As a result of leaks from a recent stream, it seemed that three-time world champions T1 would be acquiring LS and Polt for their LoL squad. Fan response - particularly in Korea - has been mixed, and often downright incendiary and it’s led to T1 making a public response.
T1 asked for patience as they went through their team-building process, but did not go so far as to contradict the rumours.
Fans of the organisation have been frustrated by the team’s performances over the last few years after T1 failed to qualify for two of the last three World Championships despite impressive rosters (T1 is the home of Faker, after all) and arguably even more impressive coaching staff.
The likes of Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, Lee “Zefa” Jae-min, and most recently Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo have all tried their hands as coaches of this hallowed Korean esports team to mixed success over the last three years. If the rumours prove true, T1 clearly wanted to try a different approach in an attempt to shake-up the underperforming team.
It hasn’t gone down as smoothly as T1 might have hoped. So much so, that LS has deleted his Twitter after personal attacks grew to unmanageable levels, partly fueled by previous disputes between Korean fans and LS over his defence of former BBQ jungler Sebastian “Malice” Edholm.
Fans sent funeral flowers to T1's building.— Rumorman (@HyunJaeLee6) November 5, 2020
The ribbon says
"SKT T1 (2012-2019)"
"Pro gaming team is dead"
"Now it's entertainment company"
"That's what T1 is"
Fans are now drawing a line between SKT T1 and T1.#LCK#T1pic.twitter.com/DJqs2siHVc
Fan responses have ranged from valid concerns to threats to the downright farcical. Some intrepid fans were so furious they sent funeral flowers mourning the loss of the organisation.
Seeing this crusade against LS & a bold new direction in an LCK team's coaching staff continue to gain traction has been very disappointing to me - Fans are welcome to be skeptical, but a witchhunt to stop it happening in this scenario is peak toxic fandom IMO https://t.co/JzlyMKcklI— Chris Smith (@PapaSmithy) November 7, 2020
Concern and criticism is one thing, but a witch hunt is another. The likes of former LCK commentator and now 100 Thieves’ GM Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith was among many who called out the exacerbated “crusade” against his former colleague.
That said, there is absolutely room to be sceptical: LS biggest coaching role to date is one with BBQ Olivers, a far cry from a perennial World Championship team, and while Polt has had exceptional success in esports his knowledge of LoL is significantly more limited.
Moreover, fans have been critical of T1’s increased focus on ads and branding, worrying that it has negatively impacted T1 (rightly or wrongly).
I know reddit likes to laugh at absurdity of T1 fans right now. However, these are extremely passionate fans who care A LOT about their team.— Peter Dun (@pcdv8r) November 6, 2020
MOST fans would feel similar if consistent title winner org, brought in say a CS coach out of nowhere instead of promoting within scene.
T1 will hope (should the rumours prove true) that both Polt and LS can prove themselves in their new roles, and in turn alleviate fan concerns. Their worry will be that toxic, borderline racist abuse will continue regardless.