Kingzone DragonX received a lot of criticism from fans due to their abysmal performance on international stages. In the past, Korea led the meta and offered the highest level of professional play. Teams from other regions would look to Korea for insights on how to better play the game.
The games in the League Champions Korea seemed to be in a league all of their own. It stands to reason, then, that Kingzone DragonX would perfom well internationally, given that they’re a team that dominated LCK 2018 Spring with a record of 16-2 in the regular season. However, Kingzone repeatedly failed to play at the highest level on an international stage.
2018 Mid-Season Invitational
Kingzone first disappointed fans when they lost against Royal Never Give Up 1-3. Many fans of the esports scene wanted to see Korea challenged. Korea has been widely dominant for years, and many spectators complain about how every League of Legends World’s Championship features two Korean teams fighting for the same region. Therefore, Kingzone had the legacy of Korea’s dominance to uphold.
Despite wanting Korea to lose, however, Kingzone’s performance was not satisfactory to Korea’s standards. This marked the beginning of heavy criticism towards Kingzone. On paper, their roster features many powerhouses, each player being at or near the top of each role. Their inability to perform disappointed and concern many fans of the LCK.
On the second day of Asia’s Rift Rivals, Kingzone received the opportunity to win their honor back in a rematch with RNG. The game would determine which region becomes the first seed and enters the finals. The teams utilized different strategies, with Kingzone funneling their resources into Kwak “Bdd” Bo-seong’s Taliayh, and RNG used a tankless team composition of strong champions. While Kingzone started the game with a lead, RNG turned the game around. Kingzone’s gameplay deteriorated as the game went on, leading to RNG demolishing them and going to the finals.
Responses to Criticism
Inven Global conducted interviews with LCK coaching staff and players. When asked about fan criticism in the interview, Kingzone’s coach Yeon “sin” Hyeong-mo stated “Our international stage performance wasn’t good, so I think it’s inevitable.” Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon responded to criticism that the team’s performance is worsening. According to GorillA, he “thinks [Kingzone] needs to improve [their] international stage performance.” Kingzone is aware of their shortcomings and lackluster performances abroad. Players seems to be focusing on internal improvement rather than listening to fan criticism.
The Korea e-Sports Association released the rosters for LCK Summer Round 2 on July 9. Top laner Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee returns to Kingzone. Kingzone excluded Rascal from the roster in March due to his questionable summoner names in the past. His return marks changes Kingzone is trying to make.
On July 10, Kingzone posted an announcement on Twitter. They are seeking new players for all five positions. Players would need to demonstrate passion for the game, and be in good standing with the professional gamer requirements. In other words, the player could not be involved in boosting or use hacks. Before, when Kingzone was still Longzhu Gaming, the team had substitutes for four out of the five roles. Finding new players motivates current players to continue playing their best, and allows Kingzone to facilitate more scrimmages.
SK Telecom T1 head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun acknowledges the negative thoughts about Kingzone. He states, “I wish that people would support them more since they are participating as the best team in Korea.” Korean teams uphold higher standards because of their previous performances. Kingzone climbed their way to the top during the Spring season. They are currently tied for first in the LCK Summer Split. While their showing at international events are not as dominant as other Korean teams in years past, fans can rest assured that they are fighting their way in this new chaotic meta.