SK Telecom T1 handily beat Samsung Galaxy 2-0 on Thursday and has earned a tie atop the League Champions Korea standings entering a week break for IEM Katowice. The reigning world champions won’t be attending IEM Katowice, which they won last year, and in an interview with Fomos’ Choi Min-sook, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok said that saddens him — kind of.
“I’m glad because we’ll have time to rest up, but a part of me is disappointed,” he said.
IEM events have been in a weird lace as far as League of Legends is concerned in recent months. Some of the better teams in the world have for multiple reasons stopped attending them. The last one, IEM Oakland in November, featured multiple teams declining invitations (including Team SoloMid, which eventually attended the tournament after initially backing out). The timing was odd because it was right before the offseason free agency period.
In an interview with Slingshot at IEM Oakland, ESL CEO Ralf Reichert said there would be improvements to the IEM circuit for League of Legends, though he did not go into specifics and there have been no updates since the interview took place in November.
“I am very optimistic that there is a right place for IEM in the League of Legends ecosystem,” Reichert told Slingshot in November. “I think we found it, and hopefully we’ll work it out. It has both things. It has a little more of a fun approach to it, but at the same time it’s meaningful and can have the right talent playing so that it’s an improved situation to today.”
Katowice’s status in the middle of the spring splits for various regions has also caused tepid commitments from teams. Cloud9, currently the second place team in North America, declined an invitation. Chinese team EDward Gaming, the first place team in its group of the League of Legends Pro League, withdrew from the tournament after failing to acquire visas in time — though it was replaced by G2, the first place team in Europe.
The field for this weekend’s Katowice event includes H2K, M19, Kongdoo Monster, G2, ROX Tigers, Flash Wolves, Hong Kong Esports and Unicorns of Love (who won IEM Oakland).