Earlier this week, League of Legends fans learned that Nicolaj ‘Incarnation’ Jensen, a coach for one of the top teams in Europe, would be prohibited from attending the world championships in October. Jensen had previously been banned as a player, but had worked with SK for months as a coach. The decision immediately proved controversial.
Fans threw out a multitude of theories about the decision. But earlier today, Riot confirmed to the Daily Dot that one of the most popular of these theories is false.
Jensen was suspended indefinitely from competitive play in January 2013 for “abusive” behavior and DDoSing opposing players.
At the time, however, Riot did not officially recognize coaches. So Jensen was able work for SK Gaming through the Spring and Summer LCS seasons. Despite this long-standing access, Riot informed SK Gaming that it would now officially recognize coaches, and that Jensen’s ban as a player would carry over to his role as a coach. This news came only weeks before the world championship were set to begin.
One popular theory pins the reason for Riot’s sudden change on the location of the events themselves.
One post on Reddit, for instance, claimed that, because the world championship would be held in Korea, Riot Games was forced to follow the guidelines of Korean esports association. Unlike Riot, KeSPA does officially recognize coaches and, therefore, Jensen would be banned in his official capacity.
But that isn’t true. Riot’s world championships will not be under KeSPA jurisdiction, the company confirmed to The Daily Dot. Riot is only working with the Korean group as a collaborator for the event.
This means Riot’s decision to officially recognize coaches was its alone to make. And it sets the precedent for future LCS seasons. It’s not clear what official recognition will mean for current coaches, however. Will they receive compensation from the company like players on the active roster? Will they need to follow new, additional rules?
For SK Gaming, it means the team will likely need to rethink its coaching structure. Unless we see another turnaround, Jensen won’t be able to consult with the team backstage for seasons to come.
Photo ChrisYunker/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)