South Korean League of Legends team KINGZONE DragonX is sliding in the standings due to a recent change in team ownership.
For those unfamiliar with professional eSports, KINGZONE DragonX has historically been a solid team on the League of Legends circuit. They had a rough start to the LCK (League Champions Korea) 2019 Spring Split but managed to come back with a 13-5 win/loss record and enter into the playoffs in third seed. They finished second after getting swept by SKT in the finals.
However, the Summer Split isn’t looking nearly as promising. KINGZONE is currently sitting with an 8-7 record after losing four in a row in the recent games.
So, what happened? Apparently, there’s been a change in ownership with KINGZONE, and the new owners are making some pretty big waves.
As an example of the new owners' drastic decisions, they tried to fire the entire coaching staff and start player contract negotiations mid-season immediately after taking possession.
According to a report from Inven Global citing anonymous sources within the team, a private business interest acquired KINGZONE after their previous owners, FEG (Fight E-sports Group) felt that running a League of Legends team was just too much investment. KINGZONE’s morale had declined even further when they heard their entire coaching staff was getting laid off.
Then, if that wasn't bad enough, the owners began contract negotiations mid-season. Normally this happens during the post-season in order to keep players focused on the game. However, the new owners wanted to lock in their key players without delay.
Yet, only a certain amount of members from the team had been given an offer to return for the following season, causing the excluded players to become increasingly uncomfortable with the new management. After all, if they won't be around the following season, then it is worth asking oneself if they should even try and get better for the sake of the team if they won't be included in the long run.
Thankfully, some collective bargaining has occurred. In other words, the KINGZONE players banded together, rejected all contract offers, and demanded that the original coaching staff stay on for the remainder of the season.
Now, things with KINGZONE are tense. The owners have no interest in retaining the entire coaching staff or any of the team’s current roster, which causes one to wonder why they even bothered to buy the team in the first place. This kind of environment can greatly worsen a team's playoff chances, and it has yet to be seen if KINGZONE can rally under the pressure.