In 2023, nine players from outside North America are bringing their talents to the League Championship Series. The splashiest international player signing this year is Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon, who’s joining Team Liquid fresh off winning the League of Legends World Championship with DRX last year. Team Liquid also brought back an import player who played in NA last spring, Summit.
While TL’s additions might be familiar to North American fans, FlyQuest added someone who might become a household name, Lee "VicLa" Dae-kwang. He’s the reigning Rookie of the Year from Korea’s LCK. It’s not just Korean players coming to NA though. One veteran from Europe and two young European talents also joined North American teams in the offseason.
Before the LCS season starts on Jan. 26, here’s everything you should know about all nine import players set to compete in North America this year.
Dimitri "Diplex" Ponomarev
This young 19-year-old mid laner is the only new player on Cloud9’s roster this year. He replaces the veteran Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen who was the team’s mid laner last summer and at the League of Legends World Championship. Diplex arrives in North America after spending the last two years on Vitality.Bee, Team Vitality’s academy team. He had the best KDA of any player last summer in the LFL, which is the French league that Vitality.Bee competes in. He follows in the footsteps of Loïc "toucouille" Dubois, who similarly made the jump from the LFL to the LCS last year.
İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek
Photo credit: Riot Games
Armut joins Dignitas after spending the past two seasons in Europe with MAD Lions. He’s originally from the Turkish region where he played professionally from 2015 to 2020. Armut has gone to Worlds each of the past four seasons. He’s part of a veteran-laden Dignitas lineup with lots of Worlds experience who will be looking to take this organization to Worlds for the first time since 2012.
Lee "VicLa" Dae-kwang
Photo credit: Riot Games
VicLa might be the most impactful import player in the LCS this year. Hailing from South Korea, he was the LCK Rookie of the Year in 2022 while playing for KT Rolster. Signing the reigning Rookie of the Year from South Korea, the best League of Legends region in the world, is a big W for FlyQuest. His most played champion is Sylas, and he has posted a 5.3 KDA in 15 games on this champion.
Lee "Prince" Chae-hwan
Not only did FlyQuest sign the reigning LCK Rookie of the Year, the organization also snagged another standout LCK player. Prince was named to the LCS second team last summer after finishing with the third-best KDA in the league, just behind star players Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon. In an interview with Ashley Kang, Prince revealed that he started playing AD carry because of legendary LCS AD carry, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. In fact, Prince even teased that he wants to play so well against Doublelift that he makes him retire. FlyQuest plays 100 Thieves and Doublelift for the first time this year on Jan. 27.
Kim "Gori" Tae-woo
Gori has played all over the world with some legendary organizations: in Korea (with T1), China (with EDward Gaming and FPX) and Southeast Asia (with PSG Talon). He has mostly been a substitute throughout his career, but now, the 22-year-old will try to stick around as a starter with Golden Guardians in North America. Among players in the PCS last summer who played at least 12 games, Gori was first in XP difference at 10 minutes and third in gold difference at 10 minutes.
Kadir "Fleshy" Kemiksiz
Fleshy is a young support who comes to North America from Turkey. The 22-year-old began his pro career with NASR Academy at the start of the 2022 season and was promoted to NASR’s main team in February. He had the best KDA of any support in Turkey’s TCL last summer. His most-picked champion has been Nautilus.
Park "Summit" Woo-tae
Photo credit: Cloud9
Unlike the other players on this list, Summit isn’t new to North America. The 2022 LCS spring MVP is back in NA. The Korean top laner won the award while with Cloud9, but shockingly, he was one of three players who were dropped in the team’s midseason roster shakeup. He spent last summer in China with FunPlus Phoenix and will now man the top lane for Team Liquid. He’s obviously proven he can perform at a high level in the LCS, and immediately raises the ceiling on Team Liquid’s potential this year.
Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon
Photo credit: Riot Games
Pyosik returns to North America fresh off winning Worlds with DRX. He racked up the best KDA of any DRX player during the Worlds main event. The 22-year-old jungler will form part of Team Liquid’s revamped roster, which features an all-Korean lineup for 2023. He joins fellow world champ Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, who won Worlds in 2017 with Samsung Galaxy, on this team. Over the course of his career, Pyosik has gravitated toward Lee Sin whom he has played more than twice as many times as any other champion.
Lee "Bugi" Seong-yeop
Bugi comes to North America after having played in Japan, Southeast Asia and, most recently, Latin America. Bugi was the jungler for a dominant Estral Esports team last summer. Estral finished first in Latin America’s LLA and second in the playoffs, just short of qualifying for Worlds. Bugi does have some Worlds experience, having gone in 2020 with Japan’s V3 Esports. He had the second-best KDA of any player with at least a dozen games played in the LLA last summer. Historically, his most-picked champion by far has been Xin Zhao.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games