Response to Tobias Franz: More Bullshit outside of a Bullshit Ruling
A few days ago, fellow GP10 writer Tobias Franz gave his take on the ruling that had shook the Competitive League of Legends scene for quite a while, better known as the "Badawi ruling". While very interesting and insightful, my views are not on the same wavelength as his and perhaps due to my perverse nature, I've decided to write a response article, much like I have in a past post responding to another GP10 writer Gentlecat.
For reference, here is the official ruling.
Additional statements, comments and insight can be found compiled in this reddit thread.
In this article, I'd like to give the opposite view on this whole situation to Tobias's and perhaps some sort of discussion can be had.
It's not about being right or wrong
The "Badawi" case has so many interesting factors that render the whole situation as a whole fascinating to analyze and to dissect. There are different things that people can zoom in onto and turn any argument up, down, left, and right.
However, contrary to the focal point of the whole clash itself, the important thing to note isn't whether what Badawi did was right or wrong, was a crime or not, but rather the logistics of this ruling itself.
lo·gis·ticsl??jistiks/nounplural noun: logistics
- the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies.
Poaching... grab me a dictionary.
Poaching is a problem in competitive League of Legends, players' competitive gaming lifespan can be anywhere between a few weeks to a few years and everyone wants to make the most bang for your time. Poaching has happened, no one can deny that. Bjergsen, Scarra, Zionspartan, Quas, all of them have been involved in poaching, from both ends.
While it's easy to understand what poaching is (a quick google search can do that), what it implies is much more complex. There are no guidelines to both effectively and properly attract potential candidates over to your team. For example, say you hand in your offer to Player X's team management and ask them to pass it over to Player X. In the "rare" exception that the management decides to "accidentally forget" to pass it over, it would leave no answer from Player X to the tentative team, leading them to turn their efforts elsewhere. Similarly, the player who might not enjoy actually staying within the team might be forced to stay due to not knowing about open offers.
Granted, these are "examples", so take it with a grain of salt.
On the other hand, what can be included into the process of poaching is also somewhat vague. Is a friend giving advice to a player to seek new prospects to leave the team considered poaching? Perhaps. Is showing a player the contract of another team considered poaching? Possibly. Is showing the king-size bed that you have on this team combined with the fine cuisine you eat everyday considered poaching? Maybe. Until the day Riot cleans up their ruleset on poaching and defines it better, we will never know.
The argument of severity
Outside of whether or not the punishment was deserved, the largest issue with the ruling was the severity of the ruling, especially considering the circumstances surrounding the person being punished. Lots of people have been arguing on whether a non-LCS team owner should receive the hefty penalty considering, well, he's not in LCS to take part in LCS rules.
Most people point towards examples of LCS owners poaching and never receiving anything close to that sort of punishment. Curse had poached Quas from a Challenger team and, while unethical, there was no rule surrounding the victimization of a Challenger team by a LCS one and Riot let that one slide. Fair enough. Bjergsen gets involved with poaching. Good god, a young prospect player who knows the in-and-outs of the system breaks the rule! Let's fine him $2000 dollars, now he'll need to buy a second plane ticket before he can leave his team, that'll show him.
Finally, CLG deserves its own paragraph. CLG has a well-known history of relying on poaching to comedic effects. In fact, in light of the recent leave of Nick Allen, HotshotGG even poked fun at the Giver of Fines. From poaching players to poaching coaches, CLG has been the greatest butt of any fine-related joke.
Now, Riot has the right to do what it wants. No one can deny that. The problem is when they try to make it sound like what they're doing is right. Their effort to punish a non-LCS team owner with a severity never seen even to LCS owners or players doesn't quite follow any sort of standard train of thought. In the same way that minors aren't given the same penalty as adults, there is no logical reason to explain what had been done. Instead of comparing crime for crime, they give their philosophical explanation on how he had failed to meet the "professional bar of the LCS". Sadly, there is no indication of what makes up this bar and if we were to follow behavioral patterns, poaching is the professional thing to do, perhaps not ethical, but the most effective.
You would think it's a Cherry Farm from all the Picking
Obviously, for any judgment to be passed, there has to be some evidence being given out. While I wouldn't say they falsified evidence, the proof provided was quite sketchy and misleading.
