Author: MMOsite Writer Michael Fuchs
North American League of Legends Championship Series teams Renegades and Team Impulse, as well as Challenger Series team Team Dragon Knights have been barred by Riot Games from participating in future sanctioned League of Legends Tournaments.
In a pair of competitive rulings released Sunday, Riot detailed serious accusations made against the owners of both LCS teams, including failure to pay players, improper treatment of players, and failure to disclose information that would have made the team ineligible to compete.
Since Team Impulse took over the LCS spot from LMQ, there have been several reports of failure to sign contracts with their players or to provide prompt payment, despite multiple interventions by League officials.
• No Contracts: In March 2016, a routine League-wide contract audit revealed that Team Impulse had no contracts signed with any of their players, despite submitting summary sheets which falsely claimed that full contracts existed. Upon further investigation, it was additionally determined that no player from the previous split had contracts either. Team Impulse quickly moved to resolve the problem, and showed League officials actual signed contracts for several players, but failed to sign contracts with all players on their Active Roster, remaining in violation of LCS rules which require all rostered team members to have a valid contract.
• Late or Missing Payments to Players: Over the course of 2015 and 2016, Team Impulse ownership has been chronically late in paying its players the League-mandated Minimum Player Compensation (MPC), in addition to any other contractual payments owed under their respective arrangements with their players. During the 2015 Summer Split, League officials learned that TIP players had not been paid for the duration of the split, and immediately intervened to ensure that MPC was paid in full to date for all players. During the investigation following the contract audit in March 2016, it was discovered that TIP had again failed to pay its players their owed MPC for the duration of the split. In addition, several players notified League officials that they had not been paid their agreed-upon full salaries (money owed in addition to the MPC), but, given the lack of proper contracts, League officials were unable to verify these claims. As of this ruling, several team members are still believed to be owed money, in some cases amounting to multiple months of pay.
Renegades and Team Impulse
Over the course of this split we have received multiple serious allegations about the Renegades organization. The allegations have been centered around (1) team ownership structure and behavior, (2) player welfare and treatment within the team and (3) collusion/competitive integrity. After weeks of investigation, we have found several of the allegations to be corroborated by testimony and evidence from parties involved.
We have been provided with evidence that current Renegades owner Christopher Mykles had a deal in place with suspended former owner Chris Badawi that would grant Badawi a 50% stake in the team once his suspension had expired. Per LCS rules, any present or future right to ownership is considered a firm ownership stake regardless of the date of effect, which makes any such agreement reached with Badawi during the term of his suspension to be a direct violation of League rules. Further, Mykles failed to disclose this arrangement during the LCS team vetting process, which we consider to be an intentional and material omission apparently designed to circumvent the clear and public ban of Badawi. For the avoidance of doubt, had Mykles openly disclosed this ownership arrangement, Renegades would not have been accepted into the LCS.
Throughout the past split, we have heard testimony regarding various player welfare concerns involving Renegades, primarily around Badawi’s conduct while serving in a non-ownership capacity during his suspension term. These allegations, corroborated to Riot by multiple sources who have had close contact or affiliation with the team, included confrontations between management and players, refusal to honor payment and contract provisions, and failure to maintain a safe environment for all team members. Allowing an unsafe environment to exist for players is the responsibility of the entire Renegades management, and is a failure to meet the professional standards we expect of LCS owners and team representatives.
Independence of Teams and Competitive Integrity
We have also found that Renegades and TDK have deliberately misled League officials with respect to their corporate relationship. While handling trade requests between the two teams leading up to the Spring Promotional Tournament, League officials made repeated direct inquiries of the team owners regarding independence of the two organizations, terms of the trades, and status of players and payments. Both teams assured officials that their businesses were not linked in any fashion, and that the trade was in the mutual interest of both teams independent of any additional relationship or agreement. Subsequently, League officials received evidence that indicated that some of the players were compensated and/or housed by their former teams even after the trade was completed, including payments for the month following the trade. As part of the trade approval process, REN and TDK had submitted a document which was represented to be the summary of the trade agreement, but it included no provisions beyond simple assignment of the contracts, and did not establish cause for the former team to continue payments to the now-traded players.
Per the LCS Rules, teams are required to be truthful and forthcoming in their representations to the League. Both REN and TDK were found to have provided incomplete and/or inaccurate answers and documents to deliberately hide a relationship and interactions which exceed acceptable bounds. Co-mingled finances and operations can lead to establishment of influence between teams that forces one party into non-beneficial decisions (like trading away strong players) and, at worst, unfair play (described in Rule 10.1 of the LCS ruleset) - that’s why such arrangements are expressly forbidden in the LCS ruleset and Team Agreement.
Badawi, who was previously suspended for trying to sign a player under contract with another team, will be permanently banned from Riot-sanctioned leagues, while Mykles, known as shoutcaster "Montecristo", is banned for one year from holding any Riot-sanctioned position within a competing organization. The ban will not affect his shoutcasting statusas he works for South Korean esports channel OnGameNet.
All three teams have been given until 11:59pm PST on May 18th to sell all rights and legal claim to their LCS/CS slots.