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The Career History of DIG Dove

Dignitas’ mid laner Kim “Dove” Jae-Yeon is full of surprises, from competing in multiple major regions to a 3rd place finish in the LCK. Read about his full competitive history here.

While the newest mid lane for Dignitas may be a bit of a mystery for many LCS fans, Dove is a player who always surprises and is looking to make a name for himself in North America. Ranging from competing in three major regions, a role swap, and pushing the top of the table in the LCK, here’s the full history of Kim “Dove” Jae-Yeon.

Image courtesy of Riot Games

An Explosive Debut

Naming himself after the famous soap brand, Dove began his professional League career as mid laner in 2017. He played in Challengers Korea until the end of 2018, when his team, Team BattleComics, managed to win the Summer Split and be promoted to the LCK.

As Team BattleComics would rebrand to SANDBOX Gaming, Dove would remain on the roster and make his LCK debut. Despite being a new organization with fairly low expectations from fans, SANDBOX Gaming found success and went 13-5 in their very first split competing in the LCK, with a game score of 28-16. This put them in the top four and granted them a spot in playoffs, which is no small feat for a rookie team with zero expectations. During this time, Dove thrived on champions such as Lissandra and Ryze, which fit perfectly into SANDBOX’s scrappy skirmishing playstyle. Unfortunately, they were knocked out in playoffs by Damwon Gaming, another one of the teams newly promoted into the LCK, finishing the Spring Split in 5th place.

Dove and SANDBOX Gaming would have higher expectations entering the Summer Split, looking to maintain their level of play and challenge the top of the table. SANDBOX continued to produce excellent regular season results, even surpassing SKT (now T1) in the standings, who had just returned from the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational. As the meta shifted, Dove adapted his champion pool to embrace control mages, with excellent performances on Azir and Corki, with records of 7-1 and 4-1 respectively. SANDBOX Gaming would secure the 3rd seed moving into playoffs, with a series record of 12-6. Their first playoff series on the path to the LCK trophy would be against a surging SKT, who would sweep through them on their way to claim the trophy and represent the LCK as the 1st seed. While Dove would have one more chance to secure a spot at the World Championship in his rookie year, SANDBOX would struggle to pull it together in the regional gauntlet, ending their season with a 1-3 loss to Kingzone DragonX.

Overall, for Dove’s first year in the LCK, he had excellent results in the regular season and ended just a step away from attending the World Championship in Europe. Eyes would be on Dove to see if he could continue to improve and make a name for himself in the LCK.

Unfortunately, the next couple of years would be a little rough, as Dove would hover just below playoff qualification for multiple splits in a row. After another year with LSB, Dove would join KT Rolster in 2021, but just couldn’t break into the top six in the LCK, continuing to lag just a couple of wins behind. While this string of results would be incredibly frustrating, things would begin to turn around soon for Dove.

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Time at the Top

Dove would return to SANDBOX Gaming (now Liiv SANDBOX) for the 2022 season, but things would be a little different than before. This time, Dove boldly decided to role-swap from mid to top, a first in his career, and one few pro players dare make. It can be incredibly risky, and after the past two years, even more so for Dove’s career. However, he would find a way to make it work.

Admittedly, his return wasn’t triumphant out the gate, as the team would struggle to string wins together in spring. Dove’s individual lane performance also proved to be rough as he tried to acclimate to his new role.

However, the team rallied together in the Summer Split with the addition of AD Carry “Prince”, and Liiv SANDBOX began to surge up the standings. While Dove wasn’t the most dominant in lane after his role swap, his true strength was in his teamfighting. Throughout his tenure as a top laner, Dove played a mix of champions, with some of his most common being Gnar, Gwen, and Gragas. He even managed to use his experience as a mid laner and pull out some unique picks like Azir. Overall, his best champion as a top laner was his Ornn, with an insane win rate of 91.7% over 12 games, and he turned plenty of matches in the favour of LSB. During their run in Summer 2022, LSB would manage to take series wins against some of the best teams in the LCK, including T1 and DK, cementing themselves solidly in third at the end of the regular season, as well as securing a third-place finish in playoffs after losing out to eventual champions GENG.

Unfortunately, 2022 didn’t end on the highest of notes for Dove and Liiv SANDBOX, as they would lose out to DRX in a tense five-game series in the Regional Gauntlet, just one win away from qualifying for the World Championship. In hindsight, they lost to the eventual world champions as DRX had their Cinderella run, but this didn’t make it any easier for Dove, who would once again find himself so close, yet so far, from competing at Worlds.

A New Journey

After the bittersweet ending in the regional gauntlet, Dove left the LCK for the first time in his career. His 2023 season would take place in the LPL as he joined the 2018 World Champions, Invictus Gaming, notably also returning to the mid lane. While this would be a new journey, Dove wouldn’t be heading to China alone. Accompanying him was former teammate Gideon, previously jungler on KT Rolster, and Joker, his support turned coach on Liiv SANDBOX.

IG started the 2023 season hot, securing win after win, and stood at the top of the standings after Week 4 of the LPL. While IG wasn’t projected to be at the top of the standings in the eyes of most fans, perhaps some of this success could be attributed to the synergies of the imported trio of Dove, Gideon, and Joker. Dove demonstrated his proficiency on skirmishing champions, pulling out his Galio, Ryze, and Sylas and moving around the map to support his rookie top, YSKM (You Should Know Me), who was known for an explosive playstyle. However, IG’s time at the top was brief, and the team began to slide in the standings, tragically finishing 11th, just one spot out of the LPL playoffs. IG elected to make some roster changes after the Spring Split, meaning Dove wouldn’t be playing in the Summer split, but remained a sub for IG.

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Third Time’s the Charm

It was clear that things would need to change, and Dove set his sights abroad. He moved to the LCS and joined Dignitas for 2024, making him one of the few players to have played in three major regions, (the LCK, LPL, and the LCS).

Dignitas opened with a rocky start as the team took some time to acclimate but began to peak midseason as they found their style, and began their steady climb towards playoffs. The LCS this split was incredibly competitive, with analysts and players alike saying that it felt like anyone could beat anyone. On Dignitas, Dove has demonstrated his vast champion pool, playing 10 unique champions in 14 games. This versatility allowed him to slot into whatever role his team needed. When necessary, DIG could play through him, but he also was great at enabling his other lanes, particularly Tomo & Isles on the bot side of the map. His standout champion was Taliyah, acting as an excellent facilitator in multiple games. Dignitas ended the season qualifying for the LCS Spring Playoffs as the fifth seed, beating out NRG, the reigning LCS champions, in a tiebreaker to secure that position.

Tragically, Dignitas would exit the Spring playoffs early, losing out to a surging Team Liquid. But the playoff experience certainly provided confidence for a team with multiple young players and gave the squad time to highlight their issues for summer.

Looking back on his career so far, Dove has had a lot of surprising moments that few players might ever experience, from competing in three major regions or his role swap from mid to top. With eyes on the summer split, expect Dove to continue defying expectations and surprise LCS fans.

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