It looks like a major roster change is about to shake up one of the biggest competitive gaming leagues in the world—and it's taking the form of a European invasion. Last season, American squad Velocity was one of just eight teams to make it into the prestigious North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). But after an embarrassing 5-23 run, the team cleaned house, dumping every single player from the roster.
The stakes are high. Around 30 million users play League of Legends every month. Last season's LCS final saw 32 million viewers and awarded a prize of $1 million to eventual winners, Korean team SK Telecom T1 K.
“As a team, we can’t seem to make any magic happen, and I know it’s not getting any easier as our competition heats up,” the team's manager, Brad “I am Guitar” Cordry said in announcing the change. To keep the brand alive, Cordry outsourced the team's offseason competitions to fellow North America team, Denial.East.
But that was always just a temporary solution. And late last week, the rumor mill began churning. An unsourced Reddit thread proudly announced that a team on the European side, Evil Geniuses, had bought out Velocity's spot in the LCS. Reddit isn't always known for it's reliability, but, in this case, the rumors were backed up by a mountain of circumstantial evidence.
Redditors soon discovered, for instance, that members of the European-based Evil Genius (EG) were playing on North American accounts. Tweets hinted at backroom deals that had gone on earlier in the preseason.
Player streams and vlogs have further solidified the what this new roster might look like. Velocity would now be the home of former Evil Genius members Mitch "Krepo" Voorspoels, Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis, and Peter "yellowpete" Wüppe. Joining them would be North American challenger players, Tyson "Innox" Kapler and Eugene "Pobelter" Park.
Adding even more credibility to the rumors, the above players have already been spotted in game scrimmaging against other North American teams.
Many expressed surprise at the rumor. In last season's European LCS, Evil Geniuses ended the season strong with a 4th place finish, and by many accounts had one of the most popular rosters on the planet thanks to the world-class talent of players like Voorspoels and Ellis. Voorspoels’ charismatic appearance at the analyst desk during the League of Legends World Championship in October further raised the team's profile. So why jump ship? A large roster change like this might severely weaken Evil Geniuses, and fans might feel like the players are abandoning them.
If the changes take place, it looks like Evil Geniuses European LCS team would include existing members Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Mike “Wickd” Petersen, and would add on Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema, Erik “TabzZ” van Helbert, and an undetermined fifth member.
Further muddying the waters, this potential move challenges the league's current rulebook, which states that no owner "may own or control more than one team.” Purchase of Velocity by Evil Genius’ owner, Alex Garfield, would violate that rule.
Head Referee, J.T. Vandenbree, clarified the situation on Twitter: “Alex would have to not own both.” The delay in announcing EG and Velocity’s rosters is likely due to efforts to fully adhere to the LCS’ rules, which may change for the coming 2014 season. Neither Velocity nor Evil Geniuses responded to a Daily Dot request to comment on this article.
While the community waits for confirmation of this huge roster change, eyes can’t help but turn to the Battle of the Atlantic later this month. The Riot Games-sponsored showmatch features the top teams in North America and Europe going head to head. Additionally, it will be the stage for challenger teams fighting to get into the LCS for the 2014 season. Both Evil Geniuses and the rumored new Velocity team have matches scheduled for the tournament.
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