Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, recent world champion and former top laner for DAMWON Gaming, has officially joined FunPlus Phoenix of the LPL for the 2021 season.
Following DAMWON’s triumph in the 2020 World Championship, Nuguri’s contract with the organization expired after its two-year length, leaving him to contemplate a possible extension. Facing a decision that would crucially affect the future of his career, he was pressed on choosing whether to stay put with DAMWON or moving to China for a significantly higher pay raise as many other compatriots in the past and present have done.
Ultimately, Nuguri settled on the LPL as his destination for next year as he will face a stacked and contentious environment in his position that boasts the likes of Kang ”TheShy” Seung-lok, Bai “369” Jia-Hao, Chen ”Bin” Ze-Bin, and Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran. During the offseason, FunPlus Phoenix created available room for Nuguri’s arrival by releasing Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem, the man who took them to their 2019 World Championship win, from their respective contracts. Soon thereafter, Khan joined DAMWON as their next starting top laner, essentially switching places with Nuguri on FPX.
The Korean top laner joins a high-pedigree roster who boasts fellow countryman Doinb and 2019 Worlds Finals MVP Tian. The Chinese team will be looking to recover from their poor former in the end of last season as they were eliminated in the Regional Finals to Invictus Gaming in five games, thereby missing their chance to defend their world championship at home soil.
Nuguri first arrived in the professional scene as a member of I Gaming Star in March of 2017 as a substitute during the CK spring split of that year and then moved to the starting role in summer. He was then signed by DAMWON the next year to which he helped qualify for the LCK in its first year of existence after securing promotion for the 2019 spring split.
With DAMWON, Nuguri helped the team qualify for Worlds 2019, thus becoming the first team to reach the international competition in the same year they were promoted from the CK. Despite a shaky 2020 spring split in which DAMWON were eliminated at fourth in playoffs, the team finally lived up to their billing as a bright young team as they went on to win the LCK summer split and world championship, Korea’s first international triumph in three years.
“Now the young warrior already had Summoner’s Cup in his hand, and the brand new battlefield awaits as well. Let’s fight for our new future together,” the team said of Nuguri in its announcement on Twitter.