MonteCristo speaks out on Renegades ban, calls for more transparency from Riot

by theScore Staff Jul 29 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Renegades

Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, former owner of NA LCS's Renegades, has released an hour-long video in which he comprehensively goes through the chain of events that led to he and his team being banned from Riot events after accusations of violating team ownership rules and concerns over player welfare.

The video comes on the heels of an article on the ban from ESPN's Jacob Wolf, which featured comment and documents from MonteCristo. Wolf notes that Monte's lawyer, Bryce Blum, is an ESPN contributor.

Renegades was originally founded by Chris Badawi in 2015, but when he was banned from the LCS for one year after he was accused of poaching other teams' players, full ownership was transferred to MonteCristo who was a co-owner and friend of Badawi's.

In May, Riot made a competitive ruling handing down a one-year ban on MonteCristo and permanently exiling Badawi from the LCS, alleging that Monte intended to transfer partial ownership of Renegades' LCS team back to Badawi, which violated his existing ban.

"Per LCS rules, any present or future right to ownership is considered a firm ownership stake regardless of the date of effect, which makes any such agreement reached with Badawi during the term of his suspension to be a direct violation of League rules," the competitive ruling said.

In addition to concerns over player welfare after reports of an altercation at the team house, there were allegations of improper conduct between Renegades and the Challenger team Team Dragon Knights, who were co-owned by Badawi before his ban, after TDK traded the team's star players to Renegades.

MonteCristo takes on all these accusations in detail with documents, chat transcripts and emails.

According to MonteCristo, while Badawi was unable to serve as a LCS team's manager, coach or owner, during his ban, he could still serve as the organization's CEO with the ability to make day-to-day decisions in Monte's stead. In effect, Badawi was the team's manager while Monte lived in Korea. Monte says Riot was fully aware of this state of affairs.

“Riot approved of Badawi as a CEO of the team. He had no ownership stake in the league team. Now to be clear, he did have an ownership stake in the rest of the organization," he said. "The league team was an isolated entity that was owned by my company, Mykles Gaming LLC."

MonteCristo goes on to say while there was unofficial talk of making Badawi a co-owner after his ban, it was never formal and the team was actively soliciting outside investors before the competitive ruling.

Both Monte and Wolf state that the player welfare concerns were triggered by an altercation at the team's house between Badawi and player Maria "Remi" Creveling after she announced she was leaving the team. According to MonteCristo, Badawi threatened to withhold her wages to recoup his costs after he paid for what Monte calls "cosmetic medical procedures."

MonteCristo says team coach David "Hermes" Tu removed Badawi from the room and later that day he apologized to Remi for the outburst. She asked to stay in the team house for another two weeks while she looked for new accommodations, which Monte approved of.

On the issue of collusion between REN and TDK, which arose when TDK traded top players Shin "Seraph" Woo and Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo to Renegades for Alexey "Alex Ich" Ichetovkin and substitute top Cuong "Flaresz" Ta, MonteCristo says it was effectively a misunderstanding over misplaced paperwork.

Ninja was facing a ban for the entirely of the regular season in the Challenger Series and the first playoff matchup, just before the trade deadline. This, according to MonteCristo, made a trade involving Ninja mutually beneficial for both TDK and Renegades, though many felt the trade was much more benficial to REN. The teams decided to scrim extensively for a week to find the best compositions and lock in new rosters before the trading period ended.

“At no time did I ever, or Chris Badawi, own TDK after Badawi’s ban. I never owned TDK. Badawi gave up his stake in TDK, not an owner. We did not merge, we were not merged, we didn’t have commingled finances as is stated here," Monte said. "We made a trade that both organizations felt, given the status of Ninja’s ban and trade deadline, was in the best interest of both organizations.”

He goes on to share a chain of emails between himself and representatives of Riot Games in the spring, in which they ask for Ninja and Seraph's contracts. MonteCristo provided the players' TDK contracts and an Assignment Contract transferring the contracts from TDK to Renegades.

Riot asked for the Assignment Contract's Word document rather than the PDF so they could verify the players were properly contracted before they played for their new teams. MonteCristo took issue with this request, as he said the teams had been entered into a legally binding verbal contract prior to the assignment contract being drawn up. He told Riot via email that he would require his lawyer, Blum, to be involved in future conversations on the topic.

“I’ve seen what happens in Riot investigations before," Mykels explained in the video. "I know that they don’t like to provide transparency in terms of evidence. I know that they like to ask questions without giving you context and I don’t want to fall into some weird trap that they’re setting up or make sure that there’s some other person outside of Riot and my team that has seen what is going on and is an independent witness. Basically I don’t trust Riot."

An email Blum sent to Riot in response to their request for proof a proper contract had been in place prior to players starting for their new teams said Monte and TDK's new ownership "entered into a verbal contract" and they filled out "all appropriate paperwork to effectuate the trade under the LCS and CS rules." However, there was no written agreement until "a later date."

Riot next reached out to MonteCristo in April over payment allegations they feared meant Renegades and TDK were secretly merged. Monte theorizes this was because the former Renegades players' bank statements showed payments from Renegades after they were traded. According to Monte, this was back pay arising from an incident where the team's stipend from Riot was accidentally sent to another team house.

MonteCristo and Blum offered to send an affidavit under penalty of perjury to Riot affirming that neither he nor Badawi or any other members of Renegades had a stake in TDK. However, he never signed it because he was on vacation on the Korean island of Joju where he had no access to either a printer or a scanner and upon his return was busy with tournaments — though Monte acknowledges he was complacent in not signing the document.

Riot issued their ban on May 9, two hours after a Skype text discussion Monte had with a Riot representative setting up a phone meeting along with their lawyers, according to Skype logs MonteCristo provided, along with other documents, in the video's description.

Through the video, MonteCristo takes issue with Riot's lack of transparency during the investigation. Because they chose not to release the evidence which contributed to their decision, in order to protect whistle-blowers from retribution, Mykle's said his ability to defend himself is curtailed and that he is forced to guess at parts of what he is accused of.

"It’s fundamentally unfair and I don’t want to see Riot do this and I don’t want to anyone else in esports, any tournament organizer, any league operator ever thinking that this is an acceptable system again," he said. "It’s not, it’s not an acceptable system.”

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.