Renegades get LCS ban
Today marks yet another day when Riot (makers of the most popular competitive video game worldwide League of Legends) puts it’s foot down and shows that they are serious about taking esports to the next level. In a recent competitive ruling Riot (who not only created the game, but acts as commissioner of several leagues including the European and North American League Championship Series) has banned both the owner and shadow owner of one of the most recently added teams, Renegades. This article will be written towards those who are not esports and/or League of Legends savvy, so everyone can participate in the discussion and see the implications for the world of esports as a whole. For those of you who do follow the League of Legends professional scene, it’ll be some nice, quick info for your next league night with friends.
Who are the Renegades?:
The Renegades are a professional gaming organization based in Los Angeles who have teams in many different competitive games. The have (well, had) a League of Legends (or LoL) team which competes in the North American LCS, a league of professional LoL teams who all compete under the watchful eye of Riot Games for North American supremacy and a chance to compete with the rest of the major regions at the world championship tournament.
Renegades were seen by many in the LoL community as a new, better managed team that esports is hoping to make the standard. One where the players are treated fairly, well compensated, and performing at the top level. The owner of Renegades, Christopher Mykles (better known by his IGN: Montecristo), has been around the League of Legends scene for a long time and is extremely active in the community. Monte is formerly the coach of North American team Counter Logic Gaming and is currently an English shout-caster for the premier LoL competitive league in South Korea, the LoL Champions Korea. The hope that an owner is someone who is both active in the LoL community and also someone who wants to make esports as large an industry as conventional sports is very enticing to fans of League of Legends and Monte sold the dream well.
Renegades have made some big strides in competitive gaming that will be overshadowed by this ban. For instance, they were the first competitive team to claim a city in their name (LA), and also were home to the first female professional player, Remilia.
What Went Wrong?:
So why has Montecristo and the Renegades organization been banned from participating in any Riot sponsored events? There are a few different claims and allegations which led Riot to this decision: Violating a previously issued ban, misrepresenting their team’s relationship with another professional organization Team Dragon Knights (TDK), and compromising player welfare and safety. It is important to note that Riot alone has all the evidence which may have been obtained and they are free to make any determination they wish with or without substantial evidence. In most cases (including this one) the full details of the case are not revealed to the public. Lets start with the first, violation of a previously issued ban.
Chris Badawi is the “shadow owner” who had garnered the first ban (which was a year long ban from any Riot sponsored events) and now a permanent ban. Chris was a part owner of both TDK and Renegades prior to his initial ban and was forced to divest his ownership in both organizations if they were to be eligible to compete in the Riot sponsored NA LCS and NACS. He did so, and the allegation in this new ban is that Chris was promised his ownership back once his ban had been lifted and was essentially acting as the owner in the meantime. Chris’ previous ban was for attempting to poach a player from another NA LCS team, Team Liquid.
The second allegation, that Renegades’ relationship with TDK was undisclosed is both not a surprise and shocking that it was not brought up earlier. As mentioned in the above paragraph, Chris Badawi had a steak in both Renegades and TDK prior to his initial ban, so the relationship between the 2 teams is an obvious conflict of interest which could lead to several issues such as uneven player trades and match fixing. In fact, there was an extremely suspicious trade of several players between the 2 teams a couple of months ago which most of those who follow the NA LCS closely thought would garner a punishment of some sort.
The final allegation of player mistreatment is interesting as some former players, like RF Legendary, have come out to say that they were never mistreated and stand behind the Renegades organization against this claim, but others (such as Crumbz) have remained silent so far. It is important that I reiterate, all of the evidence collection and judgement is done completely by Riot Games and the evidence of these claims have not been released to the public.
So far (this article was written only about an hour after the ruling had been issued) the community seems to be firmly against Renegades, many claiming that they saw the ban coming for months. I, personally, think that the community does need to take the time to evaluate what is actually happening and wait for more information to become available about the allegations, especially the one concerning player mistreatment and safety. Although, these days it is pretty difficult for any entity to survive the mob mentality of the League of Legends subreddit, just ask G2. I hope that as more information comes out, all parties make their official statements, and the initial shock wears off, the community will get a less skewed perspective.
So, About Riot:
This story brings up an interesting part of the competitive gaming scene which still separates it from the world of conventional sports: Riot Games, when it comes to League of Legends, gets to literally play the role of judge, jury, and executioner.
Every time a competitive ruling is made by Riot, rumors of what the true motive for the ruling was start flying. That is not to say that there ever is an ulterior motive to any of the rulings that have been made, but the lack of released evidence to the public coupled with the secretive investigations don’t seem like they should be trusted with the absolute power of the entire league. I (and a lot of the community) think that Riot Games should really have a third party entity conduct the investigations and release the information to the public (barring any personal intrusive information) prior to any decisions being made to promote transparency and responsibility within the professional scene. This is a multi-million dollar industry which is worldwide and attracting many serious investors towards supporting teams, I believe that it is time Riot stops treating League as their baby and starts fleshing out the organization into a respectable entity.