Jungler Ismaïl "Isma" Boualem has reached a verbal agreement with SK Gaming in the LoL EMEA Championship (LEC), according to Sheep Esports sources. The two-time LVP SuperLiga champion and EMEA Masters finalist will join the LEC for the first time.
The 22-year-old rookie, Isma, will make his debut on the LEC stage in 2024. According to sources, he had a verbal agreement with Gentle Mates that included a clause allowing the prior agreement to be nullified if he received any better offers from the LEC.
Before finalizing this agreement, sources informed Sheep Esports that SK Gaming had considered retaining their 2023 jungler, Mark "Markoon" van Woensel, whose future now appears uncertain, given that his contract extends until the end of 2024.
SK Gaming is currently expected to make more changes to their roster beyond the jungle position.
In 2023, Isma established himself as a highly promising rookie, affirming himself as a strong candidate for a starting spot in the LEC. Having won both the Spring and Summer splits of the LVP SuperLiga, the French jungler also competed in the EMEA Masters Summer Finals in Montpellier. Unfortunately, he narrowly lost 2:3 to Karmine Corp, an organization that had recently joined the LEC.
On the other hand, SK Gaming's story in 2023 has been tumultuous. Despite an impressive performance in the Winter Split, finishing in 4th place, the organization faced significant challenges throughout the remainder of the year. They concluded the later splits in 7th and 6th place before becoming the first team to be eliminated from the LEC season finals.
While staying true to their historical image of investing in rookie talent, SK hopes to strike gold through the acquisition of Isma and takes on a gamble by replacing Markoon.