This time our LCS Newsfeed is a bit off-topic but as the recent announcement of Riot Games regarding the venues of the League of Legends World Championship Season 4 caused such an outrage among South Korean fans we thought this is worth a closer look!
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Riot Releases Statement about Korean Outrage Due To LoL Worlds 2014
After the official statement from Riot Games that announced that the Season 4 World Championships Group Stages will be split in two different countries namely Singapore and Taiwan has caused a massive uproar from Korean fans. South Korean fans expected that the entire Season 4 World Championships will be held exclusively in South Korea. These said fans even instigated that they boycott the entire game altogether if Riot is not able to reverse their decision on the matter. Riot Games immediately sent out a follow-up statement on the official Korean Riot Games website following the recent issue with the exclusivity of the tournament.
KeSPA official statement*
Meanwhile, the Korean eSports Association or KeSPA has also released their official statement regarding the recent issue. The fully translated statement are as follows:
Subject: [LOL] A Letter from KeSPA – Regarding the 2014 World Championship Announcement
Hello, PGR21 members.
My name is Chun Byung Hun and I am the chairman of the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA).
I would first like to express our own regrets and disappointments regarding the news about the League of Legends World Championship that have been heating up our forums.
We should have been much more active and precise in our communication, but since this news came right before our own announcement about the Association’s plans (Next eSports Action Plan), the result was confusion and worry amongst eSports fans.
As the chairman, I would like to address the worry and confusion of eSports fans so we can move forward together.
First, we were notified that the group stages would be held in Southeast Asia (Taiwan, Singapore) in March.
My first promise shortly after becoming the chair was the promise I made on air was told hold the World Championships in Korea.
At the time, everyone involved with Riot Games was greatly surprised.
It felt like there was close to zero trust with KeSPA, and was a bizarre surprise.
Was this due to past sins(?)? There seems to be distrust in the way foreign game companies view KeSPA.
The depth of this distrust was at its peak when I first made the promise as the newly minted chair.
However, the association has shown continuous change, has actively increased cooperation with Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, and other companies, and has made many efforts to create new mutual trust. Through this effort, Riot Games announced last year in November that the place where the 2014 World Championships would be held in was decided as ‘Korea.’
At the time, the result of Riot and the Association’s communication was clearly to hold the World Championships in Korea.
However afterwards, it seemed that new problems arose as Riot Games developed their global policy, and this March, the Association received a decision that Riot Games would like to hold the group stages in Southeast Asia.
At the time, we had completed our survey of venues to hold the Grand Finals, Semifinals, and the Quarterfinals. As the major gymnasiums and event venues are owned by the National or Regional government, we annually conduct surveys in January and February. We had completed our survey so we could have the Quarterfinals up until the Grand Finals in Seoul.
Notably, the venue we had surveyed for the Quarterfinals was the result of the cooperation of another association who change around their plans. The venue for the Grand Finals, of course, is a difficult venue to book without the cooperation of many organizations. (The scale of these venues was around three times the scale of the 2013 World Championships. Quarterfinals – 6,000 seats, Semifinals – 15,000 seats, Grand Finals – 40,000 seats. The venues were surveyed with the cooperation of the Ministry of Culture, the City of Seoul, and other organizations.)
Due to this, it was hard for us to accept Riot Games’ new decision.
As all the employees of KeSPA are all passionate eSports fans, we understand the expectations of the fans for the group stages where every team will participate and play a great number of games, so we had worries and concerns about the conditions of the players. Like the MLB, who brought even ice for their players competing in Australia for their Opening Series, we at KeSPA highly prioritize the conditions of our participating players, and expressed that it would be difficult to hold the group stages in Southeast Asia.
Even within our Association, there are people who believe that we should cancel all of the venues we booked through the cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and the City of Seoul and boycott the event.
Second, it is fact that KeSPA agreed with Riot’s new decision.
In the end, we decided not to cancel the venues nor boycott the World Championships. It is fact that we agreed with Riot’s new proposal that the group stages be held in Southeast Asia.
It is true that there are many problems with Riot’s proposal, but we judged that we could increase the global reach and the continued development of eSports with Korea as its core through this plan.
Additionally, this decision on our part was a way to overcome the trauma of the ‘Intellectual Property Rights crisis and the extreme feud that followed,’ and it was judged that a ‘New Composition/Plan for eSports’ should be drawn so as to avoid past mistakes. It was also judged that in order to help develop Korean and Asian eSports simultaneously with Korea at its center, concessions need to be made.
If you look at news articles from the time I was appointed (end of 2012 and early 2013), you will see that the main talking points about Korean eSports was ‘the Crisis of Korean eSports’ and ‘KeSPA’s Crisis.’
