Eleven Southeast Asian League of Legends teams have petitioned the Garena Pro League and Riot Games against a last-minute league structure change that allots an extra spot to the Vietnamese region in the upcoming GPL summer split, an email obtained by ESPN reveals.
The Garena Pro League has previously consisted of six teams, with each qualifying by obtaining first place in their domestic home regions. The league fields teams from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Garena is now allegedly about to enact a rule change during the middle of the season, according to the email, to grant Vietnam an extra spot, making seven teams from six regions, due to Vietnamese team Gigabyte Marines' success at the Mid-Season Invitational in May.
The rule change has been discussed with a limited number of teams from each region over the course of the last month but was not communicated broadly to all teams until Monday, sources close to the teams told ESPN. Riot did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
As a result, the Headhunters of Indonesia; the Fire Dragoons, Orange Esports and Eternity Esports of Malaysia; Imperium Pro Team and Manila Eagles of the Philippines; Brand New Life, Rigel and Sovereign of Singapore; and Sea Serpents and White Rose of Thailand have jointly sent a petition to the two governing bodies.
These 11 teams of five regions do not view this change as an unfair competitive advantage for Vietnam but dispute the timing of the decision, given many have already invested more money and time in signing better talent in hopes to qualify for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.
"While we understand Garena wanting to reward Vietnam for their success; we object to the abrupt and arbitrary nature of this profound change and its effect on the upcoming premier tournament of our region," the petition reads. "If Garena wishes to implement a rule of this nature in the future, we would both understand and support its incorporation. Yet, deciding in the midst of the competitive season, however seemingly justified, to change the rules in such a monumental fashion without reasonable or due notice (which we would argue would be before the start of the summer split) would be fundamentally unfair."
In May, GPL Spring champions Gigabyte Marines competed in the annual Mid-Season Invitational and qualified for the playoffs of that tournament. Due to an earlier format change by Riot Games, the Marines' success procured an extra slot for the entirety of the Southeast Asian region in the 2017 World Championship play-in, meaning the top two teams in the GPL Summer season will make it to the world's largest esports tournament in October and November.
Due to Vietnam's current standard of play, the 11 teams believe it is likely that the top two of the Vietnamese region are clear favorites to place first and second in the GPL and qualify for Worlds as a result, if the rule change is followed through as anticipated.