In a highly competitive environment, it's understandable that those directly competing against each other can develop ill feelings towards one another and such is the stuff great and memorable rivalries are made of.
But there is something uniquely compelling about feuds between team-mates, those expected to get along and work together.
In traditional sports, Kobe and Shaq's squabbles provided the background music to one of the NBA's latter day dynasties, with the Lakers winning three championships in a row from 2000-2002. In Formula 1, Ayrton Senna and McLaren team-mate Alain Prost battled as hard against each other as they did against the field of other drivers competing for the championship, not just polar opposites in driving philosophy but the kind of men who were seemingly destined to be at odds.
In esports and particularly League of Legends, there have been numerous incidents of team-mates, sometimes on successful squads, who famously fell out in a key moment or simply never got along.
Here are my Top 10 LoL inter-team feuds.
10. dexter vs. Seraph (CLG)
People involved: Marcel "dexter" Feldkamp and Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong
Team: Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
Period: Summer of 2014
The Seraph era of CLG was a disaster all around, with the team leading the NA LCS Summer split of 2014 at one point in time, only to leave the country for a last minute bootcamp in Korea which ultimately yielded a disastrous play-off run, losing in the first round to Curse, who had spent most of the split in the bottom part of the table, and then even falling in the fifth place decider to an equally spiralling Dignitas.
It wasn't just a failure in the server that cost CLG their chances at a deep play-off run, though. As the split came to an end, the team was riddled with discontent through almost all the inter-team relationships, as attested to by Link's infamous 17 page Donezo Manifesto. While many of the fingers were pointed, as always, at the supposedly overbearing personality of Doublelift, a less remembered feud was between two of the more quiet members of the team.
In Link's tell-all he revealed that at one point in time "seraph literally hated dexter and told him to never gank top (which was fucking hilarious btw)". Anyone who has played a decent amount of solo queue can likely appreciate the frustration of having a Jungler who only ganks other lanes, in CLG's case primarily the bot lane, and dying while trying to lane, knowing you will not receive much jungle attention. Even so, for a professional team to have their Top Laner tilt to the degree he legitimately told his Jungler never to come to his lane again, presumably as the result of a failed gank, is a symptom of a team which was very sick and destined to fail.
Neither Seraph nor dexter would be CLG members the following season. As much as the Link-Doublelift dysfunction defined the problems of that era of CLG, their relationship was nowhere as explosive as this.
9. HotshotGG vs. Chauster (CLG)
People involved: George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis and Steve "Chauster" Chau
Team: Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
The modern era may have forgotten CLG as a successful team, at least until last split, but back in 2011 they were the best team in North America and essentially the world. Two of the core members were HotshotGG, star Top Laner and at one point in time the world's biggest LoL star, and Chauster, widely known as a Swiss army knife player who could not only play every role, but understood the game to a deep strategical level.
Behind the success, there was a long history of disagreement between Chauster and HotshotGG, as anyone who went on their TeamSpeak back in the day will know. This was most famously highlighted with the "I dropped it" discussion. It's less that Chauster and HotshotGG legitimately hated each other and more that they had differing opinions on how to lead and run the team.
From 2012 onwards, HotshotGG's time as a star came to an end and he faded out of relevancy as a Top Laner into becoming a fairly poor Jungler and then eventually just a tanky Top Laner whose job was to zone for the star bot lane of the team. CLG had gone from being Hotshot's team to Doublelift's, in terms of star player and significance. Chauster guided that transition and was the voice of authority who eventually took control, for a time. Hotshot has even stated that this period of time and how he was treated by his team-mates broke his confidence down, never to fully return.
When Hotshot retired from active play, prior to the Summer split of 2013, it would even be implied by former team-mate Saintvicious, that Hotshot was pushed out of the team, with the assumption being that Chauster and Doublelift were primary forces within such a coup, rather than purely decided to stop playing of his own accord.
8. SuperAZE vs. everyone (Crs.EU)
People involved: Piotr "SuperAZE" Prokop, Aurimas "Angush" Gedvilas, Tobias "Malunoo" Magnusson, Vytautas "extinkt" Mėlinauskas and Jakub "Creaton" Grzegorzewski
Team: Curse Gaming Europe (Crs.EU)
Period: November 2012
In Season 2, Curse.EU had been a team who had been battling to break into the top three in Europe, often coming close and performing well online, but ultimately failing to make that final jump. The key moment came in late September, when they replaced their Botlane with Creaton and SuperAZE, the former Botlane of Acer.pl. The team would attend three tournaments in the next three weeks, achieving success the likes of which nobody could have expected and yet seeing that same line-up fail to even survive the three weeks.
