The high profile European League of Legends broadcaster Martin "Deficio" Lynge was suspended from commentating on upcoming League Championship Series (LCS) games this week. His suspension is punishment for not telling Riot he was negotiating for a job on one of the pro teams that falls under his purview of coverage.
Like all the major League of Legends broadcasters who commentate on the game's annual championship series games, Deficio is employed directly by Riot. According to a competitive ruling the company published last night, Deficio was approached for a position on the pro League team the Copenhagen Wolves.
"Although it's not unusual for Rioters to be approached with offers from LCS organisations, it's important that the organisation and Rioter let us know as soon as an offer is made to raise awareness around potential conflicts of interest," Riot said in its statement. "In this case, we believe that Deficio showed poor judgment in navigating this conflict of interest."
During its internal investigation, Riot also found that Deficio "had begun speaking with several active LCS players — contracted and free agents — about their future and the possibility of working with them on the Copenhagen Wolves."
"These conversations influenced — or had the potential to influence — player decisions on where they chose to play, and affected the competitive integrity of the LCS," Riot's statement concluded.
Deficio is now barred from taking any position as an "approved Team Member" — i.e., a player, coach, manager, or owner — on an pro League team participating in LCS team until the end of the 2016 season.
The Copenhagen Wolves coach Karl "Dentist" Krey was also suspended from participating in the LCS for four weeks, though his infractions are a bit different. According to Riot's ruling, Krey had lied to the players on his team by telling them he'd received privileged information from Deficio that would help them in their LCS games. While the company's investigation didn't find any evidence of Deficio actually giving such information to Krey, they still determined that "Dentist was complicit in tampering that could compromise the integrity of the LCS."
Following the ruling, Deficio acknowledged his "poor decisions" in a post on his Facebook page, saying that he'd failed to appreciate "the difference between talking to a player as friends and talking as a Rioter."
"It is 100% NOT ok to give opinions on career choices and to share your own potential future plans as a Rioter, as it can impact a player´s decision making," Deficio added. "While I never intended any harm, I definitely didn't act in the professional manner that I expect from myself and as Riot expects from me."
Scandal though it may be, the fact that Riot a) directly supports the teams participating in its Championship Series by partially funding them, and b) employs the people commentating on it can make these sorts of conflicts of interest seem kinda inevitable. In an addendum to its competitive ruling, Riot said that preserving the "competitive integrity" of League's eSports ecosystem requires both "transparency" and "total neutrality" from Riot employees:
Our goal is not to mandate that all Rioters approached by external organisations report their conversations to us. This would be unreasonable at best and certainly doesn't demonstrate the support we give to Rioters who leave the company to pursue their dreams elsewhere. In the case of esports, however, where crossing the line in terms of competitive integrity can be so easily done, making us aware of the job offer would have allowed Martin (and us) to sidestep the almost inevitable conflicts of interest that came up. Reporting firm job offers doesn't challenge the Rioters' position - whether or not they choose to take up the offer - but it creates transparency in a competitive environment where we ask for total neutrality from Rioters.
Following his four week suspension, Riot said that Deficio will still be barred from commentating on Copenhagen Wolves games.
They also noted, somewhat forebodingly, that "he will also be subject to internal disciplinary measures which by law are confidential." I think that means he'll only be allowed to play League of Legends as Urgot for the foreseeable future.
You can read Riot's full competitive ruling Martin "Deficio" Lynge and Karl "Dentist" Krey here.