Internal issues and drama wreak havoc upon esports team Kingzone DragonX. Inven Global Korea has just released an article bringing to light all the problems the once-dominant Korean League of Legends team.
According to Inven, the internal struggles were so huge and secretive they were referred to as “something that can never be spoken about ever.”
The Inven article states that all information presented comes from former and present Kingzone staff members, as well as insiders and players in the league who have asked to remain anonymous.
To begin, Kang “Hirai” Dong-hoon founded the team when it was originally called Incredible Miracle and rebranded as Longzhu Gaming. Hirai was the Executive Director, Head of Marketing, General Manager, and Head Coach.
In 2017, the team had trouble getting finances and support and were forced to accept help from KeSPA, the organization that runs the South Korean esports scene. KeSPA’s solution was to bring help from Chinese Capital, Kingzone DragonX, to help. They enlisted Chief Strategy officer Seo Hyung-seok to take hold of the entire operation for the Head Office.
Hirai still contributed to the betterment of his team, obtaining a major sponsorship with Red Bull in 2018 and remained active on the marketing side. In 2019, he turned his full attention to being the Head Coach to the faltering team. His position in the organization has lessened considerably, so that begs the question: What happened?
According to insiders, apparently, Kingzone’s parent company, FEG (Fighting E-sports Group), was losing interest in the League team and wanted to sell their slow due to the number of resources required to maintain them. This decision was only made with only the people directly involved and no proper procedures were taken at all.
The transfer of power from Hirai’s Longzhu to Kingzone has been noted as the major issue, having occurred during the middle of the competitive split.
Those in power decided to replace most of the coaching staff, actively seeking new coaches while current coaches worried about their jobs. New procedures under Kingzone caused a rift between the coaching staff and the players. Players voiced their concerns in keeping the current staff, but the Kingzone higher-ups were adamant on the replacements.
To add onto player frustrations, many players were pressured to re-sign and re-negotiate contracts during the middle of the split.
Questions rose that would cause major worry in the players.
“Which players would you want to play with?” asking questions which could cause team conflicts, “In your current team, who would you think is lacking right now, and what areas is he weak in?”
The Kingzone coaching staff have, in the past, been outspoken about this having declared that if one player is falling behind, then the team will raise that player up together. The questions that were asked during the negotiation was in contrast to this message.
The timing of the contract negotiations was very poor as well. According to insiders, negotiations were done either a day or two before the matches during the middle of the split in 2018. They were also done at dawn, right after scrims were finished, leading some meetings being held till after 5 AM.
Players refused the renegotiation. Reasoning that these internal conflicts were not going to affect the team. The players were clear in their wish to keep their current coaching staffs and succeeded.
Though there was a stumble during the rest of the season during the struggles, they were able to make their way to Worlds, losing some staff along the way. Hirai did his best to keep everything together.
Inven then asked for comment from the Kingzone Head Office about everything discussed. They responded that there was no truth to anything said.
Credit: Rudolf Baldovino