Attending the offline finals of Tales of the Lane, an event in France, Curse.EU were pit against Moscow Five, the best team in Europe and one of the world's elite teams. At that point in time, M5 had only been beaten in two offline BoX series, by CLG.EU and TPA. Curse.EU would add their name to that small list of teams, taking down M5 in the semi-finals and going on to win the tournament, beating Tabzz's Eclypsia team in the final.
Following that, they attended Dreamhack Winter, where they were expected to at least reach the semi-finals, if not the final, but they failed to get out of the group stage, losing in a tie-breaker scenario. The line-up would not survive to the next event, IPL5, as SuperAZE left the team days before they were due to travel to Vegas for the huge and well-remembered international tournament.
The following year, the former members of Curse.EU spoke about the problems they had suffered in trying to keep the team together. Supposedly, Support SuperAZE was distant even upon joining the team, with Top Laner Angush saying that he tried to bond with the Pole upon him arriving, only to have SuperAZE tell him "I don't want to be your friend."
Following the victory at Tales of the Lane, the team stopped practicing entirely and would rarely interact socially. Other members corroborated that SuperAZE became more reclusive and distant from the team, while the remaining members eventually worked out any differences with each other and began practicing as a team again. SuperAZE blamed the lack of practice on his motivation for leaving, simply departing from the team and leaving them to play IPL5 with Patoy, NA Support of Team Dignitas, as a stand-in, with almost no practice.
While Curse.EU would go on to upset TSM and eventually finish top eight at one of the most stacked events in history, it was too late. As Angush put it: "[SuperAZE] destroyed the team, literally." What had once been one of the most promising Western teams could not survive into the LCS era.
7. FORG1VEN vs. Svenskeren (SK)
People involved: Konstantinos "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou and Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen
Team: SK Gaming (SK)
Period: Late Spring 2015
Ask anyone for their fondest memories of the SK Gaming line-up of early 2015 and they'll likely recount the team's dominance early on, winning their first eight games in a row and eventually finishing the league portion of the Spring split 15:3. The stars of said run were AD Carry FORG1VEN, who was one of the best Western players at the time, and Svenskeren, a Jungler whose style and mechanical strengths ensured he could at times carry games himself. In the play-offs, the team would lose two Bo5 series, finishing an underwhelming fourth, but both were again the primary stars of their wins.
Despite such great performances, the two stars were entirely at odds by the end of the split. It would eventually come down to an ultimatum situation where it would be one or the other who continued on in SK Gaming. That departing party would end up as FORG1VEN, who went over to join Gambit. FORG1VEN's Gambit would fail to make the play-offs, in part due to a three game ban as a result of inappropriate solo queue behaviour, while Svenskeren's SK Gaming would fail to win even seven games in the Summer split, eventually being relegated.
Both players have since moved on from their teams and are again considered top tier Western talents.
6. Saintvicious vs. Elementz (Crs)
People involved: Brandon "Saintvicious" DiMarco and
Team: Curse Gaming (Crs)
Period: April 2013
Saintvicious and Elementz had long been team-mates, both members of the legendary CLG line-up of 2011, sharing many top placings together. Elementz had been removed from CLG at the end of 2011, with the team bringing in Doublelift and swapping Chauster to Support. The Support player had gone over to Curse Gaming, where he would be reunited with his former Jungler six months later, as internal conflicts in CLG had seen Saintvicious kicked.
For the first LCS split, Spring of 2013, Curse were a team possessed. They won their first six games and were 12:2 after 14 played, half of the split. Going into the final week, their record sat at a dominant 18:5 and they were assured a top seed for the play-offs and considered a favourite to win the first title. Out of nowhere, the team collapsed entirely, going 1:4 in the superweek, which marked the end of the league portion, almost doubling their losses in the span of a single week.
Beyond simply being a bad run of form, it saw the team torn apart by arguments, with Saintvicious berating Elementz over his lack of practice and commitment to the team. The intoxicated Jungler harshly criticised his Support and attempted to force him to admit his lack of discipline and current game knowledge. The team would decide to bench Elementz, bringing in substitute player Rhux, who had originally been a Top Laner, to play Support for the play-offs.
The number two seeded Curse would lose their semi-final to Good Game University, the worst ranked play-off team, and the third place decider to Vulcun, who had finished fifth in the regular portion of the split. Losing those two series ensured Curse finished with the lowest placing their high seed could have afforded them. Elementz would leave the organisation following the split and the two never played together again.
