TSM owner Andy ‘Reginald’ Dinh was criticized after he said Cloud9 League of Legends support Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme would be “out of a job” if every LCS team abandoned the tournament, amid controversy over import rules.
The LCS import rule discussion is a tale as old as the tournament itself. In order to ensure NA talent receives proper attention and development, LCS teams are limited to only two import slots in their squad, meaning three of their five players must be North America or Oceania residents.
However, a series of interviews by journalist Travis Gafford revealed a large proportion of LCS team owners were in favor of changing or scrapping the rule, resulting in substantial backlash from the League community.
Cloud9’s Vulcan echoed this criticism. He tweeted: “If you want a full import team, go buy a team in that region?”
if u want full import team go buy a team in that region ?XD
— Philippe Laflamme (@VulcanLoL) February 19, 2021
TSM owner and founder Reginald hit back at Vulcan, suggesting the Canadian would be left unemployed if LCS owners decided to pack their bags and move their teams to other regions.
“Ignorant tweet,” Reginald said. “If every LCS team left the LCS — you’ll be out of a job buddy and probably be paid minimum.”
Vulcan wasn’t happy. He replied: “You saying I’d work at McDonalds man?”
U saying id work at mcdonalds man?
— Philippe Laflamme (@VulcanLoL) February 20, 2021
Other major figures in the LoL Esports scene got involved too, with LEC caster Christy ‘Ender’ Frierson referencing Reginald’s legendary 2013 Twisted Fate performance vs Dignitas. He said: “This is the blue card of Twitter takes.”
Former LCS jungler Christian ‘IWillDominate’ Rivera backed Vulcan as a “world class player”, while G2 owner Carlos ‘Ocelote’ Rodriguez’ labeled Reginald’s comment as “one dumb f***ing take”.
this is one dumb fucking take lmao
— CarlosR ocelote (@CarlosR) February 20, 2021
Why do LCS team owners want the import rule removed?
When interviewed by Travis Gafford, Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne supported the removal of the rule on the grounds that he wants to more readily develop talent from regions other than NA. He said: “I am not a fan of the import rule.
“I want to support young players who are passionate, skilled and want to work hard no matter where they are born, so I want [the rule] to go away.”
Like Team Liquid owner Steve ‘Liquid112’ Arhancet, Etienne is keen to ensure investment in young NA talent remains a priority. “If we were to go down that path, I would want it mandated that every team needs to increase their investment in the Academy and amateur scene,” he added.
Cloud9 Founder and CEO Jack Etienne says of the import rule "I would like to see it go away" – explains he'd like to see further resources go into NA development if it does.
[Pls watch vid before replying] pic.twitter.com/2ObBt4U5l6
— Travis Gafford (@TravisGafford) February 19, 2021
However, casters, fans and players are largely against the idea. Former Curse and Dignitas pro player Joedat ‘Voyboy’ Esfahani shared his concerns about more teams like LMQ — a team composed entirely of Chinese players who qualified for 2014 Worlds through the NA LCS — being created.
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This, in a concern echoed by many others, would potentially undermine the purpose of the LCS as a regional league.
“If this goes through, what happens to the pipeline of NA dreams and talent?” he said.
Whether the import rule will be scrapped remains to be seen, but Riot has a big job on its hands to solve this rift between team owners and LCS fans & players alike.