Mar 13 2014 - 1:15 pm

'League of Legends' pro attempts suicide after match-fixing scandal

A South Korean pro esports player is in the hospital after accusing his former team manager of match fixing and then leaping from a 12-story building
Ferguson Mitchell
Dot Esports

A South Korean pro esports player is in the hospital after accusing his former team manager of match fixing and then leaping from a 12-story building.

The player, Cheon “Promise” Min Ki, accused his manager of lying to his players and the team’s sponsors in order to supplement his gambling habit and debt. Many details of his post, now with multiple translations on Reddit, have already been confirmed by fellow players and other members of the industry.

Ki (above, second from right) competed with team Ahq e-Sports Club Korea in the country's premiere League of Legends  tournament, OnGameNet. But Ki's team, run by manager No Dae Chul, performed poorly throughout the 2013 Champions Spring tournament. And once it was over, Ahq dissolved.

According to Ki, the team never stood a chance.

At the start of the season, Chul allegedly told several players on the newly-formed team that they had to throw matches against bigger teams. Otherwise, league organizers would kick them out of the tournament. Ki and his fellow players struggled with the decision to throw a match, but the fear of being kicked out of the league overrode their concerns.

“I purposely did things to throw the game,” Ki admitted in the forum post.

One of the more experienced members of ahq, Kim "HooN" Nam-hoon, felt something wasn’t right. He convinced the team to confront Chul, where the manager’s behavior became alarming:

“[Chul] said we should bet against ourselves in the upcoming games with Najin later that week, throw both games to make a shit-ton of money, and then ‘Get the fuck out of the pro scene.’ We told him that we weren't interested in illegal gambling and wouldn't do it.”

But then, when the team returned home, they found that Chul had sold off some of their practice computers, and was emptying the house. Chul claimed that he couldn’t pay the rent or utilities, and that their main sponsor, Ahq, was demanding money back from the team.

At this point, Ki contacted Ahq for clarification, but the answers he got just made the whole story weirder. Ahq had only sent the team equipment and uniforms. It had never sent them money.

That meant the funds being used to pay the players’ salaries had to be coming from somewhere else.

So the players did some digging. They found that Chul was an active participant on the Korean esports betting website, Toto. It turned out that he was heavily into gambling debt.

Chul was telling the team to lose because he was betting against them. He planned to play the players’ salaries from the winnings while pocketing anything left over. There was no sponsorship, and there was no threat from OnGameNet. There was just Chul, and the team he had scared into throwing games to feed his gambling habits—a team that was being paid to lose.

But even understanding all this, Ki and his teammates played on. They settled with Chul to have him pay the rest of the salaries for the months owed, and then went right back into the season. But with only a couple weeks left in the season, they didn’t stand a chance.

Ahq ended the season with no wins, and dissolved soon afterwards.

In Korea, match fixing is a serious crime—some players have even served jail sentences. Most of those found guilty are banned from playing esports professionally ever again.

After posting his message on a Korean message board, Ki apparently leapt off a building. According to his friend and former teammate Kim "HooN" Nam-hoon, he was rushed to a hospital in Busan where he underwent surgery on his head and back. He suffered bruises and fractures but is no longer in "a life threatening condition," according to Korean esports news site Inven. 

Another Korean news site, Yonhap, has photos of the building from which Ki jumped, as well as the garage that broke his fall. He was apparently discovered by a passerby who'd heard some calling for help.

Another Korean League player has come forward to support Ki's allegations.

“I was sued for defamation last year for trying to bring this to light,"  Won “Mulroc” Jun Ho said.

"Unfortunately, by Korean law, if you use a person's real name to defame them, you're liable under the Defamation law - regardless of whether you're right or wrong. [Chul] insisted that he had received a sponsorship and I ended up having to pay a fine, but I was less concerned about a little fine and more concerned that he would sue [Ki] too.”

The Korean eSports Association, which manages the country's competitive gaming industry, has already formed a taskforce to investigate the accusations will request a police investigation.

Inven, the esports news site, is holding a fundraiser for Ki. Details in English are available here.

Screengrab via Twitch

Jan 24 2017 - 10:07 pm

Riot plans to test out a 15-minute surrender option—here’s why it’s a good idea

The new feature would have been added already if other things hadn’t gotten in the way, the developer says.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

A 15-minute surrender option is being tested for League of Legends, Riot announced last week. And it's about damn time.

Riot originally planned to have the feature in the game by now, according to Andre ‘Meddler’ van Roon, League’s lead gameplay designer. He mentioned that it would have been tested and implemented already if not for high-priority projects like the new client and matchmaking changes getting in the way.

In a post on Nexus, League’s editorial website, Meddler gave a few details on the upcoming potential feature. At first, it will only be available in one region, although we aren’t sure which region will be selected. It will also function differently from the usual surrender—it will be a unanimous vote, meaning that all teammates would have to agree for it to actually go through. Will this replace the current 20-minute surrender altogether, or will it just be an addition? There aren’t enough details to tell right now, but either way, it would be a change for the better.

Why? Well, the traditional 20-minute surrender has been around since the beginning of the game, and frankly, it’s outdated. Over the years, the average length of games has shortened considerably, and it gets even shorter depending on what rank you are.

More than 42 percent of all solo queue players are in Bronze, and over 36 percent are in Silver, according to League of Graphs, a League statistics website. That means almost 80 percent of all solo queue players in League are in either Bronze or Silver. Want to know the average length of game time amongst those players? About thirty minutes. Higher ranked games are even shorter.

That’s right, most games in League only make it about ten minutes past when players are allowed to surrender, meaning most games are close to ending the normal way right around the same time that they’re even given the chance to give up early. Now, I’m a firm believer in the “Never give up! Never surrender!” policy when it comes to ranked. However, sometimes it’s a better choice to type in the ol’ “/ff.”

