Photo by: Garena
On Wednesday, Apr. 24, Garena issued a competitive ruling, banning Dragon Gate Team from competing in the LMS (which Garena is the organizer of) on the basis of matchfixing. The ruling was done after an investigation by Riot Games and also included long or permanent bans to four people involved in the incident: owner Weijie Hu, jungler Liu “JGY” Yang, and coaches Fan Jiang-Peng and Li Xing-Yu.
As follow-up, however, Dragon Gate Team (DG) are planning to take action, unwilling to accept their punishment. The org released a series of Weibo posts, calling out LMS organizer Garena and even threatening to take legal action.
“This is our solicitor letter, we will take legal actions against Garena,” DG’s Weibo post read.
The letter outlined DG’s demands towards the organizer. Dragon Team not only ask for an official apology, but also a written statement confirming that DG will be reinstated to the LMS within three days.
In another Weibo post, DG claimed there is no sufficient evidence that warrants their LMS ban and questioned the wording of Garena’s ruling.
“Riot made this decision when there was no sufficient evidence to back it up, I’d like to ask what does “trying to manipulate the match outcomes” mean. Garena really put great effort to let SuperEsports secure an LMS slot without playing any relegation matches.”
The Weibo post above was a cleaned up version of what DG originally published, however. In an earlier statement, they implied direct connection between Garena and SuperEsports, calling the latter Garena’s “baby boy”.
DG’s refer to how the filling of their now vacant slot was handled. Dragon Team were set to play SuperEsports today, Apr. 25, in the LMS Summer Promotion tournament, but their disqualification promoted SuperEsports to the LMS automatically.
While not explicitly confirmed by the team, the “baby boy” comment could have referred to the ownership and foundation of SuperEsports (or DG’s accusation of Garena’s favoritism towards SuperEsports, as seen below). SuperEsports and ahq — one of the oldest Garena/LMS franchises — are operated by Super Esports Co., Ltd and AHQ ESPORTS CO., Ltd, respectively, who share common management, Garena confirmed in a recent ruling. As a result, SuperEsports will also need to change its name and transfer ownership to another party in order to be eligible for 2019 LMS Summer entry.
Many of the players on SuperEsports’ founding line-up also came from ahq Fighter, ahq e-Sports’ sister team. SuperEsports have also worked on other projects together, including the founding of an esports school to find and develop new talent.
DG’s solicitor shed more light on why the team believes SuperEsports are under Garena’s protection. The team brings up a situation where SuperEsports registered only five players, when the required minimum was six (SuperEsports still only have five players registered), for which SuperEsports were only fined with “a rather low amount of money”.
“As a matter of fact, according to the rule of 2019 ECS spring split, each participating team should register at least six players under the team, but SuperEsports only had five players registered. The plaintiff [in this case DG — Ed.] reported SuperEsports’ violation to your company, but not only did your take this violation lightly by fining SuperEsports a rather low amount of money, but you also removed plaintiff’s team “Dragon Gate Esports” from the LMS right before SE’s relegation match against them. Obviously, your company is suspected of covering SuperEsports and suppressing plaintiff’s team “Dragon Gate Esports””
In the evening of Apr. 24, DG also issued a longer statement, calling out AD carry Kai “Soul” Liu and accusing him of slander.
“To shed some light on what happened:
It all started with the slander from our AD player Kai “Soul” Liu, who has had poor performance as well as internal relationship issues during his days on the team. The manager has spoken to him many times he committed to no change. Moreover, we found out that this player is in deep debt due to gambling. We decided that his integrity is questionable and as such, we planned to dismiss him from the team. That’s why the management contacted him and asked some tentative questions deliberately to test his integrity. After finding out the truth, he was unhappy with the test. Therefore he called the management and asked Jinglong “2188” Huang [DG’s top laner — Ed.] to record for him. He then lured the management to repeat those tentative questions and presented the voice record as evidence to the organizer, which then led to the official announcement and the biased ruling.
After this incident, we requested Kai“Soul”Liu to return to the training base and help us with the investigation. He refused immediately and denied that it was him who filed the report. According to our investigation, in Soul’s professional life, he has been isolated/kicked from a team more than once because of his personality issues, and he’s also an addictive gambler who has already lost a total number of 300,000 RMB [apprx. $44,500 — Ed.] in gambling. Considering his personality and financial situation, we have reason to believe that he will conduct immortal activities if they serve his own interests.
We are bitterly disappointed to see that Garena believed a player with such personality and took the so called “voice record” as evidence without giving us any chance to explain or appeal. We’ve already filed a solicitor letter to Garena and by doing that, we hope Garena will give us a chance to appeal and find out the truth. We will also take legal actions to seek a fair ruling.”
DG’s statement above also came as a response to a Facebook post written by the team’s top laner, Jinglong “2188” Huang. At length, 2188 laid out his side of the story (translated in full by redditor /u/mtsoren882 here), detailing the relationship between Soul and the team, and the involvement of DG’s team and jungler.
“I’m going to stop pretending that I know nothing about the alleged match fixing,” 2188 said, and continued by talking to a match DG were to play against Alpha Esports, for which Soul was subbed out in favor of a less experienced carry.
“I saw the odds and thought, ‘The odds were so low, why would someone buy them?” After looking the chat conversation between Soul and our owner I understood. Our owner could bet using multiple accounts and earn over hundred thousands with the extremely low odds. The highest he could earn with one game would be enough to purchase an LMS slot.”
In the same post, 2188 talks about a dinner between him, Soul and DG’s owner, which “shattered” him.
“One hour into the dinner, I was shattered. I had no idea how many matches JGY was involved in. If he received 5,000 RMB for one match, he would already have gotten a huge amount of money.
I don’t know how much money JGY got. I thought that every player would had have misplays. I thought every player would have felt nervous and underperform. I thought the super aggressive playstyle was JGY’s unique playstyle. I was wrong. I could not believe that you were involved in alleged match fixing. But you were lucky, you didn’t receive a permanent ban.”
“I would really like to thank Soul for all of this,” 2188 added.
Whatever the result of DG’s actions, this is a serious blow to competitive League of Legends in the region and compromises the integrity of the LMS. Once considered one of the stronger regions in LoL esports, a matchfixing scandal will without doubt demote it in the eyes of fans worldwide.