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The rise and fall of Four Kings

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jan 31, 2008 14:56


ImageHow did Four Kings, a Warcraft 3 team who were invincible in 2006, fall from the dizzy heights of global success to slowly decay and disappear?

The dissolution of the Four Kings Intel Warcraft 3 team marks the end of an era for the Warcraft 3 scene that has seen its rise and experienced its fall.

The Golden Era
In an era where the term “merc team” is thrown about willy nilly, it is important to remember that the Four Kings.WC3 team was assembled slowly and carefully over 2003 without overcharging the Four Kings credit card. The pieces of the Four Kings puzzle were gathered by Iain “Tillerman” Girdwood; who handpicked Sebasian “FuRy” Pesic and Rune “Lawn” Granath from Swedish xperience.se, Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen and Arvid “Myth” Fekken from E-Sports Ownage Netherlands who he had met at ESWC, and Ivica “Zeus” Markovic, Kiko and Rasmus “Kaj” Simonsen from E-Sports united.

Four Kings had now assembled the best European talent around, now they were just in need for an outlet to display them. They entered the WarCraft 3 League before it was taken over by the ESL in Season III finishing third in their debut season. They went on to take the first place in Season IV and then win seven more over a period lasting just over three years.

Four Kings organised a trip to live in Korea in 2004 and competed in the MBC and OnGame leagues. Leading up to this trip Four Kings added DaeHee HUI “FoV” Cho who had recently won ESWC 2004 and the quarter-finalist Yoan “ToD” Merlo from ArmaTeam. FoV was initially not supposed to be the only Korean addition; two other deals were in the works but fell through. One with Tae In “Rainbow” Kim, now in mTw and, a rather familiar Jang Jae “Moon” Ho who would go on to to become Warcraft 3’s 5th race in MYM.

"Almost four years later, Grubby found himself joining Moon's team. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
Almost four years later, Grubby found himself joining Moon's team. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

Strengthened by the Korea trip, the two new additions, as well as Fury’s transition from 2on2 to solo, Four Kings as a team became too hot to handle in the WC3L. They not only resumed their unbeaten run at the end of Season VI but continued it through not one but two seasons, racking up a total of 28 consecutive victories back to back spanning over a whole year.

Their run ended rather unfortunately at the Season VIII LAN Finals, where they were entered each game with a 0-1 by default due to the absence of a fourth player. The winning streak may have ended but Grubby, Zeus and ToD managed to come from the lower bracket to defeat MYM not once but twice, and be crowned champions once more.

It was at the peak of their success that disaster struck with FoV deciding to leave the team. According to former 4K member FuRy, the team felt there was no need to recruit another player having recently added Olav “Creolophus” Undheim. Despite encountering a rocky next season without the “free-win” FoV, the team returned to glory in Season X as the faith invested in Creolophus’ ability bloomed. Along with Grubby and ToD, the Norwegian carried the team to the WC3L Season X title.

Crises and Creos
The first signs of crisis began to show with the rising number of tournaments worldwide as well as ToD’s move to China and his inability to compete in some clan wars. With the out-of-shape Zeus and Fury, Grubby and Creolophus were left to man the fort becoming the 2on2 team for Season XI as well as the key match winners, particularly in ToD’s absence.

Another obstacle for the team was the departure of organiser manu_ who left during the season and forced the places to take on some addition responsibilities. They soon added “retired” fnatic manager Trimble but the need for a new player was growing increasingly evident as the team was beginning to lose steam.

Then a fatal blow came to the 4K.wc3 team as Creolophus retirement due to studies became official. With this news the Four Kings' supposed return to stability was once again thrown off course. A new player became not just needed but crucial.

There was action taken by the Four Kings management but a decision which ended up more beneficial to the UK sponsors than to the Warcraft 3 team, namely the addition of Ben “Demuslim” Baker. It proved a bad time to invest in British “talent” as Demuslim, despite making it into the NGL and WC3L line-up, hardly played a part in the 4K team aside from a good bit of PR for Four Kings at UK qualification events.

"Their only hope, at the time, was to sign another Creolophus. It was a feat neither player managed to replicate as they were thrown into the deep end of the WC3L."
Another pickup was made shortly after Demuslim made it into the WC3L line-up in July 2007. It was the addition of the Swedish player Daniel “Liild.c” Claesson, this time inspired by the team itself. Once again Four Kings decided against buying big due to a lack of finances and instead invested in “talent.” Their only hope, at the time, was to sign another Creolophus. It was a feat neither player managed to replicate as they were thrown into the deep end of the WC3L.

With little time to familiarise themselves which such a cutthroat hunting ground, the fledgling new additions failed to make a big enough impact to stop the downward spiral and Four Kings endured an extremely poor final season. They finished seventh and as a result Yoan “ToD” Merlo called it a day and joined Mousesports. The team soldiered on but their imminent death was growing obvious.

It was just a matter of time.

The reason?
The question is why? Why, despite their invincibility, did Four Kings.wc3 fail to have enough resources to keep their star players from leaving or replace them when they did?

The reason is they missed their chances business wise. for example converting their team success into a media success. Promotional tours or efforts for the team or players, aside from their trip to Korea in 2004, were few and far between. Their shop lacked any personalised products, for example a Grubby mousemat or ToD T-shirt.

Another example to back this up is the Four Kings Intel website, which was void of regular articles, replay packs, user interaction or coverage despite brave injections of passion from news writers Keni “Keni” Kun in 2006 and Cassandra “PPG” Ng in 2007.

Although it was passion for the team that kept it alive for so long, it is surprising that Grubby stayed for such a long period of time. Without him the team would have most certainly disbanded much sooner.

An opportunity was missed for the Four Kings organisation but let us hope they live and perhaps learn in the process. In the end the Four Kings.wc3 members lost their struggle to keep the team alive but it was not through a lack of trying.
Chinese version

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