Actor and former professional basketball player Rick Fox is set to leave Echo Fox, the esports company he founded at the end of 2015. According to a Dexerto report by Richard Lewis, Fox will be severing ties with the organization due to multiple incidents of racial epithets used by an Echo Fox shareholder.
Rick Fox's Email
Sources close to the situation informed Dexerto about an email Rick Fox sent to all major stakeholders in Echo Fox stating his intention to leave the organization:
This is an official notification of my intention to exit the Echo Fox organization as a shareholder and participant as soon as I am able to facilitate a transaction to do so. The recent outrageous and abhorrent display of pure racism made by a significant Echo Fox shareholder as well as threats to my family have made it impossible for me to continue to remain associated with the company.
I will not support or be associated with such behaviour and attitudes displayed at the shareholder level. Racism is an anathema to what my personal brand strives for and tolerating any form of discrimination such as this is not acceptable.
This notification serves as the beginning process of exiting the company. I will be contacting all relevant and interested people. My position in the GP and the entity that owns my shares are available. Depending on the proposal there are different ways to structure a deal, acquire my entity, swap positions, etc. Interested parties can contact me. I’m moving on the first deal that sits well.”
The email seems to have come in response to an incident involving a shareholder of Echo Fox and former Echo Fox CEO Jace Hall. Hall was mentioned by a member of Vision Venture Partners, whose esports division is an investor in the Echo Fox Brand, through the usage of the n-word during an internal business dispute. The shareholder's name has yet to be confirmed by Vision Venture Partners, Echo Fox, or any surrounding parties.
In Dexerto's report on the situation, a source added that this was not the first time the shareholder in question had used such language in relation to Fox and Hall. One of the anonymous source provided on how potential previous incidents contextualized the situation at hand:
“Most shareholders have tried to ignore this in the hope it goes away and this has forced Rick’s hand to leave. He obviously isn’t going to stand for that and was hoping the matter would be addressed on a shareholder level rather than just swept under the carpet.”
Since Rick Fox's foray into esports, he has become a non-endemic champion of competitive gaming and a welcomed, warming presence throughout the industry. Fox's direct hand in Echo Fox's signings of big names like Henrik "Froggen" Hansen, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, and Dominique "SonicFox" McLean. To say Rick Fox's absence would be felt in the North American esports community would be an understatement.
Echo Fox Responds
Echo Fox provided The Esports Observer with a statement following the incident going public:
"There have been incidents in recent weeks in which a limited partner of the Echo Fox organization, who is not an employee, officer or director of Echo Fox, used a racial epithet towards individuals both verbally and via email. One such incident was detailed in media accounts today. And although that incident was not directed towards an employee, officer, member or shareholder of Echo Fox, racial intolerance connected to Echo Fox is entirely unacceptable.
There have been other reported incidents where the shareholder in question used this same vile language towards Rick Fox personally. These incidents are especially significant for us as Echo Fox boasts an unparalleled level of diversity in its principal ownership group, management, leadership and player base. Upon being made aware of the incidents, the Company has made various demands to the offending investor, including the investor’s disassociation from the company and we are continuing to work diligently towards this end."
Unless Echo Fox and Rick Fox are able to come to some type of agreement to continue working together, Rick Fox's position and the entity that owns his shares will be available for purchase. Due to Echo Fox's involvement in the LCS, as the team's initial roster was the flagship of the early Echo Fox era, the outcome of this matter may possess huge implications towards Echo Fox and its franchisement as part of the LCS.
Despite this, the report has yet to maintain status on the popular League of Legends subreddit due to a moderator-installed ban on all Richard Lewis content, regardless of publication. With 2.5 million users, the League of Legends subreddit, dubbed "r/lol" for short, is the center hub of league of legends community discussion regarding the game and its competitive scene.
Lewis' ban is one of many unexplained bans administered by the r/lol mods throughout the years, though the recent frequency of bans has increased. Score.gg, Unikrn, Inven Global, and other esports publications have been permanently banned or shadow banned from r/lol without explanation.
While these bans may be a concern to the publications in question, a far larger concern is a lack of visibility on important news and a censoring of discussion that involves and concerns not only Echo Fox, but the entire League of Legends community as well as esports as a whole.
Riot Games has launched an investigation into the issue, according to a recent tweet by the lolesports account with a statement from LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley :
Stay tuned for live updates of the Echo Fox situation. We will continue updating the story as new information becomes available.