H2K accuse Fnatic of attempted poaching
One of the League Championship Series' newest members is accusing one of its biggest names of attempted poaching.
It's been less than a month since Counter Logic Gaming management were found guilty of soliciting William “Scarra” Li, encouraging the then-Team Dignitas substitute to not re-sign and instead join them as a coach.
After a lengthy investigation into that matter, Riot issued a record fine of $10,000 and suspended Li for the first three weeks of the new season, creating a minor headache for Counter Logic, who now needed a stand-in coach as per the new LCS rules. The aftermath prompted the team's owner, George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, to issue a humble apology:
“I knew the rules, and it was very disrespectful of me to not abide by them. It was not what I should have been doing, and it’s not what eSports needs to grow and gain mainstream legitimacy. This is not what CLG is about, but I’m not a perfect person and I’ll admit it. CLG’s results have not been satisfactory as of late and I was trying to fix that, but I went about doing it the wrong way.”
While CLG might have received the highest fine so far for their act of Tortious interference, they aren’t the first. Such practices are common-place in the professional League of Legends scene. Team SoloMid's Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg was fined $2000 for attempting to find his own replacement as he left Ninjas In Pyjamas, a move encouraged by the team's management. Most recently, Team Coast had to delete a lengthy post detailing how Team SoloMid effectively poached their jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen from their website, attributing it to a “writer with a password gone berserk.” Team owner David Slan later issued a statement saying everything about the transfer was “by the book.”
The latest team to come under the spotlight for inappropriate transfer activity is the huge European organization and former World Champions Fnatic. After a fairly wretched off-season that has seen them unexpectedly lose all but one of their roster, including some of the biggest names in European League of Legends, the team has been scrambling to assemble a squad in time for the start of the season. One of the organizations they recruited from, H2K, are less-than-happy with how this transpired.
Richard Wells, H2K's CEO, contacted the Daily Dot to inform us about some of the transfer activity after he had submitted a complaint to Riot about what he saw as a clear-cut violation of the rules. He shared evidence of Fnatic players and management directly contacting players under contract after the team had been successful in their promotion to the LCS following the European expansion tournament. Based on that evidence, it seems improper approaches were made for top-laner Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu and Petter "Hjärnan" Freyschuss.
The move for these other players comes after Fnatic had agreed to a deal to sign highly prized Dutch mid laner Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten. Wells makes it clear that while he wasn’t happy about losing a player, that transfer at least was handled in a mostly proper fashion.
“Febi came to me before the expansion tournament and said he wanted to leave” he said. “And we agreed that if he gave it his all during that tournament we would let him go wherever he wanted. He’s a great guy and we were happy to support him wherever his future lay.”
He was less satisfied with the conduct surrounding his other players.
“It seems they have no regards for the rules at all” he continued. “We’ve got evidence showing not only an approach to Hjarnan, but a Fnatic representative referencing private elements of the player contract. They expressly tell the player about how to execute the buyout clause. The only reason they knew that information was because of them asking in relation to the Febiven deal.”
Wells stated he had been willing to let some earlier displeasing conduct from Fnatic management slide, such as “pestering” Febiven to sign their contract during the expansion tournament. He has become so frustrated, however, that he's now passed on all his concerns to Riot directly, who he hopes will investigate the matter further.
“I have heard that Challenger teams are treated differently when it comes to these rules as they fall outside of the LCS” he stated. “But as these approaches occurred after we had been promoted I am hoping they take it seriously. Despite my best efforts to keep this internal and professional, Fnatic have attempted to gut my team and have gone directly through the players to do it, even though we already had an open dialogue.”
As for Fnatic, team management says its aware of the allegations. "We are currently looking into this matter and we are hoping to gain further clarity of the situation by having dialogues with the involved parties," a team spokesperson told the Daily Dot.
Illustration by Jason Reed