G2 Esports, currently the best League of Legends team in Europe, has replaced starting top laner Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek with Ki "Expect" Dae-han the team said in a statement Sunday. G2 says Kikis gave the team an ultimatum to pick between either him or Expect, and the team chose Expect rather than sending him home to Korea early.
Through eight games this season, Kikis had played seven, compared to Expect's one. G2 had won all seven games with Kikis and lost the game with Expect -- its only loss this year. However, Expect held a creep score lead at 10 minutes in his game (Kikis has averaged -11.3), and Expect had a higher kill participation share (76.5 percent) than Kikis (69.9 percent) on the season (small sample size alert).
An EU LCS veteran, Kikis was formerly the starting jungler for the Unicorns of Love. He joined G2 when the team was in the Challenger Series in Summer 2015, and switched to the top lane after the team qualified for the LCS. In the team's first LCS split, G2 won the EU regular season and playoffs, qualifying for the Mid-Season Invitational.
This split, Kikis once again returned as the starting top laner, but the team signed Expect, a Korean prospect who had most recently played in the LSPL, China's secondary league. League of Legends teams are allowed to start up two players from a different region, and with the departure of Kim "Emperor" Jin-hyun in the offseason, G2 now has the room to start a second Korean alongside reigning EU LCS MVP Kim "Trick" Kang-yoon.
The full statement is below.
G2 Esports would like to announce that has stepped down from our League of Legends starting roster, which means that will be the starting top laner from week 3 onwards. Below you can read our statement in regard to this situation:
"After initially agreeing to a six-man roster for the Summer Split, Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek tried to impose an early ultimatum that essentially forced us to choose between him and Ki "Expect" Dae-han for the top lane position altogether. We were not comfortable going against our word and agreement with Expect and the team, to let him live and practice with us in Berlin, by sending him home early.
"For that reason alone, we decided to honor our commitment to Expect, and Kikis subsequently decided on his own to step down from the starting roster and put himself as a substitute player for the remainder of his contract - a decision we fully respect. We would like to thank Kikis for his service to the club over the last 11 months as a starting player, during which he helped the team to qualify for LCS and win the Spring Split playoffs.
"This means that Expect is our new starting top laner from week 3 onwards, and we would like to ask our fans to support him in this journey as we look to defend our LCS title."
Kikis made a statement of his own on Facebook. Here's an excerpt:
In the end this was eating away at me and I decided to bring this up with G2, asking for an increase in scrim time and a more guaranteed starter spot. Ultimately I felt stuck in an extremely stressful situation where I didn't feel comfortable participating in any longer. G2 decided they couldn't honor my request because of the promises they made towards Expect (which I completely understand). I respect them for that, they've always treated me well and it's nice to see them care about all their players. However I also had to respect my own feelings.
Perhaps in the future I can change my mind about 6-man rosters, but currently it just didn't feel beneficial to me as a player or my growth in this case.