Alex Ichetovkin, the captain of Gambit Gaming, will leave his team of four years to join Sweden-based Ninjas in Pyjamas, confirming a week's worth of rumors and speculation.

Gambit Gaming, which initially formed under the Team Empire banner in 2011, have had an almost unchanged roster for four years. Ichetovkin’s stepping down signifies the first major roster change in the Russian team's history.

Alex Ich, as he is called by fans, is one of the strongest middle lane players to ever play in the European circuit. With him at the helm, Gambit Gaming have won a number of major titles, including the regional championship back in 2012.

Now, they’ll face the difficult task of replacing him.

In an interview from OnGamers, Ichetovkin explained his reasoning and confirmed that he still wants to play League of Legends. But he’ll be doing so under the Ninjas in Pyjamas banner, who have been trying to make it into the LCS for a while now. Their most recent attempt was stopped short after a brutal 3-2 loss to Millenium.

With Ichetovkin on board, “NiP” is suddenly the team to beat in the challenger circuit. They beefed up their roster even more with the addition of Tri Tin “k0u” Lam, a skilled player from another challenger team that also failed to make it into the LCS this time around.

For Ichetovkin, the move was made to both re-ignite his passion for the game after too many years among the same players, and to provide his family with a better future. Gambit’s roots in Russia proved a roadblock whenever he traveled. But under NiP, he is free to move to Sweden. On Facebook, Ichetovkin confirmed that “they are already working on my immigration (fully with family) to Sweden.”

His commutes back and forth to the LCS headquarters in Germany just got a whole lot easier, as will be spending time with his family.

“I have barely seen my family,” he said in another Facebook post, “and didn't have a chance to spend time with them, since upon coming home I had to immediately commit to training: time is money.”

Perhaps the biggest message this sends, though, is to other long-lasting teams who have relied on the same roster for a few seasons. As these young esports players change from fledgling teenagers into adults, their needs will change—especially as they start to put down roots.

Teams that think through these needs stand a much better chance of making a lasting impact on the esports scene.

And NiP’s acquisition of Ichetovkin has suddenly catapulted them into prime position for a major LCS run next year.

Photo via Alex Ich/Facebook