Why the Korean invasion is good for Chinese League of Legends…for now


China’s pro League of Legends scene got back to being focused on the game this weekend as the regular summer season kicked off (if you missed the English livestream of any of the matches, check out the VODs here). But with Invictus Gaming and Star Horn having added Korean players and Team WE having added a Korean coach this split, lots of people are talking about ‘the Korean invasion.’ Is this actually a good thing for Chinese League of Legends?

For the moment, at least, I think it is. There’s no arguing that the Chinese scene is weaker than the Korean scene when it comes to League. There’s just no way around that simple fact. But if China is ever going to catch up to Korea, Chinese players will need more exposure to Korean teams and players than they get from the occasional match ups they get in international tournaments and playing soloqueue on Korean servers. Playing with and against Korean pros in the LPL will give Chinese players an opportunity to see how they operate firsthand, in terms of everything from their in-game strategies and mechanics to their overall work ethic and habits.

At the same time, having Koreans in the scene should hopefully help China’s more nationalist fans (and let’s be honest, a few of its players, too) get over their anti-Korean prejudice. China’s desire to beat Korean teams is productive in the sense that it helps push every team to do better, but it shouldn’t be based on prejudice and jingoism. As Korean players play for Chinese teams, they’ll win Chinese fans and hopefully help cool some of the anti-Korean nonsense.

(See: ‘If Team WE gets a Korean player, I’ll stop watching’: Chinese fans rant about WE’s new Korean talent)

That said, the Korean invasion can only have a positive effect up to a certain point. If Chinese teams replace all their players with Korean pros, it might mean that OMG and EDG do better in Worlds, but it will also mean that domestic players have even fewer chances to improve their skills and to compete at the highest levels.

Suggesting that just because a few Korean players have come to China means many more will is a fallacy, so don’t get your pitchforks just yet. But if the trend continues or accelerates, China’s eSports regulatory organization ACE may want to consider capping the number of foreign players a team can have to ensure that domestic players still have opportunities to develop. (China’s domestic basketball and soccer leagues already have similar rules).

For now, though, I think the so-called Korean invasion can only be a good thing. Certainly, with all the roster shake-ups this LPL season is already looking like it’ll be more interesting and less one-sided than last year’s. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the summer plays out.

But what do you think? Is the Korean invasion good for China, or for the other domestic scenes where Korean players are popping up?

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