Griffin’s former coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho and director Cho Gyu-nam will receive indefinite bans from competitive League of Legends, Riot Games announced Wednesday. This is a result of the investigation that the LCK and LPL managements have been conducting on several allegations including player abuse by cvMax and Cho’s mismanagement of loaning Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok — a minor according to Korean law — to LPL’s JD Gaming.
CvMax was the first person to bring up the management issues within Griffin, following his release in September. According to him, relationship between him and senior management in the face of director Cho were strained, with the latter consistently denying cvMax’s contribution to the team and blaming him for Griffin’s three-peat runner-up finishes in the LCK. CvMax also brought to light the improper loaning of Kanavi to JD Gaming, alleging that the contract has been negotiated against the word of the LoL esports rulebook. This included both the fact that Kanavi is a minor according to Korean law, and that his contract with JDG stipulated a five-year commitment, when the maximum allowed is three years.
The incident got both the LCK and the LPL involved, who published their findings on November 3, but stated they’ll keep investigating some of the issues, including Cho’s mismanagement. Ten days later, on Nov. 13, director Chor resigned, with two Korean assemblymen — Ha Tae-kyung and Lee Dong-seop — also raising concerns about Riot’s handling of the issue.
“Riot Games has released their interim report on the investigation on the ‘Kanavi Incident,’” Ha said. “I’ll describe it in one sentence — ‘They are watching out for each other’s backs.’ A few days ago, I said that the investigation will not have satisfactory results because Riot is also a party of interest in this incident.”
According to Riot Games, Cho’s management of Kanavi’s loan was indeed against the rules. First, Cho failed to notify a legal guardian and obtain their consensus about a minor being loaned to a new team. Second, Cho bypassed Kanavi’s parents and dealt with the player directly. And third, he amended a clause in Kanavi’s contract with Griffin, allowing for a loan longer than the allowed maximum.
Hence, Director Cho’s punishment is indefinite ban from competitive League of Legends. Riot has also fined Griffin the equivalent of $85,000 and issued a final warning against such mismanagement — another incident and it could cost them their LCK slot.
That said, coach cvMax has also been found in the fault. Riot’s announcement states that their investigation revealed instances of “violent measures”, both physically and verbally, like director Cho alleged.
“It was identified that the verbal abuse towards players was at a level hard to endure as a person through multiple depositions and submitted material, and above all, some of the victims of the violence were minors at the time. This type of violent behavior is prohibited by the Korean law, or is against general ethical behavior,” Riot wrote.
cvMax will therefore suffer the same indefinite ban as director Cho.
cvMax’s ban, however, does not end with him and affects a third party. Two weeks ago, DragonX confirmed the former Griffin captain as their new head coach, as they looked to rebuild ahead of the 2020 season. With cvMax now banned, DragonX find themselves without a coach, sans assistant An “Mental” Hyo-yeon, and needing to fill four of their five positions — a daunting task even with so many free agents on the market.
Assemblyman Ha, who previously had put pressure on Riot Games for their handling of the Griffin/Kanavi case, also spoke about the incident, condemning cvMax’s ban. According to Ha, cvMax’s ban is “an act of retribution against a whistle blower” and that he should be protected, instead of punished.
With all this turmoil, it remains to be seen whether Griffin can remain a top team in the new season. With their coach and manager gone, the players are leaderless, and there’s still the possibility of some of them entering free agency.