Johan "NaNiwa" Lucchesi, one of the best StarCraft 2 players in the world, was released from team Alliance this week as a direct result of forfeiting his tournament spot at the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Poland.
Lucchesi, who had already publicly made clear his plans to quit the game, announced his departure earlier today in a post on the Team Liquid forums. This was confirmed to the Daily Dot by an Alliance staffer.
The team will be releasing a full statement later today.
Lucchesi says he told his team “at least 5 time that I didn’t want to go and that they should make IEM get a replacement for me.” Alliance didn’t agree, he said, and he was told that IEM warned of “consequences” if he didn’t attend. In the past, Lucchesi has been punished by the same organization for showing up late or failing to attend online matches.
Alliance declined to comment on the matter but IEM manager Michal Blicharz denied Lucchesi's allegations.
If Naniwa didn't want to come to #IEM, we would not have had a problem with it. (Unless he told us that after we had booked his flight.)— Michal Blicharz (@mbCARMAC) March 21, 2014
“I would of course not want to go waste my time playing a tournament in a game I don’t even practice anymore, as it was a huge waste of time," Lucchesi wrote on Team Liquid. "But, as I said, I was forced to because of SPONSOR things and ironically enough I got kicked off the team for going there and doing what I did.”
Not everyone is siding with Alliance’s decision to drop Lucchesi, who was going to quit the team anyway. Duncan Shields, an esports journalist who has defended Lucchesi’s controversial career in the past, believes Alliance are out only for their own interest.
EG/Alliance is such a disgusting organisation. They reverse-engineer their ethical/moral stance based on what they want to do.— Duncan Shields (@Thooorin) March 21, 2014
Initially, Lucchesi blamed his quick exit from the tournament on IEM itself. After having an early aggressive rush fended off, Lucchesi said his opponent heard the crowd cheer, thus alerting him to incoming danger. The Swede walked off the stage to a chorus of boos.
It seems clear now that Lucchesi is quitting StarCraft for the foreseeable future. What happens next?
“I’m sure that if I practice 2 weeks in the future,” he wrote, “I can make the comeback as the best foreign player at any time if I feel like it.”
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Screengrab via ESL TV/YouTube