The analysis made after I accepted the position regarding the main reason for the crisis was the ‘loss of trust.’
Distrust towards KeSPA was at an all-time high, and it almost felt like there wasn’t anyone that wasn’t criticizing KeSPA. Notably, a user from Ruriweb who I communicated with frequently advised against me accepting the position as Chair because I might ‘end up wearing the excrement of CrapSPA.’
I judged as the new Chair of KeSPA, that it was time for KeSPA to turn a new leaf, and a ‘revival of trust’ would be the biggest requirement for that.
After I became Chair (and this can be seen in our press releases), we endeavored to brave our opposition through putting eSports fans first and push forward transparent policies because we believed above all else, that the ‘revival of trust’ was most important.
Of course even now and in the future, we will not give up our way of sharing the concerns and informing eSport fans. (This will be the content of our ‘Next eSports Plan’ that we had planned to announce after the MLG, Riot, and Blizzard visits, and Riot’s announcement schedule for the World Championships was faster than anticipated. We apologize for not being able to share our ‘Next eSports Plan’ sooner.)
With the ‘revival of trust’ in mind, KeSPA decided to work with Riot’s global plan as they are the administrators and investors of this event.
This will not end with just the World Championships. We hope to help develop Asian eSports to a level comparable to Korea’s and help cement Korea’s position in Asian leadership by gathering knowledge to help both Riot Games’ strategy and KeSPA, and turn this sour situation into something fruitful for everyone.
Third, KeSPA hopes to hold an annual international League of Legends event in Korea.
If international League of Legends events end with just the World Championships, we worried about how we could enjoy new and fun events with Korean eSport fans in the future.
If you look at statistics, there are a couple of points where Korean LoL viewership greatly increased.
One of those points was the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. There, the Korean representative KT Rolster Bullets had a thrilling comeback against the Chinese representative Team WE and took the series 2:1, and this was a point where Korean LoL viewership hugely increased.
At the scene there were loud chants from both Korean and Chinese fans, and the clash of these cheering cultures led me to a strong belief that there was a new element for the development of eSports.
One of the plans that came from then was a ‘Korean-Chinese Professional Exhibition’ (Working Title).
In 2015, we are hoping to hold a ‘LoL Korean-Chinese Professional Team Exhibition’ with the best Chinese and Korean Professional teams.
As the Chair, I believe that exhibition matches between the best Korean and Chinese professional teams are electrifying and create matches that cause your palms to sweat, and will grow to become a new part of the ‘Korean Wave.’
Additionally, alongside the premier tournament that KeSPA revived for Starcraft2, we hope to promote an ‘Asia Cup’ next year with LoL as one of its events as another international LoL event.
Of course, in a KeSPA Cup where Korea, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia compete against each other, not only will there be LoL, but also Starcraft 2, Crossfire, and Blade and Soul among other games in invitationals held in Korean-style short tournament formats.
In order to make the ‘LoL Korean-Chinese Professional Team Exhibition’ and ‘Asia Cup’ happen, we are cooperating extensively with our counterparts in China and Japan.
With Riot’s new proposal to hold the group stages in Taiwan and Singapore, which are major Southeast Asian countries, we are hoping that the interest that these regions show for the group stages will continue to the bracket stages held in Korea and also the events that KeSPA is preparing in the future. We have accepted Riot’s decision as a chance to make Korea a leader in Asian eSports development.
The infrastructure of Asian eSports in China and Southeast Asia continue to improve and expand, and even the console-centric wasteland of eSports, Japan, has made a venue for eSports. We hope to help quickly develop Asian eSports with Korea at its center and continue forward as a leader to bring an even better eSports environment to everybody.
Fourth, as the Chair, I will above all else, work with Korean eSports fans.
These are concerns that KeSPA has worried over and made decisions on from March until now.
There was some of the staff that was concerned that we might be revealing too much with this letter.
However since I took this position, I am of the belief that we can never stop explaining things to our fans, and as a result, I have shared my thoughts at every eSports event.
This time is no different. The contents written here should have been explained much earlier, but it came late. Even though it is late, the proverb, ‘the earliest moment when you believe it to be late,’ comes to mind.
We hope to recover and move forward from past altercations and continue to host global eSports events to enjoy with fans everywhere built from a relationship of trust.
This letter is published on both PGR21 and LoLInven.
We will listen to everyone’s opinions expressed in the comments.
Even though we have not directly replied on social media, everyone’s opinions were heard, and will continue to be heard.
As the representative of KeSPA, I would like to apologize for not being able to respond as everyone had hoped.
*.) The original statment was translated on reddit!