The Chinese organization, founded in 2010, quickly grew to become a powerhouse in the scene, picking up top teams in each of those games. But it’s closing their doors after struggling to keep up in the intense esports scene. The team’s CEO, Teng “Andy” Zhao, offered a statement about the move on Chinese social media platform Weibo, translated here by Team Liquid user Carnivorous Sheep.
“The gross overinflation of prices has made this industry more and more exaggerated,” he explained. “It really makes us sad. With the creation of all these streaming platforms, the value ascribed to the players exploded, to an unbelievable point.”
In Dota 2, the squad competed at The International 3 and 4 with teams of superstars led by legendary player Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, all-star lineups that earned them the nickname “Galacticos” (after nickname of soccer club Real Madrid, famous for its big name and big money signings). The team looked to acquire the services of more top tier players heading into 2015, but found they couldn’t maintain a squad at the level of their previous incarnations.
Team DK’s other divisions also suffered from institutional problems with the way esports is organized in China and Korea, according to Zhao.
Its Heroes of the Storm team recently placed in the top four at the World Championship in BlizzCon, a Korean lineup featuring former StarCraft 2 pros like Chae “Noblesse” Do-Joon, Kwon “Sniper” Tae-Hoon, Kim “sC” Seung-Chul and more that earned their way to the world stage by beating Korean favorites MVP Black (ironically, the organization that hosted most of the Team DK players in StarCraft). But the team was marred by issues with the international scene. After placing second in the first season of the Gold Series Heroes League, an event based in China, Team DK’s all-Korean roster was not allowed to participate in future seasons.
In the hyper competitive world of League of Legends, Team DK struggled to find success, but one reason again was the segmentation present in the scene. It brought on some Korea import players, but found that rules changes which limited the number of imports and the types of visas those players could compete on hurt Team DK after half a year of training.
“This industry is in an era of wolves leading the charges, with the tigers not far behind,” he said. “The teams always seem to be in the weaker position. From macro conditions, to malicious competition between teams, to players retiring and unretiring, to broken promises… whenever a conflict arises between the team and the players, it always seem like it’s the team’s problem. If you don’t want this player, there will always be another team who will. Even if no team wants you, you can go stream, you can go sell products. But from the team’s perspective, who’s there to protect our rights? You can only choose to compromise or leave.”
So one of the highest profile organizations in China has chosen to leave esports. It’s a disappointing day for fans of the organization and its players and teams. But as Zhao puts it, there will always be another wolf or tiger to take their place. Still, Team DK won’t be forgotten. While their 2014 Dota 2 lineup didn’t achieve the success you’d expect of them, watching BurNIng, Chai “Mushi’ Yee-Fung, Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang, Zhang “LaNm” Zicheng, and Lei “MMY!” Zengrong enter the server together was always a treat.