Yet more bad news is coming out of Riot’s troubled Season 2 World Championship playoffs: a number of spectators at the LA event have accused World Elite and Azubu Frost of using the spectator minimaps arrayed on the stage to cheat in their playoff matches.
Team SoloMid’s Andy “Reginald” Dinh added fuel to the fire when he released a video commenting on the allegation that Azubu Frost had cheated in one of their games against TSM (a series TSM lost 2-0) and agreed that from TSM’s perspective, it looked almost certain that Azubu Frost cheated.
The controversy centers on the two enormous minimaps stationed behind and above players on the stage at LA Live. They were put there so spectators at the event could place the video from the main screen in the broader context of the game, an enormously spectator-friendly addition by Riot. Amazingly, there was also nothing to prevent players from glancing behind them and seeing the entire minimap, devoid of fog-of-war.
In the first game against Azubu Frost, TSM went for an early top-lane kill, sending the full team to top at the very start. In a fairly damning photo comparison (via Reddit), you can see one of Frost’s players with his head turned to look across and upward across the stage, where you could see 5 TSM icons moving north along the top lane. A moment later, Azubu Frost put a warning ping on the top lane.
It could have been frightening instincts and metagaming from Azubu Frost, but as Reginald says in his video, it was not a standard play for TSM and it took advantage of Azubu Frost’s regular purple-side strategy.
“To us, it felt like cheating, and to us, it felt like the world has ended,” Reginald said.
Similar accusations cropped up against World Elite regarding their match against CLG EU. To those accusations, Riot’s lead referee J.T. “Tiza” Vandenbree, responded by saying, “We keep a constant watch on all the players on stage at all times. We have cameras as well as live people walking onto stage to keep tabs in everything. All players are told that they need to remain sitting, facing forward, and with headphones on at all times, including during pauses. I can personally confirm that no WE player looked at the minimap at any point during the match.”
It’s another black eye for the Season 2 tournament, which already descended into chaos due to technical issues yesterday. While there may not be enough evidence to convict, the evidence available is troubling and calls attention to the photo-friendly stage setup Riot used for the event. Other leagues like Korea’s OGN and MLG have used soundproof booths to completely isolate players from crowd noise, one another, and the spectator screens. Riot’s setup did none of those things, and so now we also have accusations of cheating to which one of the sport’s top teams have added their voices.