5. Reginald vs. Xpecial (TSM)
People involved: Andy "Reginald" Dinh and Alex "Xpecial" Chu
Team: Team SoloMid (TSM)
Period: Late Spring 2013 to early Summer 2013
Back in Season 2, TSM was a team considered a dictatorship, with owner and Mid Lane star Reginald shot-calling around his play and paying everyone else's salaries. One of the few members who would argue with Reginald was Chaox, the AD Carry, and he would be the first of their highly successful Season 2 line-up to depart, being removed late in the Spring split of 2013, as a result of unprofessional behaviour at an offline event.
With WildTurtle replacing Chaox, it saw the ADC spot taken up by a far more reserved character. That split would see TSM win the title, but problems would quickly arise early on in the following split. A loss to Dignitas saw Reginald berating Xpecial, who he felt had over-ruled a call of his, to the extent that the Support player burst into tears. The scenes were captured as part of Game Cribs, a reality TV show filmed around TSM's LCS campaign.
Following that explosive incident in Episode one, the second Episode would contain its own moment of drama, as Reginald blamed WildTurtle, who was sat next to him during the team's ride in a mini-van, for one of the team's losses. Xpecial repeatedly attempted to speak on behalf of Turtle, arguing that the team collectively had all made mistakes and that Turtle's alone was not the sole reason for their loss, but this only spurred Reginald on to continue arguing.
Matters would be patched up, again, and Xpecial and TSM would make the final of that split, losing to C9 in a sweep, but qualifying for the World Championship. The following year, TSM would again lose in the final of the LCS Spring Split 2014 to C9, with Reginald having been replaced by Bjergsen as the starting Mid Laner, having stepped down to focus on managing the squad.
A few weeks prior to the start of the Summer split, it was announced that Xpecial had been benched, with the reason later coming out, via Reginald, that "Xpecial was benched because of his attitude". A few weeks later Xpecial was transferred to Curse Gaming. TSM would replace Xpecial, in time, with Lustboy and go on to win two straight NA LCS titles and qualify for two World Championships. Xpecial remained one of the best Supports in the West up until the Summer of 2015.
4. DanDy vs. dade (SSO)
People involved: Choi "DanDy" In-kyu and Bae "dade" Eo-jin
Team: Samsung Galaxy Ozone (SSO)
Period: Late 2013
Ozone had been one of the most successful cores in LoL history. In the Spring split of 2013 they had shocked the world in upsetting CJ Entus Blaze, then on a 13:0 winning streak, and winning the OGN Spring title. In the Summer and Winter, they would benefit from favourable bracket draws and respectively finish third and second. The year had not been without failure, though, as their Season 3 World Championship campaign had been a disaster, eliminated in the group stage.
A few months into 2014 and PawN, Mid Laner of sister team Blue, was moved over to Ozone and dade went the other way to Blue. The move worked out for both teams, as Ozone, later renamed to White, would finish third in both OGNs that year and eventually win the World Championship in incredibly dominant fashion, while Blue were able to win the Spring title, finish runner-up up in Summer and make top four at Worlds.
What is not known in the West, is that such a brilliant roster move perhaps did not come purely as a result of performance issues from dade or by a shrewd understanding of the line-ups. Rumour has it that there were internal conflicts in Ozone, with dade and DanDy arguing and being unable to resolve their differences. With DanDy one of the best Junglers in the world and dade having been slumping for a number of months, it was an obvious choice to swap him for PawN, who had impressed months prior by beating Faker in the WCG qualifier.
3. Diamondprox vs. Edward
People involved: Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov and Edward "Gosu Pepper" Abgaryan
Team: Gambit Gaming (GG)
Period: Spring 2013
Moscow Five were one of the most successful and well-loved teams in history, famed for their incredible intuitive team-fighting style and unique personalities, many of whom repeatedly broke the meta to innovate new picks which would work in competitive play. As Gambit Gaming, they were no longer legitimate contenders for the world's best team, but they continued to perform to a high level and won IEM VII Katowice, finished top four at the IEM VII World Championship, finished second at the MLG International Exhibition and narrowly missed out on winning the first ever EU LCS split.
Around five weeks after that LCS Spring final, though, Support player Edward departed from the team and would go to North America to play for Curse. What made the move so shocking is that Gambit had never placed below top four at an offline event as a unit. Initially, upon leaving, he would cite problems with ADC Genja, who had almost a polar opposite style to Laning, as well as other internal differences, for his leaving. In now deleted comments on vk, the Russian equivalent to facebook, though, Edward would insult Diamondprox's then girlfriend.
