Former League of Legends World Champion and current top laner for DWG KIA, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, could be forced to retire from the professional play. The 25-year-old spoke about the topic in an interview, where he unveiled his plans for the future.
Khan’s Last Season
Despite nearing his 26th birthday, in December, age is not the main concern for the Korean esports player. While many esports pros retired at Khan’s age, the current top laner for DWG KIA has proven time and time again that he is still one of the best in the scene and that age truly is just a number.
However, Khan might not be able to continue playing in 2022. As revealed, Khan has been called up to serve in the Korean military, which could last up to three years.
South Korea has compulsory military service for all men aged between 18 and 28, and given his age, Khan will have no other option but to enlist comes 2022.
In an interview, Khan explained he wouldn’t be able to avoid joining the military. Although anyone can postpone it, Khan has already used all of his chances to do so.
As told by the Korean esports pro, he will be required to enlist in June 2022. The dates would clash with the summer split in the LoL Champions Korea (LCK), effectively denying Khan a chance to compete with his team during the second split of the year.
Even though Khan will be able to compete in the spring split, he doesn’t feel like that will be possible.
Khan explained the thought process, stating that he likely won’t be getting a spot in a team for the spring split, regardless of whether he is able to compete.
Since any esports organization strives to win the LoL World Championship, it wouldn’t make any sense for a team to play with Khan. That is because he would miss the entire second split of the season and the LoL World Championship.
“It doesn’t make any sense for a team with their sight set on Worlds to play me in spring, but not in summer,” said Khan.
Khan Left With No Options
Although serving the military service in South Korea is mandatory for all men, there are some exceptions to that rule. A bill proposed in September 2020 would allow notable figures in pop culture and arts to delay their service until turning 30.
However, the bill has yet to be accepted by the South Koran government. Still, there is another scenario that could work in Khan’s favor.
In the past, there have been some notable proposed exceptions for athletes. For example, in 1973, the South Korean president Park Chung-hee introduced an exemption from military service for all athletes competing in the 1976 Summer Olympics.
A couple of decades later, the South Korean football team was promised exemptions if they win the 2020 FIFA World Cup. The same thing happened in 2006 when the nations’ baseball team was promised the same reward if they perform well in the World Baseball Classic.
To date, there have been a few notable athletes who have been granted exemptions from military service.
That includes the nation’s football team for winning bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics and badminton player Lee Yong-dae, who won gold at the 2008 Olympics.
Joining the list are football player Son Heung Min and baseball player Lee Jung-hoo, for winning the 2018 Asian Games.
In 2020, it was announced that esports would be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. That would provide esports players with a chance to postpone their military service if they end up winning gold.
Unfortunately, the 2022 Asian Games will come too late for Khan, who is required to enlist in June. Meanwhile, the event won’t begin until later in the year, on September 10, 2022.
Last Hoorah at 2021 LoL World Championship
The upcoming 2021 LoL World Championship could be Khan’s last tournament of his illustrious esports career. Although nothing is set in stone yet, the prospect of seeing Khan on the Rift one last time in October-November is slowly becoming a harsh reality.
His team, DWG KIA, have yet to qualify for the season-culminating event. However, with the success they’ve had over the season, it’s doubtful that they wouldn’t make it there.
DWG KIA are the reigning LoL world champions and one of the favorites to repeat their success in autumn. The esports bookmakers have DWG KIA Priced as third favorites to lift the Summoner’s Cup for the second consecutive year.
They’re priced at +550, behind two Chinese teams in FunPlus Phoenix (+400) and Edward Gaming (+400).
2021 League of Legends World Championship Outright Betting Odds
Odds courtesy of BetOnline Sportsbook:
- Edward Gaming +400
- FunPlus Phoenix +400
- DWG KIA +550
- Gen.G +700
- Royal Never Give Up +700
- Top Esports +800
- JD Gaming +1100