[UPDATE Nov 25 #2] Nongshim RedForce officially announced that they signed Canna. In their tweet, they said "We are happy to announce that Canna has joined NS RedForce! Though it was a bumpy road, we thank him for happily deciding to join us for 2022. Please look forward to Canna's outstanding performance at NS RedForce."
[UPDATE Nov 25] T1 officially announced that they have parted ways with Canna. In their tweet, they said "'Canna' will continue his pro-gamer career on a different team. We truly appreciate his contribution to the team and wish him the best of luck in the future."
[UPDATE Nov 22] Following statements from both Canna's agency and Riot Korea, T1 hosted a press conference to provide their statement on the matter. The general manager for T1, Choi "Polt" Seong-hun, joined various Korean media outlets to talk about three major points of the agency's statement.
Polt's statement mostly focused on three major points from the agency's statement.
- It’s impossible to check that Canna received a verbal agreement with the late COO, John Kim.
- Canna continously inquired about his FA status right after the semifinals at Worlds 2021. Given how adamant he was, T1 determined that he wanted a transfer, so we went ahead with it.
- We gave Canna’s agency the right to negotiate with other teams and handle his transfer, but the final decision still lies with T1.
Polt went on to provide further explanation on the three main points he made.
- Verbal agreement w/ the late John Kim: Canna’s agency claims that Canna reached a verbal agreement with the late John Kim; if failed to renegotiate Canna’s salary in 2022 by late Oct, 2021, he will be released as FA.
- However, only John Kim knows about this, and because of his passing, there’s no way for us to check if this is true. It’s up to Canna to prove that this happened, but at the moment, this is an impossible task. Therefore, we have no obligations to make his status FA.
- If it can somehow be proved that such verbal agreement actually did take place, we’re willing to respect the wishes of our late COO and grant Canna FA status.
- According to the agency, they said that we would release Canna as a free agent if we didn’t come to a settlement regarding his salary, but the original term was a mutual agreement. If we weren’t to have a mutual agreement, the organization has the authority to decide and execute. Canna’s agency doesn’t seem to understand the legal terms, even if they are responsible for checking the player’s contract and explaining the legal terms of the contract to the player. They need to understand the difference between settlement and mutual agreement. Also, I feel that it’s extremely unfortunate that they used the words of the late John Kim, as it feels that they’re using something that cannot be proved.
- For Canna, his priority was becoming FA this year, and if not, it’s staying with T1. Canna inquired many times about becoming FA to multiple staff, including Polt himself. Even though there’s still time left in his contract, we concluded that he wanted to leave the team based on his inquiries, so we went through with the transfer process.
- In terms of the transfer itself, we’ve given Canna’s agency the rights to handle Canna’s transfer process. However, the final decision is still T1’s to make. We’ve never said that we’ll blindly agree with any team that offers him the best options. We at T1 still have the rights to make the final decision.
Regarding ‘Team D’: It was on Nov 19 that the agency started talking with Team D about Canna’s transfer. There have been no transfer inquiries made until then. Before then, the team that was in constant contact with us has offered the best options for him, so we decided to transfer him to that team. We’re thoroughly disappointed with the LCK for not fully fact-checking on the matter, and blindly believing the agency’s claims, thus strongly recommending that we transfer Canna to ‘Team D’. Such an act not only violates T1’s rights, it also violates the fairness of the league.
Lastly, Polt closed off the press conference with the following words.
"I’d like to close this short press conference by saying that it’s regrettable to see how the agency took the course of action that can potentially dishonor the name of a deceased man. While I haven’t heard the full details, I want to let everyone know that one of the teams that we’re in talks about Canna’s transfer has offered the best options for him. We at T1, especially myself, are doing everything in our power to protect our players’ rights. We all wish nothing short of the best for all our players, and hope that Canna will have a successful career as well. Thank you."
Shortly after T1's press conference, 'Team N', aka NS RedForce, provided a statement via their official Instagram. Here's a translation of their statement below.
- NS RedForce reached a transfer agreement on the evening of Nov 19 regarding Kim “Canna” Chang-dong.
- We’ve confirmed that the transfer fee that we initially offered was 1.5 times larger than other team’s offer.
- According to the rules, we offered a salary that is 1.8 times more than the original salary of 2021 on our first negotiation on Nov 20.
We at NS RedForce would like to inform everyone that no rules within the current LCK ruleset have been broken, and would like to finalize Canna’s trade to NS RedForce.
LCK top laner Kim "Canna" Chang-dong, currently a member of T1, is struggling with signing a new contract for the 2022 season after multiple issues around his potential transfer from T1 have arisen. According to Canna's agent, the player is caught in a limbo between securing a desired salary for the 2022 season, finding teams who can match the buy-out fee set by T1, and potentially agreeing on a contract renewal with T1 themselves.
