South Korean League of Legends team ROX Tigers, widely considered one of the best teams in the world and set to compete next weekend in the League of Legends World Championship semifinals in New York, will split up after the conclusion of the tournament. Its players will then field offers from North American and Chinese teams, sources close to its players and the organization tell ESPN.
The team originally intended to split last year following the 2015 World Championship due to financial difficulties after parting ways with former sponsor KOO. The team remained afloat, renamed as ROX Tigers, and wanted to compete with one another for the 2016 season, sources say.
None of the Tigers players has been able to open negotiations officially with teams abroad due to tampering rules that prohibit the activity while competing on the Tigers squad. Their contracts end on Nov. 30, according to the League-recognized contract database, after which they will be able to sign elsewhere.
Should the team break apart for new destinations as intended, the players will join the growing list of successful South Korean pros who have received offers from international teams. This trend began in 2014, when teams such as Samsung Galaxy White and Blue completely split and moved to China on several different Chinese squads.
For its part, ROX Tigers is currently guaranteed third/fourth place or higher at the League of Legends World Championship because of a victory over China's EDward Gaming on Saturday in Chicago. It will meet SK Telecom T1 in Madison Square Garden next weekend for a chance to attend the tournament finals in Los Angeles. In 2015, the Tigers, then known as KOO Tigers, took second at the World Championship after a finals loss to SK Telecom T1. The team also took first place in both the regular season and the playoffs of the 2016 summer split in South Korea's League Champions Korea, widely considered the most competitive league in the world.
ROX Tigers declined to comment on this story.