Karmine Corp have risen from the depths of regional League of Legends to become one of Europe’s most formidable teams with star-signing power. Owner and CEO Kamel ‘Kameto’ Kebir spoke Dexerto about the team’s journey, their ultra-passionate fanbase, and the future of K Corp.
You could be forgiven if you haven’t heard the name Karmine Corp. When it comes to League of Legends, the European Regional Leagues (ERLs) are regularly overlooked in favor of the bright lights of the franchised LEC with its household names like G2 and Fnatic.
But Karmine Corp have set themselves apart in the saturated regional system. They have gone from strength to strength, taking a firm hold of France’s regional league, the LFL, and making history across Europe. Now, having sent multiple players to the LEC, and snagged legendary AD carry Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larssen, Kameto, the organization’s owner and CEO, is setting his sights on loftier goals.
The journey of Karmine Corp, also known as K Corp, in League of Legends began in March 2020 when they acquired a spot in the LFL Division 2, the second tier of regional French League of Legends. The roster comprised young French talent, including Adam ‘Adam’ Maanane, who attend the 2021 World Championship with Fnatic, and future Schalke 04 starter Ilias ‘NUCLEARINT’ Bizriken.
The team finished third during the 2020 Division 2 season and missed out on promotion. The team then disbanded in October 2020, rebranding from Kameto Corp to Karmine Corp and obtaining a place in the LFL. Adam was the only player who returned from the Kameto Corp roster, joined by another young, talented group of players.
K Corp stormed to a 13-5 regular season before sweeping Misfits Premier, the academy team of the LEC’s Misfits Gaming, to take home the 2021 LFL Spring title. The meteoric rise was starting to attract more people to an already die-hard fanbase:
“We have always been a team for the fans,” Kameto explained. “Even back when we when in Division 2 and I was casting all our games, we were doing it all for the fans.”
The LFL win earned K Corp a place in the EU Masters, the end-of-split tournament for the best teams across the various ERLs. K Corp marched into Berlin and dropped just three games on their way to a title win.
Kings of France
The EU Masters win changed everything. Adam left to join Fnatic in K Corp’s most high-profile transfer, with long-time LEC top laner Lucas ‘Cabochard’ Simon-Meslet taking the vacant spot in the top lane. But more importantly, people outside of France were beginning to recognize the name Karmine Corp.
While they weren’t able to run it back for a second LFL title, finishing second to Misfits Premier, they still earned a place at the EU Masters Summer tournament. While the run wasn’t as clean as it had been in the Spring split, K Corp were able to once again take the title. This made the French side, who had been in Divison 2 of their regional system a year prior, the first-ever back-to-back EU Masters champions. K Corp had planted their flag in Europe.
The 2021 offseason heralded major changes for K Corp as three starters departed, all linked with moves to the LEC:
- Jungler Jacob ‘Cinkrof’ Rokicki (linked with a move to Team BDS)
- AD carry Matthew ‘xMatty’ Coombs (linked with a move to Team BDS)
- Support Raphaël ‘Targamas’ Crabbé (linked with a moved to G2)
Cabochard was also linked with a move, ironically to replace Adam at Fnatic. However, he eventually declined and opted to stay with Karmine Corp.
As part of their roster rebuilding, the org executed perhaps the biggest shock of the 2021 offseason when they signed benched AD carry Rekkles from G2.
“Bringing Rekkles in is amazing,” Kameto said. “He is one of the best ADCs in Europe, possibly one of the best ADCs in the world. However, being able to bring him just goes to show what people think of us now. Cabochard chose to stay with us rather than join the LEC. People can see that Karmine Corp is the place to be.”
The Rekkles signing also brought in over 28,000 new followers on Twitter for the org, nearly 11,000 on November 16, the day they announced the signing, alone. Rekkles has also seen a major boost to his follower count, gaining over 37,000 new followers since November 16.
A bright and shining future
“Our next goal is to join the LEC,” Kameto explained.
Karmine Corp have a massive fanbase, are seen as France’s team, and have a track record of competitive success.
However, none of that matters when it comes to the LEC.
As a franchised league, the LEC decides which teams join its exclusive ranks. For K Corp to join, the LEC would either have to expand or a team would have to put its slot up for sale. While the latter did happen in 2021, when Schalke 04 decided to leave the league, Karmine Corp’s fellow LFL side Team BDS had to splash out $31.5 million.
But Kameto isn’t in any rush, knowing that being in the LEC may still be some years away.
“We will get there when we get there,” he said. “Until then, we will continue to leave our mark on Europe.”
K Corp formally announced their roster on November 29, featuring Rekkles in the bot lane alongside three French players and Turkish jungler Doğukan ‘113’ Balc, formerly of Vodafone Giants.
“Our French identity is very important to us,” Kameto said of the new lineup. “We have, and we always will be, a French team. Our lineup has three French players in it. Maybe, in a few years when we are in the LEC, we will have no French players, but our goal will always be to promote and help French talent.”
While many have joked that the Rekkles’ addition will make K Corp unstoppable in 2022, Kameto has tempered his expectations.
“I think many teams have seen what we have done and responded to us,” he said. “I still expect us to win but I feel it will not be easy. There are some very good rosters being rumored for the LFL.”
However, Kameto has also eyed the EU Masters as a prime opportunity to make history. With Karmine Corp already established as the only back-to-back winners, the CEO wants to add to that tally.
“I want to set an unbreakable record when we leave for the LEC,” Kameto revealed. “Three, four, however many titles. I want us to set a record that no one can break.”
Karmine Corp are also set to start the season with a splash. They have announced a pair of show matches against the as-yet-unnamed Spanish team owned by streamer Ibai Llanos and Barcelona FC defender Gerard Piqué.
“It will be so amazing,” Kameto said. “The biggest team in France versus the biggest team in Spain.”
K Corp have announced that their ‘home’ match on January 8, at an as-yet-unannounced venue in Paris, will welcome 15,000 fans in attendance.
“We would not do this if we couldn’t have fans there,” Kameto explained, “We are doing this for them.”
K Corp look towards the world stage
Kameto has his eyes set on one day seeing K Corp playing in the LEC, but his ambitions do not end there.
“The goal from the very beginning has been to win Worlds,” Kameto explained. “To win Worlds for us, for Europe, for France, it would be so amazing that I cannot even describe it. But I do know that we can do it. We can win Worlds.”
“If we win Worlds, it will be for the fans. We have the most passionate fans and they deserve to win Worlds as much as we do.”
But even in this lofty goal of world domination, Kameto’s expectations remain modest.
“Maybe it will take us a few tries, but we will do it in the end.”
With K Corp keen to maintain that umbilical connection to France, regardless of what happens with the team in the future, Kameto couldn’t help but lament the loss of one of the country’s greatest prospects.
“I think it’s very disappointing to see Hans Sama leave Europe,” he said. “I do not think Europe can win Worlds without him. Obviously, I don’t know what happened at Rogue so I can’t say why he left. But maybe Rogue doesn’t want to win Worlds, I don’t know.”
While Karmine Corp’s ascension to the LEC and the world stage are nebulous future events, one thing is certain. The organization is hungry, determined, and ready to become Europe’s next great League of Legends force.