The full statement by Canna's agent reads:
"Hello. My name is Jo Ho-yeon, and I’m the CEO of TopSeed Agency, Kim “Canna” Chang-dong’s agent. Through this statement, I hope to provide our statement regarding the transfer status of our player, something that’s currently being heavily discussed within the community.
After Canna finished his quarantine in Korea after Worlds 2021, he signed under our agency. At the time, Canna still had one year left in his contract, as he signed a two-year deal in 2020 with T1. The contract stated the player’s salary for 2021, and that re-negotiation for his 2022 salary will take place by the end of November, 2021.
Per verbal agreement with the late COO of T1, John Kim, Canna was promised that if both parties fail to come to an agreement for 2022, he will be released as a free agent. This promise was a huge reason why the player signed the contract back then. Canna contacted us for help, as he hoped to stay with T1 during the 2022 season.
The agency had our first official meeting to re-negotiate Canna’s salary. T1’s stance was that Canna requested a transfer at least three times; twice during Worlds this year (before an important match & after Worlds), and once after returning to Korea. They said that such requests hindered the team’s teamwork and thus they’re putting Canna on the market for a transfer as they were looking to exempt him from the 2022 roster.
This is something that we at the agency weren’t aware of during our contract signing with the player, so after doing some fact checking, we’ve confirmed that it’s different from what T1 was implying. Canna never requested a transfer to another team; the only time Canna talked about the 2022 season was after Worlds semi-finals, with the general manager of the team, Choi “Polt” Seong-hun.
Regarding this, we’ve confirmed that this was a communication error on T1’s end, and through a phone call with Polt, we’ve confirmed what Canna said was to be true. The reason why Canna went to Polt to discuss the issue in the first place was he was unsure if what was verbally agreed upon can still be done after John’s sudden passing.
Despite T1 continued request [the player] for a transfer, Canna hoped to stay in T1 for the next year. However, T1’s stance was a transfer. Also, T1 informed that if Canna didn’t agree to the 50M KRW salary raise, his salary will be fixed as this year’s salary.
The agency tried to be realistic and looked for teams to transfer through negotiations. During this process, Canna was able to negotiate with other teams, with T1’s permission, as long as the other teams agreed to the transfer fee. They didn’t speak of any limitations on the transfer except for the transfer fee such as teams that Canna can’t go to or any other details.
During that process, team D wanted to sign Canna. Team D agreed to Canna’s conditions and offered a higher transfer fee than required, and they spoke to Polt about it.
However, T1 notified that “Transfer to team D is difficult to agree to”, which was different from the original agreement. The agency asked for implementation of the agreement, but T1 repeatedly said “This transfer is difficult to agree to”, breaking the original agreement and promoting the transfer to team N. Furthermore, they repeatedly said, “talk to team N as he is not our player anymore.”
The agency could not accept the transfer and sent evidence that summarizes the process of legal consultation and agreements between the two sides to the LCK secretariat, trying to solve Canna’s transfer issue.
The LCK secretariat accepted the agency’s claim and strongly recommended T1 to promote transfer to team D. However, team N contacted us, instead of T1. Team N claimed that the agreement between the two teams had been made; thus Canna is now their player and should sign their contract as they increased the salary.
However, the agency could not sign to team N’s contract, which is only about a half of team D’s offer. In response, team N said that they would be thankful if we refuse the offered salary, as the salary for 2022 will be the same as how much the player was paid in 2021. Team N solicited to sign the contract, claiming that a player transfer and registration can be done without the player’s signing; a false statement.
The agency checked with the LCK secretariat and confirmed that the player has to sign a contract that has the player’s salary written to register the player and that team N’s claim is false.
Afterward, T1’s officials requested a meeting again to persuade us, but the meeting with T1 ended as there weren’t any changes to the disadvantage the player had to take.
Under the current LCK rules, transfer to a team within the same region can be made without the player’s agreement. However, statutory interpretation is difficult as the player’s salary for 2022 has not been decided yet. We feel deeply sorry for the current situation of the team refusing to abide by the promise they made with a player who was proud to be a part of T1 and offering a low salary to solicit transfer to the third team.
The agency wishes for the player to perform in a happy environment without any big problems. We promoted a win-win transfer where both the player and the team can be happy. We urge T1, which unilaterally broke the original agreement, to implement the original agreement as soon as possible.
The agency can no longer watch young players suffer from disadvantages and great pains because they were deceived by words made for the benefit of adults.
For the sake of the player's career, we will do our best to actively reflect the player's opinions in the transfer process and to ensure that the player performs in a good environment."
In an interview with Inven, Riot Korea said that "the agency proved that T1 gave them the permission to make negotiations, so LCK advised T1 to fulfill the promise." They also added that "approval has not been made yet, because we could not confirm that whether the contract conditions for 2022 have become worse compared to the previous contract/
The story is developing and T1 are said to make a statement regarding Canna's transfer soon.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports