Following our investigation into OGN Winter's possible cancellation, Riot Korea has released a public statement about their future direction in esports. In it, they explore many concerns about the current state of League of Legends in Korea, from the tournament format, to the short lifespan of competitive League of Legends players and the lopsided results of the OGN Champions tournaments. onGamers was privileged enough to obtain an english version of this letter.
You can view the letter by Richard Kwon, the Director of Riot Korea’s Esports Division below:
Recently, there has been considerable controversy within the community resulting from the rumors that Riot Games has mandated the cancellation of the Winter Season of OGN Champions League. We believe many Summoners are interested about the veracity of these rumors and what changes may be in store for the future LoL eSports system. We would like to take this opportunity to announce our official position on this matter.
The principle most coveted by Riot Games is "Player-Focused". "Player" here generally refers to the summoners who love and enjoy League of Legends, but we also believe it extends to our partners who collaborate with us to vitalize eSports. Hence, the rumor that "Riot Games mandated OGN to cancel the season" was truly disheartening and shocking for us. This cannot be any further from the truth. We believe eSports is not something that may be created with brute, unilateral actions of a single company. OGN Champions in its present form is the precious product of the collaborative effort of Riot Games, OGN, KeSPA, and our fans since its beginning in 2012.
From past to present, the three organizations have continued their discussion on how to further grow OGN Champions. We have ceaselessly explored "How LoL eSports could continue to be a sport that enjoys consistent love from the public". We believe there are numerous issues that need to be solved in order to ensure the fulfillment of this objective. Among these issues, we would like to share key issues that we have recently been focusing on with you:
The Imbalance in the Amount of Matches among Pro Teams
Several pro teams have been expressing their concerns about the lacking number of matches for their teams. Reason for such is the fact that a team eliminated early in the season as a result of the current tournament structure or a team who fails to advance through the qualifiers to the group stages must go through an extremely long downtime. This not only causes de-motivation of players due to lack of opportunity to play in official matches, but also is one of the main reasons that prevents stable continuance of teams. Some argue that this problem is something natural in the world of professionals, but careful consideration on whether such situation is truly helpful to the long-term development of eSports is necessary.
The Short Lifespan of Pro Players
Less than three years since the start of LoL eSports, majority of the famous players who helped solidify the LoL eSports' early foundation are retired and gone. Unfortunately, we are already seeing the retirement of numerous well-known pro-players who had been with LoL eSports from the very beginning despite the fact that it has been live for less than 3 years. The sentiment among current LoL pro-players is that "the lifespan of a LoL eSports pro player is 2-3 years at most."
Despite numerous deliberation from the three organizations to develop LoL eSports into an official sport, we believe no one has protected the pro players who can be considered the actual center piece of the stage.
We acknowledge that extending the lifespan of pro players is not an easy task that will be solved in a short time. However, we would like to tell you that this is a task Riot Games, OGN and KeSPA consider to be very important, and one for which we will continue to strive to find a solution.
The Lopsided Trend of OGN Champions Group Stage Matches
We believe that the OGN Champions League should continue to deliver unpredictable and exciting matches from the qualifiers to the group stages. However, significant skill gap between the teams in the OGN Champions League has been occurring of late.
Matches between pro teams and semi-pro teams have become so one-sided that majority of fans easily predicts the correct outcome of these matches. Of course, this is no one's fault. However, the three organizations are constantly deliberating ways to create more interesting and captivating matches.
Riot Games, OGN and KeSPA are multilaterally reviewing various aspects that consist eSports in order to solve these key issues.
The plan for the upcoming season is one of such items we are reviewing. For example, consideration on whether the current tournament system should be maintained, or whether a transition to a league system or another system is included in these items. The rumor of the winter season being cancelled spread in the process of this debate, and many eSports fans expressed their concerns and fear.
What we can tell you with positivity is that nothing has been decided.
Riot Games, in making collaborative decisions with its partners, will not only carefully listen to the voice of our many players, but will also continuously communicate with the pro players and teams. And should the format of the tournament change, no lengthy gap in tournaments will occur that will disappoint our fans.
Lastly, we would like to reiterate the fact that Riot Games, OGN and KeSPA are putting in a lot of thoughts for the bright future of LoL eSports. We plan to inform you our plan for the upcoming season as soon as it is finalized. We expect that time to be sometime after the end of World Championship. Until that time, please kindly understand that the 3 organizations will not publicly address any unconfirmed facts, speculation, or rumor in order to minimize player confusion.
We ask for your kind interest and support for the continued growth and development of LoL eSports.
Director of Riot Games eSports-Communications Division
Image Credits: OnGameNet.