Year 2021 was a rowdy one for League of Legends esports. From wholesome stories to bitter controversies, there was hardly a dull week for LoL fans.
While we do like for Awards to be generally positive, we can't bypass the dark side of the scene. Today in the Inven Global Awards, we acknowledge the latter: the controversies that negatively shook the scene or tainted it to a bigger or smaller extent. Fans can also vote for the controversy which they think deserves it the most, and the winner will receive the IGA Community Award.
CLG's Countdown "private team meeting"
It was an embarrassing July evening for team CLG when one of their sponsored "Cooldown" videos aired on their official social media, broadcasting what could only be described as an insensitive display of management. After yet another tough LCS loss, which kept them on a path to last-place finish in the league, CLG and GM Daniel "Tafokints" Lee dropped it on his players that "this might be the last time we have this roster of five playing."
Airing such sensitive information and moment for the players was not taken lightly by the community, and CLG found themselves in the heat, criticized for handling their losses and struggles in the worst possible way.
Fnatic's radio silence on Upset's Worlds departure and internal conflicts
A polar opposite to CLG, Fnatic decided to stay quiet when their team was breaking down. Too quiet. The sudden departure of bot laner Elias "Upset" Lipp midway through Fnatic's Worlds campaign caused a heap of speculations — some tactful, some less so —which put the team in a difficult situation. While they had to stand up for their player, they also owed fans some explanation.
Fnatic stayed more or less silent on the matter, however, even when their players started throwing dirt at each other. A TwitLonger bout between Upset and top laner Adam "Adam" Maanane developed in November, pointing to a Fnatic roster in disarray. The org stayed silent still, leaving the impression of flaccid management which can't keep its house in order.
LPL/LDL's massive matchfixing scandal
In April, Riot China revealed that it's been leading a months-long investigation into "widespread match-fixing culture" in the LPL and LDL leagues, and the punishment hammer was harsh.
38 players and coaches were issued bans or suspensions, among which 12 lifetime bans — a carpet-bombing attempt at purification for one of LoL's best circuits. While it's unlikely that matchfixing will cease to exist in China, given the low salaries in the LDL and rooted matchfixing culture in the region that doesn't stop with LoL, Riot's stern and decisive actions against it have been commendable.
Maoan leaks draft strats to matchfix at Worlds
Imagine being one best-of-5 win from making the group stage of Worlds and then your mid laner is found guilty of leaking strats for the purposes of matchfixing and getting suspended immediately. That's what happened to Beyond Gaming on Oct. 8 and on that day, Chien "Maoan" Mao-An was the biggest LoL villain of the year.
Stupidly collaborating with bad actors and betters, Maoan got himself caught, fired, and suspended all in the same day, leaving his team to play with a substitute player against Chovy's Hanwha Life, making an already difficult match downright impossible to win. Disgraced, Maoan watched as HLE obliterated BYG in three games, none longer than 30 minutes.
Reginald vs. Doublelift
It's rare to see an esteemed player like Doublelift go against his boss so publically, but on one November night, the TSM streamer didn't give a damn. Accusing TSM CEO Andy "Reginald" Dinh of verbal abuse, harassment, mismanagement, lies and deceit and more, Doublelift went ham on one of LoL's most popular figures.
In the following days, Doublelift doubled and tripled down on his crusade, sharing more and more stories from the TSM kitchen, leading to one of the most heated controversies in the off-season period.
More from the Inven Global Awards
Best top laner
Best mid laner
Best minor region player
Player of the year
Best coaching staff
Best play-by-play caster
Best color caster
Best story of the year
Biggest controversy of the year (Dec. 18)
Best in-game moment (Dec. 19)
Best content piece or series (Dec. 20)
Off-season winner (Dec. 21)
Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)
Inven Global Awards panelists:
Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person
All images via: Riot Games
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.