With the League of Legends World Championship completed, fans have IEM Oakland to look forward to in order to quench their thirst for international competition, though there have been a fair number of raised eyebrows in Korea in terms of how the League Champions Korea teams are to qualify for IEM.
With the KeSPA Cup being held until the Nov. 18 and IEM Oakland starting the next day, there has been a scheduling conflict. According to an article by Inven, an internal survey was done among teams by the Korean eSports Association, and many teams said that they would prefer to compete in IEM rather than the KeSPA Cup. But the qualifications for Korea’s representative at IEM Oakland is the highest ranking team from the LCK summer split that doesn’t make it to the quarterfinals of KeSPA.
For Oakland specifically, the invitation cannot go to SK Telecom T1 — which qualified for IEM Katowice as the world champion — the ROX Tigers — which qualified for IEM Gyeonggi for being LCK 2016 summer champions, and KT Rolster — who got a quarter finals seed in the KeSPA Cup.
World champion SK Telecom T1 has qualified for IEM Katowice in March by winning worlds and is therefore ineligible to compete in Oakland. The ROX Tigers will be competing in IEM Gyeonggi by winning the 2016 LCK summer split, also making them ineligible for Oakland. KT Rolster automatically qualified for the quarterfinals of the KeSPA Cup by placing second in the LCK summer split.
Samsung Galaxy was in a unique position, as it dodged all of the above scenarios but was ineligible for IEM Oakland after a second place finish at worlds. In an interview with Fomos, a representative of the ESL said that “regardless of region, any team that has made it to the semis of worlds is disqualified.”
So the invitation will likely come down to MVP and the Afreeca Freecs, but even that seems to be suspect. According to Fomos, the Afreeca Freecs will decline the invitation even if they lose, making MVP the most likely team to go to Oakland, but head coach Kwon Jae-Hwan shared concerns about claims of “intentional losing” in order to win that spot in an interview with Inven.
“It’s too early to say, but it’s most likely that the loser of the game between us and the Afreeca Freecs will get invited to IEM Oakland,” he said. “A professional does their best regardless of what competition they are part of, so we too are preparing for the KeSPA Cup seriously, but I am also honestly concerned that we might be the victim of a witch hunt in the event of our loss, claiming that we lost on purpose to compete in IEM.”
If neither MVP nor Afreeca takes the invitation, it would go to the loser of the upcoming match between the Jin Air Green Wings and Longzhu Gaming. In the event of their refusal, it would be either CJ Entus or KeG Seoul, the losers of their respective KeSPA matches on Wednesday.
The most frustration can be expected from KT, which managed to place second in the LCK summer split. KT wasn’t able to compete at worlds and now will be denied entry to IEM Oakland as well. KT’s head coach Lee Ji-Hoon expressed his frustration in an interview with Inven, saying he would have preferred to go to Oakland.
“In the survey prior to IEM Oakland, we said that we would prefer to compete at IEM,” he said. “At that time our chances to worlds weren’t finalized, but with the changes to qualification, despite our second place finish in the LCK summer split we must watch a lower placed team compete at Oakland.”
Cover photo by Patrick Strack/ESL, eslgaming.com