Griffin director Cho Gyu-nam resigned from the team this Tuesday. Cho’s resignation comes in the wake of allegations around the loan contract of substitute player Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok with LPL’s JD Gaming, which were raised by former Griffin head coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho.
The friction between cvMax and Griffin’s management has been going on since September, with both parties — as well as part of Griffin’s players — publicly speaking about issues within the team, shifting blame for the team’s failure to win any of the three LCK grand finals they played in. During one of his streams, cvMax spoke about the loaning of Kanavi to JD Gaming, a trade that allegedly broke several of Riot Games’ rules.
CvMax claimed that Kanavi was loaned to JD Gaming as a minor. 19-years-old, Kanavi would be considered one by South Korea law, but counted as an adult in China, where JD Gaming operates. CvMax further alleged that the negotiated contract was for five years, while the maximum allowed contract duration is three years, per Riot Games’ rulebook.
In the wake of cvMax’s allegations, first LCK and later the LPL intervened and conducted their own investigation. On November 3, the LPL committee shared its finding and although most discussions around Kanavi’s loan were according to the rules, there were some irregularities still.
According to the LPL, Griffin and JD Gaming both broke regulations by trying to sign Kanavi to a five-year contract and punishment for the involved parties was likely. In addition, the committee was still in on whether Griffin’s senior management in Cho was improperly involved.
In a recent interview with Sports Chosun, Cho refuted many of cvMax’s claims and once again shifted blame on the coach, saying he was abusive to players, including: being verbally and physically abusive, slamming on a player’s chair and choking him, and threatening top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won after Worlds.
Translation of the talking points is available in the Twitter thread below, courtesy of LA Valiant and Florida Mayhem translator Andrew Kim.
According to cvMax, Kanavi is now also being threatened with lawsuits from four different entities: Cho, Still8 (Griffin’s parent company), Still8’s China branch, and Griffin itself. The player is now pressured to come to Still8’s headquarters and speak in favor of manager Cho on camera, lest the lawsuit threats persist.
This whole drama, however, drew the attention of two Korean national assembly members, ESPN reports. Ha Tae-kyung and Lee Dong-seop have raised concerns about Kanavi’s contract, with Ha threatening to investigate Riot Games, seeing them as a biased party.
“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.”
With all this drama still developing, Griffin now return for the LCK 2020 season shaken. The team performer under expectations at Worlds 2019, losing 3-1 in the quarterfinals to Invictus Gaming. They will also have to find a new head coach and solve several problems in their roster, most notably the underperforming top lane in Sword and their tendency to lose high-stakes games.