After community members on both Reddit and Riot’s forums launched an informal yet in-depth investigation into potential screen peeking by players at Riot’s League of Legends Season 2 tournament, Riot has announced that while they’re not sure of all the details they will be launching an internal investigation regarding the accusations. It did take some mainstream media attention, namely from Massively and Kotaku, to get the ball rolling. In a forum post by Riot’s VP of ESports Redbeard he admitted that it was Riot’s fault for putting players in this situation to begin with saying, “In hindsight, the potential visibility of minimap screens for players was a mistake.” He does however go on to say that even though they should have foreseen the problem before the tournament started, they will be looking into the specific accusations mentioned by the community.
It’s hard to imagine that something as simple as screen peeking wouldn’t have been thought of as a potential risk when planning a gaming tournament. I mean come on, even before games were digital we knew the problems associated with peaking at someone cards in poker or the layout of someone’s ships in a game of Battleship. It’s the first rule of any competitive game not to let opponents see each other’s hand.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that actual cheating was running un-checked during the tournament. There’s a lot of noise at a live tournament such as this and people are going to turn their heads, it happens. But now every instance of head turning, whether caused by a large cheer or simply a stiff neck could also be viewed as potential cheating. This places unnecessary restrictions on not just the players, but on Riot staff as well who have to monitor players in real time. As noted in Riot’s original response to these allegations, players were told not to remove their headphones and had to remain facing forwards at all times. While this may have made sense for a small tournament held in a warehouse, there’s no excuse for a tournament with a multi-million dollar prize pool to use the same rules as a group of 16 year-olds at a LAN party.
Wouldn’t this have been easier?
While it’s easy to become angry with players who may have taken advantage of the situation it’s really Riot’s fault for putting any of them in the situation to begin with. Even honest players, ones that may not have looked at all, are now being scrutinized because they arched their neck in some way shape or form. Over the past few days Riot has been running an internal investigation into the matter in an effort to sniff out any cheating. Even if they do, it’s too little too late. They won’t catch everyone that did and may in fact unfairly judge those who didn’t. What happened to those soundproof booths they were using a while back? Obviously someone has thought about these risks in the past, what changed? You would think that these would have become standard, or that something similar would have been adopted for a tournament of this size.
I guess E-Sports wouldn’t ever have been able to become as large as it has without at least a few scandals, even though it’s a shame to see it happen at all. Hopefully Riot will come up with a fix to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but for this season’s tournament it looks like the damage has already been done.