A months-long investigation into match-fixing in the Chinese League of Legends scene has come to an end, with heads rolling as a result.
Back in February, FunPlus Phoenix stated that Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo admitted to match-fixing in the 2020 LDL Summer Split. Since then, this case has been under investigation and the issue was apparently much more pervasive than just Bo. Alongside Bo, ThunderTalk support player Wang “Teeen” Yao-Ji was issued a four-month suspension from professional League of Legends. ThunderTalk jungler Xiang “bless” Yi-Tong has received a 12-month suspension.
Notably, while Bo’s alleged match-fixing came in 2020 during his time in the LDL, bless competed in the LPL in 2020 as a part of Dominus Esports. It is unclear whether bless is alleged to have participated in match-fixing in LPL games or if this was from his time in the LDL.
In the LDL, punishments were spread around much further. A total of 35 people including players and organizational staff have been handed suspensions as a result of the investigation. This includes the entire roster of Sheng Jie Gaming, with top laner Wang “Spunk” Zhi-Peng receiving a lifetime ban from competitive League of Legends. Eleven others were also given lifetime bans.
Match-fixing is a serious issue across all regions and across almost every major esports title. Things seem to be at their worst in the Chinese League of Legends scene, however. Each year, there appears to be at least one major match-fixing scandal involving a number of players in the league.
In 2019 a number of players were suspended from Rogue Warriors Sharks, which saw the team forced out of the LDL Spring Playoffs. In 2020, LGD Gaming saw a player and manager suspended for violating gambling rules. In 2020, Rogue Warriors found itself in the hot seat once again.
These issues came to a head in March following the investigation into Bo, where the entire LDL season was suspended due to match-fixing concerns.
Match-fixing is a serious issue in any sport, as a lack of faith in the integrity of competition can very quickly see a league fold up. The greatest example of this came in the early 2000s in sumo wrestling, which saw the iconic Japanese sport face serious issues when extensive match-fixing came to light.