This week, the League of Legends-centered part of the Internet blew up in one of the most heated LoL related drama shitstorms ever. As a result, rivals came together, Reddit actually agreed on something, and Riot Games experienced one of the biggest Public Relations disasters ever, when their Co-CEO made some misguided comments on Reddit.
Let’s start from the beginning. During the Semi Final matches of the NA LCS, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, the owner of Team SoloMid, one of the most successful teams in western League of Legends, gave an interview for thescoreesports.com to William “scarra” Li. In it, the two former pros discussed the harm done by the newest patch dropped on everyone’s heads just before the Playoffs of the LCS. This patch removed the possibility of lane swaps, which skewered a big tactic used by professional teams, marginalising months if not years of practice spent mastering it.
Then, the interview’s focus changed to money matters, due to a video made by Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykkles on League of Legends team’s revenue streams. Speaking about the subject, Reginald essentially agreed with MonteCristo, opening a can of worms, which provoked an emotional response from the Riot Games Co-Founder. He made commented on a Reddit post. It can’t be seen anymore because Merril edited it later, softening his tone a little, however, just like always, someone took a screenshot. This particular one comes from the video from MonteCristo, where he spent an hour going over Merril’s statement point by point. The video is embedded into the article, the link is HERE.
Basically, Tryndamere’s statement implied that Reginald should pay more to his players if he’s so concerned with their well-being, instead of investing his millions in profit in other eSports games. Both Duncan “Thorin” Shields’ video on the matter, Reginald’s Twitlonger response (linked HERE), and MonteCristo’s videos said everything I would say in a more succinct manner. If you find the matter interesting at all or you want to know more about how eSports work, I implore you to watch the videos. And other resources. For your convenience, I will link to everything at the bottom of this article.
Now, concerning my thoughts about this… I will assume that you know what’s been said in all the relevant sources. Basically, Marc Merril screwed up very badly. No matter what he said on this matter, it would have resulted in his argument being analysed word for word because League fans are a passionate people and TSM has one of the biggest fanbases in the Western Hemisphere. A CEO of a billion dollar company should know better than to make statements on such sensitive subjects without at least running it through the PR department. If he did and they green-lit that post, I don’t know what to say, to be honest. Anyway, instead of a neutral and fact-based response, Marc Merril gave in to his emotions, posting an emotional response and coming off as pettily attacking Reginald, while also being wrong on many of his points, as shown by both MonteCristo and Thorin.
Once Marc Merril had a chance to discuss this with his PR people, he published a TwitLonger post (that is NOT an acceptable avenue for communication for a CEO of a company, which made over a billion dollars last year, by the way), backpedaling on many of his statements, answering in a much more PR-friendly block of text. That will be linked below as well. The damage has been done, though.
The whole matter helped unite team owners. Reportedly, they sent a collective letter to Tryndamere, trying to suggest ways to resolve the situation. Normally, Riot Games could easily ignore the whole matter and play it off as owners being greedy if they refuse to back down and go on strike or something, however, this scandal created a different narrative, a narrative where Riot Games and Marc Merril are “the enemy.” Now, they have to be seen doing something or it could really impact their bottom line. The option of shifting the public’s ire on the players is more or less off the table now. Once people make up their mind, it’s very hard to change it.