Feb 12 2014 - 8:01 pm

Esports has its own Manti Te'o scandal

When Ji “Aaron” Xing joined one of China's best League of Legends teams in May of 2012 as an analyst, nobody thought much of it
Ferguson Mitchell
Dot Esports

When Ji “Aaron” Xing joined one of China's best League of Legends teams in May of 2012 as an analyst, nobody thought much of it. He was a quiet staffer, helping the team claim title after title from behind the scenes. But as Ji began to make waves in the Chinese esports scene, it was only a matter of time until the bizarre truth of his sudden ascendancy would be revealed.

In a story with obvious parallels to the Manti Te'o scandal that engulfed college sports in 2012, Ji allegedly created an entire online persona for a fake sister, then used her like a chess piece as he conned his way to the top.

The team Ji joined, Team World Elite (WE), originally formed around 2002’s Warcraft 3. Its League of Legends side has seen a lot of success, including wins at the Tencent Game Arena Grand Prix, the IGN Pro League, and IEM Season VIII Shanghai.

Last December, Ji left WE to create his own team. In the process, he poached some players from WE, which ruined plans the squad had been making to rebuild. Fans soon labelled Ji “The Betrayer." And they also began looking into his background. Soon, they'd uncovered an increasingly bizarre story. Here's how its been told in forums and comment threads in China.

When Ji first asked to join WE, he let one of the team's players know that his sister was a huge fan. The player, Cui “if” Yi, began chatting with the girl online. The relationship quickly became serious, and Ji's supposed sister asked Cui if she could be his girlfriend.

He declined.

The next thing Cui knew, the girl had supposedly committed suicide. With a feeling of guilt looming over the team, Ji was given a position as an analyst. The story was apparently corroborated by posts on Chinese social network Sina Weibo that Ji had made about his sister.

But then, some research pulled up an astonishing fact about this sister. Someone had logged into her account after May 2012, when she supposedly committed suicide. Cui also said that around this time he received a text from the supposedly dead girl, admonishing him for not giving more support to Ji when he left the team.

What's more, online detectives soon discovered person in the girl's online profile photo was actually of someone who was still alive—and a former classmate of Ji’s, who may have been in on the hoax. The team itself apparently commented on the whole affair via their Sina Weibo account. We were unable to find the original posts, however, and WE did not respond to a request for comment on this article by time of publication. And it's worth noting that this story only surfaced after Ji infuriated his former colleagues by leaving and poaching players, which certainly calls into question the motivation behind the allegations, if not their veracity.

Searches for Ji's Chinese name, 姬星, on Sina Weibo pull up blanks, as do searches for Cui Yi (崔毅). On Google, a Sina Weibo specific search pulls up posts that have since been disappeared. China actually outlaws spreading "rumors" via social media, so it's entirely possible these earlier posts have since been deleted. The story was also recounted in English on esports forum Team Liquid.

The most reliable source on the whole affair is a blog post from Chinese pro gamer Chen "dep00r" Erdong, who has close ties to WE and is friends with Cui. He claims to have witnessed the whole drama unfold and corroborates the above description of events on his blog.

Recently, Ji has been branded by the scene with nicknames like “Demon of Death Sister.” But that hasn’t stopped him in his tracks.

Just this week, his new team, named “Edward Gaming” (EDG), announced its roster for the 2014 season. The roster includes some very good Chinese players, including Zhu “NaMei” Jia-Wen, who led his former team to a first place finish in the Tencent LoL Pro League 2013 Summer Season. It also includes two players who are already on contracts with WE, Feng “FZZF” Zhou-Jun and Ming “Mann/ClearLove” Kai.

It is unclear how these players have been added to EDG without violating their contracts, and according to WE’s manager, Pei “King” Le, a player cannot suddenly leave without talking to the team and paying any fee to the team when the contract hasn't ended. WE recently brought a player over to its team by paying an almost $50,000 transfer fee.

