There are few members of the League of Legends community that elicit as much emotion from Korean fans as current G2 eSports and ex-Team Solomid staff member Weldon Green.
As a member of TSM, Green’s controversial comments sparked outrage amongst the Korean eSports community and made it clear he – and by extension, Team SoloMid – were no longer welcome in their nation.
Before last year’s World Championship, TSM decided it would be in the team’s best interest to prepare for the event in Seoul, South Korea, housing the team there while they scrimmaged Korean clubs to hone their skills against what they considered to be the highest level of competition.
Hello again, Korea! Time to bootcamp before Worlds! pic.twitter.com/MyiSclq4dn
— Team SoloMid (@TeamSoloMid) September 5, 2016
Unfortunately, Team SoloMid quickly ran into issues, when one of their scrims against SK Telecom T1 (including voice comms) was leaked, causing a backlash against the organization and stirring distrust within the Korean community.
Although the leak was eventually revealed to be due to an instance of hacking rather than TSM releasing the information, the damage in the realm of public opinion towards TSM had already been done.
In tandem with the leak, Weldon’s subsequent comments regarding the situation did the organization and himself no favors. Weldon remarked “[I]t got leaked because we have to come to Korea to train”, deflecting blame from the North American team and excusing their breach in security.
Further fuel to the flames were Weldon’s prior remarks, calling the Korean fans “psycho level nationalistic” and criticising what he perceived as an exclusive culture that utilized weaker Korean scrim partners to draw out information and strategies for the stronger Korean teams. This was highly refuted and perceived as insulting by many Korean fans and organizations alike.
Green’s comments blacklisted Team SoloMid in Korea, a region imperative for bootcamps and talent recruitment.
Team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh was ultimately faced with the choice of keeping Weldon – a performance coach whose impact resulted in a group stage elimination – or patch relationships with Korea, the single most important region for international success.
Following the debacle in Korea, TSM would decide to part ways with Weldon, partially in an attempt to salvage what they could of their reputation amongst the Koreans.
“We actively choose to remain on good relationships with our Korean scrim partners because we find that they are extremely beneficial to our team’s development as a whole.
“The statements that were made do not reflect the organization’s stance and beliefs towards them whatsoever, and we strive to keep these partnerships strong and healthy for the benefit of all.
“As such, we are looking for a skilled sports psychologist to take his place as the 2017 season approaches.”
Team SoloMid Official Announcement
Weldon would not remain team-less for long however, as he would switch from one LCS champion to another as the newest member of G2 eSports.
Already in the midst of an unprecedented string of success, G2 would continue their domestic dominance to earn EU’s first seed to the Season 7 World Championships.
It is likely that Weldon will now return to South Korea as G2 eSports prepares for the World Championships, considering the team boot camped in Korea before last year’s tournament as well. It will be the first time the public enemy has returned to Korea since his controversial statements.
While it is clear the animosity surrounding TSM has far from disappeared, it will be interesting to see if the feelings of resentment and distrust of Weldon spill over to his new organization and warp the Korean community’s perception of G2 eSports.
Unanimously viewed as precious scrim partners by the major contenders in the World Championships, the loss of access born out of an unwillingness to scrim G2 due to Weldon’s presence would be a major blow.
As Team SoloMid was forced to distance themselves from Weldon, it may be wise for G2 to have Weldon take a backseat in his public interactions until the World Championships have concluded.
Prone to outbursts and known for his outspoken nature, it would not be surprising to see Weldon take his toll on another Western organization by making inflammatory comments once again.