One of the largest League of Legends brands in the world, Team Solo Mid, has become embroiled in a tug of war with European based gaming organisation H2K for the services of the player Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.
The Danish jungler, who was last seen plying his trade for SK Gaming, appeared to have agreed to a deal with H2K only for an eleventh hour bid from TSM to complicate the move and leave the player wanting to review his decision.
The professional League of Legends scene is known for its crazy off-seasons where teams vie to secure the best available players to either improve their chances of winning or staying in the League of Legends Championship Series. Team Solo Mid have had quite the rebuilding job this time around, losing jungler Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, support player Jang-sik “Lustboy” Ham, and top-laner Marcus “Dyrus” Hill. H2K also had similar issues, letting jungler Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevi’s contract expire after a year of service and support player Raymond “kaSing” Tsang becoming a free agent.
TSM had been in talks with other players about the important jungling role within the team. The news about Johnsen will come as disappointing to former TSM jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, who multiple sources told us was discussing a potential return to his old team. It seems that has now fallen through with Johnsen being the preferred signing for TSM.
H2K believed they had filled one of their roster gaps after talks with Johnsen saw him reportedly agree to join the team. However, after TSM got wind of the move, they made a counter-offer of their own for the player, something that H2K management believe is tantamount to poaching. They believe the agreement they had in place was binding and as such have mobilized their legal team in a bid to, at the very least, receive some compensation for a player they expected to be representing them next season.
They have also instructed Riot Games, who not only develop the game but control the league, to review the approach from TSM.
In regards to the issue, H2K management issued the following statement:
H2K has worked diligently and professionally to identify and secure a roster of talented players for its League of Legends team. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen is a key piece of the roster that has been assembled for the coming year.
H2K, Svenskeren and his family engaged in long discussions and negotiations that culminated in a deal between the parties. Both agreed, in writing, to execute a contract formalizing that deal. This was a legally binding agreement which H2K relied upon as the basis to stop negotiations with other player who were being considered for the Jungle position. In the midst of executing the final contract, Andy “Reginald” Dinh of TSM contacted Svenskeren and attempted to poach him.
Upon learning of the attempted poach, Richard Wells, CEO of H2K informed Reginald that H2K had a binding agreement with this player. Over several communications, H2K clearly advised TSM that Svenskeren was a critical part of the team structure, and TSM’s illegal and anti-competitive actions would cause serious financial harm to H2K. TSM was indifferent and determined to continue with the poaching—Reginald’s only response to Richard Wells was, “Well just do what you need to do”.
With no other options, H2K asked its counsel to formally notify TSM that their actions constituted tortious interference with H2K’s legally binding employment agreement with the player.
TSM have a well-deserved reputation for abusing their stature in eSports to poach players from well-established teams. They seem to believe that they are entitled to ignore poaching rules and other teams’ contracts in order to fend off competition from smaller franchises. This sort of behavior threatens the competitive balance in League of Legends and eSports generally. H2K would like to see Riot Games more aggressively combat such behavior in the League of Legends.
Since Breitbart’s initial contact with both organisations about the story, we are informed the situation has escalated, with TSM owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh reportedly saying that as far as he is concerned the player has signed for them and that he will also let the lawyers thrash it out to arrive at a resolution.
TSM declined to comment on this story at this time.
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