Professional League of Legends players may be young, but they are role models nonetheless. For each of them, their success stories aspire towards lifting the summoner’s cup as victors of the World Championship, though certain individuals’ journeys have been far more turbulent than others. For a handful of players, their journey towards the top contains many dark twists, often revolving around the illegal and malicious activities that were so common in the early seasons of competitive League.
Warnings, fines, bans – Riot Games have introduced a number of punishing measures designed to keep their players on the straight and narrow. Most players with competitive aspirations look to reform their behaviour, though there are a select few who flaunt their disregard for the rules in such a way that Riot is forced to take a firmer stance.
Amidst the first week of the 2016 World Championship, IMay support, Yun “Road” Han-Gil has been brandishing ‘death threats’ and verbal abuse towards his team mates whilst playing on the North American server.
Addressing Echo Fox mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, who appeared to be having a poor game whilst on Road’s team, the Chinese LPL competitor went on a flame rampage in the team chat:
— k3soju (@k3soju) 6 October 2016
imay bot lane is pretty toxic. there’s definitely no behavior check before worlds tournament
— Henrik Hansen (@FroggenLoL) 6 October 2016
@FroggenLoL wow thats insane, is that actually him?
— Hai Lam (@Hai) 6 October 2016
Road’s toxic behaviour has lead to a witch hunt within the community, with fans and pros alike calling for some form of retribution. Riot have actively pushed a ‘respect campaign’ during the tournament – to grant Road a reprieve could be considered to be a slap in the face of other players who were banned or punished for being breaking the laws of the game in the past.
A number of high-profile names have been embroiled in illegal activity in the past, with critics suggesting that certain names should have been banned from the game and its professional scene on a permanent basis.
CLG Aphromoo/Xmithie + C9 Meteos: Elo Boosting
Back in 2013, ELO boosting was a primary source of income for skilled players. Professional players boosted, even Riot’s CEO got boosted, and for a long time, nobody got punished. As League of Legends developed its reputation as an eSport, Riot quickly stepped up and hardened their stance, punishing a total of eight pros for boosting.
Whilst the punishments themselves were not that particularly substantial, they were drawn up on a last strike basis. Technically, some of the biggest names in the NA LCS were walking a tightrope; if they get punished for any of other rule violation, it could lead to a permanent ban on all their accounts and a ban from the LCS.
The punishment announcement read as follows:
1. Issued 14-day suspensions of their accounts, effective immediately;
2. Revoked all Season Two rewards
In terms of LCS competition penalties, the pro players and coach named above are hereby given a final warning with regard to Elo-boosting. Any further infractions will result in a permanent account ban and corresponding penalties, as deemed appropriate by LCS.
Riot Games Official Announcement
H2K Forg1ven: Toxic Solo Queue Behaviour
Forg1ven had probably the worst split of his career whilst playing with Gambit Gaming around a year ago. Whilst practising for the playoffs, Forg1ven displayed some extremely toxic behaviour during his solo queue matches, leading to a four game ban from the LCS.
Gambit replaced Forg1ven with their ex-AD carry P1NOY, failing to reach the later stages of the EU LCS – many thought it would be the last we saw of the Greek AD carry on the competitive stage.
G2 Mithy: Racism
Everyone gets mad sometimes, call it the effect of solo queue or just a bad day – but as a professional, you should be able to contain yourself and never resort to racism. It all started when Ninjas In Pyjamas were choking badly in the EU LCS – for unknown reasons, the NiP roster joined a lobby of an amateur tournament that was running parallel to Riot’s competition.
LCS pros are not allowed to play in amateur tournaments, yet Mithy and current Vitality mid laner, Nukeduck, entered the lobby and started spewing racism. The competitive ruling came shortly after, with NiP’s owner “heat0n” so shocked at his players’ behaviour that he withdrew from League of Legends entirely, sticking to CSGO exclusively:
TSM Svenskeren: Anti Semitism and Racism
Svenskeren was not always the superstar jungler of Team SoloMid. During his European playing days, he set an appalling example to aspiring players, almost self-sabotaging his entire career on two separate occasions. In the post-game lobby of a solo queue match, Sven dropped some foul-mouthed antisemitic insults.
Svenskeren most infamous act took place in the build up to the World Championship in Taiwan, when Sven named his practice account “TaipeiChingChong”. While this wasn’t revealed by a Riot official, a fan met Svenskeren in soloqueue and he was so excited that he talked with a professional player that he posted the conversation on a Taiwanese forum.
The high school student wasn’t aware of the racist offence intended behind the name, but Riot quickly took notice. Svenskeren’s offensive name resulted in a three game ban from the World Championship, leaving his team without a jungler in addition to a fine of $2,500.
C9 Jensen: The Cyber Criminal
Jensen has always been a talented mid laner, though in the early days of high elo League of Legends, he went to extreme lengths to avoid suffering a loss. The game was precariously insecure: loopholes in security, ways to obtain opponent IP addresses and exploits that could make entire games disappear from the record; Jensen used every trick in the book.
His knowledge of the code behind the game was frightening and he employed it mercilessly, threatening players and Riot employees to give him their address, mocking them in post game lobbies:
When Riot finally tracked him down, Jensen was banned for life, never allowed to play League of Legends again. He kept playing however, and after losing many accounts with which he didn’t hide his identity well enough, he reached rank 1 challenger on EUWest – this time without flame, without drophacks and without DDOS.
Playing his game and not offending anyone, Riot decided to drop his ban after they decided that he was indeed reformed and not the cyber hacker as he used to be. With the announcement, a number of teams moved to pick him up and after all the drama, Jensen joined Cloud9 – proceeding to represent North American twice at the World Championship.