One of the largest teams in the professional League of Legends scene suffered a massive player exodus Monday morning.
Despite consistently high placement in 2012 and 2013, including several third place finishes in the largest regional tournaments and a first place finish at the World GameMaster Tournament, 70 percent of the active rosters of Xenics have departed the organization, citing nonpayment.
Xenics began in early 2012 by ex-StarCraft: Brood War pro-gamer Hong “Yellow” Jin Ho, known as Storm before being sponsored by Xenics, a Korean computer accessory company that specializes in keyboards. Xenics Storm quickly came to prominence, finishing third place in the Azubu Champions Spring 2013 tournament and taking home ₩ 20,000,000 ($18,440).
The team quickly followed up that placement with another third place in the Regional Finals in September. 2013 continued their legacy, and in June they started up a sister team, Xenics Blast. Storm’s biggest claim to fame is their win against the Taiwanese Gamania Bears in the World GameMaster Tournament, where they won ¥ 50,000 ($8,250) and the first place trophy.
Now, the team’s chances aren’t looking so great. Four players have left Storm, and three more from Blast, including all-star Lee “Piccaboo” Jong Beom. Some think Lee might be picked up by current world champions SKT T1 K. Just last week, SKT T1 K lost their team captain, who coincidentally plays the same position as Lee.
The claim for nonpayment is baffling for many fans, as Xenics the “No. 1 ranking for company awareness and sales volume for mechanical keyboards market in Korea,” according to their website. Failing to pay an esports team can have serious repercussions. In Korea, esports function as a great branding opportunity for companies, and losing face with the fans can be a major blow.
For now, the fans will have to wait and see how the Korean scene takes shape. The league is currently in offseason, but will resume in March.
Photo courtesy Xenics