During week one of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, Riot Games officials made the unprecedented decision to award one team a victory.
Sunday’s rematch of the Spring Split third-place showdown between Echo Fox and Clutch Gaming ended in a win for Echo Fox after a bug caused the game server to crash. After much deliberation, league officials announced Clutch had no “reasonable chance” to mount a comeback. A bug of this caliber has never surfaced in a professional League of Legends match before, and Riot’s final decision left a bad taste in the mouthes of many.
Clutch Gaming’s vice president of esports, Sebastian Park, told Dot Esports of his team’s displeasure over the ruling. He pointed specifically to their ability to repel Echo Fox’s sieges against the Clutch base earlier in the game. In addition, Clutch had taken none of their opponent’s towers, a source of standing gold on the map they could have taken were the match not ended. Yet, he said the team accepted the league’s ruling and hoped it would be applied in a similar fashion to future cases.
“The biggest thing for us is that we accept the league’s decision,” Park said. “We think honestly that we had a good chance to come back, but our problem with the rule isn’t our situation. Our problem is that the rule is subjective in and of itself and as long as Riot is consistent with the application moving forward, then it’s fine with us.”
He also discussed the difficulties associated with making such a judgement call. In a game where biweekly updates can cause drastic upheaval in the meta and individual champions can have massive differences in their impact on the game, it’s next to impossible to define a clear situation in which a team is guaranteed to lose.
“I have a ton of respect for the referees,” Park said. “Their jobs are hard and they do a good job about it most of the time, but just like in any sport, referees and umpires can make mistakes. If it was SKT from last year versus Golden Guardians, and Golden Guardians were up [10,000 gold] against SKT, is that the same ruling that Riot would do, and give SKT a game loss? That’s the question in my mind. If you have that specified, then I’m fine with it, but the subjective ruling does burn up a bit.”
Park suspects Riot’s decision may have been affected by how early in the season the bug occurred. At this point, one loss may seem inconsequential to teams, but in later weeks, one loss might mean the difference between making the playoffs and losing out on the postseason entirely.
“There’s so much what we call open opportunity in the subsequent weeks,” Park said. “If you’re a referee, and you had to give a game loss that would prevent a team from making it to the playoffs, you would have a lot more hesitation than making that decision week nine, game two. Us being 1-1 versus 2-0 or 0-2, doesn’t have the same type of mental punch or punch to the stomach that it would if they were denying us a chance to make the playoffs or have a bye week nine.”
As of yet, Riot hasn’t released a statement regarding similar decisions in the future. But Clutch Gaming hope that if the same situation is repeated in the future, Riot will apply the same logic used to give them a loss.
“As long as there is consistency in terms of how Riot rules, then we’ll be happy,” Park said. “If in week seven a similar situation happens and they give someone a remake, then you’ll hear from me again.”