If you’ve been living under a rock or are new to this planet, you may not have been aware of the happenings at MLG Raleigh and the ensuing hurricane that hit the League of Legends community this past week, so let me summarise for you.
Firstly, you may say I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to wait for the official statement from Dignitas. As a longtime Dig fan I trust Odee (Owner/Manager) to get his facts right and, as there have been alot of conflicting reports, I didn’t want to jump the gun. But I digress.
On Sunday, 26th August, Team Dignitas and Curse Gaming met in the final of the MLG Raleigh League of Legends tournament and after playing out the best of 5 (Curse winning 3 -2) were both promptly disqualified.
Now, here’s where the confusion and ensuing shitstorm starts; game one of the finals saw an unusual strat from both sides, i.e. they played out an ARAM (All Random All Mid). To put this into context, it’s never happened before and I doubt will ever again. The other four games conformed to the standard meta and from what I could tell appeared to be legitimate games, though neither team ‘brought it’ in terms of any funky new champions or team comps.
With MLG ‘only’ worth $20,000 to the winner and the NA regionals at PAX – the following week – potentially worth $Millions, you can kind of see why both teams, who had already secured qualification for that event, wanted to keep something up their sleeves for that. Much like teams in other sports do by sending out the second string in a relatively meaningless game before a big final.
Now here comes the controversy, caveated heavily with the word allegedly. Before the finals Dig and Curse had lunch together, where apparently they discussed the upcoming final, agreed to play ARAM and allegedly to split the prize pool and/or fix the result. All of this was in full view of many at the venue. It was subsequently confirmed via twitter by an MLG official that ‘everyone’ at the event knew about this. And so came the shit storm; the first game and it’s unusual ARAM format was heavily tweeted by MLG, which added to the confusion if only because it made it look like MLG either knew or accepted it as ok. However at the end of the series, MLG posted the disqualification notice on their site, although nothing was announced via the stream.
Curse almost immediately apologised for the ARAM, but denied any other collusion via a YouTube statement.
Today, August 30th, Dignitas issued the following statement:-
This weekend our League of Legends team were disqualified from MLG Summer Championship, as a result, the teams were punished by MLG by losing their placement, prize money and circuit points.
We have investigated this matter further and after talking to several parties we have concluded that our team did indeed co-operate with Curse by agreeing to play ARAM in the Grand Final. We have found no solid evidence confirming any other allegations. This was of course a disappointing end to a tournament for Team Dignitas and we can confirm that we have fined our players for their actions plus the entire cost of the MLG Raleigh trip on top of that.
and dScarra added the following:-
On behalf of the dignitas league of legends team, we apologize to our fans, sponsors, and to MLG for playing the ARAM this weekend. We realize that our actions were not and are not justifiable especially if we are looking to positively promote the future of esports and league of legends. We agree to the punishment stated by both MLG and Team Dignitas. Additionally, we promise to never let a disappointing event like this happen again.
Now here’s my take on all this, if you’ve managed to read this far: The ARAM, whilst fun to watch, was definitely ill considered in a major championship final. I personally saw no evidence that the other 4 games were anything but competitive, if very ‘standard’ and the ARAM was surprisingly competitive despite the players obvious enjoyment. MLG didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory by the way they handled the affair by way of some rather random tweets and misinformation. I have still seen no proof of the collusion on match fixing or prize splitting, which both teams have either denied or found unsubstantiated and in my opinion would probably have protested louder about if not for the NA Regionals this week. Similarly both teams have accepted the punishments, as they want to move on to PAX.
Hopefully all will have learned valuable lessons from this, not just those directly involved. The esports community especially needs to take something away from this, even if it’s only that the behaviour of certain elements of it needs to improve vastly: pitchforks and childish tantrums really have no place in a professional sport.
Finally I’d like to close with the following thoughts: If collusion could be proven, the punishment should have been more severe. If however the teams were disqualified for the ARAM, then I believe that was harsh and MLG should have handled things better. So event organisers, make sure you know how to handle these things properly, get ahead of the community and please for the love of god, speak with ONE voice, clearly and concisely.