Renegades, TDK banned from all Riot-sanctioned leagues

by theScore Staff May 9 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports / NA LCS Spring 2016 / Riot Games

According to a ruling issued by Riot Games on Sunday night, North American organizations Renegades and Team Dragon Knights will no longer be allowed to participate in any Riot-sanctioned league.

Former Renegades owner Chris Badawi has been permanently banned from any team involvement in any Riot-sanctioned league, and current owner Christopher "Montecristo" Mykles has been banned from similar team involvement for one year. TDK owners Chris and Sean Shim have been indefinitely banned with the ability to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1, 2019.

The ruling states the ban is in response to multiple transgressions from the team's owners, including failing to pay players and provide a safe working environment for them, violation of a previous Riot suspension of Badawi, and orchestrating unfair trades between Renegades and TDK. Both teams have been given the deadline of May 18 to sell their spots in the North American League Championship Series and North American Challenger Series, respectively. The players and staff will be allowed to participate in the coming Summer Split, provided they find new ownership by the deadline.

According to Riot, Badawi, who was in the process of serving out a one-year ban due to attempts to contact players under contract with Team Liquid, had a deal in place with current Renegades owner Montecristo, which would have given Badawi a 50 percent share in the team once his one-year suspension ended. This arrangement violated the terms of Badawi's previous competitive ruling, which forbade any future ownership stake.

Riot said Montecristo failed to disclose the deal during the LCS team vetting process. Investigators believed this was "an intentional and material omission apparently designed to circumvent the clear and public ban of Badawi."

Riot also said Renegades deliberately misled league officials about its corporate relationship with Team Dragon Knights and the nature of trades between the two teams.

Though the ruling does not specify which transactions between the two teams were suspect, the most significant transaction was on March 3, ahead of Week 8 of the Spring Split. Cuong "Flaresz" Ta, Oleksii "RF Legendary" Kuziuta, and Alexey "Alex Ich" Ichetovkin left Renegades to join TDK, while Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong and Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo left TDK for Renegades. The teams played with their new lineups in the final weeks of the Spring Split and in the Summer Promotion.

Despite "repeated direct inquiries of the team owners regarding independence of the two organizations, terms of the trades, and status of players and payments," Riot discovered that some of the players who had been been traded between the teams were paid by their former team after the trade was completed, and continued to live in their former team's accommodations. According to Riot's investigators, neither team appropriately disclosed their continuing relationship with the players after they were traded.

Based on its findings, Riot decided to temporarily ban the owners of both organizations. Montecristo responded to the ruling on Twitter, calling Riot's accusations "baseless" and claiming that Renegades followed all league rules.

Montecristo's ban does not extend to any of his broadcasting work, including his role as caster with OnGameNet's Champions Korea. The Renegades owner said he intends to release a full statement soon.

RF_Legendary also disputed Riot's account.

Renegades' players and staff were cleared of any involvement, and will be allowed to continue participating in Riot-affiliated events. "We believe these individuals have done nothing but try to compete as best they can, and we will be working with them to support their continued involvement in the LCS," Riot said in the ruling.

The organization also said it had no reason to suspect any collusion by team players or coaches in the match between Renegades and TDK in the NA LCS Summer Promotion. Renegades defeated TDK 3-0 in the second qualifying round, securing a spot in the LCS Summer Split, after a disappointing eight-place finish in the regular season. TDK was eventually eliminated from the Summer Promotion by Apex Gaming and returned to the Challenger Series.

At the same time on Sunday, Riot issued an unrelated ban to Team Impulse, who will also be forced to seek new ownership ahead of the Summer Split.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.