When you think of Australian eSports, the one team that has been around and seen it all is Team Immunity. They've had more players on their collective rosters than most tournaments. But their presence within the Oceanic League of Legends scene has come to a shuddering halt, with Riot banning the organisation and its owners from the region for two years.
In a post on the Oceanic League of Legends site, Riot has announced that, effective immediately, Team Immunity as an organisation and its owners will not be allowed to participate in any official League of Legends tournament for two years.
"Team Immunity, an OPL pro team, has failed to meet the requirements of their OPL Team Agreement by not paying minimum match payments to their players," Daniel Ringland, head of eSports and competitive at Riot Oceania, posted.
"Despite warnings, Team Immunity failed to pay their players within a set time of receiving payment from Riot in consecutive splits." Ringland referred to the splits from 2015 only, with no allegation or claim that Immunity had failed to pay their League of Legends team in the years prior (Immunity having represented Australia internationally at previous LCS wildcard tournaments).
"In both splits, multiple reports from players alleged that Team Immunity failed to pay them their owed match payments within a reasonable margin of time. Upon investigation, we confirmed that these payments were outstanding within the agreed-upon time period and that Team Immunity were in violation of their team agreement."
No punishment is being levied against the players themselves, with Riot prepared to give the players "their earned slot" in next year's OPL season should they compete under another organisation. The Immunity players will also be eligible for selection in the upcoming International Wildcard All Stars tournament, which is being held later this year in Melbourne.
"The OPL believes it is important that professional players in Oceania receive match payments to compensate them for the time and effort they put into their play, as well as the pressures they face. We believe it is unacceptable for organisations to repeatedly withhold or delay payments owed to their players," Ringland added.
It's a crying shame for a team like Immunity, which has been the cornerstone and one of the shining lights in Australian eSports for over a decade. The move will undoubtedly bring their League of Legends presence to a shuddering halt. Their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team has already considered absconding in recent times, in the hope that they might be able to move to the United States (much like Team Renegades did) to further their eSports prospects.
With these incidents combined, it's difficult not to envision Immunity's other players leaving the organisation as well. If anything else breaks — including a statement from Immunity themselves about the situation — we'll keep you posted.
Update: Immunity announced last night that they are in discussions with Riot about the ban but the team is yet to formally issue a statement confirming or denying the claims put forward by Riot.