Steven R. April 26, 2019
An ugly incident of racism has rocked one of North America’s most prominent esports organizations.
According to a report from Dexerto, Rick Fox is set to part ways from the team he founded, Echo Fox. The report states that this is due to racist language from a shareholder directed at both Fox and former team CEO Jace Hall. Both Fox and Hall are African-American.
The report does not specify who used the racist language beyond saying it is a “shareholder at Vision Venture Partners,” a firm that has invested in Echo Fox. It states that it has happened on multiple occasions with the most recent coming during a “heated email exchange.”
The Esports Observer obtained a statement from Echo Fox, who confirmed Dexerto’s report, including the allegations of racist language. The statement did not confirm what Fox’s future is with the organization, but stated that Echo Fox is seeking to break away from the offending party. “Upon being made aware of the incidents, the Company has made various demands to the offending investor, including the investor’s disassociation from the company and we are continuing to work diligently towards this end,” the statement said.
Fox first entered the esports industry in 2015 when he purchased League of Legends’ Gravity Gaming, which was quickly rebranded as Echo Fox. In the years that followed, Echo Fox became one of the largest esports organizations in the world, adding teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty as well as a sizable stable of top fighting game players. Though Echo Fox has divested from multiple games in 2019, the organization remains a major player in esports.
Rick Fox was an active front man for the organization since the team's founding, frequently representing the brand with mainstream outlets that hadn’t previously been interested in esports. This was also followed by a tidal wave of investment into the industry from traditional sports figures including both athletes and owners. But while most other crossover owners keep their esports endeavors at arm’s length, Fox can be regularly seen rubbing shoulders with Echo Fox players and staff.
Neither Fox nor Hall have made public statements on the reports.
Riot Games released a statement of its own on Twitter, announcing that it is aware of the allegations and is looking into the matter.
"We are aware of recent allegations of a team owner using offensive and discriminatory language," the statement said. "We have launched an investigation into the allegations and will respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules."
At this time it is unclear whether the former Los Angeles Laker is still looking to leave Echo Fox or if Fox may have already begun the process of divesting. The Dexerto report stems from an April 19 email sent by Fox, which stated he is looking to sell his share of the organization as quickly as possible.