The team was unable to field a legal roster in time for today’s game, due to visa issues. This lead Riot Games to hand them a forfeit loss per the LCS rulebook, which states that North American teams must prove that all players have the proper documentation and work authorization in order to play.
Before the 2016 season kicked off Riot asked the teams to produce work eligibility documents for all their players by midnight pacific time on Jan. 19—something that Echo Fox failed to do. The team was given multiple extensions but still couldn’t sort out the issue, or find players to substitute for the match.
“We take full responsibility,” Fox tells the Daily Dot. “Riot’s statement did not contain any inaccuracies, but left out key facts that give context.”
Riot’s ruling does not mention which player (or players) had visa issues, but it is most likely either Korean player Park “kfo” Jeong-hun, or Danish player Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. AD carry Yuri “Keith” Jew and support player Terry “Big” Chuong are both American citizens, while jungler Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev is from Canada. Fox did not comment on which player the issue related to.
Echo Fox was founded when Fox, a former professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, bought out Gravity Gaming’s LCS spot during the offseason last year, making it a relatively new organization and team.
Fox says that when Riot did its initial sweep of checks it found League-wide non-compliance issues.
“When we were initially told of our own potential compliance issue we worked to resolve them immediately,” he says. “Unfortunately we were not able to do so in time. It’s important to note that at the time we were told of the compliance issues, our organization was barely three weeks old.”
He did not mention why being a new team made it harder to meet the compliance issues, but it likely has to do with the short timeframe and team resources. Normally in this situation the LCS team would borrow players from a Challenger Series team, but this has been made harder due to new rules from Riot about compensating those players properly, and asking the organizations for permission instead of just the players.
While Riot says it is working closely with Echo Fox to get an eligible roster in place for tomorrow’s game against Team Liquid, it is not yet clear whether it will happen in time. But Fox is confident.
“We have plans to play tomorrow,” he says.
Even if the team manages to find substitute players, it will be tough to pull out a win due to a potential lack of synergy against a team that has had a lot more practice together. And if they manage to fix the visa issues by tomorrow and get beaten by Liquid they could be in relegation territory later in the season, where they will have to play a series of games to stay in the LCS.
Riot has not yet announced whether Echo Fox will face further punishment for failing to field a roster, but it is likely—probably in the form of a fine.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr (All rights reserved, used with permission)