ROX Tigers to Quit LoL, Start Rock Band
Korea’s best League of Legends team is quitting to form a music group.
After its second regular season loss to KT Rolster, ROX Tigers members are leaving professional gaming to pursue their true passion: Rock ‘N Roll. The ROX sponsors will stay on to support the members with a new start-up record company, Hu-GE-KooYa. The band’s name will be Smeb and the Najins, an homage to caster references and the members’ former history as competitive players.
The lineup will consist of Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho as lead-singer, Kim "PraY" Jong-in and Lee "KurO" Seo-haeng on guitars, Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyeon on bass, and Yoon "Peanut" Wang-ho on drums.
“We’ve always wanted to do this,” Kyung-ho tells sources. “People always point out how loud we are when we’re singing in the booth, and it’s because music was always our passion. We just played LoL to pay the bills and save up for gear.”
Jeong "NoFe" No-chul will also resign his coaching position and join the rock group as band manager. “We’ve grown close over the past year, and the music has grown on me,” No-chul remarks. “I can’t wait to hit the road with these guys.”
Beom-hyeon informs that this has been on the the Tigers’ minds for a while. “To tell the truth, we looked into this last year while we had Lee “Hojin” Ho-jin. He played the drums. Kyung-ho’s lyrics and voice were good. Jong-in and Seo-haeng could interchange playing lead or rhythm. The guys always told me I was the best bass player they’ve seen, but I don’t think that’s true.”
“Hojin always held us back,” he asserts. “He broke his good leg, so he couldn’t use the double bass pedals and had to get used to his bad leg. We had to play slow because of that. It made us focus on our choruses to keep the songs good, which was good for our development, but he limited us artistically.”
(Lee Ho-Jin, still healing his broken leg in retirement.)
The members described their initial sound as a rock group, heavily relying on harmonies and catchy choruses to appeal to fans.
“Once Wang-ho came in, everything changed,” Seo-haeng commented. “The kid’s an animal: there is no ‘slow’ setting on him. He’s always pounding energy drinks, so he literally just thrashes on the kit. We went with it and started to play faster--after the count, all bets are off.”
“The best thing about Wang-ho is that he was also on Najin before it was kill, so we got to keep the name!” Kyung-ho joked. “He needs to stay out of our respective recording booths though; he’s always invading our space and stealing gear. It’s annoying.”
“I think Kyung-ho lets his ego get to his head sometimes,” Wang-ho stated. “He thinks he runs the band because it’s got his name on it and he’s the lead singer, but everyone goes off of what I do, so in a way I’m the leader too.”
(Yoon Wang-ho displaying his impressive collection of tatoos.)
Wang-ho’s addition to the band caused a shift in the band's music. “I’d describe our new sound like Thrash Metal,” Jong-in explains. “Both my and Seo-haeng’s speed has picked up and we’ve started drop-tuning our guitars. Kyung-ho plans to keep his vocals clean--shotcalling strained his voice, so he doesn’t want to risk hurting it by trying to growl like the heavier bands.”
Smeb and the Najins plan on starting off on a summer tour split around their home country to build a local following. The band has a debut record, Nameless Tiger, set for a summer release, and have released a single, Juggernaut Kog’Maw.
Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles, OGN caster and co-owner of North American League Challenger Series Renegades, commented on the story: “While it’s sad to see such a good team go, I’m just happy that some homegrown Korean talent is finally making good music and not that K-pop crap. Rock on, ROX. I hope the broadcast will use their music next season.”
Smeb and the Najins were a surprise in Esports last year as the Tigers. The squad took second place in League Champions Korea Spring and third in summer, and made a run to the final of the League of Legends World Championship in 2015. The Tigers were first in the 2016 spring season in LCK and considered the best in the world, but their sudden departure heightens the playoff contentions within the region.
(The 4 remaining original members of Smeb and the Najins)