Every League of Legends player from Griffin is now a free agent.
Just as the roster moves were beginning to calm down in the offseason, Griffin’s parent company, Still8, ended every single contract with their League team. According to Still8, the contracts were all ended after they were deemed unfair.
As a result, players could choose to become free agents. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, Son “Lehends” Si-woo, and Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon were released as free agents soon after Still8 gave a statement on the situation. Griffin said the agreement was mutual on Twitter.
“Still8 and Team Griffin recently made unfair contracts with their players and have been vulnerable to abuse of their ability to violate their rights and to exercise unfair power,” the organization said.
The company went on to apologize to the team’s fans.
“We are fully aware of the seriousness and problems of the press release and the ‘unfair contract’ that the fans pointed out,” they continued.
The organization first came under fire for their practices earlier this month when Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok was allegedly forced by Griffin to sign an unfair contract with a new team that was much longer than he desired.
Former Griffin coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho had revealed the situation on stream, stating that the organization had threatened Kanavi with a false report for “player tampering” to get him to go along with their plans. It was a situation that even caught the attention of Korean congressman Ha Tae-kyung, who stated that the government needed to “step in” to put a stop to “such a backward contract system.”
After an investigation, Riot Games Korea banned Griffin director Cho Gyu-Nam and cvMax from activities around the game. The team was also fined $85,000.
Riot called their actions an “undermining of the honor and core values of the LCK.” Their full ruling can be read here.
“We’d like to bow our heads in apology to all fans, players, and esports authorities for us Still8 and Team Griffin not being able to understand the players’ minds, and not signing a contract with a considerate relationship,” Still8 said.
The apology came with a promise from the organization that all contracts that were signed with “wrong practices” would be nulified. They noted that a new contract would be signed that would “fix all unfair articles.”
According to Still8’s statement, this process has already begun. The renewed contracts were not only for their League of Legends team, but all the esports teams under Griffin and Still8. While Griffin hoped that this would help players “grow alongside” them and gain their trust back, many players requested to become free agents instead.
“We respect their thoughts and will allow them to become free agents,” they stated.
In an exclusive interview with Inven Global on November 20, Choi “Sword” Sung-won, Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, and Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop, along with coach Byun “Chaos” Young-sub, accused former Griffin coach, cvMax, of physical and verbal abuse.
“From the moment that I joined, there was physical and verbal abuse,” Chaos said.
He described notepads being thrown during feedback, some players have the back of their chair striked, or even times where cvMax holding players by their collar and shaking them.
cvMax had even allegedly threatened to kill Sword if the team lost “because of him.”
The accusations have only created more drama in Korean League of Legends. Some retired players and community members have defended cvMax, saying that if he’s to be punished over these accusations, every coach in Korea would be deserving of the same punishment given how commonplace these words and actions are in the game’s pro scene.
cvMax has also disputed some of the accounts given against him and has cast doubt on the integrity of the investigation at Riot Games Korea. International community members have joined in questioning the neutrality of Riot’s Korean wing, though it remains a tricky subject for Korean pros to address given the near undisputed power Riot Games Korea holds over League of Legends in Korea.