The ESPN article claims that the team has agreed to split up after Worlds. This is absolutely false. When we were approached about this piece, we explained to ESPN that contracts are up in November for all Korean teams, meaning that players have the option to leave the team and we cannot make a statement on every player’s future decision. This is true for almost every team. We fully intend to keep this team together. Rumors are just rumors.
The ROX Tigers have no title sponsor and have not had one since KooTV went bankrupt last year (note: the article has since been revised to remove this false information). The name “ROX” refers to the unity and strength of the team together (like rocks) and is a name that the team chose. The ROX Tigers came under new private ownership last year, with the intent to run the team as a more American-style gaming organization that is open not only to Koreans but to the international audience. (This Worlds, as some of you may have noticed, we have put a lot of effort into our English-language outreach: running a Twitter, experimenting with selling merchandise online, and hosting fan events such as a North American fan giveaway that is still open). Our current sponsors include the Chinese internet streaming service company HUYA and YY.com and we have been in talks with new sponsors for next year as well, something put in jeopardy by claims like these.
We are by no means a large or established organization, but we are actively working for the future of this team and hope this “news” will not derail our efforts. We have complete faith in our players. We believe in what this team has built and accomplished over the past two years, it’s really something special.
Let’s be clear: there are no active/ongoing player negotiations. We have received offers for our players (no surprise, given their skills) but the focus for us has naturally been the World Championship. We have not replied to any offers. We are disappointed that ESPN chose to go ahead and publish the piece when it establishes nothing newsworthy and is purely speculative, especially given the timing and the ignorance of our team by the reporter. We question who the “sources close to its players and the organization“ might be since our representatives, manager, and players are all surprised to hear of this supposed agreement to disband following Worlds.
We ask that fans continue to cheer for our team as they compete in Worlds. This is what they have worked all year for. The speculation not only distracts from our preparation for the semifinals in New York City this Friday but also casts a shadow over one of the team’s most important moments.
We are excited about our plans for next year and hope you will be too.