League Of Legends Pro Gamers Stripped Of Winnings For Scheming On The Side

The Major League Gaming (MLG) summer championship events took place this past weekend, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Teams competed in several games, including StarCraft II, Mortal Kombat, and Soul Calibur V. But the biggest upset happened in the League of Legends tournament, which found both the first and second place winning teams disqualified and the third and fourth place teams winning the prize pot in their stead.

Teams Dignitas and Curse played in the final match. Curse won, but the play behaviour from Dignitas threw up red flags to observers. According to MLG, the two teams may or may not have agreed for one to throw the game, but both had explicitly conspired to split the prize money afterward. As a result, both were disqualified. The statement from MLG reads:

MLG regrets to announce that we will not be awarding 1st or 2nd Place finishes for the Summer Championship League of Legends Event. We have determined that there was collusion between the two final teams, Curse NA and Team Dignitas. This is in clear violation of both the letter and spirit of MLG's Official Pro Circuit Conduct Rules: "competitors may not intentionally Forfeit a Game or conspire to manipulate Rankings or Brackets." As such, both teams have been disqualified, and no placements or prize money will be awarded.

Riot has agreed with this decision and, in accordance with their Season 2 rules on Unsportsmanlike Conduct, will not be awarding Circuit points to either team.

The 3rd and 4th Place teams will receive the prize money and Circuit Points they have earned, and all other results stand. No 1st or 2nd Place will be awarded for this event.

Both teams have agreed that the disqualification was warranted. While there is some contention over the exact nature of the actions taken by Curse NA and Dignitas which led to the disqualification, both teams, as well as MLG and Riot, agree that any collusion, or anything involving not playing a tournament match to win, warrants disqualification.

So what actually happened?

During the finals, to the surprise of nearly all, rather than carefully lining up their champion selection as one would expect for a $US20,000 prize match, both Curse and Dignitas selected random champions and began a match known as an ARAM, "All Random All Mid". An ARAM match leaves huge elements of the game's outcome to chance, which is not exactly typical for championship finals in any sort of competition. Whether or not the teams had agreed for Dignitas to lose remains unknown, but both have admitted to their agreement to split the winnings.

Apparently, it would have been difficult for them not to admit it. RTS Guru pointed to a Tweet from MLG executive Adam Apicella, stating that the two teams had made the agreement "in a public, crowded setting," in front of witnesses. "The entire venue was aware of it."

Both teams have acknowledged the disqualification without contesting it. Team Dignitas managing director Michael O'Dell issued a statement acknowledging that the League of Legends Team Dignitas team had "engaged in misconduct" and found "at least some of the accusations to be valid." The team is conducting an internal investigation and plans to announce further actions by Wednesday.

Team Curse, meanwhile, issued a personal video statement (left), in which they apologized to their fans, saying, "Curse and Dignitas basically agreed on an ARAM for the first game... We thought this would be kind of fun, a play-around game ... to have fun! And not a lot of people really appreciated it, our fans didn't appreciate it... Anything outside of this is false, the accusations are false, and we'd also like to apologise to our fans."

As for the accusations themselves, the facts are still murky. On Riot's League of Legends forums, Dustin "RedBeard" Beck, Riot's VP of eSports, wrote:

Just to be crystal clear, MLG's decision here has nothing to do with ARAM. Both Curse and Dignitas admitted to and apologized for colluding prior to the finals to throw the match.

Whether the two teams were indeed just goofing around for fun, or whether they had agreed for Dignitas to throw the match, the fact remains that both violated the rules of the tournament. As eSports become ever more popular it seems that they, like their more physical brethren, become ever more open to cheating and manipulation.


    Has their urine been tested?

      They were unable to secure useful urine samples from any competitor because they all came back as 99% Dr Pepper.

        I think you mean Monster Energy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyDcQSBP33I

          MLG has a history of only having Dr Pepper available for people to drink at their events. They also are pretty infamous for not letting Dr Pepper and Nos's competitors get any screen time (which has been a pain for the EG players that aggressively plug their sponsors, including Monster).

          I'm slightly ashamed that I know this.

    The most important factor in this is the upcoming NA regionals at PAX.

    Curse and Dignitas are both competing and the other two top teams (TSM and CLG) did not compete in MLG this weekend.

    From what I've heard, the reason that Curse and Dignitas decided to split the pot is that they were happy with their seedings for regionals and did not want to reveal and new strategies and/or team compositions. Had Curse and Dignitas played seriously, there would have been pressure to do that so that they could win the prize money. That would make the strategies less effective for regionals because the other teams that didn't compete wouldn't have revealed anything and would have had time to work out how to beat those strategies.

    You could kind of think of it as a form of sandbagging.

      Would Dignitas have needed to throw a game (as is accused) if that was the case? If they did not care about winning they could just have not used the new strats but still played to the fullest otherwise.
      And if they did the above and it was just an agreement to split the cash then does that really have anything to do with the championship rankings?
      As for agreeing to an ARAM, while unprofessional it is not really colluding to throw the match or split cash, just a choice of game type really.
      If Curse had rolled all tanks or something then I could see the problem.

        Had Dignitas won, they'd have earned enough points to improve their seeding. So they might have (no need to point out this is all highly speculative but I'm doing it anyhow) thrown the game to go up against the opponents of their choosing without having to risk the prize money.

        If they didn't care about championship rankings, then it was just a mutual agreement between the teams to split the pot, effectively agreeing not to go all out against each other. The ARAM (while entertaining) was indicative that they weren't interested in winning.

        The prematch interview with Dan Dinh, where both sides clearly said they didn't think they would have to reveal anything new to win also hints at them not being interested in playing their best.

    I'm not sure that MLG have communicated the reason why the teams were disqualified to the players. As well as Curse's "accusations are false" release, SaintVicious did an interview with Rachel Seltzer ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7py7mZOEp8), and he's definitely under the impression that they were DQ'd for playing an ARAM. I only saw the first game, but from what i've heard it seems they played the first game ARAM, then played normal the other two, and Curse won. If anyone can show me any different i'd be glad to watch it, but Curse are my favourite team and I can't help but be a little annoyed :/

      They threw the match to split the pool evenly and not give away their strategies.Was what i gathered from the offical story.

    I recall reading about the South Korean leagues being rife with corruption thanks to a large number of lowly-paid players being swayed my dodgy bookies or criminal types to throw games and make big cash on the betting.

      Not exactly.

      The Korean Starcraft: Brood War scene was almost destroyed after a handful of players were involved in a match fixing scandal. You can find details here.

    I get the impression they didn't have any criminal intent and really thought the fans would appreciate an ARAM for something different but they should have know an official event with money on the line this kind of thing probably wouldn't have gone down well and not wanting to give their strategy away is a bit weak for an excuse.

    If they were really worried about weakening their position in PAX they could always have tried asking the organisers if they could do 3 ARAMs. There is even a game mode for it now they could have set the on.

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