If someone was toxic and ended up rage-quitting because they weren’t able to steal the jungler’s Krugs while the jungler was trying to take it, for example, your team is now down a man because that player took it very personally (this surely has never happened to me). Or maybe, just maybe, you are down six towers, an inhib, two dragons, and twenty kills when the clock strikes fifteen minutes. It’s also possible that your top laner went Teemo. All I’m saying is sometimes things are looking just bleak enough to make the strongest-willed player want to throw in the towel.

Adding a 15-minute unanimous surrender option gives a team the possibility of finishing up and starting a new game before the slug-fest goes on long enough to crush their spirit completely. A 20-minute surrender is the only option—even when ranked games now rarely go past 30 minutes. It’s ludicrous, and adding a bit of flexibility here is the right way to go.

Jan 24 2017 - 3:33 pm

How Hauntzer saved TSM

TSM’s top laner stabilized his lane and opened up the map for the team’s first 2017 win.
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Expectations for TSM are always high. But after dropping a set against a talented Cloud9 squad, the team found itself in trouble against Immortals. That’s when top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell—their most unassuming player—found himself in a position to win the series.

Hauntzer can be easy to overlook. After all, one of his greatest strengths is being a chameleon, in adapting his play style and champion pool to match the needs of his team. But sometimes even chameleons need to stand out. And in the deciding game against Immortals, Hauntzer picked the perfect moment.

After struggling in his first few games, Hauntzer blew open the deciding game.

What happened to Hauntzer?

Hauntzer was a key component as TSM swept through the LCS Summer 2016. Per Oracle’s Elixir, he had the highest creep score (CS) differential at 10 minutes in the entire league. That’s right: The leading laner in NA wasn’t Heo “Huni” Seong-hoon, a primary carry, or Darshan Upadhyaya, a steady split pusher. Hauntzer was able to build leads and absorb pressure while playing a wide variety of champions, from Irelia to Shen to Gnar.

The leads Hauntzer built allowed him to shove and roam for his team while not sacrificing farm. This forced his opponents to choose between CS and teamfights. Building advantages like this takes time and patience. The effects can be overlooked, especially when the other TSM stars are the ones getting kills in teamfights. It’s the perfect role for Hauntzer.

This year, Hauntzer hasn’t had as much success in lane, and it’s hurting his team. The sample size is small, but he’s currently averaging a CS deficit at 10 minutes. That’s given the team fits as it seeks to find the identity it had just a few months ago.

How did Hauntzer turn it around?

Betting big on the top lane

The first sign came in the Game 3 draft. TSM first-picked Maokai for Hauntzer, a no-brainer not because of the priority given to Hauntzer, but because of how broken Maokai is with the Courage of Colossus mastery. The treant’s ability to lock down a target with a point-and-click ability while gaining a huge shield makes him extremely powerful in fights.

TSM then picked Ashe for Jason “WildTurtle” Tran but declined to pair him with a matching support. Instead, they grabbed Cassiopeia for star mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.

Sensing an opportunity, Immortals (on red side), started banning supports in the second ban phase. Because Immortals also had the next pick, TSM felt forced to counter with a support ban of their own. These bans seemed to target Vincent “Biofrost” Wang’s champion pool, forcing him onto a tank support (Thresh) who could be poked out in lane. With their own support, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, comfortable on Morgana, Immortals created a winning duo lane matchup.

It’s extremely hard to win in professional League with more than one losing lane. Bjergsen can usually win his. But with the melee into ranged matchup in the duo lane, it was critical for Hauntzer to come through. He had to at least go even with Lee “Flame” Ho-jong’s Poppy.

He did more than go even.

A familiar pattern

Flame isn’t a perfect player but the guy knows how to CS. And Hauntzer straight bullied him. He went up four CS after two waves. Six after three. Small, steady advantages.

Meanwhile in the bottom half of the map, TSM jungler Dennis “Sveskeren” Johnsen read counterpart Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s overtly obvious plays, blowing flashes on nearly everyone. When Dardoch switched focus and roamed to the top, Hauntzer just walked out.

Blowing flashes wouldn’t mean much if TSM couldn’t capitalize. Hauntzer wouldn’t make that mistake. After teleporting back to lane and shoving his minions (up 11 in CS), he roamed with Svenskeren to the mid lane. The resulting dive was clinical: a summoner-less Pobelter was easily killed.

After the kill, Hauntzer walked back to lane and hardly suffered for farm. Meanwhile, Flame’s own roam saw him miss a whole wave of CS. This was the familiar TSM strategy of last year: shove, roam, and force the opponent into bad choices. When Dardoch overextended to kill Svenskeren, Hauntzer was there to earn an assist. When Flame overextended to steal a blue buff, Hauntzer was there to help Bjergsen earn it back.

The coup de grâce came at 10 minutes, where Hauntzer forced Flame to teleport back to lane. Less than two minutes later, when Dardoch ganked the bot lane, Hauntzer’s TP was on time. They won that fight and took first turret. By the time Dardoch finally shut him down, the game had already snowballed too far into TSM’s hands.

TSM needs this from Hauntzer in every game

Going into the season, we thought we knew how TSM would work. Bjergsen is the carry, working with Sevenskeren to control the map. The biggest question mark was the duo lane of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. Hauntzer just needed to be solid. The advantages he carves out are small and take time. Although he plays a role in TSM’s wins, he is rarely assigned credit for victories or blame for losses.

But with WildTurtle struggling in the early game as well, TSM is requiring more of Hauntzer. He needs to have an early impact in every game for them to reach their potential. The urgency is heightened with the current crop of top lane talent, including formidable international stars like Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, and of course, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

Hauntzer may not be the most talented top laner in the region. But he is exactly the player that TSM needs.