Kaos Latin Gamers pierde su cupo en la LLA después de dos terribles temporadas

El histórico equipo del rinoceronte desciende tras su derrota en el Torneo de Promoción/Relegación

KLG
KLG fue derrotado por Azules Esports en una volátil serie al mejor de 5. Fuente: LoL Esports Latinoamérica

Kaos Latin Gamers (KLG) es uno de los equipos de League of Legends con más renombre en Latinoamérica. A lo largo de su historia, la organización ha logrado obtener 6 campeonatos del máximo circuito de su región, múltiples participaciones en competencias de corte internacional y unos cuantos miles de fanáticos de distintos países. Sin embargo, el equipo ha perdido su cupo en la Liga Movistar Latinoamérica (LLA) tras una humillante derrota frente a Azules Esports en el torneo de Promoción/Relegación. Esto significa que, por primera vez desde que calificó a la Copa Latinoamérica Sur (CLS) en 2015, KLG jugará la temporada de apertura del 2020 en la segunda división.

Para KLG, los problemas iniciaron desde la temporada de apertura, ya que terminaron en 8vo lugar con un récord de 4 victorias a 17 derrotas. Aunque estos resultados no eran aceptables, hasta cierto punto eran entendibles. KLG tuvo que reestructurar gran parte de su escuadra debido a la fusión entre las ligas norte y sur. Para la temporada de clausura, tomaron la intrépida decisión de reformular su roster, conservando únicamente a su carrilero central Jairo “Zelt” Urbina Orozco y sustituyendo al resto de sus jugadores y a su entrenador. 

En un inicio, esta decisión parecía oportuna; el equipo debía hacer grandes cambios. No obstante, lo extraño y sorprendente de la nueva alineación de KLG fue que incluía a jugadores coreanos desconocidos y con nula experiencia de juego reciente. 

Hee-bum “Coma” Hong apareció por última vez en la liga turca (TCL) como junglero de Galakticos, donde disputó el descenso en 2017 ganando 3-0 en contra de Beşiktaş Esports. Tras estar inactivo por casi dos años, fue reclutado por KLG.

Joon-yeong “Troy” Kim jugó como soporte suplente en APK Prince, un equipo coreano de segunda división que se estaba peleando los últimos lugares de la tabla y estaba en riesgo de descender a finales de 2018. Posteriormente, estuvo inactivo dentro del mismo equipo y luego asumió el rol de manager antes de unirse a las filas de KLG.

Estas adquisiciones obligarían a KLG no solo a replantear por completo el funcionamiento del equipo dentro y fuera del juego, sino que también tendrían que lidiar con las dificultades que probablemente se presentarían por las diferencias de idioma, cultura y comunicación. Asimismo, su nuevo entrenador Floris “Vamir” Tuijn, proveniente de los Países Bajos, debía encontrar la manera integrar jugadores latinos con jugadores coreanos y que todos se adaptaran a un estilo de entrenamiento europeo, cosa que no suena para nada fácil.

Al final del día, esta situación resultó demasiado complicada para KLG y después de una desastrosa serie en el torneo de promoción/relegación de la LLA, se encuentra sin una liga donde jugar. Aunque es muy probable que esto no sea lo último que veamos de KLG (ya que puede que tomen un lugar en la Entel Liga de Honor de Chile), esta derrota marca el fin de un capítulo importante para uno de los clubes de esports con más renombre en toda la región, Kaos Latin Gamers.

Same ol’ digital goods

Team-branded digital items lack diversity

SKT Worlds 2016 Skins Splashart
World Champion Skins are one of League of Legends few esport skin lines. (Image: Riot Games)

The sale of digital products, like skins, is the core of any free-to-play (FTP). It’s a way to keep the game fresh by consistently giving players new content to purchase, in addition to being a developer’s main source of income. Riot Games’ League of Legends (LoL), one of the most popular FTP games, reportedly made $2.1 billion dollars in 2017, with the majority of that coming from in-game sales.

Digital sales also play an essential part in generating revenue for the esports scene of a game. Team-branded digital content is perfect for fans who want to support their favorite organization. League of Legends is no different, as it releases a couple of esports skins, chromas, icons and emotes every year. Yet, even in an era of franchised leagues, there’s a huge lack of diversity in the digital esports products Riot offers.

