League Of Legends Team Owner Banned For Trying To Poach Players

League of Legends Team Owner Banned for Trying to Poach Players

In an unprecedented move, Riot Games has booted a professional League of Legends team owner from participating in its own championship series until 2017. The surprisingly harsh ban is punishment for the man trying to scoop up players from rival teams in the middle of the current LCS 2015 season.

The offending team owner is Chris "Doombang" Badawi, who heads up the North American League of Legends team Renegades — an L.A.-based eSports organisation that was known as Misfits until last week, when it officially rebranded itself and picked up a professional Counter-Strike team along the way. It's an inauspicious debut for a newly-minted team, seeing as Riot has effectively forced Badawi to divest his ownership in Renegades and retire from any "officially recognised LCS team position (i.e. owner, coach, manager)" if the team still wants to participate in any League of Legends Championship Series tournaments or other competitions. He also has to give up a minority stake he holds in Team Dragon Knights (TDK), another North American League team.

According to a competitive ruling Riot issued last night on its League of Legends eSports site, Badawi is being punished for "tampering" with rival pro teams by approaching their players on multiple occasions and trying to recruit them to Renegades by offering them salaries without informing the other teams' management first. This kind of under-the-table dealing is expressly forbidden by Riot, and the ruling said that the company chose to punish Badawi harshly for his repeated offenses because they are "taking a harder line on tampering and poaching to ensure that it is clear that they are unacceptable."

Coaches and team owners are allowed to try to recruit new players, of course, even if they're under contract with another team already. Riot only stipulates that management from both teams needs to be aware of these negotiations as they're occurring.

Riot's ruling identified two separate occasions when Badawi tried to hire pro League players already under contract with other teams — first with Yuri "Keithmcbrief" Jew, then later with Diego "Quas" Ruiz, both of whom play for the North American League team Team Liquid. Even though Riot caught Badawi trying to recruit Jew, told him he wasn't allowed to poach players already under contract in the middle of an LCS season, and explicitly warned him against doing so again, the ruling said Badawi did the same thing again with Ruiz. While Badawi admitted to Riot that he contacted Ruiz to talk about a position on Renegades, he denied actually offering the player a salary. Riot said in its ruling that Badawi's statement here is simply "false."

"Due to this pattern of willful tampering, we are declining to certify Chris Badawi as an eligible LCS owner and issuing a one-year ban on him holding any officially recognised LCS team position (i.e. owner, coach, manager)," the ruling said. "In order for TDK and RNG to be eligible to play in the LCS next season, Chris will have to divest his ownership stake in both teams."

Renegades players didn't take kindly to the news last night on Twitter:

While Riot has penalised team owners for poaching (and then lying about poaching) before, the company hasn't expelled one from LCS like this before. In 2014, for instance, they fined Counter-Logic Gaming's owner for $US10,000 for trying to recruit a player still under contract with another team, but they only ended up suspending CLG's head coach from LCS for three weeks. The ruling said that they chose a harsher punishment for Badawi because their previous punishments didn't act as enough of a deterrent:

When we considered appropriate penalties, we took into account the fact that Badawi had engaged in multiple instances of tampering, even when aware of the ruleset which expressly forbids it and after being directly briefed about tampering rules by LCS officials. Tampering is an offence which we take very seriously, and recent events have shown that our previous penalties are not achieving the goal of deterring organisations from this kind of unscrupulous behaviour. As a result, we are taking a harder line on tampering and poaching to ensure that it is clear that they are unacceptable.

Riot's ruling doesn't technically impact any of the other members of Renegades, and the team itself is still allowed to participate in LCS tournaments. But since Badawi was instrumental in bringing the team together, we'll have to see if and how it survives his forced departure.

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.


    With the possible exception of blizzard and valve, riot are kind of leading the way bringing esports to the public eye. I don't blame them for banhammering people in this manner. They want people to view the scene and see some sort of accountability, respect amongst players and officials and a generally well organised situation. They don't want esports to be known for whiny bitches and unprofessional behaviour because their own reputation and income sort of relies upon people taking them seriously.

    Pffffftttt! What a load! People should be free to discuss their employment with whoever they choose.
    all this does is mean that players are not in a superior bargaining position and doesn't force "employers" (team owners) to big for the talent they want. RIOT should not be fiddling with peoples employment.

      They can discuss it with their managers and higher up in formal negotiable meetings which authorised. The reasoning for that is they don't want players or teams/managers from rorting each other and also because it is specifically mentioned in their contract that these are the step and procedures they must take.

      Much the same as how technically with nearly all employment you're not suppose to talk about salary/wages/bonuses, people do but it definitely is something HR/managers would prefer employees don't do.

    Riot owns the players. Riot allows orgs to own players who are playing in LCS but the players are on Riot's payroll. This means Riot gets the final say on whatever rulings they come to.

    It's brutal because Riot is making an example out of this team owner due to his persistence in pushing the boundary AND the fact that he's a new kid on the block. Imagine if Riot had done this to HotshotGG (the owner of CLG) for the last time an org was punished for 'tampering'. The drama would have been overwhelmingly immense against Riot.

    Not only are they punishing him for doing this, they are basically REMOVING him completely from the game. He will not be allowed to own anything involved with the game for a year. Riot basically just broke him overnight with anything LoL related.

    Sadly though, this means that one of the new kids in the notoriously closed community of the LCS club may not be able to participate and it saddens me even more that it's the great Alex Ich who can't seem to get any sort of lucky break. The players really are the ones who get the most unfair punishment since they didn't do anything wrong.

    Whoa, I think this settles rather nicely the "e-sports are not sports" argument. This is precisely the kind of crap that keeps me from being an invested fan of sports.

    I disagree with you Link. People should not be discussing anything employment related when they are under a CONTRACT which specifically forbids this type of under-the-table negotiating without team management being involved. It is in fact unfair for the players if Riot condoned these behaviors, because a team owner with enough money can simply buy out all of the competition, which again is not fair. Paying to win is not competitive, it is cheating. Buying out all of the competition results in one thing; a monopoly.

    This same exact type of contractual clause - called a NO COMPETE CLAUSE - exists everywhere in the modern working world.

    Sure, I can go look for another job if I were so inclined, but if my boss were to catch wind that I'm looking to leave, while I have a no compete on my contract, well then I'm getting fired on the spot, with no severance, I'm shit out of luck and no good reference for the next job opportunity.
    These clauses are there for a reason; they promote and maintain the healthy competitive drive of a business.

    If someone didn't agree with the contract, they wouldn't sign it in the first place.

    Just as @nexi said, Riot wants and needs this eSports business to succeed and be professional. The more structured and professional the eSports scene can become, the more successful it will be at breaching into mainstream media entertainment.

    The majority of non-compete clauses are void in California.

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