Fnatic has announced that Bora "Yellowstar" Kim, who has been the bedrock of much of their success in League of Legends over the past six years, has retired.
Yellowstar, who is now 24, has had a tough year professionally. His move to TSM in the NA LCS at the start of 2016 was one of several roster swaps meant to signal a new era of dominance for the American team, but they struggled to gel and despite rallying to make it to the spring final, where they lost to CLG, Yellowstar returned to Europe in the summer to rejoin Fnatic.
Back on the team that defined him - or perhaps he defined it - he struggled to have the same impact he once had, and Fnatic ultimately finished fifth in the regular season and were swept 3-0 in their quarterfinal against H2K, denying the team - and Yellowstar - a sixth appearance at the League of Legends World Championship.
But Yellowstar won't be remembered for 2016 - instead he will be celebrated for years like 2015, when he rebuilt a team shattered by high-profile departures, winning two EU LCS titles, famously going 18-0 in the summer split, and making a run to the semifinals of Worlds. And while things were a bit different back in 2011, Fnatic's success in those early days means he is one of very few players who can claim to have been a League of Legends World Champion.
"Legends aren’t born, they are created by hard work and dedication," Fnatic wrote in a loving send-off. "One of Fnatic’s biggest legacies is Bora 'Yellowstar' Kim, a player who’s helped shape not only Fnatic, but Western League of Legends eSports over the past six years. His in-game leadership has been praised by his teammates and is honored by numerous achievements and MVP awards. Even outside Summoner’s Rift, Yellowstar found ways to inspire players and fans alike.
"Thank you Bora! Thank you Yellowstar! For everything! We wish you all the best on your future endeavours which we know you'll undertake with the same hard work and dedication you brought to Fnatic. Good luck!"
Writing on Facebook in a letter to all of esports, Yellowstar paid tribute to his fans, his teammates and the people who made the games he loved. When Fnatic stumbled at Worlds in 2014, he wrote, he felt incredibly low, but his family, friends and fans helped him through that and 2015 was "the most wonderful year of my life".
"I’m now 24, and to be completely honest with you, I am feeling more and more exhausted after hours of playing," he wrote. "Everything has become more difficult to do for the last few months even though my inner motivation is still as strong as on the first day - that I can promise you... So after long hours of thinking, support from friends and family, I have made up my mind. After 336 official games, it is time to tell you all that I am putting an end to my professional playing career!"
"That’s it, esports," he concluded. "Never forget how lucky you are, and the obligation that comes with that. Looking forward to our next journey together, my friend."