The tension between Riot Games and the owners of LCS teams has recently reached a high point, with teams concerned about the present and future profitability of Riot’s esports organization. A bombshell report Thursday by PVPLive’s James “Obscurica” Chen alleges at best incompetency and at worse collusion at the top of Riot’s esports department, citing internal Riot sources and others within the community.
The allegations directly surround esports director Whalen Rozelle, of whom Chen says “it’s become very hard to find anybody to defend,” and LCS Chairman Dustin Beck, brother of Riot co-founder Brandon Beck. Through sources, Chen alleges Rozelle sided with Beck on issues to “build capital” despite Beck being underqualified for the position.
Beck, known to the community as Redbeard, was assigned early on to oversee esports development – no screening was involved, despite the responsibilities of the role, and his original assignation was to finance instead. He had no applicable skill or knowledge sets for competitive development, and it was demonstrated in his leadership over the department.
When Beck felt threatened by the complexities of the esports program, Rozelle would then build capital with him by agreeing and validating his concerns – even over the protests of other managers and directors.
Perhaps most serious is the allegation of Rozelle’s actions towards Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles, a shoutcaster for OGN in South Korea and the former owner of NA LCS franchines Renegades.
First, there’s this so-bizarre-it’s-almost-funny tidbit (one denied on Twitter by recently-hired shoutcaster Isaac “Azael” Cummings Bentley).
‘When new casters were being interviewed, and this was back in early 2015, late 2014, they were asked a question: “who is the better analyst, Jatt or MonteCristo?” If you answered Monte, Whalen stopped the interview to explain to you why you were wrong.’
Jatt also addressed this in a Twitlonger, saying that while the question was asked, Whalen challenged candidates on their answer regardless of which caster they picked in order to test their ability to think critically.
Not so funny is this one, a possibly criminal allegation with sourcing not as strong as some of the others in the story (emphasis ours):
According to sources close to the deal, the sale of EU team Renegades Banditos was thrust upon its owners in the 11th hour: four different offers were submitted to Rozelle, from private investors to current team managers. There is suspicion that the sale was forced upon Badawi and Mykles in order to benefit parties that Rozelle had prior business relations with, but this has not been adequately substantiated – sources close to the team deny problems in the ownership – though the fact that they were forced to accept a unilateral decision plagues the propriety of Rozelle’s actions.
The report claims Riot esports has “no five to 10 year plans,” and cites a source saying the department is “just kind of woefully unprepared.” It also says Riot’s parent company, Chinese investment company Tencent Holdings Limited, is considering “a large shakeup” of who runs the LCS due to the latest drama.
A request for comment from Riot has not yet been returned.