The recent re-branding of League of Legends team Misfits to Renegades was prognosticative. Team owner Chris Badawi is now a renegade for real—at least, as far as Riot Games competitions are concerned.
Riot Games leveled a penalty against Badawi for tampering on Wednesday, banning him from participating as a recognized team member (owner, manager, or player) on a team across Riot Games competitions. That means Badawi must divest his ownership stake in Renegades, the team he founded earlier this year, should they qualify for the League Championship Series. In addition, he must divest his minority stake in current LCS squad Team Dragon Knights.
Riot alleges that Badawi contacted Team Liquid player Yuri “KEITHMCBRIEF” Jew and offered him a salaried position without knowledge of Team Liquid management. Then, after Badawi went to Riot Games for clarification on poaching rules and Riot made it clear that an owner who violates them may not pass their review to be permitted into the LCS, he allegedly did the same with Diego “Quas” Ruiz, eventually admitting his contact with Ruiz but denying that he offered him a salary, a claim that Riot alleges is false.
The move certainly puts the recent rebranding as Renegades in a new light, as at that time the team brought on commentator Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykkles as a part owner, which now looks like a move heading off the potential of Badawi needing to divest his stake. But while Badawi is banned from working with a team in official Riot capacity, with the possibility of reinstatement after a review in 2017, he still should be able to work with the team in other capacities.
As for the punishment, the one year number seems harsh especially compared to past fines leveled in similar cases. Counter Logic Gaming owner George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis suffered a $10,000 fine after poaching William “Scarra” Li and lying about it during the investigation, while Li himself was suspended for three weeks. While it’s not clear whether Badawi would prefer to pay $10,000 or give up his official Riot eligibility, he doesn’t get that choice. One reason is likely that an owner like Badawi is not signed to an official contract with Riot Games—he hasn’t given the company the ability to fine him. As such, their recourse is a suspension, and in this case, a lengthy one.
That’s certainly a blow for a team that benefits from a hands-on and player-centric owner, even if he’s able to stay on as a manager—just not an official manager or owner. One of the reasons Mykkles signed on with Renegades was specifically to work with Badawi. The players aren’t happy about it, either, it seems.
I think I broke mirror somewhere…
— Alexey Ichetovkin (@AlexIchLoL) June 24, 2015
That tweet came moments the ruling was announced. Mykkles himself takes a more level approach.
I wouldn’t worry about @Renegadesgg. This won’t change anything for the players.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) June 24, 2015
It’s a tough time to be a Renegade, with their leader now living up to the name.