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North American organisation Cloud9 (C9) announced on Saturday (13 November) that Croatian League of Legends (LoL) star midlaner Luka "Perkz" Perković has parted ways with the team after just a year under their banner.
Perkz shook the LoL esports scene in November last year when he left G2 Esports and the LoL European Championship (LEC) to move to North America's LoL Championship Series (LCS) and join C9 that was facilitated by an alleged US$5 million buyout.
In his one year with C9, Perkz helped the team take the championship of the 2021 LCS Spring Split and the 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown as well as finish fourth in the 2021 LCS Summer Split and third in the 2021 LCS Championship.
The Croatian midlaner was also instrumental in C9 qualifying for this year's World Championship, where they dominated the Play-Ins before making a miracle run in the Group Stage. Despite their valiant effort to make it to the Knockout Stage, C9 were swept out of the tournament by Gen.G Esports in the quarterfinals.
Perkz remains one of the best players in the world and is the only player to ever win eight LEC titles during his five-year stint with G2, whom he also led to the World Championship final in 2019.
Perkz is reportedly eyeing a return to the LEC for the 2022 season with Team Vitality.
Perkz buyout drama
Prior to his departure from C9, Perkz was already making headlines after Dot Esports revealed that G2 and C9 allegedly colluded to prevent his transfer to Fnatic last year.
However, following a comprehensive investigation by Riot Games, it was found that "no harm was done to the player” and therefore, both C9 and G2 won’t be penalized.
Dot Esports obtained a copy of the 2020 buyout agreement between G2 Esports and Cloud9, which stated that Cloud9 could not sell Perkz to Fnatic from November 2020 to the end of the 2023 season. The League of Legends Championship Series approved this arrangement in November 2020.
Upon discovering the clause, Fnatic then filed a complaint to the LEC office. The objection was subsequently raised to Riot's global esports team.
Riot Global decided the condition did not influence the star midlaner's team options for the 2022 season. Fnatic and Cloud9 could not agree on the buyout price and Perkz's desired pay; therefore, Riot Global concluded that it did not affect Perkz's 2021-22 offseason prospects. Instead, negotiations for the transfer of Perkz to Team Vitality are underway.
The League of Legends Championship Series Player’s Association (LCSPA) also provided input on the situation, confirming that they too will investigate the case independently and “will fight any agreement that illegally or unethically restricts player movement or alters player bargaining power”.
The LCSPA is independently investigating the circumstances of this report and will fight any agreement that illegally or unethically restricts player movement or alters player bargaining power. https://t.co/rzUB3DDCN3
— LCS Players Association (@NALCSPA) November 10, 2021
League esports does not have a precedent for a buyout limitation of this type, but it could violate the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 in the United States because it restricts trade.
However, with C9 based in the United States, G2 in Germany, and Fnatic in the United Kingdom, legal jurisdiction over this issue would be questionable.
LoL Esports Director of Operations Tom Martell responded on the same day clarifying their ruling on the situation.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) November 11, 2021
In the statement, he mentioned that “our current rules governing player transfers do not explicitly prohibit restrictions on future transfers by the receiving team, so we will not penalize G2 and C9 for including such a clause in their agreement.
"However, as we recently communicated to G2, C9, and FNC, Riot does not intend to enforce the trade restriction and would recognize the transfer of Perkz to any team upon receipt of the appropriate paperwork in accordance with league rules.”
He also clarified that moving forward, the rules will be updated to “prohibit future restrictions in transfer agreements” because they’re not aligned with the sport’s values and interests.
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