The two had apparently maintained a rocky relationship for a while, despite Edward originally being the one to find and bring Diamond into what became Moscow Five. While in North America, Edward would speak about Darien and Alex Ich, but made no mention of Genja or Diamondprox. Edward came back to Gambit in early November, winning IEM Cologne to end the year. Eventually, the team would fail to finish top four, in LCS Spring 2014, and Alex Ich departed. Despite this, Edward and Diamond would remain team-mates for three more splits, up until the end of 2015.
The team never accomplished any success of note following Alex Ich's departure, beyond a nice win streak in LCS Spring 2015. Edward has since declined to speak about any problems he may have had with Diamondprox, instead focusing on their repaired relationship.
2. Uzi vs. inSec
People involved: Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao and Choi "inSec" In-seok
Team: StarHorn Royal Club
Period: September 2014
inSec was once considered the best Jungler in the world, around the Spring of 2013, having bested Diamondprox in KT Rolster B's battle with Gambit Gaming in the final of the MLG International Exhibition tournament. The most famous practitioner of what would become "the inSec kick" on Lee Sin, his carry style of Jungling helped shift the game from the supportive style of Season 2.
Uzi was a prodigy at the AD Carry position, rising up within the Chinese domestic scene in 2013, despite being only 16. His teams would not achieve success in the LPL, but he did manage to qualify for the Season 3 World Championships. In Los Angeles, he proved that he was one of the strongest ADCs in the world, with his stand-out performance against OMG being the highlight of Royal Club's run to the final.
After Worlds, Uzi had switched to the Mid Lane role for a while, following Support Tabe's departure. That role-swap was not a shrewd one and Uzi would return to the position which had made him famous, but Royal Club found little success, failing to even crack top eight in the Spring season of 2014. Prior to the start of the Summer season, SHRC signed Koreans inSec and Zero.
While the move initially found mixed results, with the team highly erratic in their playing style and win-rate, they would gradually piece together a working unit and finish the season in third place. In the play-offs, they likewise finished in third place, giving eventual runners-up OMG two five game series that Uzi and inSec came out on the wrong end of.
Despite qualifying for the World Championship and upsetting OMG to take the second seed, SHRC found themselves potentially in peril as Uzi made a statement suggesting he might not attend Worlds. His concern surrounded his Korean coach apparently refusing to cater to his demands as a carry style ADC, instead choosing to put focus on Top and Mid. The conflict came to a head with the team picking Lucian for Uzi, who preferred to carry on champions like Vayne, and him selecting Vayne after, forcing inSec to attempt to make Jungle Lucian work.
Along with that, word had it that Uzi and inSec, both stubborn players, detested each other. Rumours suggested that the two got into a physical altercation in the first half of September, though Zero would later deny it and simply state that they had argued. Rumours also claimed that inSec did not respect the Chinese players in the team and that Uzi was resentful of the Koreans' higher salary, despite him being the star of the team and the face of the organisation.
Luckily, any problems would be overcome at the World Championship, where Uzi not only played with the team, but helped them to another finals finish, delivering an MVP level performance. inSec would also perform to a high level, helping his team past a number of strong opponents with a much improved form over his Summer play. When one considers the level of cohesive play SHRC was able to display at the biggest tournament of the year, it's amazing to consider the complete lack of camaraderie between two of the biggest names in the team.
1. Saintvicious vs. HotshotGG
People involved: George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis and Brandon "Saintvicious" DiMarco
Team: Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
Period: Late March to mid May 2012
Saintvicious and HotshotGG had, during late 2011, been the best players in the world at their respective positions. What's more, the synergy between the two helped define the successful style of CLG and made them a unique combination in the LoL world, with Saintvicious farming up and carrying from the Jungle and Hotshot known for his specialist picks and laning style in the Top lane.
Behind the scenes, though, Saint and Hotshot had always been argumentative, a trend which was repeated with many of the members in that era of CLG. The friction between the two became too much in May, after CLG's failed Korean expedition had seen them eliminated in fifth to eighth place, admittedly by the eventual champions MiG Blaze. Saintvicious was kicked from the team and would move over to sign with Curse Gaming.
The circumstances of Saint's removal stung and over a year later he would take part in a public argument with Hotshot on reddit. The back and forth included a statement by Saint suggesting Hotshot had been forced into retirement by his own team, while Saint suggested he would choose the terms of his own retirement, rather than have them forced upon him. Throughout their time apart, the two have occasionally duo-queued together while streaming, but it's clear their personalities do not directly mesh.
Photo credits: in2lol, lolesports, inven, azubu
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