Riot Games have announced a three-game ban for Brazilian CBLOL Champion Felipe “YoDa” Noronha, a mid substitute for the RED Canids. In a post that has now been deleted from Twitter, YoDA used racially derogatory language, subsequently receiving a $2000 fine and will miss the first three games at the Mid-Season Invitational where his RED Canids could be considered one of the favorites to advance out of the play-in tournament. This is not the first instance of Riot punishing players for racism, but the quick response and willingness to punish players at MSI shows how seriously Riot takes the issue.
On the day before the start of the play-in tournament at the Mid-Season Invitational, RED Canids’ substitute mid laner tweeted out a racially charged and derogatory tweet aimed at the Japanese players attending MSI. While he quickly deleted the post, this was not the first instance of YoDa targeting other players after he had promoted the idea of trolling the Korean players in Solo Queue when they arrived in Brazil to practice ahead of the tournament.
This instance was in some ways unique to any previous rulings regarding racism in the professional League of Legends scene, as it was created on social media, rather than taking place within the client or in game. In many ways, this could be seen as a more serious violation, as social media sites such as Twitter extend far beyond just the sphere of League of Legends.
This is not the first instance of a player being punished for racism before an international tournament, with the most famous example likely being Team SoloMid’s starting jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s punishment before the Season 4 World Championship in 2014 when he was a member of Europe’s SK Gaming. While playing on the TW server in preparation for Worlds, Svenskeren changed his summoner name to an obvious racist username that angered Taiwanese fans to the point where it was even picked up by some members of the Taiwanese media.
Prior to this incident, Svenskeren also had a significant history of toxicity, but the inclusion of racism forced Riot’s hand. Riot Games would go on to punish Svenskeren by banning him for the first three games of the World Championship, where SK Gaming would subsequently go 0-3 and fail to advance out of the group stage.
The issue of racism within League of Legends has not been limited to just the players, with Riot forced to act on cases of racism uttered by casters as well. At the most recent All-Stars event in Barcelona, two LAS casters made blatantly racist comments regarding Korean All-Star Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung after a 1v1 match. Once again, Riot acted swiftly, releasing a statement regarding their zero tolerance of racism and removing the two casters from the remainder of the broadcast.
It took less than a day for Riot to issue a ruling regarding YoDa, and their response is more than justified by his actions. By continuing a policy of zero tolerance, that transcends past League of Legends to major professional sports, Riot is enforcing the precedent that no individual will escape punishment when it comes to acts of racism.
As a game that has quickly expanded to capture a global player base and audience, Riot has fostered diversity for their game and continues to promote an environment celebrating diversity and tolerance at their events. As their reach continues to spread, it is clear that Riot will stand behind their policy of zero tolerance moving forward.
The Defining Moments From The 2016 Mid-Season Invitational
The Mid-Season Invitational 2016: Shanghai
The electric venue, in the heart of one of China's most iconic cities, provided a stunning backdrop for what would prove to be one of the most dramatic League of Legends events in history...
Shanghai Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony for the Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai once again raised the benchmark for eSports production quality.
Day 1: Scumbag G2 Kikis
The tournament got off to a disastrous start for European Spring Split champions G2 eSports. With a number of almost comedic errors from top laner Kikis, G2 found themselves down 0-2 after the opening day of play.
Day1: RNG Delight The Chinese Crowd
China's representative Royal Never Give Up delighted fans with two convincing displays on Day 1, defeating both Counter Logic Gaming and the wildcard entree, SuperMassive eSports.
Day 2: CLG Defeat G2
The NA vs EU rivalry provided the first fixture of MSI's second day of play. Rookie AD Carry Stixxay provided a masterclass performance to claim the bragging rights for Counter Logic Gaming and North America.
Day 2: RNG Defeat SKT
The atmosphere within the Shanghai stadium was to grow even louder as Royal Never Give Up stamped their mark on the tournament with victory over reigning world champions SK Telecom T1.
Day 2: SUP Claim Their First Win Over CLG
After looking so strong against G2 eSports, CLG inexplicably handed SuperMassive eSports their first (and only) win of the tournament. Truly 'counter logic'.
Day 2: Flash Wolves Defeat SKT
SKT's kryptonite Flash Wolves claimed victory over the Koreans once more to complete a shocking 0-2 for the tournament favourites.
Day 3: CLG Shock SKT
Lose to the wildcard, crush the reigning LCK and World Champions, all within the space of 24 hours. CLG stunned the Shanghai arena with victory over SKT, a fabled moment for the NA representative.
Day 3: Flash Wolves Complete the Double Over SKT
Lightening struck twice as Flash Wolves added further insult to injury, defeating SKT for the second time in the group stage.
Day 3: SKT Slump To A 4th Straight Defeat
Defeat to Flash Wolves marked SKT's 4th consecutive defeat at the tournament. Few could believe their eyes, the tournament favourites were at serious risk of not qualifying for the knockout rounds.
Day 4: CLG End RNG’s Unbeaten Run
Unbeaten in the tournament, RNG entered their 2nd meeting with CLG as heavy favourites to win the entire tournament. In what was yet another masterclass from Stixxay, CLG somehow survived intense pressure to steal the most unlikely victory.
Day 4: SKT Find Their Feet
SKT steadied the ship with victory over SUP and CLG. Faker expressed his disappointment at the team's performance at the tournament so far and vowed not to lose another match.
Day 5: G2-8
G2 eSports made a hurried exit after a woeful performance from the European champions. Claiming just two victories over wildcard SuperMassive eSports, the G2 roster had brought shame upon the EU region.
Day 5: SKT Bounce Back Against RNG
SKT provided a signal of intent in their final matches of the group stages. Defeating RNG in the last game, the dominance of the Chinese hosts had not lasted long.
Semi-Final 1: CLG Defeat Flash Wolves
Qualifying as the second seed with a 7-3 record, Counter Logic Gaming proved too strong for Flash Wolves once more, earning the NA squad a spot in the MSI final.
Semi-Final 2: SKT Overpower RNG
The omens of the final group stage match came back to haunt RNG. Despite appearing so dominant with an 8-2 record in groups, RNG were outclassed by SKT in the second semi-final.
Semi-Final 2: SK Telecom T1 Were Back
After slumping to four consecutive loses just days earlier, SKT were once again considered favourites after silencing the Chinese crowd.
The Mid-Season Inviational Final
After what had been an exhilarating and unpredictable tournament, Counter Logic Gaming and SK Telecom T1 met for the final.
Final: SKT vs CLG
After SKT eliminated the Chinese favourites RNG, the majority of the crowd support was behind the underdogs CLG.
Final: SKT Sweep CLG Aside
After a heroic tournament run, CLG were convincingly swept aside by SKT in the final. The NA seed returned home with their heads held high.
Final: SKT Claim The MSI Crown
Despite faltering in the group stages, SKT claimed their first MSI title.