TSM Responds to Allegations of Shady LCS Recruitment Methods
Team SoloMid found themselves in a spot of bother Tuesday afternoon when it was revealed that they were posting messages in their Discord talking about approaching various players for recruitment. This means of TSM recruitment was allegedly done behind the backs of management, according to reports from both Duncan “Thorin” Shields and later corroborated by Inven Global reporter Nick Geracie.
The allegations showed that Team SoloMid was attempting to recruit members of Clutch Gaming and Schalke 04, but were subsequently unsuccessful. These messages were recorded on Team SoloMid’s Discord server and were used to question TSM’s methods, as these moves were never reported publicly before this.
However, TSM quickly issued their statement on the situation, clearing up the issue as a means of “transparency” with their fans, and claiming that they had spoken with management on each potential trade, doing so above board.
“The whole point of the TSM discord messages to our fans was to show that we DID try for these big roster moves,” TSM President Leena Xu said in a statement. “We did not approach the players directly, 100% went through management. The buyout that we offered was to Clutch and Shalke, not to the players themselves. And I felt ok talking about these incidents since they are far in the past (Clutch is no longer even in the LCS anymore.) At any point, if there were any issues teams would have reported TSM to Riot. In both incidents, the past ones and the most recent trade, we worked with the teams and Riot to make sure everything is above board.”
Why Was This a Big Deal?
Team SoloMid only recently confirmed the signing of Peter “Doublelift” Yileng, who returned from a period on Team Liquid. The implication in these messages and the allegations might have suggested that Xu and TSM acted improperly in trying to recruit him, despite approval and review from Riot Games. Additionally, if TSM had been acting improperly in the past, they might have been subject to various fines and punishment from Riot Games.
The review process for any trade in LCS is stringent and all communications must be shown to the LCS head office for approval, just to avoid any situation such as this. As Xu noted in her statement, it’s quite likely that if a team had discovered that Xu was acting improperly, she would have been reported to the LCS office and summarily punished. Given that this did not happen, it’s quite likely that she is telling the truth in this instance.
These rules were set up because other teams had been accused of tampering with rosters in the past, most notably in the situation involving Montecristo’s former team Renegades. Additionally, other rosters have been accused of tampering in the past, including G2 Esports, but that claim was never substantiated in official reporting and was only rumored.
What Does the LCS Rulebook Say About Roster Tampering?
The rule in question in the LCS rulebook reads as follows:
“14.4.9: No Poaching or Tampering. No Team Member or Affiliate of a Team may solicit, lure, or make an offer of employment to any Team Member, nor encourage any such Head Coach or Player to breach or otherwise terminate a contract with said Team. A Head Coach or Player may not solicit a Team to violate this rule. A Head Coach or Player may express publicly their desire to leave their Team and encourage any and all interested pares to contact their management (i.e. a general statement aimed at the entire marketplace). But, to be clear, the Head Coach or Player may not entice a Team directly to reach out to their management or attempt to violate their contractual obligations (i.e. a Player cannot contact or callout a Team and suggest that they inquire about the Player). Violations of this rule shall be subject to penalties at the discretion of League Officials. To inquire about the status of a Head Coach or Player from another Team, managers must contact the management of the Team that the Player and/or Head Coach is currently contracted with. The inquiring Team must provide visibility to League Officials before being able to discuss the contract with a Player.”
TSM seems to be out of hot water for now, but hopefully, the situation shed light for fans on how recruitment in the LCS works behind the scenes.