A South Korean pro esports player is in the hospital after accusing his former team manager of match fixing and then leaping from a 12-story building.
The player, Cheon “Promise” Min Ki, accused his manager of lying to his players and the team’s sponsors in order to supplement his gambling habit and debt. Many details of his post, now with multiple translations on Reddit, have already been confirmed by fellow players and other members of the industry.
Ki (above, second from right) competed with team Ahq e-Sports Club Korea in the country's premiere League of Legends tournament, OnGameNet. But Ki's team, run by manager No Dae Chul, performed poorly throughout the 2013 Champions Spring tournament. And once it was over, Ahq dissolved.
According to Ki, the team never stood a chance.
At the start of the season, Chul allegedly told several players on the newly-formed team that they had to throw matches against bigger teams. Otherwise, league organizers would kick them out of the tournament. Ki and his fellow players struggled with the decision to throw a match, but the fear of being kicked out of the league overrode their concerns.
“I purposely did things to throw the game,” Ki admitted in the forum post.
One of the more experienced members of ahq, Kim "HooN" Nam-hoon, felt something wasn’t right. He convinced the team to confront Chul, where the manager’s behavior became alarming:
“[Chul] said we should bet against ourselves in the upcoming games with Najin later that week, throw both games to make a shit-ton of money, and then ‘Get the fuck out of the pro scene.’ We told him that we weren't interested in illegal gambling and wouldn't do it.”
But then, when the team returned home, they found that Chul had sold off some of their practice computers, and was emptying the house. Chul claimed that he couldn’t pay the rent or utilities, and that their main sponsor, Ahq, was demanding money back from the team.
At this point, Ki contacted Ahq for clarification, but the answers he got just made the whole story weirder. Ahq had only sent the team equipment and uniforms. It had never sent them money.
That meant the funds being used to pay the players’ salaries had to be coming from somewhere else.
So the players did some digging. They found that Chul was an active participant on the Korean esports betting website, Toto. It turned out that he was heavily into gambling debt.
Chul was telling the team to lose because he was betting against them. He planned to play the players’ salaries from the winnings while pocketing anything left over. There was no sponsorship, and there was no threat from OnGameNet. There was just Chul, and the team he had scared into throwing games to feed his gambling habits—a team that was being paid to lose.
But even understanding all this, Ki and his teammates played on. They settled with Chul to have him pay the rest of the salaries for the months owed, and then went right back into the season. But with only a couple weeks left in the season, they didn’t stand a chance.
Ahq ended the season with no wins, and dissolved soon afterwards.
In Korea, match fixing is a serious crime—some players have even served jail sentences. Most of those found guilty are banned from playing esports professionally ever again.
After posting his message on a Korean message board, Ki apparently leapt off a building. According to his friend and former teammate Kim "HooN" Nam-hoon, he was rushed to a hospital in Busan where he underwent surgery on his head and back. He suffered bruises and fractures but is no longer in "a life threatening condition," according to Korean esports news site Inven.
UPDATE: I am Facebook friends with Hoon who has posted that Promise is in the hospital in Busan but is ok. That's a relief.— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) March 13, 2014
Another Korean news site, Yonhap, has photos of the building from which Ki jumped, as well as the garage that broke his fall. He was apparently discovered by a passerby who'd heard some calling for help.
Another Korean League player has come forward to support Ki's allegations.
“I was sued for defamation last year for trying to bring this to light," Won “Mulroc” Jun Ho said.
"Unfortunately, by Korean law, if you use a person's real name to defame them, you're liable under the Defamation law - regardless of whether you're right or wrong. [Chul] insisted that he had received a sponsorship and I ended up having to pay a fine, but I was less concerned about a little fine and more concerned that he would sue [Ki] too.”
The Korean eSports Association, which manages the country's competitive gaming industry, has already formed a taskforce to investigate the accusations will request a police investigation.
Inven, the esports news site, is holding a fundraiser for Ki. Details in English are available here.
Screengrab via Twitch