League of Legends

Team Griffin officially disbands: The end of a surprising enigma

Team Griffin, League of Legends team and two time LCK runners up have officially disbanded. The news broke on the morning of Jan 5 on Team Griffin’s Twitter account. However, this merely confirmed what many had already expected to be the fate of the team. The organisation disbands having spent three years within the Korean LoL scene.

Griffin had failed to become part of the LCK’s new franchised format ahead of the 2021 season. After a dismal fifth-place finish to the Challengers Korea would have secured Griffin’s spot in the new LCK. With their departure, competitive LoL has witnessed the end of one of the great fairytales in esports.

The team were first formed in 2017 to compete in Challengers Korea 2017 Spring. Comprised of a group of amateurs with high aspirations the team set their sights on the LCK. With players such as the now LNG Esports jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong and Choi “Sword” Sung-won. The team successfully navigated the summer playoff and promotion tournament to earn a spot in the KeSPA cup 2017. There they admirably took a game off SKT T1 before their elimination.

In 2018 the team finally achieved promotion to the LCK. Immediately making a splash, the squad finished second in LCK Summer 2018, and headed to the regional finals. The team narrowly missed out on a Worlds invite, but later shocked the world by winning 2018 KeSPA Cup. 

Griffin competes in LCK 2020 Spring (Image via Riot Games)

Riding high, the team won both the LCK Spring Split and Summer Split in 2019. However, each time the team would fall short of winning the playoffs, falling to now rivals T1. From here, the team gathered the unfortunate reputation for choking. They lived up to this slight at Worlds 2019, where they found themselves eliminated by Invictus Gaming. 

After a humbling at Worlds, and the departure of their world-class calibre mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, the team floundered. Unable to replicate their earlier success, which in hindsight may have been simply the product of Chovy’s incredible play, the team fell out of the LCK in 2020 Spring. They failed to return to the league in the summer promotion tournament. 

What remained was a slow death for the team. With a new format shaking up the LCK there was no chance of a Cinderella-style qualifier available anymore. Today’s announcement stating that Griffin disbands confirms simply what many had already know – Things are over for Griffin.

But the team leaves behind a remarkable legacy and story. Rising from an amateur league and defeating the best teams in the world to earn your spot is something that cannot be replicated. Griffin will remain remembered as the last great amateur team that came out of nowhere and shocked the LCK.

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League of Legends

T1 Partners With K-pop Academy SM Institute In New Venture

South Korean esports organisation T1, primarily known for their highly successful League of Legends team, is partnering with SM Institute to create a brand new academy. The news broke late on December 30th across Twitter thanks to K-Pop fan John Yoo.

SM Institute is a training and academy arm of SM Entertainment, a South Korean entertainment company. One of the country’s largest star makers, SM Entertainment manages numerous top level K-pop stars, including Girls’ Generation, Kangta, S.E.S, BoA, and Red Velvet. 

T1 are multiple time World Champions in League of Legends, having been victorious at Worlds in 2013, 2015, and 2016. The team were also runners up in 2017, and came 3rd-4th in 2019. Their legendary player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, made headlines this year after becoming a part-owner of the organisation.

The deal marks an exciting new avenue for the esports organisation. K-Pop is on the rise in popularity across the globe. South Korea’s most-famous esports team partnering with the country’s most-famous stars is a winning combination. 

The new academy looks to provide schooling and higher education for esports professionals. The SM Institute currently allows stars to continue their education while pursuing their dreams of K-Pop stardom. This new collaboration between T1 and the SM Institute will instead provide high-quality “K-Education” to esports players who may have forgone schooling to concentrate on their esports career.

T1 has vastly expanded its reach this year, partnering with organisations including Nike to grow their brand (Image via T1/Nike)

T1 has made numerous high profile deals in the past year. They’ve partnered with, Nike, and Hana Bank to expand the reach of the organisation. The company is rapidly growing into South Korea’s most recognisable brand – Outside of K-pop. By partnering with SM Entertainment T1 is making moves to become an even larger presence globally.

