Editor's Note: There was confusion regarding the following sentence, "Aicardi, NiP Senior Manager Gustav M. 'flabbert' Karto, and NiP Coach Martin 'Deficio' Lynge confirmed to onGamers that a buyout between the teams was in the works for several weeks, and was the reason that Lemondogs had not submitted paperwork to Riot beforehand." Karto was on the person from NiP to talk to onGamers directly. The mistake was due to editing two sentences together. Lynge was addressed in a second, omitted, sentence and was then erroneously included in the sentence above. It has been corrected in the article.
On the morning of January 8th, Riot Games announced a rule change regarding the sale of League of Legends Championship Series team spots in response to increasing speculation that Swedish team Lemondogs would sell their LCS spot to Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Riot Games eSports Manager Nick Allen penned in an announcement on na.lolesports.com that, after repeated attempts to work with Lemondogs management to finalize their roster, the team would be given a deadline of 11:59 PM CEST to enter their roster officially. Shortly after the deadline passed, Allen announced via Twitter that the team had failed to submit the satisfactory paperwork and subsequently would be replaced in the LCS.
Lemondogs owner Daniel Aicardi told onGamers that he in fact provided Riot paperwork two minutes before the deadline at 11:58 PM CEST. Aicardi admits that his paperwork was incomplete, but that Riot Games Esports Associate Manager Chris Hopper assured him ten minutes prior to the deadline that they would be able to look over the documents and come back to Aicardi with what else was needed.
"I did send some paperwork wrong, but I sent it all within the deadline", Aicardi said. "I asked if this was okay and Chris told me would let me know what updates he would need. I have worked close by deadlines before with Riot when it was with Derek Dennis and there were never problems. After speaking to Chris at 11:46 and 11:48, I was sure it should be alright at 11:58 since there was over 20 papers to go through. It's impossible to do that in just one minute. The whole team was online, and all players parents were still awake just to secure they could be there if something more was needed."
"It is human behavior to miss some things in 25 pages of paperwork (for all 5 players), and it is not human to not let us get an extra 10 minutes to fix what was wrong, especially considering what they told me before the deadline, even if it was only 15 minutes before."
Aicardi and NiP Senior Manager Gustav M. 'flabbert' Karto onfirmed to onGamers that a buyout between the teams was in the works for several weeks, and was the reason that Lemondogs had not submitted paperwork to Riot beforehand. Negotiations had intensified between Lemondogs and Ninjas in Pyjamas in the days prior to the deadline, with Riot Games knowledge that a deal was attempting to be made. Aicardi says that Riot's Hopper called to tell him about the LCS ownership rule change. This unexpected rule forced cancellation of the spot going to NiP, and caused Lemondogs to scramble a full roster in less than a day.
"Because Riot changed the rules, we only had one day to find players, play a couple of scrimmages with different players, and establish a brand new lineup", Aicardi noted. "The players knew we were going to sell the spot, the staff knew and stepped down, players had already stopped playing and joined other teams somewhat. The whole team was messed up. Fights going, three players step down and the other two start trying out other players. That same day we sign three new players and send them all to Riot.
"We still made it. It's not unfair the rule itself was changed, but if they're going to make this huge change, and when they explicitly knew we were going to sell, they should give us longer than a day to fix our lineup. They should not screw us just because the super weekend is around the corner, and because they booked expensive team media who were going to make interviews, photos, and videos with us two days later, so they needed our lineup to be fixed directly."
When pressed for comment, Riot's Nick Allen told onGamers that Lemondogs' documents were drastically incomplete and were incapable of completion in the amount of time Aicardi claims it would have taken.
"We told Lemondogs we would be happy to help review the documents and let him know what is needed, but the deadline still stands", Allen told onGamers. "So turning in the documents 2 minutes before the deadline gave us no time to review and give feedback. Once they were turned in, the documents were incomplete. A required piece of paperwork was blank with a player signature on the bottom. It lacked every piece of information we needed on that document."
Allen continued, "You can't submit blank paperwork and say you've turned in the documents. That was with the expectation that things were mostly complete, and we were taken back to find out that things were drastically incomplete. That was the worst case. There was information missing throughout nearly every document. We thought we would help make minor tweaks, but we were taken back when we saw how incomplete the information was."
Allen says that the Lemondogs organization was given multiple extensions to complete their paperwork, and because of this another extension was impossible.
"We had given LD two extensions on the paperwork", he said. "This was the 3rd deadline we had given, and he still couldn't hit the deadline. So we strictly enforced the 3rd deadline, and the results you see before you."
Aicardi says there is no appeal process for him to submit to. With the events unfolding as they have, the current roster will most likely disband, but he plans on keeping Lemondogs in League of Legends.
"The players already got some offers from the teams in the Coke Zero League and will probably split up. Right now Lemondogs won't recruit a team, but I plan to stay in League of Legends. My thoughts are still the same regarding Riot and LoL. Some decisions could have gone in other ways regarding this situation but overall I only have good memories from LCS and we had a good time over there. Creds [sic] to everyone involved."
Image Credit: ESL Flickr, Lemondogs