At the recent MLG summer championship tournament, two of the better teams on the roster decided to be less than intelligent for the day. The tournament itself was in the finals, with the top two teams ready to do battle for a prize pool of $32,000. The two teams in question, Curse NA and Diginitas had plans that wound up falling outside what everyone was expecting.
The first thing that occurred to clue people in that the finals may be less than authentic is that the two teams decided to forego the normal best of 3 match play and instead settle it in a single game of ARAM. (All Random, All Middle – an alternate League of Legends format popular in the casual rooms) This decision on its own did not violate MLG rules, and seeing as the teams said it was to ‘entertain the fan’s they were given the green light the unique choice. When professional teams are willing to play something in a casual manner as opposed to the proper way, this is a red flag as MLG would soon reveal.
However, this game would not come to be due to what was discovered by the MLG staff not long after the agreement. The two teams were working in collusion with an agreement to split the prize pool regardless of who won the actual match, and this is something MLG frowns upon. After some deliberation by staff the two teams were disqualified from the summer championship, had their share of the prize pool rescinded, and will not be earning any points in the North American MLG circuit. While this may seem a bit harsh, I support both the disqualifications and prizes being rescinded. If they aren’t willing to play it out for it, then they shouldn’t get it.
The Major League Gaming staff made it clear that both teams at least saw the error of the ways (more like admit to being caught,) by agreeing their disqualifications were warranted. While the exact reasons these two teams took these actions is still under scrutiny, it provided an opportunity to show the result of teams attempting to rig games. MLG and Riot agreed on the disqualifications, and it is clear they wanted to make a statement to other players that any form of collusion is unacceptable and will be dealt with.
Both teams have already posted apologies to Riot, Major League Gaming, and to their respective fans, but did not shine any light on why they thought agreeing to split was acceptable. Team Curse even went as far as to provide a video as their apology, saying they feel as though they disrespected the fans and the companies with their actions. Well, of course you did.
The silver lining of this though can be found looking at the larger picture of Esports as a genre itself. After all, the Esports genre is still struggling to take off in America and Riot is one of the foremost financial backers. Riot and the MLG staff obviously want people to take Esports seriously, as can be seen by the amount of prize money Riot pours into these tournaments. While it is nowhere near the amount as would be found in other professional leagues, it still isn’t chump change when you consider it’s for what most non-fans consider a waste of time: a video game. So when it comes to rigging, it makes sense to respond with disqualifications. After all, history already shows us just how serious sports rigging is as I can think of a few other professional sports that had a bad case of it in their past.