Riot Games are linked with a nasty episode following terrible management at LCK team Griffin. The incident started off with friction within Griffin but escalated enough to implicate Riot Games Korea officials in some collusion.
For the sake of brevity, the majority of this article will be a bulleted list. For context, the whole saga started escalating during the League of Legends World Championship 2019 when former Griffin coach, cvMax, started exposing the mismanagement of Cho Gyu-nam. Key events of the whole story episode happened before, during and after the tournament.
Events preceding League of Legends World Championship 2019
- Cho Kyu-nam was allegedly associated with Park Jun-kyu (Riot Games Korea head) and Oh Sang-heon (Director of Riot Korea esports) prior to everyone's involvement with Riot and League of Legends
- Griffin loan Kanavi out to JD Gaming
- According to cvMax, Cho would regularly meddle with strategy and even drafts , despite not even knowing the full champion roster. Other instances of undermining the coach's authority were also reported
- Cho pressures Kanavi into an extended contract with JD Gaming. Also allegedly coerced the player into taking a minimal salary in order to bank a higher transfer fee. This was revealed by cvMax later on
- Cho allegedly asked Griffin players to throw a ranked game where four of them were teamed up with Deft who was #1 at the time in order to propel their Griffin teammate (Tarzan, #2 on the ladder) to the top, despite having resigned from CJ Entus and the StarCraft: Brood War competitive scene following a match-fixing scandal
- cvMax's relationship with Griffin top laner, Sword, deteriorated as the coach was pushing for Doran's development in scrimmage matches and on stage, benching Sword in the process
- Cho pressured cvMax into leaving the team if all the players voted he wasn't needed. No one spoke up at the meeting
- cvMax eventually leaves , just before World Championship
Events during League of Legends World Championship 2019
- Griffin has a shaky start at the tournament. cvMax's stream shows him in Griffin jersey, supportive of the team
- Viper (Griffin marksman) criticised cvMax in a post-match interview . Sword (Griffin top laner) had a similar interview with both alleging cvMax is spreading lies. The coach only opened up after seeing the first interview, no allegations were made before
- cvMax goes on for two hours on his stream, exposing the wrongdoings in the team. Full collection of cvMax's story points can be found on Reddit
- Still8 (owners of Griffin) subsequently fire Cho and apologise to cvMax and Griffin fans
- Riot Games Korea and KeSPA open an investigation following cvMax's claims
- Kanavi's time at JD Gaming is cut short
- cvMax joins DragonX
Events after League of Legends World Championship 2019
- DragonX forming a new team from scratch. Deft extends the contract to build the team with cvMax
- Riot Games Korea and KeSPA investigation comes to a close . Cho, who had already resigned, is banned from Riot Games competitions indefinitely, alongside cvMax
- Public outcry following the suspension of cvMax , seen as retaliation for whistleblowing. Cho's possible connections with Park Jun-kyu (Head of Riot Games Korea) and Oh Sang-heon (Director of Riot Korea esports) brought up by LCK followers
- Ha Tae-keung, Korean National Assembly representative, calls the ruling a whistleblowing retaliation . Reiterates whistleblower protection law dictates the offenders could face up to three years in prison.
- Representative Ha reveals findings from the Kanavi case
, which include:
- holding back critical information from Kanavi
- a fraudulent contract
- Griffin forging private and agency seals and documents
- Alternative link to Ha's findings, on Inven KR .
- Update (20 November 2019): Inven interviewed Chaos, Sword, Tarzan and Rather
regarding cvMax's behaviour towards them
- Korean fans remain unconvinced by the interview.
- Update #2 (20 November 2019): Griffin player contracts revealed . Apparently they are not the stuff of dreams .
- Update #3 (20 November 2019): Griffin parent company,Still8, are going to sue cvMax .
- Update #4 (20 November 2019): There is a petition to the Blue House (Korean equivalent of the White House) to open an investigation into the scandal. 200,000 signatures are required within one month, it was at almost 67,000 at the time of writing.
- Update #1 (21 November 2019): cvMax responds to abuse accusations in Inven interview
- Update #2 (21 November 2019): Kanavi's mother is interviewed
.States she was unaware of some terms of the contract including length and salary
Riot Games Korea did not release any evidence of cvMax physically abusing Griffin players at the time of writing. The only part of the investigation into cvMax was revealed by the former coach himself , as a Riot representative attempted to goad him into confessing to something he didn't do. It was alleged the person speaking to cvMax was the previously mentioned Oh Sang-heon. This allegation is pending verification.
Following the mess, it remains to be seen whether Riot Games HQ will actually react. More than five years ago, an incident regarding the terrible management of Ahq Korea resulted in one player attempting to take his own life . While Griffin was not constructed to throw matches on purpose, the lack of oversight and regulation is certainly hinting that not much has changed in more than half a decade.