For The First Time, A Banned League Of Legends Pro Gets Second Chance

For The First Time, A Banned League Of Legends Pro Gets Second Chance

Last night, Riot put out an update about the status of several high-profile League of Legends players who've been suspended or banned from the game due to their toxic behaviour. Buried in the details was an interesting detail: in an unprecedented move, one player's permaban from competitive play was removed entirely.

The permaban in question was for Nicolaj "Incarnation" Jensen, a highly skilled League player who was issued a lifetime ruling at the beginning of 2013. The charges Riot brought against him were severe. As they detailed in the original 2013 ruling, Jensen had "a consistent record of in-game harassment, abuse, and poor behaviour." In addition to his general toxicity, the report said, Incarnation also regularly cheated in competitive League games by using DDoS attacks against his opponents -- effectively forcing these players to disconnect from the game and thus leave their team in a uniquely vulnerable and disadvantaged position. He also "publicly and unapologetically admitted" to using DDoS attacks to his benefit.

"As a result of this player's history of DDOS activity, abusive behaviour and poor sportsmanship, the player behaviour team has issued a lifetime ban on Jensen," the 2013 report concluded. "His Veigodx account has been permabanned and all future accounts will be permabanned on sight."

In yesterday's report, Riot said that Jensen "has continued to demonstrate behaviour in game that is well above the normal standards of good behaviour across all of his accounts since at least January 2014."

"Additionally, according to our monitoring tools, he has not been implicated in any DDOS or Drophacking-related exploits since Q2 2013," the report continued. "There have been no serious offenses or violations of the letter or spirit of the Summoner Code since his account-sharing related offence in Q1 2014."

Beginning May 11th, Jensen will be "eligible to play in Riot-affiliated League of Legends tournaments," the report concluded. Not every League of Legends tournament is "Riot-affiliated." But since all the biggest and most lucrative ones held every year are, you pretty much have to be able to play in them if you want to be on a serious eSports team. Allowing Jensen back into the Riot-sanctioned fold has effectively given any number of pro League teams the green light to start trying to recruit him. (The Daily Dot reports that he's already agreed to join the North American team Cloud9).

He was quick to celebrate the news:

Permabans, as the name suggests, are the harshest form of punishment Riot can really mete out for toxic players. They can have a particularly big impact on players like Jensen because the bans often effectively preclude them from maintaining a career in eSports.

The reason Jensen was even able to be afforded the sort of second life he just was by Riot is because of a change the company made to its permabanning and suspension policies late last year. As they explained in an announcement last November, the company had begun "introducing a new framework for long-term bans and permabans that treats all bans as suspensions subject to periodic review."

Ostensibly, the change in Riot's punitive standards was meant to fit in with their overall philosophy of improving in-game behaviour by providing toxic players with tangible opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and reform their behaviour, rather than just be kicked out of the game never to be seen again. Jensen was therefore allowed to keep playing League -- albeit not at the same competitive level he might be sans permaban -- and Riot could monitor his behaviour to see if he'd actually improved at all with time and experience.

It will interesting to watch how Jensen's case plays out both for the eSports scene and the game's overall community now that he's back in the big leagues (no pun intended). On one hand, Jensen's reincarnation (pun intended that time) could be seen as a sign that Riot's new policies for reforming player behaviour can indeed work just as well as they intended. And since pros have a bigger presence in the League community than others, Jensen's successful reform -- like any high-profile player's actions -- could make a big (hopefully positive) splash in terms of inspiring others to behave better as well.

On the other hand, the presumed trickle-down effect of the way Riot handles toxic pro players could be entirely off-base. Cynics can easily see Jensen's ban being lifted as nothing more than a political manoeuvre by Riot, given that he's been a famous League player for years now and understandably receives closer attention from the player behaviour team than another permabanned player of a lesser stature would.

