SK Gaming on verge of disbanding after player revolt
Support Lewis “NoxiaK” Felix has left the team already after his loan from Challenger squad Ex Nihilo expired. Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and mid laner Hampus “Fox” Myhre both intend to leave the team once their contracts expire on Nov. 15, according to sources close to the players. It's not yet clear what the last two players, Simon “fredy112” Payne and Adrian “CandyPanda” Wübbelman, are planning, but one source says that Payne is contemplating retirement from the game entirely.
German esports news site Summoner’s Inn first revealed problems in SK Gaming on July 15, reporting that the players were looking to leave the squad after the team suggested benching Christoph “nRated” Seitz.
But the Daily Dot has now learned that Seitz was not the only one in SK’s crosshairs for replacement. When the organization approached a possible replacement for one of the players with an offer, that new potential player in turn approached a member of SK's current lineup to explain he received an offer from management. Once the members of the team found out, the players revolted and notified SK Gaming that they all intended to quit on their own terms.
In addition, SK players, and Myhre in particular, were unhappy with the additional salary that SK paid on top of the €10,000 guaranteed by Riot Games each split. SK allegedly offered its players €600 a month salary in addition to the Riot minimum, which is one of the lowest salaries of the 2015 European League Championship Series teams. Johnsen, however, was receiving even less as a result of a $2,500 USD fine levied by Riot Games last year after he used what Riot deemed a racist username while bootcamping for the World Championships.
The team collectively approached SK Gaming owner Alex Müller to ask for an increase in the additional salary payments. But Müller allegedly told them he could not afford more than the organization was already paying them.
SK Gaming did not respond to request for comment on this article.
Ultimately, Riot Games advised the organization and the players to swallow their disputes and continue as a team for the remainder of the split. Both parties took note and kept together. But the organization eventually benched Seitz in favor of Felix on Aug. 18 as it prepared for the 2016 Spring Promotion Tournament.
That bid failed, however. The team was relegated on Sept. 5 by Challenger Series squad Gamers2.
It’s a disappointing way to close the door on a year that showed so much promise for SK Gaming. The team topped the LCS regular season in the Spring with a 15-3 record but crumbled in the playoffs and beyond until they fell out of the league. Now, we know more about why that may have happened: SK Gaming’s downfall seems to have been precipitated by many altercations within the team. As its players look to move on, it's uncertain what the future holds for one of the oldest organizations in esports and League of Legends.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr