The biggest problem with the League of Legends Championship Series is the fact that there aren’t many international events throughout the years due to the fact that the LCS takes a lot of time out of the year. The Intel Extreme Masters tournaments take place every year, after the preseason starts. The problem is that to participate, players would have to actually take time out of their long-awaited vacations to play in a tournament with an embarrassing prize pool of $100,000.
With that said, is there any wonder that only 6 out of the 8 teams which were supposed to play in Oakland, actually agreed to play? Yes, you read that right. The only teams playing in IEM Oakland will be Team SoloMid (with Jason “WildTurtle” Tran standing in as AD Carry), Unicorns of Love, Longzhu Gaming, Flash Wolves, INTZ e-Sports, and The Chiefs Esports.
Who were supposed to play there initially? Splyce from Europe, Immortals from NA, Afreeca Freecs from South Korea, and LPL teams, which were forced to decline participation due to visa issues. If all of those teams showed up, the tournament might have been… meh. Now? It’s just embarrassing, to be honest. Wildcard teams from Australia and Brazil, the 4th best team from Europe, the 8th-best Koreans, followed by the Flash Wolves and TSM. That’s. Just. Bad.
The more interesting subject than the pitiful lineup is WHY do teams decline to participate in Intel Extreme Masters. One of the big reasons is that nowadays, a $100k payout is way too small to justify the decision to compete for teams, which could actually win the whole thing if good teams actually decided to play, unless the location is close-by geographically. Second, Immortals’ contract with WildTurtle reportedly ran out at the end of October. The player is in the process of trying out for numerous teams, so even if the rest of the roster stayed, which is doubtful, the team doesn’t have a proper roster. Immortals are out. Finally, for Splyce and Afreeca Freecs, travelling to another continent for a small tournament is just not worth it. Simple as that.
The only thing IEM Oakland is really good for is watching how the new TSM roster looks with WildTurtle in place of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Also, it will be a good opportunity to see how a middle of the pack Korean team looks against TSM and the worse Unicorns of Love. The winner of the tournament doesn’t matter, but it could provide some new information. And information is worth more than gold.