The biggest surprise of the LCK 2019 Spring Split wasn’t new teams like Damwon and Sandbox charging toward the top of the league standings. We’d seen Griffin do well in their first split from promotion, so that wasn’t at all unexpected.
Instead, one of the teams that outperformed the most was the veteran KINGZONE DragonX squad. Playing around older players like bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, who should have won Spring Split MVP, the team made it to the semifinals stage of the spring playoffs.
But after an okay start to the Summer Split, the wheels fell off: the team has lost four straight series to fall to 8-7 in matches played. Now, we may finally know why. According to a report from Inven Global, the team has been struggling with yet another round of ownership issues that have hurt team morale.
According to Inven, KINGZONE’s parent company, Fighting E-sports Group (FEG), wanted out of the esports scene because of the level of investment required. The company found a buyer in the middle of the 2019 season and sold the team. It’s unclear whether the move was cleared by Riot Games, which now runs League Champions Korea. In other leagues, Riot has approval rights over team sales.
Following the ownership change, issues started appearing with the team. These were first reported on Naver Esports Radio’s LCK Show on Aug. 3. The Inven report alleges that new ownership tried to make huge in-season changes to the roster, including firing the coaching staff. The players and coaches fought back against this, and are now stuck with an ownership group that doesn’t want them. That could have led to the recent decline in form over the last two weeks.
KINGZONE denied the report in a tweet. But we haven’t yet heard from the players or coaches.
Until we know more, it seems like another promising LCK season has gone down the drain.
Dot Esports has reached out to KINGZONE for comment.