Former ROX Tigers members Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun said in a video interview with OGN Plus that before signing with new teams, many difficulties were in place that would make moving a daunting task.
Both players have considered going overseas, and KurO said one of the most uncomfortable parts of the process was making calls at awkward hours in the morning due to time zone differences. GorillA also talked about some serious concerns when dealing with foreign organizations.
“For the players, we want to look as widely as possible, because the more calls you get, the more options you have,” he said. “But when it comes to talking to teams in China or North America, the responses are often slow, and situations arise where the teams cut off all ties as another, better, choice becomes a free agent. I think there’s a lot of wasted time in that process.”
Even domestic signings come with another set of difficulties, mainly getting into contact with teams that may be interested.
“There isn’t really a system for players to move to a new team that also protects the players,” Kuro shared. “In the players’ perspective, it’s just hard.”
GorillA said that for famous players, finding a team isn’t an issue, but for lesser known players, it comes down to knowing the right people.
“For famous players, the teams get in contact with one another to prevent tampering,” he said. “In my case, I knew a lot of people in the industry, so it was rather easy for me to get into contact. For players not as well known, it’s often seen that they promote themselves and contact teams through social media channels. I really learned the importance of knowing the right people during this whole ordeal.”
Professional gaming is an occupation that comes with large risk such as a short career, and though both KurO and GorillA are adults capable of signing their contracts, there are many perspectives at play before signing.
“I’ve been doing all that stuff alone until one day when I told my mom I’m leaving to sign a contract, she asked if she could come with me,” Kuro said. “I was later told that my parents think it’ll be better if they were present for signings.”
GorillA also has his father read over all of his contracts before ink goes on paper, but also shared the point of view from others in his position that found the idea of complete disclosure puzzling.
“When I listen to the advice of other people who made money at an early age, they ask me why I share the contract with my parents,” he said. “They often say it’s better to show them after I cover the yearly pay from them or to reduce the actual amount because it’s important to start a slush fund. Pro gaming isn’t a profession that you do for a long time, so people in that position are all concerned about saving up money. They ask why I’m sending so much money home, and that I need that money for myself in the future. I still think I need to repay my parents for bringing me up so I don’t really think like they do. I do hear a lot of concerns from people around me though.”
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games