SK Gaming jungler Kim "Trick" Gang-yun will not be eligible to compete at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship in Shanghai if his team qualifies as a result of an oversight from both the team and player, league sources told ESPN.
If the team qualifies for worlds through the League of Legends European Championship playoffs, it currently plans to use substitute jungler Marc "Canee" Behrend, sources said. The team signed Canee to a contract through the end of the 2021 season on Aug. 4.
In mid-July, League European Championship officials contacted all participating teams for copies of their players' passports to begin the early vetting stages for Chinese visas. This year Riot Games is taking additional steps to ensure players, particularly in the West, are able to enter the country due to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and additional scrutiny towards Western applicants. Riot Games is set to hold the 2020 League of Legends World Championship solely in Shanghai from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31 in a bubble environment, akin to the NBA and NHL.
SK Gaming submitted their players' passports very close to the end of the July deadline outlined by Riot, who saw that Trick's South Korean passport has less than six months left before it expires. In order to apply for a visa to China, the passport must have six months or more left on its term. Unable to change deadlines and allow additional time for Trick to visit the South Korean embassy in Berlin for an early renewal, Riot told SK that Trick would be ineligible should the team make it to the world championship.On Saturday, SK Gaming qualified for the 2020 League European Championship Summer Playoffs after a season that saw them start off poorly but pivot with mid-season roster and coaching changes and become a title contender. If SK finishes within the top 4 of the summer playoffs, it will earn a world championship berth, an organization first since 2014. Trick is expected to finish League European Championship competition with the team.
SK Gaming and Riot Games did not respond to requests for comment.
The team re-entered professional League of Legends at the end of 2018 after an extended absence from the scene following relegation in September 2015. One of Germany's legacy esports organizations, SK Gaming partnered with and then received investment from T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom and won a bid process to enter the franchised League European Championship.
Prior to signing with SK, Canee competed in various European amateur events with German organization OP innogy eSport. SK Gaming took interest in the player after it felt that the jungler for its Academy team, SK Gaming Prime, Gerrit "Phrenic" Stukemeier would be unable to keep up with top junglers on the world stage, sources said. SK will face Schalke 04 Esports in the first series of the summer playoffs on Friday, August 21.