Gambit Gaming will be missing four of their starting players when the League Championship Series heads to Wembley Arena in London this weekend, because they were unable to secure visas in time for the event. And according to them, it was through no fault of their own—Riot Games did not give the League of Legends team enough warning to actually process them in time.
“It takes from three to six weeks for Russian citizens to acquire this visa,” explained Gambit Gaming. “On top of that, players don’t have a chance to go abroad during this period, since they have to leave their foreign passports in a consulate.”
The organization was surprised to find out about the LCS trip to Great Britain on May 22, when Riot officially announced it on the League of Legends website. That only gave the team four weeks to prepare, and considering two of those weeks would require keeping the players’ passports at the consulate, it just wasn’t an option for the team.
“We would have to miss two stages in Cologne,” said Gambit Gaming. “It is completely senseless to sacrifice two stages to attend one.”
Even missing one week could be disastrous for the 4-6 Gambit Gaming, whose record is just good enough to place them at sixth in the standings, barely in the playoffs and just out of relegation. This week they play the 3-7 ROCCAT, an important match that could decide who makes the playoffs and who is fighting for their LCS lives.
As such, the team is bringing in four ringers to play out the week. They’ve made no official announcement on who will fill the roster, but the Riot Games Fantasy LCS website lists a quartet of European Challenger players on the roster, including “Fury III” as marksman, “Loulex” at jungle, and a duo of players from Challenger Series team Heavy Botlane, French top laner Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet and Finnish support Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen.
While the team says Riot Games put their best foot forward in trying to smooth over the issue once they were aware, Gambit placed blame squarely where it was due: on Riot’s failure to notify the team of the schedule in a timely fashion. Considering an event like the LCS at Wembley probably takes months to prepare, that’s inexcusable for a professional league.
Gambit Gaming requested that their games be rescheduled due to Riot Games’ “lack of foresight”, but the request was declined. That leaves them in a sticky situation. Missing the week would dock them two forfeit losses, along with other “severe” penalties.
Riot’s refusal to reschedule has met with criticism around the community, as many feel the competition is marred more by using substitute ringers than simply moving matches back one week.
Truly disappointing to hear about Gambit’s situation in the LCS. Competitive integrity should be valued over event travel.— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 19, 2014
I think Gambit’s matches should be postponed. What is the point of a sports league without equal ability to play?— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 19, 2014
It just scares me, because when you start devaluing competitive integrity at what point do you become more WWE than NFL?— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 19, 2014
The oversight may come from ignorance of the Russian visa issue. European Union citizens can travel to Great Britain for the weekend with only a passport and no visa, so this was not a potential problem for most teams in the LCS. But for Gambit Gaming, with only one EU player, Polish mid laner Sebastian “niQ” Robak, the simple weekend trip is a headache of epic proportion.
The visa issues keep piling up for League of Legends’ top competition. Just last week, Ram “Brokenshard” Djemal of Complexity was removed from their starting lineup due to visa delays that would see him missing most of the Summer Split.
Riot Games should be well aware of Russian visa issues, as well. Gambit Gaming had to use three subs during week six of the Spring Split earlier this year after their German visas expired. The team needed five business days at home to renew the three-month visas for three players, but with the LCS Europe schedule placing matches on Thursdays and Fridays, the team never had the time to do it during the season. That situation may have been avoided with better long term planning from Gambit Gaming, but the current one seems out of their control.
“The organizers’ careless actions have a negative impact not only on us, but, more importantly, on our fans, who paid for tickets and accommodation and changed their plans for this weekend in order to attend this event and support their favourite team,” said Gambit Gaming. “Acquiring visa is not an issue as long as it is addressed in good time. As for our fans, who counted on meeting us in London, we can only express our condolences.”
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube