The Korean Esports Association, or KeSPA, has today announced the shortlist for the members of its League of Legends team for the Asia Games. All members of the LCK-winning T1 squad have made the shortlist, with players from Gen.G and Damwon Kia also nominated.
The Asia Games is a multi-sport event held between all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia.
It’s a mini Olympic games, taking place every four years since 1951. In 2018, esports was added as a ‘demonstration sport’ at the Asia Games for the first time in the tournament’s history, and at this year’s Asia Games, esports will be an official medal event.
Member countries will be able to field teams for multiple esports titles including PUBG, Dota 2, Hearthstone, and League of Legends. On March 14, KeSPA officially announced the shortlist for the Korean national League of Legends team. Nominees include esports royalty Lee ‘Faker’ Sanghyeok and Kim ‘Deft’ Hyeokyu.
Nomination for the Asia Games is more than just a recognition of player skill. It offers Korean players a chance to escape the country’s mandatory military conscription for players between the ages of 18 and 28.
Where normally, a two-year service in the armed forces is mandatory for all able-bodied Korean men, there are a few exceptions. Namely, for those who have won a gold medal at either the Asia or Olympic Games. This is one of the first opportunities professional League players have had to achieve exemption from military service, although it will rely on the selected team winning a gold medal.
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South Korea’s attitude to its military service program has changed in recent years, with a bill proposed in 2020 affectionately known as the ‘BTS and Faker’ bill that would delay conscription to the age of 30 for those considered to be “national treasures”.
Whether this bill would affect other esports professionals is as yet unknown – Faker’s cultural impact in Korea is unlike the impact that any other League pro has been able to achieve.
One surprising absence from the shortlist is Gen.G AD Carry Park ‘Ruler’ Jaehyuk.
GenG GM: Ruler rejected the invitation to be part of the Asian Games selection. We ask for your understanding towards his decision. He would like to focus on his synergy with Lehends, in hopes of winning Summer split. He must win summer, so we hope for fans understanding. https://t.co/Nen8l4ttbB
— luna 🌙✨루나 (@deftkimhyeokgyu) April 14, 2022
According to an announcement by Gen.G’s general manager, Ruler declined an offer to be part of the official shortlist. He instead chose to focus on building his synergy with support Son ‘Lehends’ Siwoo in time for the summer split.
It’s unclear which of the two selected AD Carries was chosen as his replacement, but Ruler remains the only player to have publically turned down the offer to join the Korean national team.