It has been announced recently that G2 Esports’ Top Laner Kikis is stepping down from the organization’s League of Legends squad. The news came as a big surprise, as the team performed very well over the first two weeks of the EULCS Summer Split, winning 3 games and tieing 1.
The reason giving for the baffling roster change was that Kikis didn’t feel comfortable playing on a six man roster with the Korean Top laner Expect as his substitute. While it’s possible to understand why the Polish youngster (Kikis is 20 years old) didn’t feel comfortable with his spot being up for grabs, I have several problems with the situation.
The first thing that bothered me was that Kikis equated a starting spot on the roster with the organization’s confidence in him as a player. While it’s certainly true that on some teams subs are brought in when the current starter isn’t doing well enough to justify him keeping his spot, in order to groom his replacement, my impression of the situation is that G2’s intention was to create a situation similar to the one used to the max by SKT in last year’s Worlds, where Faker and Easyhoon subbed for each other, according to the playstyle desired by the coaches over a series.
This roster variety could have provided G2 Esports with an ability to keep their opponents off-balance, especially with the introduction of best of two matches in the EULCS. Of course, this requires both players to be equally good at playing their role, while also having different styles. As a professional player, Kikis should have enough confidence in his abilities and motivation for improvement to not feel threatened by another player taking over in some games. If Faker, the best player in the world, can sit out a couple of games where Easyhoon is a better fit for what the organisation wants to do, so can others.
Of course, it’s easy to say that, while in fact, cultural context has to be considered. Koreans have a hive mentality of sorts. They are taught from young age to obey authority and be team players with their company’s or team’s glory at the top of their list of priorities. Westerners are much more individualistic.
With that said, Kikis’ reaction isn’t that surprising, especially when you consider his age. 20 years olds want everything immediately, they are sensitive about pecking order. I’m just disappointed to see that Kikis didn’t manage to rise above such petty concerns. If he felt threatened by Expect’s presence on the team, he should have worked harder to be better instead of quitting like a kid when the going got tough.
In his statement, Kikis said, “One big downside for me was that I was suffering from the lack of scrim time since Expect and me were sharing practice slots.” From what it looks like to me, you got equal practice time as Expect did, Kikis. Watch your competitor play, learn from him, try and get some insight on what your team could do better without the distraction of actually having to play the game. Learn things instead of practicing your mechanics. Be a teammate instead of a grumpy diva.
Of course, all of this is just my opinion, I might be completely, hopelessly wrong. If I am, I will be the first to admit it. I can understand why a 20 year old European found it hard to deal with a sub getting equal amounts of scrim time, however, I would like to leave you with a final thought: is it possible, that Kikis saw that Expect was a better player and decided to leave on his own terms, before he actually got subbed out for good?