Update, 11/8: TSM will be attending IEM Oakland after all.
The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) series of tournament has occupied a strange place within the League of Legends season over the past few years. It’s the only major tournament not sponsored by Riot (and the only other one Riot-contracted players are allowed to play in), but it also doesn’t exactly mean much: for most teams, it’s pretty much of a waste of time unless you’re testing out a new roster.
IEM unveiled big changes to the format this year in an attempt to make the tournament more meaningful, including getting rid of fan-voting for the spots and instead choosing teams based on their performance during the season. Here’s the problem though: some of the teams don’t want to do it.
TSM, Immortals and Splyce all announced they are dropping out of IEM Oakland, which will be going on November 19 and 20. TSM and Splyce played at Worlds in October, and all three have about two months until the start of the Spring Split in January. And while no official announcement has been made yet, CLG AD Carry Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes said on his stream that the team would not be playing at IEM Gyeonggi, as previously scheduled.
Why? Well for TSM, it had to do with a roster change, as it needs to find a replacement for star AD Carry Peter “Doublelift” Peng as he takes a break from competitive play. But now the team will be playing in the tournament after all.
What changed within the last week was that an unexpected number of high profile veterans have reached out to the organization to indicate their desire to play with us. As a result of this, we were able to bypass a good deal of the tryout process we originally foresaw. While the final roster for IEM Oakland has yet to be determined, the process has been sped up significantly enough for us to fully commit to the tournament.
Splyce head coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi announced his team’s decision in a release Tuesday:
After a long year of grinding and pushing ourselves, with only a break in summer from the bye-round for playoffs, we must now reflect upon the past and the future. The event’s scheduled dates (Nov 19th-20th) would not allow us to put in enough time and work that would satisfy the standard we held for ourselves throughout the season’s practice regimen.
We are very happy that we got to play playoffs, gauntlet, bootcamp in Korea, and then participate at the World Championship. It was a new and exciting experience for every single one of us involved that pushed us to the brink. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears and some of us ran into injuries. Now is the time for reflection and rest. We will come back swinging harder than before.
Likewise, Immortals CEO Noah Whinston says the decision is so the organization can focus on its long-term goals rather than short-term ones.
With a little more than two weeks until the start of IEM Oakland, six teams are confirmed for eight spots. TSM, Unicorns of Love (replacing Splyce), I May, Flash Wolves, INTZ e-Sports and Chiefs will be competing, as well as one additional North American team and one from Korea (both to be determined).
With an already loaded competitive calendar, a tournament like this only cuts into valuable rest team for professional teams that barely have any to begin with. Unless significant changes happen to the season structure in the near future, expect more announcements like this for IEM events.