Even in the most high-profile, seemingly respectable sports, corruption occasionally rears its ugly head. And it seems that e-sports are no exception.
South Korean player Cheon Min-Ki, better known online as AHQ K Promise, AD Pimir and Patience, levelled some serious accusations at his League of Legends team AHQ last night, claiming that the team was created with corrupt intentions, and that the scandal had ruined his professional gaming career. So serious was the situation that Min-Ki found himself in that he attempted suicide; his post explaining the situation was also intended to serve as his suicide note.
According to Min-Ki, the team AHQ was set up by manager Noh Dae Chul around the time of the spring League of Legends championships last year. Min-Ki and his teammates were told that they would be provided with cash and computers, but it later transpired that Dae Chul had taken out a loan to pay for the team's living expenses and salaries, and was intending on placing illegal bets on the team's matches to make the borrowed money back with some profit. In order for this to work, the matches would have to be fixed; Min-Ki and his teammates would have to throw the games.
On top of that, Min-Ki claims that Dae Chul also told the team that if they didn't lose against certain teams, Korean e-sports broadcaster OnGameNet (organizer of the largest League of Legends tournament in South Korea) would disqualify them from future competitions. This was, of course, a lie, but Min-Ki and his comrades weren't to know that at the time.
Not all of the team was privy to the match-fixing arrangements -- only Min-Ki, Dae Chul and one other teammate knew about it initially, but Min-Ki and his teammate eventually confided in the rest of the team, and they agreed to confront Dae Chul who, meanwhile, was selling off the team's practice computers and other equipment while encouraging the team to bet against themselves, throw the match and get out of the e-sports scene. The team, now fully aware of what was going on, refused, and eventually, after several hours of arguing, came to an agreement with Dae Chul for their salaries to be paid for the months owed, plus any prize money they might win from OnGameNet.
Unfortunately, the damage was done; Dae Chul's machinations coupled with the team's inability to practice meant that they lost their last game.
"We could have done better," wrote Min-Ki in his post, translated in full on Reddit -- a sobering read. "I know I could have done better, but thanks to these events my professional career was over. After practicing to my best for a year, all I had left was a feeling of emptiness."
Min-Ki attempted suicide shortly after posting his confessions, but survived. The most recent reports claim he is awake, but still in critical condition. Meanwhile, the Korean E-Sports Association (KESPA), the Korean arm of League of Legends publisher Riot Games and the local authorities are investigating the matter, and Korean e-sports site Inven is running a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for Min-Ki's medical bills -- full details are here.