Like everything else in League, the game's policies for addressing toxic behaviour are always changing. Consistency is a problem here in a way it isn't for something like, say, a champion's attack speed. It even had an impact on Jensen following his original lifetime ban. Following the ruling, he started working as a coach for the pro League team SK Gaming...until Riot suddenly disallowed him from even being backstage with his team at tournaments.

As the first totally un-permabanned League player at his level, Jensen is now a de facto test case for the latest iteration of Riot's rejiggered player behaviour policies. Assuming they continue focusing on player reform, he probably won't be the last.

Special thanks to Dillon Skiffington for all his amazing help with this story.

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Comments

    Being toxic, using DDoS in a competitive scene, unapologetic when admitting doing such, I see no reason to lift his ban but I guess Riot is a company after all, how do you say no to money and publicity.

      Well if he actually hasn't screwed around at all in the time they've been keeping an eye on him, it seems fair enough to give him another try. If he does it again, make it a permanent ban with no chances ever again. It sounds like a practical way to deal with the problem

        But you see, the reason why he even bother using DDoS is that he subconsciously admitted that he is not good enough that he had to resort to such underhanded tactics to win. Even if he comes back, he won't be able to make a comeback unless he use the same tactics again. For his own good, he should just leave the League's competitive scene and just stay casual.

          I disagree. In the same way that a successful rehabilitation program in prison can stop prisoners from re-offending, giving players the opportunity to improve their behaviour and remain part of the community is a step in the right direction.

            You know once a scumbag is always a scumbag, it won't be long till we hear news that he is banned again for toxic behavior.

        Permaban is permaban in the end, I'm sure he would have many warnings in the lead up to it.

        Last edited 02/04/15 12:42 pm

      I cqnt believe they didnt forward the lroof of DDOSing to police. No way he should have a ban lifted for doing what in a number of nurisrictions would be illegal.

    The fact that he was still a known player kinda makes the whole thing a little redundant no? Oh one of your multiple free accounts has been unbanned, yaaaaay

      The free accounts wasn't the issue, it was being banned from professional tournaments. Riot continued to let him play in the normal leagues, which allowed him to demonstrate his improved behaviour.

    Firstly, the guy is scum. However, I think your statements are full of baseless speculation.

    he subconsciously admitted that he is not good enough that he had to resort to such underhanded tactics to win

    No he didn't. I don't think people can admit things subconsciously unless they have a tell such as during a game of poker.
    Theoretically, he could be good enough but resort to denial of service attacks to ensure a better victory than a victory.

    Even if he comes back, he won't be able to make a comeback unless he use the same tactics again.

    Why? This is just your speculation. He could have been "training" really hard during his ban.

    For his own good, he should just leave the League's competitive scene and just stay casual.

    Huh? If this was your chosen profession, what benefits does he receive for playing for free that can substitute for paying rent, food and taxes?

      I think this must have been a reply for me.

      No he didn't. I don't think people can admit things subconsciously unless they have a tell such as during a game of poker.
      Theoretically, he could be good enough but resort to denial of service attacks to ensure a better victory than a victory.

      Sure you can call it baseless speculation but it is a speculation based on common sense. Why do you think people cheat in game? Sure people can say that because he want to have some fun but does that mean that without cheating he is struggling that he was not having fun? To cheat to ensure victory means he is not good enough to ensure his own victory without cheating. I despise people cheating their way in game regardless of what cheat they use, that just proves they are not good enough to play the game.

      Why? This is just your speculation. He could have been "training" really hard during his ban.
      Possible but given that he cannot compete competitively, doubt he had much improvement except finally playing like normal without DDoSing other player.

      Huh? If this was your chosen profession, what benefits does he receive for playing for free that can substitute for paying rent, food and taxes?

      He has been banned for 2 years and reputation gone under, I'm sure it is still his preferred profession but it is better he move on as a coach for a team instead of playing. If I were his old fans, I will never cheer for him again for the things he had done.

        Sure you can call it baseless speculation but it is a speculation based on common sense. Why do you think people cheat in game?