Back in September 2016, almost two years ago, Riot Games published an article that detailed their plans for the future of LoL Esports. Revamping how revenue is generated and shared through in-game sales was one of their focal points. Thus, Riot added the possibility for fans to contribute to the prize pools of their main international tournaments, the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and the World Championship (Worlds). Furthermore, all past and present World Champions, along with their teams and domestic leagues, would receive a 25% cut from the sales of their personalized commemorative skins for their first year of release. These two changes paved the way for bigger prize pools and more income for top-tier teams.

Moreover, in this article, they stated that they “started with summoner icons, and have been working with teams to explore new items” and that the following year (2017), they would “be introducing new revenue sharing opportunities, such as team-branded in-game items and esports promotions”. It’s now 2018 and while Riot has kept their promise of introducing new digital products to the game, they’ve done so by only adding a small number of esports emotes, with limited availability, that are restricted to showing off a team’s logo.

Teams’ only opportunity to generate revenue through in-game items comes from icons, unless they win the Spring Split and go to MSI or participate in Worlds, in which case, they get emotes. If they win Worlds, they also get personalized commemorative skins, but that’s a big if. This seems quite unfair for a lot of teams, especially for those who partake in franchised leagues like the NA LCS. Even if a fraction of all sales of team-branded digital products is distributed equally among league partners, the NA LCS should definitely look to create more chances for its associates to earn money via digital purchases.

Emotes
Only MSI or Worlds participants get team-branded emotes. Other orgs are limited to having icons. (Image: Riot Games)

Additionally, it’s quite radical that a team has to win Worlds in order to get anything more than an icon or an emote in-game. Hell, MSI champions don’t even get a flimsy chroma to commemorate their victory. There isn’t a single in-game item that will pay homage to historic MSI triumphs like RNG’s at this year’s tournament.

MSI Finals RNG
RNG made history at this year’s MSI, but no in-game item will commemorate their triumph. (Image: LoL Esports flickr Album)

The problem with League of Legends’ in-game esports products is the clear lack of diversity they offer. Of course, we get a batch of team icons every season, but they’re mostly bland and plain. Emotes and esports skins only come around twice a year for the big international competitions, and unless your favorite team is korean, you can forget about those TSM championship skins you oh so desperately want.

Other esports offer a wide variety of team-branded in-game items; Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, CS:GO, H1Z1, and Overwatch, to name a few. All of these games have dozens of esports skins you can use to support your favorite team in-game. To put things into perspective, Overwatch has over 600 esports skins (even if the are considered chromas by LoL standards) that represent all of their Overwatch League teams, while LoL has less than 50 esports skins.

Futhermore, it’s not like Riot makes this content for free or that it doesn’t sell well. In all cases, they keep a majority percentage of sales depending on the type of digital product and these items produce ridiculous amounts of money. This year’s MSI skin, Conqueror Varus, made approximately $4 million dollars, with a quarter of that going to the event’s prize pool. Championship Ashe, last year’s Worlds skin, closed in on $10 million dollars generated through sales. (These estimates were made using the amount of money contributed to each event’s prize pool)

In 2016, Riot hoped that the changes they were making to prize pools and the revenue sharing of digital sales would “contribute millions of dollars in additional revenue to teams and pros each year.” This is obviously true for teams that can win Worlds or MSI, but it’s almost impossible to believe that anyone is making six figures off of icon and emote sales.

Realistically, not every team can become a World Champion. As a consequence, not every team will get to have personalized skins. These are reserved for the best of the best in the whole world, and they should stay that way. However, how come MSI champions, who deserve similar recognition, get absolutely nothing to represent their victory in-game? Why is it that with the NA LCS in its second split of franchising, and Europe soon to follow, there isn’t anything other than icons, and sometimes emotes, to support our favorite teams? It seems illogical that with such a huge financial investment in LoL Esports, they’re have been only minor efforts to create more digital content for fans and, therefore, so few opportunities for teams to generate revenue via in-game sales.