On Sunday, an ESPN report emerged claiming Korean champions ROX Tigers, still on the hunt for their first ever world championship, would disband following the tournament. The team vehemently denied those reports early Monday morning in a Twitlonger, saying the team full intends keep the roster together.
The team fired heavily at ESPN for what it considers irresponsible reporting, saying it could hurt their chances of retaining sponsorship while it attempts to negotiate with its players. ROX said ESPN approached them about the story, and ROX told them “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.”
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.
The organization has had sponsorship troubles in the past, switching names multiple times. The most recent change saw them go from the KOO Tigers to the ROX Tigers after KooTV’s bankruptcy. In the statement, it is noted that “ROX” was chosen to signify the unity of the team.
ROX will face off against defending world champion SK Telecom T1 in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden this upcoming weekend.