, and Mata has previously discussed the possibility of leaving the team, it's likely the Naver report will prove to be accurate.
Vici Gaming concluded their announcement by linking to the scarf Easyhoon wears in his photo with HunTeR in their taobao store.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.