In one of his first interactions with the public after taking over as Paris Saint-Germain’s Head of eSports, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim revealed the club’s strategy for breaking into the EU LCS in 2017. Engaging with the League of Legends community through an ‘Ask Me Anything’ social media campaign, the former Fnatic man outlined his plans for PSG’s forthcoming Challenger Series squad. Sadly, for the sake of European League of Legends, it appears that Yell0w’s plans are a step in completely the wrong direction.
The acquisition of Korean talent as a shortcut for success in the Western leagues is a myth, proven false time and time again. Despite hailing from League of Legends’ most talented nation, a South Korean citizenship does not necessarily guarantee that a player will be head and shoulders above the competition showcased in the LCS.
This lesson was realised yet again during Season 6 of the European League of Legends Championship. In a bid to rise up the standings in the EU LCS, GIANTS! Gaming employed the services of Korean AD Carry, Son “S0nstar” Seung-ik – a move that sparked criticism after his performances failed to live up to the expectations his nationality carries – he was by no means the only Korean disappointment on display last season.
When discussing his strategy for player recruitment, it appeared that YellOwStaR had completely forgotten the lessons learnt from his final professional split – a summer split in which Korean imports flopped and Splyce, a roster made up entirely of European talent, rose from a relegation struggle to reach the World Championship .
“When it comes down to players — to be original, I would like to work with 2 Korean players that would ‘lead by example’ and young players that are willing to prove themselves and make their own name on the scene,
“Having a lot of discipline is necessary to constantly improve — work ethics, respect and being humble in any circumstances.
“Korea is still dominating the scene in these matters even though we have an extreme amount of talented players [in Europe]. We are living in a world where it is easy to get distracted, temptation is always here and the hardest opponent is probably [ourselves].”
Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim
YellOwStaR appreciated that although Europe has a strong base of talented players, he believes that PSG eSports will need a number of South Korean imports to round out the squad. PSG eSports are planning on bringing on younger rookies from Europe in the hope that they will be able to learn from the supposedly ‘experienced’ Koreans alongside them… contrary to all the evidence presented by the 2016 EU LCS Summer Split.
“Our main goal is to qualify in LCS this season,
“It’s not an easy task, so we will try to build a team with some experienced players that could help the youngest to grow and prove themselves along enabling their full potential.”
Simply seeking to replicate the success of the Korean region within the EU LCS is not the answer. The only evidence to support this approach is Fnatic’s Season 5 acquisition of Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and frankly, it seems that the move was extremely fortuitous.
When Fnatic looked to repeat the feat ahead of Season 6, acquiring Lee “Spirit” Da-yun and Yeong-Jin “Gamsu” Noh, the roster slowly rotted from the inside out – as it did for a number of EU LCS sides who had sought to hit the Korean gold mine.
Acquiring Korean talent as a path to LCS qualification is a step in the wrong direction for European League of Legends. YellOwStaR and PSG eSports would do well to follow the precedent set by World Championship competitors, Splyce and indeed their footballing rivals in the Challenger Series, Schalke 04 eSports – both emphasising the emergence of home-grown talent.
Only when European talent is given the chance to shine in their own league will EU LCS teams ever have a chance of growing as a region, PSG’s recruitment strategy will serve as another obstacle in that path.