The 2019 Mid-Season Invitational got off to a hot start today with a bunch of exciting games in the Play-In Stage. Almost every region has something to be proud of as their teams fight to bring home the trophy.
But one region carrying some egg on its face during what should be an exciting event is the LMS region, which is managed by the digital platform Garena. Before the start of the official MSI broadcast, a manager of the Garena stream accidentally turned that stream on. What’s worse, the person did not have the sense to turn off their desktop, which included a browser window open to an esports betting site.
That’s an extremely bad look for a region that has struggled with controversy after controversy. Not surprisingly, Garena officials moved quickly to terminate the person in charge of the stream, saying in a Facebook post that the person’s actions violated the “ethical principles” of esports.
Garena is one of the largest gaming and digital platforms in Southeast Asia. Riot’s League of Legends is published in the region through Garena’s desktop client. The company also runs the LMS, home of the Flash Wolves, who are competing at MSI. It’s an extreme conflict of interest for a high-level Garena official to participate in any esports betting when the company has such close relationships with the teams involved.
Garena and the LMS have struggled with several recent scandals, including one last year in which the Garena client may have infected PCs with cryptocurrency mining malware. More recently, an LMS caster wondered aloud whether the league would even continue in 2020, and the league was sued by a team owner whose team was banned for match fixing.
MSI is supposed to be a time of regional pride, but these incidents have caused an uproar among the Taiwanese League community.