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League of Legends

T1 Disables LoL Twitter After Backlash Over LS Controversy

It’s the coaching drama that just won’t die – despite how much T1 would like it to. Storied Korean organisation T1 was today forced to disable its League of Legends Twitter after a wave of backlash against a statement released by the team. Just hours after the squad’s most recent post, Twitter visitors were greeted with news that the account had been disabled.

The page visitors to @T1LoL’s account were greeted with after the deletion

In the statement, the team talked about it’s decisions to educate it’s staff on appropriate ways to use voice chat program Discord. This was due to recent leaks from the program about its future coaches. However, it was the absence of any explicit mention of its most recent coaching drama that inflamed tensions.

The statement released by T1 which many felt didn’t go far enough to address harassment by its fans

T1’s refused to properly address the harassment received by Nick “LS” De Cesare after he was rumoured to be the team’s newest coach. Korean T1’s Fans had very vocally complained of the non-Korean’s signing, and it was ultimately announced that Dae-in “Daeny” Yang and Jae-min “Zefa” Lee would instead by taking the coaching roles.

However, the seeming switch in coaching appointment was widely regarded as T1 caving to fan pressure. What’s more, LS had received extreme harassment due to his rumoured coaching position. T1 fans had attempted to contact the prospective coach’s grandmother. Fanatical supporters even went so far as hiring a van to drive around Seoul adorned with slogans complaining about his appointment. LS was ultimately forced to delete his Twitter account and limit his online presence to avoid the continued harassment.

T1’s failure to address the extreme behaviour of their Korean fans in their latest announcement infuriated LS supporters on Twitter. Especially those within the western League of Legends community. After receiving a huge amount of criticism on their post, the organisation opted to delete their Twitter – ironically following in the same footsteps LS was forced to tread.

The deletion leaves T1 League of Legends without it’s most followed social media account just hours before the start of free-agency – and T1 fans in the dark during this crucial period. The team will have to rely on others to break the news of it’s signings, another misstep for the organisation.

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League of Legends

LS Will Be T1’s Next Coach But Korean Fans Aren’t Happy

Fans can be relied upon to criticise the signings of players to their teams, but rarely in esports has the signing of a coach created similar controversy. That was until a leak surfaced detailing the potential that Nick “LS” De Cesare could T1’s next coach.

(Image via  Lee “Effort” Sang-ho)

The leak came from a discord message sent to Lee “Effort” Sang-ho, who was streaming at the time. According to the message, LS, alongside former StarCraft 2 pro and current TFT player Choi “Polt” Seong Hun, will join T1 as coaches for the 2021 season. Almost immediately, speculation about this coaching move circulated around Twitter. Some heralded the potential signings as a great move, and others doubting the veracity and quality of the choices.

T1 suffered a humiliating end to their season after a loss to Gen.G in the finals of the Worlds Regional Qualifiers. The loss was especially crushing with rumours of the legendary mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok reportedly considering retirement. Three days later, their coach Kim Jung-su resigned

LS is an experienced analyst, commentator, and League of Legends personality. His career started when he moved to South Korea to pursue a career as a StarCraft pro player. After living with several Korean organizations, LS became focused on LoL, becoming a coach to many pro players. Since then, he’s served as a coach on multiple teams such as Supa Hot Crew, Roar, Gravity Gaming, and bbq Olivers. 

However, despite his laundry list of qualifications, his controversial style of analysis has often drawn the ire of critics. Most recently, they have focused on his overuse of the “Boris” meme (the name of the shopkeeper on Summoners’ Rift) on his stream, and his often off-topic tangents – both staples of his broadcasting and streaming style rather than his analytical ability.

The most vocal critics of LS’s appointment to T1 are Korean fans who see his appointment as inappropriate. Their criticism varies from concerns about his qualifications, to ad hoc attacks. 

The criticism got so bad that this morning T1 issued an official statement on their social media. In it they addressed the concerns from fans, asking them for patience. “We want to reassure our fans that we are working hard to implement a coaching structure that will position us to win”

It’s likely the statement will do little to comfort T1 fans. Many are worried about a formerly world-class team going yet another year without international success. The former Worlds champions have failed to perform to the level which fans have grown accustomed to. Regardless of who ends up as part of T1’s next coach staff going forwards, they’ll be under a microscope for some time. 

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