After an investigation concluded and revealed ongoing physical and verbal abuse of esports players, player and former coach Kim "cvMax" Dae-ho,has been banned indefinitely from esports activities run by Riot Games. The same disciplinary action was taken against team Griffin’s Chairman Cho Gyu-nam. The organization has also been fined around $85,000 for the behavior of both men.
In September, there were reports of players being threatened with forced transfers if they did not act exactly as demanded. This had nothing to do with gameplay, but with issues relating to improper loaning of players to different organizations. From there allegations continued to balloon on a wide range of behaviors that are completely unacceptable.
A rough translation of the original statement in Korean on the League of Legends site states:
“During the investigation, the Steering Committee received reports that former players, Dae-Ho Griffin (‘Kim Jeon’), was verbally abusive and violent. The steering committee conducted an investigation based on witness statements from both parties as well as witnesses, and as a result confirmed the verbal abuse and violence against some players.”
The committee was clear in their decision. Focusing on the act itself, they stated that “verbal and violent acts in the LCK League will not be tolerated. In particular, verbal and violent acts undertaken as managers within the LCK League would not be justified.”
There was also harsh condemnation for the way in which an underage player was handled by the organization. Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok was a minor when Cho began changing parts of the players contract, and failed to first speak with Kanavi’s parents - which Cho had an obligation to do. This occurred again when transferring Kanavi to another team, and that the terms and conditions had changed.
Not only did Cho do this without the approval of Kanavi’s parents, the transfer resulted in worse conditions for the player and less pay, and overall added time to the length of his contract by loaning him to other teams.
The decision made here is one that will likely remain at the forefront of attention for the foreseeable future as problems involving esports players and their teams. The core issue will always be that many of these individuals are young and inexperienced in the world of business - and in this case, minors in the eyes of the law.
Although players should take care to learn about their contracts, and whether or not they are being offered a fair deal, the balance of power obviously lies on the side of these large esports organizations. This is especially true of players who are only signing for the first time. This disciplinary action is a great first step, and should serve as a warning to those who would profit from the abuse and manipulation of others.