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League of Legends: Flame retires from competitive play

League of Legends: Flame retires from competitive play

Lee "Flame" Ho-jong, one of the most famous top laners hailing from the South Korean League of Legends scene, has announced his retirement on Dec. 13.

League of Legends: Flame retires from competitive play

Lee "Flame" Ho-jong has announced his retirement from professional League of Legends play on Dec. 13 on his personal stream channel. The top laner, one of South Korea's most famous players at his role, has thus capped a lengthy career that spanned over eight years.

As the first player to consistently secure significant minion kill leads over his opponents, Flame received the distinction of performing "Flame Horizons" from the English-speaking League of Legends community as first coined by commentators Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Erik "DoA" Lonnquist.

The top laner was among the best at his role in League of Legends esports' early days as his laning and teamfighting were top notch. As time went on, the player retained his laning prowess but was unable to carry leads beyond the laning phase as the game became more team-reliant, and as individual gameplay improved across the board, lessening the impact of his leads.

In 2012, upon replacing Bok "Reapered" Han-gyu on Azubu Blaze (later CJ Entus Blaze), he formed a strong solo lane duo with Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong—then the strongest mid laner in South Korea until Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's arrival. The pairing lasted until Flame's departure from the organization and lasted two seasons.

Despite Flame's individual prowess, he was unable to routinely attend the World Championship. In 2013, Azubu Blaze were unable to overcome KT Rolster Bullets, who later lost to eventual world champions SK Telecom T1 K. The team faltered in 2014 as instability struck its bot lane, leading him to be among the first Korean players to compete in China. There, he won his first title, the 2015 LPL summer split, and attended Worlds as LGD Gaming's starting top laner. However, he was unable to prevent the team from being eliminated early.

The player returned to the World Championship in 2017 as a member of the LCS's Immortals and came close to qualifying to the quarterfinals, but a few blunders sealed their fate as FNATIC mounted an unlikely qualification effort. He would not return to the international stage until 2020 where, as a substitute, he ended up lifting the Worlds trophy as a member of DAMWON Gaming.

Flame was the last player of the 2012 Azubu Blaze squad to retire, and the second to win a World Championship. His former mid lane teammate, Ambition, won Worlds in 2017 as Samsung Galaxy's jungler before retiring after the same team (rebranded Gen.G) was the first Korean team since MVP Ozone to drop out of Worlds at the group stage. 

Adel Chouadria
Adel Chouadria

Freelance esports writer in Europe with eight years of LEC coverage experience. Also a 90's NY Knicks fan, sneakerhead, and wrestling fan. Cake is #1.

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