The European Masters’ group stage draw has lined up an inaugural meeting between two of the tournament favorites, X7 and Karmine Corp. The two teams already share a unique rivalry despite never having played each other before. Here is the story of X7 vs KC.
Inter-European rivalries are nothing new to League of Legends esports. The most obvious such rivalry is between the LEC old guard Fnatic and G2, the former having roots in both the UK and Sweden while G2 brings a proud Spanish heritage.
While both of those sides also generally represent Europe as a whole through the LEC, the fact that EUM brings together the separated regional leagues only encourages the national pride of each sides’ fans further. All of those familiar with the tournament are also all too familiar with the fierce support of France’s Karmine Corp in particular.
With the size and ferocity of KCorp’s fanbase, it’s no surprise that they have clashed with other sides since taking the ERLs by storm last season and winning back-to-back EU Masters trophies.
KC’s presence caused a surge in growth to their national LFL and brought along local rivalries within the league. The comparable popularity of Spain’s KOI, recently founded by streamer Ibai Llanos and footballer Gerard Pique, spawned an inevitable rivalry which was reinforced by the exhibition clashes between the teams in the off season. The rivalry was more recently reignited in Reddit’s r/place clash between both Ibai and KC owner Kamel “Kamet0” Kebir.
KC rivalries continue with X7 Esports
The organization’s most recent rivalry is perhaps its most unique. The NLC’s X7 Esports, based in Great Britain’s self-governed Isle of Man, has become the latest team to find themselves in KCorp’s crosshairs. The two have now been drawn together in the Main Event’s group B. The only catch; this will be the first time that they meet.
So how do two teams have a rivalry without ever competing?
The conflict began when Polish jungler Tomasz “Badlyyga” Bałdyga, who plays for the Ultraliga’s Gentlemen’s Gaming, made a bold decision to create modified versions of KC’s mascot to represent the colors and emblems of other European teams.
The artwork used by KC themselves is a commissioned piece, and though the original picture uses the likeness, or at least inspiration, of One Piece character Monkey D. Luffy, Karmine Corp fans were quick to point out that Badlyyga was using their artwork as his own, claiming that it breached copyright standards.
Esports News UK delved deeper into the exact laws and spoke to a copyright expert in the process, as did X7 Esports as owner Josh “Hyrav” Kingett revealed to WIN.gg.
“We did make make sure to speak to a few lawyers before even posting that picture just in case that’d be copyright infringement,” Hyrav said.
The drama surrounding X7 then began as they posted the modified mascot on Twitter, sporting their colors and emblem, sparking backlash from KC fans. The picture was additionally posted by X7 members and even the official NLC account, the NLC being X7’s national ERL the Northern League of Legends Championship.
The NLC account eventually took down the photo, with their social media manager “Doku” apologizing to Karmine Corp co-founder Zouhair “Kotei” Darji for the post. Hyrav claims that X7 also spoke with the French organization ahead of their decision to remove the picture.
“We spoke to Karmine Corp and decided it’d probably be best to just take that photo down,” Hyrav explained, adding that “obviously once it’s already out there, the fire’s already been lit. So that’s not going to stop. That photo exists now so people will still post that, no doubt.”
X7’s owner also outlined how he received “many, many death threats” as a result of the post. Hyrav stated that it should be seen as a “light jest” at the end of the day.
All said and done, Hyrav appears to be relishing the newfound rivalry, with his side also being built “to win EU Masters” like Karmine Corp’s, admitting that “inevitably we will need to take them down in order to take that title.
“There’s a world in which X7 and KC go through after groups and then meet back again in the final,” Hyrav said.
The route to European Masters
X7’s 2022 turned heads in the off season when they announced former Samsung Galaxy and 2017 World Champion Kang “Haru” Min-seung as their jungler alongside a hugely experienced lineup that includes fellow Korean import Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu.
KC’s lineup brought with it even more shock. Legendary Swedish bot laner Martin “Rekkles” Larsson left the LEC in order to step down to the ERLs after failing to find a team to buy out his previous contract with G2 Esports.
It comes as no surprise then that, given that both squads were assembled to win EUM, both have reached the tournament proper.
The NLC’s top representative spent much of the NLC spring split in first place, dropping only a few matches throughout the regular season and eventually blowing second place Bifrost out of the water in the grand final with a thorough 3-0 victory.
Karmine Corp’s run was not quite as straightforward. A slow start found them tied for 8th place after three weeks of the regular season before an upturn in form eventually qualified them for playoffs in 2nd. However, failing to win a single best-of-five in playoffs finally put them in 3rd place for the split and this meant that they only entered European Masters in the Play-In stage.
The French organization went on to make light work of the Play-Ins, not dropping even a single game as they topped their group with a 6-0 record before beating Iron Wolves 2-0 to move on to the Main Event.
Going through the Play-Ins meant that KC was only a 4th seeded team, eventually matching with 2nd seed X7 as well as 1st seed GamerLegion and 3rd seed Team Phantasma in group B.
Hyrav described to WIN.gg his satisfaction with the group overall when comparing it to other sides they may have faced, in particular a pool 1 which included Fnatic TQ, AGO ROGUE, LDLD OL, and GamerLegion.
“Either them [GamerLegion] or AGO ROGUE would probably be the best fit for us… in terms of third pool, we didn’t really mind who it was. Obviously, we got Phantasma, but it could have been any of them. None of them really pose a threat to us I don’t think,” Hyrav said.
On the shape of group B overall, Hyrav seems confident in X7 coming out as the first seed, admitting, with “a bit of bias” that he’d “put us [X7] top, KC second, and then GL, and then Phantasma.”
X7 vs KC schedule at European Masters
Now established rivals, X7 vs KC are set to kick off their Main Event runs with the inaugural Copyright Derby on day two. This will perhaps be an early display of what could come to be a key matchup later on in the tournament should the two sides make deep runs as they both expect.
The sides play their first match on Friday, April 15 at 20:00 CET, with their second tie in the double-round robin the following Friday at the same time.
Confident in topping the group, Hyrav does not seem worried about a potential first loss to KCorp.
“Whether we win or lose against KC, I don’t think that there’s any such thing as bad publicity… At the end of the day, if we drop a game, we play again in the group anyway so there’s always a chance of that rematch,” Hyrav said.