There’s a massive corruption ring that’s slowly being unraveled in the realm of Korean e-sports thanks to some drama that unfolded involving e-sports coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho that led to his being ousted from the League of Legends team Griffin. Kim didn’t take the boot lying down, though. He retaliated by whistle-blowing on Griffin owner, Cho Kyu-nam, who allegedly engaged in illegal contracts and fraud in order to profit off of having an under-aged player transfer to their team while scalping money off the side during the trade. All of this corruption has led to Congressman Ha Tae Kyung launching an investigation into the situation, which uncovered even more corruption, which led to him announcing measures to prosecute all wrongdoers involved.
There’s a lengthy series of events that unraveled leading up to getting Ha Tae-Kyung involved. South Korean outlet This Is Game published a dated timeline back on November 22nd, 2019 that starts as far back as August 18th, 2019 when Griffin managed first place in the LCK 2019 season. From there, it follows the events leading up to Kim Dae-ho being fired on September 1st, 2019.
The article covers how the team and the manager, Cho Kyu-nam, constructed a story about Kim Dae-ho being abusive and assaulting players, which they claim is what led to his dismissal. However, Kim Dae-ho rebutted those claims and leaked footage revealed that it was actually Cho Kyu-nam who was doing the bullying and badmouthing Kim Dae-ho in front of the Griffin members.
Kim Dae-ho attempted to go public with exposing Cho Kyu-nam, revealing that coaches only received $300 a month, and that transfer salaries could extend between $600,000 and $1 million.
This revelation was taking place while Cho Kyu-nam was attempting to sign Seo ‘Kanavi’ Jin-hyeok by tampering with his contract and threatening that if he didn’t sign with Griffin he would “have trouble in the future”.
Since Kanavi was only 17, and thus underage, and had no proper legal guardians, Cho Kyu-nam worked with forgers to tamper with Kanavi’s contract to get him signed to Griffin. In the process, he allegedly scalped any additional funds during the trade via manipulating the terms of the contract.
Well, all of that came crashing down when Kim Dae-ho blew the whistle on Cho Kyu-nam and his scam.
As reported by Daily E-Sports, the revelation from Kim Dae-ho caught the attention of Congressman Ha Tae-Kyung, who is known for being outspoken on corruption issues, as evident with his involvement in PDX101 vote-rigging scandal back in July of 2019, as reported by Vlive.TV.
The eyes of ethics were fixated on Cho Kyu-nam, and Ha Ta Kyung wasn’t going to let anyone escape the headlights of justice.
Dexerto had reported on October 22nd, 2019 that as the heat was being brought down on Griffin by Ha Tae-Kyung’s investigation, one of the sponsors of Griffin who was allegedly involved with the trade scandal involving Kanavi, Still8, issued a statement apologizing to the fans.
Cho Kyu-nam resigned on November 12th, while Kim Dae-ho moved to a different e-sports team, DragonX.
Riot Games finally stepped in after they had the LCK Committee launch an investigation into the claims of abuse and contract tampering. On their official website, they posted an update on November 21st, 2019 announcing that both Cho Kyu-nam and Kim Dae-ho were indefinitely suspended from League of Legends e-sports competition. Team Griffin was also fined 100 million won, which is the equivalent of around $85,000 USD.
They claimed that the reports against Kim Dae-ho for alleged “abuse” were going to be upheld, even though there was no evidence of abuse. But they also stated that Cho Kyu-nam would be banned for manipulating Kanavi’s contract in order to force him to sign with Griffin even against his will.
Kim Dae-ho reproached these allegations and made a video addressing the issue on November 21st, 2019.
Around the same time, Congressman Ha Tae-Kyung had issued a press statement, as depicted on Naver.com, and went through the painstaking details of the initial contract manipulation that was handled by Cho Kyu-nam, and the coercion of signing Kanavi to the team.
But it wasn’t just an investigation.
As reported by Inven, Congressman Ha claimed that the contracts were like “slave contracts” and that the corruption spread beyond just Griffin and Cho Kyu-nam.
Inven broke down the basics of what made the contract fraudulent, writing…
“The contract with [Kanavi], which was described as a contract with the club regarding overseas leasing, contained a fraudulent contract to transfer all the contract authority of the player to the agency. Griffin is said to be working on making this fraudulent contract by making the agency stamp look like the club’s stamp.”
The article notes that Congressman Ha has urged disciplinary action against all those involved with wrongdoing involving illegal contracts and victims of contractual fraud. Congressman Ha also urged the LCK Committee and the Korea e-Sports Association to “discipline” and “prevent” this kind of corruption from happening again.
After these events unfolded and more corruption was uncovered, Still8 issued a follow-up statement on November 25th, 2019 on their official website stating the following…
“Still8 and Team Griffin recently made unfair contracts with their players and have been vulnerable to abuse of their authority to violate their rights and to exercise unfair power and rights.
“First of all, I would like to express my sincere apology to our fans. We are fully aware of the seriousness and problems of the press release and the ‘unfair contract’ that the fans pointed out.
“We sincerely apologize to our fans and their players and all esports officials for the fact that Steel 8 and Team Griffin were not able to sign a contract with thoughtful consideration.
“We’ll be looking at all the issues that Steeleight and Tim Griffin have faced to correct the wrong contracting practices. We will do our best to walk in the right direction.”
Many gamers and fans of e-sports didn’t sit by idly, though. They petitioned the Korean government to investigate the corruption within the e-sports industry. They also noted that the LCK Committee and Riot Games wrongly banned Kim Dae-ho based on unproven and unverified allegations of abuse.
The petition is currently live over on the President.go.kr website where more than 202,000 people have signed the petition.
Following the petition and Congressman Ha’s involvement with the corruption case, Riot Games and the LCK Operation Committee deferred Kim Dae-ho’s suspension, as reported by Inven Global.
Riot Games issued a statement regarding Kim Dae-ho’s punishment, stating that they will have a third-party investigate the claims instead…
“[…] The committee accepts the fact that we did not earn the users’ trust, so we’ve decided to postpone our ruling on cvMax until further notice. Regarding this matter, we will also be inquiring a re-investigation to a 3rd party agency. We will be inquiring to an agency that has judicial authority, but public confidence as well. Not only will the investigation process will be transparent, we will be issuing a final competitive ruling by taking both sides of the story into much consideration. Finally, during the investigation process, we will be taking appropriate measures to make sure that there will be as little conflict as possible between all parties.”
During the time of the investigation being reopened by a third-party, Riot has allowed Kim Dae-ho to resume being a coach for DragonX.
(Thanks for the news tip JJJ)