It has been a tumultuous few days for LuxuryWatch Blue fans. An outpouring of joy accompanied the news of their acquisition of Mano from Afreeca Freecs Blue, a valuable addition to help relieve the pressure on the injury prone janus. But then celebrations turned anger as a dramatic series of allegations and counter-allegations began unfolding following the dismissal of flex support, Luna, a day before the original APEX roster deadline.
The revelations kicked off with a Facebook post from Luna himself, kindly translated by TISrobin311, that shed some initial light on the situation:
It’s worth noting that when Luna says “without proper payment”, it is a commentary on the low salaries actually paid to players due to minimal finances and investment available to the LuxuryWatch organisation.
In the midst of this, it was also announced that Who had been dropped from his support position in LuxuryWatch Red. A disappointing situation for Who as the team had finally been promoted to big leagues for APEX Season 4.
LuxuryWatch responded on Twitter and Facebook asking their fans to be patient and open-minded while they put together an official statement regarding the removals. Meanwhile, a further update from Luna was released declaring that the decision to remove him had come solely from the team manager and suggested that, in fact, it was the manager should have been given his notice.
The official release came from LuxuryWatch's director, Ji Yong-hoon, as scheduled. Translations were limited, but the best came from Inven Global. The key points included:
- An apology regarding Who's removal and a recommendation for other teams to pick him up.
- Luna's removal was not done out of revenge or for any personal reasons but instead due to performance, referencing a 14 map loss streak in scrims. He also commented the players and team were aware of his “underperformance”.
- Further apologised for the handling of the removal, stating there was too much going on with APEX Season 4, the World Cup and finding a new team house. Accepting personal responsibility for this and temporarily stepping down from his role.
- The late removal was further explained by issues with putting together funds for a severance deal for Luna.
Taking responsibility and issuing an apology was undoubtedly the right thing move, but it will do little to repair the relationship with Luna and the damage done to the organisation's reputation and rapport with fans. Luna was reportedly unimpressed with this apology, citing it as untrue and unjust. A former LW Blue player echoed Luna's sentiment on his personal stream, alluding to larger issues with the organisation and how it was run.
Luna has been with the team since September last year and has competed for LW Blue in all three seasons of APEX. Last season they were eliminated by Lunatic-Hai when they had Pine starting instead of Luna. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of recent events. Overall it was a disappointing 5-6th finish in APEX Season 3 which may have been the catalyst for this move, though it is worth noting that the two teams they lost to in the playoffs were eventual finalists; Lunatic-Hai and Kongdoo Panthera.
Although Pine is definitely capable of taking over flex support duties, reportedly having delivered improved scrim results whilst in the role, it transpires that JJoNak, a popular streamer whose Ana play has dominated the Korean leaderboards, has signed with LW Blue.
WonJaeLee has been announced as the support replacement on LW Red, not be confused with their former DPS player NoName (also Lee Won-jae) who parted ways with LuxuryWatch back in May.
Former LW Blue coach Agape weighed in on Facebook in the discussion over the role of statistics in analysing player performance, kindly translated by the tireless TISrobin311 once again.
The debate continues to rage on over whether the decision to cut Luna was the right move for the team, and whether the statistical reasoning was a just and fair. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, the timing and manner in which it was done certainly does not match the level of respect you would expect for any player, let alone a long serving team captain.
It seems likely there is still more to be unravelled in this tale, but with the APEX roster deadline now closed, Luna and Who’s options look limited. In the meantime, the rest of the LuxuryWatch family will prepare for APEX Season 4, starting this weekend with LW Red taking on GC Busan.
The official rosters as published by OGN for APEX Season 4 are as follows:
- Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol (DPS)
- Hwang "Fl0w3r" Yeon-oh (DPS)
- Kim "Pine" Do-hyun (DPS)
- Kim "Mek0" Tae-hong (Flex)
- Song "janus" Jun-hwa (Tank)
- Choi "Sylph" Seong-sik (Support)
- Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu (Tank)
- Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon (Support)
- Jeong "Nenne" Yeon-kwan (DPS)
- Choi "Wekeed" Seok-woo (DPS)
- Gye "r0ar" Chang-hoon (Tank)
- Choi "HOTBA" Hong-joon (Flex)
- Hong "ArK" Yeon-joon (Support)
- Lee "WonJaeLee" Won-jae (Support)
- Kim "WizardHyeong" Hyeong-seok (Analysis coach)
- Yu "Pavane" Hyeon-sang (Strategic coach)