Last Week in Esports (4/17 – 4/24): The Road to MSI Comes to an End While Overwatch Experiences A Slew of Scandals
From match-fixing to naming the official MVP of the season, both Overwatch and League of Legends have had an exceedingly busy week as April wraps up. Unfortunately, not all of the news is good. So, be sure to strap yourself in for another chapter of Last Week in Esports.
League of Legends
This past week was another huge one for League of Legends but, thankfully, for very different reasons than those outlined in my previous article. Last week wrapped up the Spring Split for just about every series, including the LMS and EU LCS, and Riot named the MVPs of the EU and NA LCS to be Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss of Unicorns of Love and Donghyeon “Arrow” Noh of Phoenix1.
The LCK, especially, garnered international attention when KT Rolster and SK Telecom T1 took to the stage for the grand finals. While the match itself was nothing spectacular (let’s be honest, it’s difficult to hype up SKT when they win literally everything so a bloody 3-0 win against KT Rolster was nothing thrilling), the high-production opening ceremony perfectly showcased the intensely competitive nature of the Korean League of Legends scene, putting emphasis on Lee “Faker” Sang-heyok’s reign as the king (or evil overlord) of League.
As for Europe, again, it’s no surprise to hear that G2 Esports will be making their return to the competitive stage after a 3-1 win over Unicorns of Love. While Unicorns of Love had an identical streak of 11 wins and 1 loss, it was made clear very early on in the series that G2 would continue to reign supreme in the European circuit.
Team SoloMid will also be reprising their role as the representatives of North America on the international stage. The grand finals for the NA LCS were significantly more exciting for fans than the previous two, as Cloud9 very nearly snatched the win from under their noses. The game started out almost boring for TSM and C9 fans alike as Team SoloMid rolled through Cloud9’s defenses to snag two games from them, only for Cloud9 to pull themselves together at the last moment to turn the game into a nail-biting thriller. With four games out of the way, the favor split just as evenly as the #TSMWIN v. #C9WIN hashtags on Twitter, it was anyone’s game. TSM returned to their comfort picks, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell on Camille while Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg pushed onwards with Syndra, but Cloud9 wasn’t going to roll over. It was a constant push and pull between the two teams, who also represented North America at Worlds last year, with Cloud9 having two dragons and a Baron while TSM only managed three dragons. It felt like the game was over at 38 minutes when C9 beat TSM into the ground in the second to last team fight that had them down to one man, but Cloud9 made the decision to back away and play things safe until they could rush mid with a full team. Then, in what felt like a blink of an eye, the game was over at 43 minutes after Team SoloMid claimed a critical teamfight, taking out three of C9’s team members and completing the ace when they pushed onwards into Cloud9’s base for the ceremonious tearing down of the nexus turrets.
Proving that they are still number one in their region, Flash Wolves will be representing Taiwan in Brazil at MSI 2017 after a 3-1 beatdown against AHQ E-sports Club.
The LPL still has yet to wrap up, with the grand finals between Team WE and Royal Never Give Up slated for this weekend on the 29th.
Unfortunately, things have been dour in the Overwatch scene. After an investigation that received much assistance from OGN, the leading Overwatch tournament organizer in South Korea, Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency Cyber Bureau have arrested Luminous Solar manager Jin Seok-hoon and coach Baek Min-jeh for interference with business.
The two actually had already received lifetime bans from OGN in February when it was realized that they made an attempt to strike a deal with UnLimited. In return for a guaranteed sponsorship deal, UnLimited was to forfeit their match against Luminous Solar, securing the team’s advancement into season 2 of the Overwatch APEX Challenger series. During the investigation it was also discovered that the two had forged fraudulent doctor’s certificates in order to use a substitute.
Match-fixing and corruption in South Korean esports is nothing new. In fact, much of the Korean StarCraft scene crumbled due to a number of influential and high-ranking players being brought down by match-fixing scandals, and it has become such a problem that South Korea’s government no longer hesitates to get involved. However, this is the first instance of corruption to rear its ugly head in Overwatch. Unfortunately, it would be naïve to think that it will be the last.
Meanwhile, Lunatic-Hai has stirred the pot some more.
In January, the Overwatch team suspended two of their top players for fraternizing with fans, a claim that was later revealed to be the two abusing their position as members of one of the best Overwatch teams in the world to pursue online relationships with fangirls. Both Geum “Dean” Dong-guen and Lee “Leetaejun” Tae-jun retired from Overwatch permanently following the scandal, but it seems like Lunatice-Hai’s lineup still has some drama left up their sleeves.
This time, “Munchkin” Sang-Beom and Lee “claris” Keon-Ho have been released for a medley of reasons. Claris, in short, has been accused of using cheating and poor sportsmanship. While he rejects the allegations as false, the flex player feels pressured to step down from professional Overwatch until things are sorted out.
Munchkin, however, was found to be using an alternate account named after his former coach for the purpose of harassing other players. On several occasions Munchkin denied the accusations, but Lunatic-Hai announced that he was, in fact, the owner of the alternate account. While Lunatic-Hai expressed faith in Munchkin’s potential for reform, the DPS has also bowed out of the scene for “self-reflection” after being caught in a lie that involved breaching Blizzard’s TOS against harassment.
Lastly, Toronto Esports’ Matt “Dellor” Vaughn has been dropped from their lineup after lashing out with a long string of racial slurs during a livestream when his teammate made a snide comment about his gameplay.
“Toronto Esports is an organization built on inclusivity, and we have always had a zero-tolerance policy for any forms of discrimination,” said Toronto Esports President Ryan Pallett in a statement, “Immediately upon learning of the incident, the player was interviewed, admitted to the offence, and was notified that his contract with the organization was being terminated.”
In addition to his channel being shut down for violating their TOS and being removed from the lineup, Dellor has officially ended his career. In a post made to TwitLonger, Dellor admitted his wrongdoing and said that he deserves to be dropped by his organization. After a laundry list of excuses, Dellor also explained that he has a history of anger issues.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have anger problems. The only thing I can say is that despite me using that word, I am not a racist. I was extremely upset, and I was trying to make the person I was angry with upset as well, and so I said the most offensive thing that came to mind,” wrote Dellor, “I [expletive] up, I have no excuse. Toronto Esports is a great organization and I am sorry to them for tarnishing their name.”
A certified weeb that passionately live-Tweets his reactions from esports events, Sian is one of those people that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. You can find him on Twitter @FriendlySenpai