Just hours after the TI5 qualifier invites have been revealed, lucky recipients London Conspiracy have announced a change in their roster, sparking quite the controversy. Xaris “SkyLark” Zafiriou will replace Nikos “ReaLaxXx” Kiazolis, as a result of communication issues in-game.
UPDATE: It appears that Valve have agreed to allow London Conspiracy to play through the qualifiers with their new signing Xaris “SkyLark” Zafiriou. No official statement from Valve confirmed this. To be updated.
— London Conspiracy (@LDNConspiracy) May 7, 2015
The organization released a statement regarding the player change:
“We had some communication problems in game that lead to some misplaced teams fights that sometimes cost us a game or two. In order to achieve success within eSports (or any competitive team-based-sport for that matter) communication is key. This lead to the decision to replace a good friend in Realaxxx for a promising talent in SkyLark. Although we are really sad to see a good friend like Nikos go, we are really excited about the future of the team and hope that we can continue this success within the rest of 2015.”
The team has just been invited to The International 5 qualifiers. There is no information as to how this will impact the team’s invite, if at all. Some people in the industry, most vocally Toby “TobiWan” Dawson, are already polarized about the final outcome for London Conspiracy.
— Toby Dawson (@TobiWanDOTA) May 7, 2015
London Conspiracy’s manager, Cristian “Omicron” Duca sheds some light on the issue in a conversation with DotaBlast, stating that the change has in fact occurred 10 days ago, thus it should not affect the team’s TI5 qualifiers invite:
We actually made the change immediately after the StarLadder StarSeries 12 finals in Bucharest, so we’re not making roster changes in order to try to increase our chances in the TI5 qualifiers.
He explained that there was no drama, the move was not generated due to some conflicts, therefore if Valve decides to rule in favor of the old roster, that shouldn’t have a grave impact:
The player swap was decided due to some communication issues between the players. The team’s synergy is very important, and when team members have really different personalities, it’s hard to keep the synergy at the highest level. That is why we decided to part ways with Nikos. His skill and experience were definitely not a problem, however for a long term improvement, the team felt that a change is necessary.
Now, regarding the consequences our decision might have upon us keeping our TI5 qualifiers invite, I’m not sure whether it will affect us or not. Compared to HeHe United’s case, we actually changed the player BEFORE we were invited, in order to make improvements on a long term basis. If Valve insists on us playing with Nikos, that will definitely not be a problem.
What London Conspiracy can expect
Pending an official ruling by Valve, London Conspiracy is looking at three distinct posibilities:
1. Have their qualifier invite revoked.
If precedent is any indication, Valve not only frowns upon, but also clearly indicated in the past that they are inviting a group of five players who have competed together for enough time to perform well enough, and not an organization or a brand.
2. London Conspiracy keep their spot, under the condition they play with ReaLaxXx.
There is actually a very similar, albeit not identical, precedent concerning HeHe United and their TI4 qualifier invite. HeHe United swapped one player for Ar1sE (initially, they intended to swap two players), aiming to strengthen their squad a day after the official announcement by Valve. It’s very possible that London Conspiracy will indeed be able to play in the qualifiers, but would have to do it with ReaLaxXx.
3. London Conspiracy keep their spot, with their current roster.
London Conspiracy have firmly stated that the roster change did not occur after the official announcement by Valve, but rather 10 days ago, upon returning from the StarLadder 12 LAN playoffs. Though undoubtedly true, their statement might not hold up against Valve’s fairly strict policies, especially since their in-game roster as of today doesn’t reflect the roster change.
On April 29, Valve hinted that no quarter will be given in a semi-mysterious tweet:
To help make sure we have the latest 5 player rosters before direct and qualifier invites go out, please keep your in-game team up to date.
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) April 29, 2015
Maybe following this almost-announcement from Valve, Alliance, otherwise qualifier invitees just as London Conspiracy themselves, conformed in less than 24 hours and their in-game roster included AdmiralBulldog, wide open enough for any Valve officials to take note.
London Conspiracy have recently participated in the StarLadder StarSeries 12 LAN playoffs. The greek squad took 3rd-4th place at the eSportal Invitational and is currently competing in the Mountain Trail Challenge. London Conspiracy have also qualified for the Razer Thinkfast LAN finals.
London Conspiracy roster
Greg “Keyser Soze” Kallianiotis
Omar “Madara” Dabasas
Xaris “SkyLark” Zafiriou
Giannis “SKANKS224” Theodoridis
Giorgos “SsaSpartan” Giannokopoulos