        There are MANY reasons people cheat. A common one is to compensate for inadequacy. However, it doesn't mean that it's a blanket that allows for an automatic assumption.

        Lance Armstrong was an unapologetic cheat but he actually did have the talent required. His reasoning, though still faulty and dishonest, was that everyone was doing it and if everyone was doing it, they were all competing on a level (but illegal) playing field.

        To cheat to ensure victory means he is not good enough to ensure his own victory without cheating.

        It may not be something he did everytime - just when it was going to be a tight case. (Yet, he did it enough for Riot to substantiate their case against him.) I'm sure he won his fair share of battles without cheating.

        I despise people cheating their way in game regardless of what cheat they use, that just proves they are not good enough to play the game.

        Cheaters suck, yes. This is pedantics but there is a difference between being good enough to play a game and winning a game. I do sports where I am good enough to play but not good enough to win.

          There are MANY reasons people cheat. A common one is to compensate for inadequacy. However, it doesn't mean that it's a blanket that allows for an automatic assumption.

          Lance Armstrong was an unapologetic cheat but he actually did have the talent required. His reasoning, though still faulty and dishonest, was that everyone was doing it and if everyone was doing it, they were all competing on a level (but illegal) playing field.

          Not sure what point are trying to make. Are you saying he should continue to DDoS other players because everyone does it? Doesn't sound right to me since no one else does it.( maybe a couple others that are not caught yet).

          It may not be something he did everytime - just when it was going to be a tight case. (Yet, he did it enough for Riot to substantiate their case against him.) I'm sure he won his fair share of battles without cheating.

          No doubt if he can play competitively, he definitely have the skills are experience but when you had to rely on things like DDoS, I don't see what is the point of anymore. I could ask my friend that never played the game before, DDoS the hell out of my opponent and my friend wins. Takes no skill at all to do that.

          Cheaters suck, yes. This is pedantics but there is a difference between being good enough to play a game and winning a game. I do sports where I am good enough to play but not good enough to win.

          To be honest I respect physical sports people than e-sports. You can easily get good at the game without putting as much effort as a runner training his stamina day and night. Well in games, if you have to resort to using cheat competitively, might a well just quit the game.

            Not sure what point are trying to make.

            Clearly you are struggling with comprehension. Completely struggling.

            I am trying to remind you that your speculation is not based upon facts specific to this case and that your assumptions are not necessarily true.

            Are you saying he should continue to DDoS other players because everyone does it?

            Again, with the comprehension skill.

            At no point do I say that people are justified to cheat. I do not say that he should cheat. I thought I made it very clear that I do not support cheating. I do not support cheating. Cheat is wrong.

            I am citing a previous existing case of cheating - Lance Armstrong. Its facts do not relate directly to this case. I am just giving an example of other reasons someone may cheat.

            Doesn't sound right to me since no one else does it.( maybe a couple others that are not caught yet).

            Well, the things that you don't know could fill the Grand Canyon millions of times. I think it has something to do with cheaters not wanting to get caught and/or suffer the consequences of cheating. I am not saying that denial of service attacks are standard practices - just to be explicit here.

            I could ask my friend that never played the game before, DDoS the hell out of my opponent and my friend wins. Takes no skill at all to do that.

            Well, firstly, you are probably going to win against a noob who has never played it before.
            Secondly, it takes some skill (a minute amount) to work out how to do a denial of service attack.

              I don't think you even know what you are talking about anymore lol. You bring in a vague example that does not contribute to the discussion since it is completely different. It is like comparing maccas to some juicy wagyu burger. Incomparable cases.

              Let's just close this discussion. He cheated. He is wrong regardless of whatever reason it may be, trying to have fun, desperate to win some competition money, desperate for achievement, whatever it may be, nothing can justify it. He may be one of the many, but he is still one and he deserve the punishment.

              I believe we all agree that he deserved the perma ban in the first place. It is just because of the change in LoL policy that he can join the competitive scene again, does not mean he is a reformed man.

    It's open season for scumbags. Have at em boys!

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