(image via Riot Games)
The League of Legends Championship Series has issued a 20-month suspension of Li "Vasilii" Wei Jun in response to abusive behaviour he displayed last month on his Twitch channel.
During one of his broadcasts, the pro gamer screamed and threatened his then-girlfriend and overturned furniture, culminating in a visit from local police.
A few hours after that Twitch broadcast, Vasilii's League of Legends team ended their contract with him. Vasilii's then-girlfriend, who says she has since left him, posted online that evening to say that he had not beaten her, but that he "smashed everything around him and said some really bad stuff… Even after the police arrived, he was still livestreaming and cursing at me!"
The League of Legends Championship Series has its own code of conduct that applies to all players who participate. Vasilii is not currently signed to a team in the LCS, and according to today's competitive ruling from LCS officials, he won't be able to get signed to any of them until after the 20-month suspension expires.
At that point, it's up to League teams to decide if they want to sign him.
In the ruling, Riot Games stated that officials had interviewed both Li "Vasilii" Wei Jun and his ex-girlfriend separately, "both remotely and in person," and that "both of them denied that Vasilii physically assaulted her," although the video does show that Vasilii "made credible threats of physical violence and death threats toward a defenseless person in a private home that were intimidating enough for her to call the police."
Riot also noted that Vasilii has a history with "violent tendencies," and that "in an incident last year he showed physical aggression onstage, smashing a keyboard and physically intimidating a camera operator during a match."
Vasilii's situation was an unprecedented one for Riot, according to their statement:
"We consider Vasilii's behaviour particularly egregious, beyond the worst kinds of extreme misconduct that we originally had in mind when we devised the Global Penalty Index. As specified in the GPI, we reserve the right to modify the Maximum Suspension Time due to aggravating circumstances.
We consider the fact that threats of domestic abuse were made -- and that they were made toward a defenseless person and in a private residence -- to be aggravating factors."
According to the Global Penalty Index, the maximum penalty for "extreme misconduct" is a 10-month suspension. Other forms of bad behaviour, such as match-fixing or cheating, have the option for an "indefinite" ban. The ruleset does clarify that "aggravating or extenuating circumstances" give League officials the right to modify penalties.
The 20-month suspension applies to the League of Legends competitive season, which lasts from January to October every year, so Vasilli's suspension is, in essence, a ban until January 1, 2020. By that point, Vasilli will be 25 and will have not been able to practice with a team for years.
Although Riot has not banned him indefinitely, they have all but guaranteed his retirement from pro League.
Vasilii's competitive ruling has also inspired Riot to update the penalty for "extreme misconduct" going forward, so that "indefinite" bans will become an option:
"When we looked closer at individual cases like this, we realised that the Extreme Misconduct category of the Global Penalty Index has a wide range of offences that would fall under it. The current limitation of 10 months would not be appropriate for cases such as actual domestic abuse, which would warrant an Indefinite Suspension.
To account for these kinds of cases and the wide range of offenses that could be considered extreme misconduct, effective immediately we are adjusting the Maximum Suspension Time for Extreme Misconduct to "Indefinite" to account for the most extreme acts of misconduct."
Technically, "indefinite" bans already could have been an option, given that the Global Penalty Index allows Riot to make whatever ruling they so choose.
By their own admission, Riot Games had not anticipated a situation in which a pro player might turn out to be a domestic abuser. The statement also declares Vasilii's behaviour to be "not actual domestic abuse" even though it fits the very definition of domestic abuse, which is more than just whether or not you hit a person.
Despite its dystopian name, the Global Penalty Index does not account for the range of potential bad behaviours that can and, sadly, will continue to come up in the future. If the rules can be changed on a whim at any time, according to whatever situation Riot Games decides worthy of their notice, then it's unclear why the Global Penalty Index even exists, let alone what types of behaviour fall under its purview.
Vague policies like this one can introduce huge potential for misuse.
Compete has reached out to Riot Games to ask why the company chose 20 months as the length of time for Vasilii's suspension and did not hear back before press time.