For the past couple of years, Korean solo Que, at a professional level, has been pretty much non existent in the eyes of the western world. ‘League of Legends championship Korea’ teams have pretty much all had consistent deals with Azubu.tv; a Korean origins e-sports media company who focuses on Pro gamers and their streaming potential. However, by November last year, rumors were confirmed that pretty much all ‘LCK’ teams would be cancelling their contract, due to speculation of financing issues. This left teams looking for new ways to stream, and ultimately share their gaming experiences with fans. Quite obviously Korean power houses, and world champions, SK Telecom, swiftly began to look for a new streaming possibility!
By the 1st of February this year ‘SKT’s’ Bae “Bang” Jun-Sik released that ‘SKT’ would be trying out Twitch, all but minutes after the Azubu contract had officially ended. This threw excitement into the western world of e-sports, with the prospect of watching the best team in the world play. This brought the even more sensational idea of Watching ‘Faker, the worlds most formidable player, show off his skills’. However, to the annoyance of many he wouldn’t start streaming with the rest of the roster straight away, but by the 6th of February. It was released that SKT would sign a contract through Kongdoo, with Twitch, involving the entire roster, including Faker! The GOAT.
The 6th of February, the day the ‘Demon God’ would display his skills and play style to the western world of e-sports. Faker began streaming on this day, and to pretty much the surprise of nobody he broke records. Scratch that, he smashed records, blowing them out of the water completely. Managing to gain 245,000 concurrent views at one time, demolishing the previously held record of 100,000, set by ‘Doublelift’ as he switched from rival to rival. Fully displaying how many enthusiasts genuinely wanted to watch and study the almighty Faker.
This may seem like a perfect deal for both SKT and Twitch, however pretty much straight away cracks began to show. Visual and audio quality was poor, donations seemed to be ignored, and live chat was completely non existent. As this went, on controversy began to reveal itself as players seemed tired, and frankly, like they wanted to be elsewhere. Of course, leading to fan annoyance, almost destroying the charm of the best team in the world. This withered away at the once omnipresent excitement around the team. As the speculations grew, so did the realization that the players may not be at fault.
‘Peanut’, the SKT jungler, and former ROX Tigers player, began to complain whilst streaming, subliminally shedding light on the situation, stating “I have to stream no matter what because of the schedule,” exposing he couldn’t go to bed even if he wanted to. On a specific occasion, he ended up streaming deep into the night, hours before a game. It became clear Kongdoo, the Chinese company, were behind this controversy. They had forced the removal of donation messages, completely blocked live chat interaction, and gave players impossible obligations. Subsequently removing the personal community Twitch offers, taking a joyful opportunity, and turning it sour; to squeeze as much money out as possible.
As more dilemmas forced their way onto the stream, it seemed to many, including myself, that Kongdoo had the sole purpose of meeting Chinese preferences; Forcing players to hide donations and ignore live chat as a result of a survey revealing Chinese viewers disliked these features. Not only this, but it seemed Huni and Peanut had both been kept in the dark about the hours, and the obligations, SKT had signed them up for; due to the surprise they expressed through their complaints. As if they had no idea of contracted hours prior to the deal, placing the entire deal into perspective, and forcing everyone involved to question the situation.
We’re all still loving the fact that we get to witness the best team in the world play, and honestly I think were all learning a lot from the Korean franchise. Despite this, I felt like I needed to open some eyes on this situation, and show the poor treatment the team is going through, due to Kongdoo’s decisions. Since all this Kongdoo have released an apology, but personally it felt hollow, as though it was just an attempt to subdue the surrounding rage from viewers. Individually I believe the treatment of the team has been unacceptable, and has completely ruined the phenomenal preliminary image that was put into our heads by Bang’s tweet. What do you think of the situation?