Amidst all this drama and controversy, however, EDG shortly announced that the two teams would soon be working together—that they had, in fact, formed a formal partnership. As you might expect, that partnership soon flamed out as well. On Feb. 12, both teams announced that the relationship had been terminated.

Perhaps the Team Liquid post sums this story up best: “If you want to watch drama in [League of Legends], come to China.”

H/T Team Liquid | Photo by Marco Verch (CC BY 2.0)

Today - 6:44 pm

Riot Games to stage new international League of Legends event

The new event is set to take place this summer.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Riot Games

Apart from the annual World Championships, Riot Games have staged just one international League of Legends event per year in recent years. Now that is set to change with a new event this summer.

According to a report from Yahoo Esports Ye Qiang, who works for Riot Games in China, spilled some details on the new event at a press conference to mark the start of the new LPL season.

The new event will take place in July of this year, but will not affect the schedule or timetable of the existing domestic league spring seasons.

The event will also take a different form from Worlds or the Mid-Season Invitational, though no concrete details were discussed. Qiang did muse on the idea of a "World Cup-type tournament".

We hope LoL events can be more diversified, can satisfy our audience, and can give everyone a better player experience," Qiang said according to Yahoo Esports' translation. "so this is what we will target for the event this year in July. Wait and see.”

Riot Games are keen to expand the brand of League of Legends in China and widen the audience for the esports events. According to the report, Riot is also considering expanding the collegiate circuit in China and taking LPL league matches on the road around the country.

Though allowing fans to experience regular season matches in person is a priority, the LPL will remain in Shanghai at least through the current season.

Jan 20 2017 - 9:02 pm

The Blood Moon hangs in the sky—and Blood Moon Jhin could be League’s next skin

In an eerie tweet, Riot hints at the next champion in the Blood Moon skin line.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Images via Riot Games | Remix by William Copus

The latest skin in the League of Legends Blood Moon skin series, Blood Moon Jhin, could be in the works.

Earlier today Riot tweeted out a teaser, in which the crimson moon can be seen through an archway of sorts with Jhin’s gun suspended in the air, making it almost certain that he’s the next champion to receive a Blood Moon skin. The red haze covering the scene really adds to the creepy factor.

The Blood Moon skins have been pretty awesome—even the early iterations of the series like Akali’s Blood Moon skin. The Blood Moon skins are all colored red in some way, and feature demon masks based on “The Red Demon”—a version of Japanese “oni” which is a spirit that brings strife, disease, disasters, and deceit. In addition to Akali, there have been five more skins in the series: Thresh, Yasuo, Kennen, Kalista, and Shen. Jhin’s will hopefully be no exception to that pattern of awesomeness.

If the skin turned out to be a dud the community wouldn’t take it too kindly. Why? Well, two reasons. First of all, the community has been asking for another Jhin skin since his launch in January last year. He has only had the skin he was launched with, High Noon Jhin, since he actually came out. It is a pretty cool skin, but fans want more. If they finally see Jhin get his new skin and it sucks? Well, I’m sure you can imagine how that would go down.

With ADC mains sending death threats to Riot staff over not enjoying ADC gameplay, imagine what they’d do if their favorite champion received a bad skin. And that brings us to the second point. Jhin is one of the favorite ADCs in the game right now.

Jhin sports almost an 18 percent rate of play, which means he is in nearly one-fifth of all ranked games. In the ADC role, there are only three other ADCs that compete with that play rate out of nearly 20 ADC champions: Vayne, Caitlyn, and Ezreal. I know you were expecting me to say “Ziggs,” but Ziggs isn’t played all that much in the bot lane (yet).

Fortunately, Riot’s skins have been very cool lately. Just look at the Worldbreaker skins, and even the new Lunar Revel set. With the track record of those awesome skins and the previous Blood Moon skins, we’re hoping Blood Moon Jhin will be as badass as it deserves to be.