For example, say that a man were to be accused of... eating little babies and that the accusing lawyer provides the court with a picture of the man holding the baby up high with a grimace on his face, it might lead the court to believe that this individual is evil. What if the picture was cut and there was actually fire on the ground with the man holding the baby up high to keep it from getting burned, bam, this man suddenly becomes a hero, protector of children everywhere.
Perhaps that was much too visual, but Riot's evidence have been falling into the same situation. For example, their quote of Badawi hushing Keith made it seem like he was trying to cover things up when in fact, if you were to read the whole thing, it made legitimate sense.
For reference, here is the conversation, I've taken the liberty of "redding" the part that Riot was focusing on.
Now, did Badawi tell Keith to hush up? Sure. But was it for nefarious reasons? Probably not. Riot's habit of cherry picking what they want to face, what they want to show, what they want to prove is disgusting and downright atrocious considering you're trying to pass judgment on another.
From what I've written so far, if somewhat were to simply quote me saying "CLG deserves its own paragraph", it may be implied that I'm a die-hard CLG fan as funny as that might sound. Conversely, if someone were to quote only "he had failed to meet the professional bar of the LCS", it would make it sound as though I actually agreed with the ruling.
Context matters, but no real court case would allow people to cherry pick evidence and ignore the rest. Riot can say that "the company's young, mistakes can be made", but this isn't a mistake, this is disgusting.
Consistency is key
Once again, Riot has a right to hand out punishments like it's Christmas everyday. But please, at least do the effort of making your claims consistent.
Here are some interesting contrasts in consistency:
1) LMS's HKES Ad Carry Raison gets a 1-year ban for elo-boosting. In 2013, 8 NALCS players had been found to have taken part in elo-boosting, including names like Aphromoo, Meteos, Xmithie, etc. To set an example, Riot gave them the hefty punishment of suspension from all games for an extremely long period of... 14 days.
2) Riot releases its protocol and ruleset for using game material for content creation. SpectateFaker fiasco walks on the line of morality but stays within those bounds. The President of Riot calls the guy a bully.
3) Lyte claims that the behavior system implemented within the game fights against homophobia and discrimination. Samples released of players being caught by the system shows no signs of either homophobia or discrimination (flaming and cursing, yes, but none of these hatred crimes).
4) Curse poaches Quas without consequence.
5) Bjergsen gets fined $2000 for poaching.
6) CLG gets fined a total of $14,500 for poaching Zionspartan and Scarra. Zion is suspended from LCS for ... the first week. Scarra is suspended from walking around with a suit and tie in LCS for ... 3 weeks.
If Riot had been trying to put Badawi in the same light as LCS owners without being an LCS owner, then the big name players who had elo-boosted should have received the same punishment as Raison. On the other hand, if this suspension is to set an example, then he should receive the same penalties as other LCS owners, which have been all fines.
Fairness isn't about finding the good in the bad situation or vice-versa. Fairness is about treating apples and oranges equally, no matter your preference for either. While Riot is well within its rights to do what it wants, there is a difference between what it can do and what it should do. You can do what you want with Badawi, but please don't spin it and try to force-feed your audience garbage.
Tobias Franz made a fantastic list of possible improvements that Riot desperately needs to seem more legitimate. Above that, I'd like to recommend a separation of the competitive side of the game from the development side.
LCS, as a professional game, should not mix with corporate interests of a company. No real sport has this sort of situation where the person who makes the equipment also makes the rules.
Granted, this might be getting ahead of ourselves, and perhaps not something any company, with a game as popular as League of Legends, would be willing to do.
While from my article, it might seem like I'm flaming Tobiaz (if I did, I apologize), I am in fact only trying to display a side parallel to his. I believe that Riot can do what it wants with Badawi. However, I also believe that there is a fundamentally flawed problem of wanting to make it seem like what it is doing is right. There is a severe lack of clarity and specification to all of Riot's rules regarding competitive play, even people who have been within the industry since its inception has problems understanding its inner workings.
If Riot wants to continue being the game developer that has the most popular game on the market, there is no need to change.
However, should their desire be to become a legitimate "eSport", the road is still quite long.
Thanks for reading.