Jang ‘Nuguri’ Ha-gwon Retires From League of Legends Esports

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Jang ‘Nuguri’ Ha-gwon Retires From League of Legends Esports

One of the brightest young stars of League of Legends has just retired.


After a six-year career, 23-year-old Jang 'Nuguri' Ha-gwon has announced that he is retiring from competitive League of Legends play. His announcement comes two weeks after DWG announced that Nuguri decided to enter free agency

Looking Back On The Career Of Nuguri

Nuguri entered the Esports scene in August of 2017 as a member of I Gaming Star. He didn't stay long and soon signed on with DAMWON Gaming later that year. It was here that Nuguri would make his mark and make a name for himself. 

After two years as a gifted up-and-comer to keep an eye on, 2019 is when Nuguri really turned up the heat. By then, Nuguri had mostly left A-Tier tournaments behind and almost exclusively competed in S-tier tournaments. One of his first major victories with DAMWON Gaming was a 1st place finish at Rift Rivals 2019. Nuguri and DAMWON would follow that up with a 3rd place finish in LCK Summer 2019, followed by a 1st place finish in LCK Regional Finals 2019. They also managed to make it into the Top 8 of 2019 Worlds. The world would soon know more about Nuguri and his Vladimir. 

Nuguri's career peaked in 2020. DAMWON would take home 1st place in the LCK Summer 2020, with Nuguri netting a well-earned MVP. DAMWON and win it all at the 2020 World Championship with a 3:1 victory over the now-disbanded Suning. Nuguri was officially one of the strongest top laners in League of Legends.

With Nuguri at the top of his game, everyone wondered what would be next for the young star. As it turned out, a change of scenery was in order. After years with DAMWON Gaming, Nuguri made the decision to part ways with the organization and joined FunPlus Phoenix. Speculation ran rampant as to why Nuguri made this decision. Did FPP make him an offer he couldn't refuse? Did he want to test his mettle against the best of the LPL? 

Whatever the reason, the LoL community had no reason to believe Nuguri wouldn't maintain his elite competitive status. 

A Sharp Decline

Nuguri had two pretty strong showings with FunPlus Phoenix, with two runner-up finishes at LPL Spring and LPL Summer 2021. But after a very disappointing 14th-place finish at Worlds 2021, many questioned whether Nuguri was losing his touch. At the very least, Nuguri was admittedly tired, taking extended time off from competitive play after Worlds 2021 and leaving FunPlus Phoenix. During this break, Nuguri came close to retiring. 

After months of downtime, Nuguri would return home to DAMWON Gaming in the LCK Summer 2022 tournament. Nuguri played pretty well and helped DAMWON secure a 1st place finish in the LCK Regional Finals 2022. 

Unfortunately, DAMWON Gaming's season ended in the quarterfinals after a 2-3 loss to Gen.G (Ironically enough, Nuguri's first LCK match with DAMWON was a victory over Gen.G). And little did we know at the time, but this match also marked the end of Nuguri's career. 

https://twitter.com/DWGKIA/status/1592745738844266496

On November 16, DWG KIA announced that Nuguri had elected to enter free agency, which caused fans to worry. DWG has released numerous players on their roster in the offseason, but Nuguri chose to leave on his own accord. Where would Nuguri play if not with DWG? 

It turns out nowhere. 

https://twitter.com/AshleyKang/status/1597194598132355072

On November 28, Ashley Kang, founder of KorizonEsports and noted figure in the LoL community, tweeted that Nuguri has decided to retire from the competitive LoL scene.

An Unfortunate End

Esports careers have a habit of not lasting long, even for the best. And even years ago, Nuguri, in interviews, has never come off as someone completely confident in his abilities. As he was finding his stride in 2019, moving into 2020, he referred to himself as a mid-tier top laner. What may have come off as humility may have actually been self-doubt. 

As Nuguri is only 23 years old, the door to competitive Esports will undoubtedly remain open for him should he choose to return to LoL.

Regardless of what he plans to do in the future, we here at ESTNN wish Nuguri best wishes on all his future endeavors.  

Feature Image: Ashley Kang