On Nov. 26, the fourth on the case of Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho’s assault charge trials was held. A and B, who had close relations with cvMax and Choi “Sword” Sung-won, appeared in court to testify as witnesses. Interrogations went on for about an hour each.
The majority of the questions were about whether A and B actually witnessed cvMax assaulting Sword. Both A and B testified that they saw cvMax slam the chair with his hand but they remembered the details a bit differently.
Below is a full transcription of the questioning.
The prosecutor questioned the witnesses first.
Were you working as Griffin’s coach in February 2019?
Did you witness the accused assault Sword?
On February 9, 2019, I saw him slam his hand on the chair. Afterward, I had to order food with the other players so I was taking care of that. I heard a loud thump, so I looked back, and then continued talking with the players. I didn’t see what happened afterwards. It was something that happened quite frequently.
How many people were in the room?
All seven players were there.
Were the players paying attention to their own monitors?
So you were also looking at your own computer and then you suddenly heard a loud thump?
I was talking to the players so that we could order food. I heard the thump, so I looked back for a second.
The accused and Sword would have been talking from before that. Was the accused scolding Sword?
I wasn’t really paying attention to their conversation. At first, they were talking quietly, but then it got louder. Then, they went into the room together.
According to the recorded phone call when Sword asked, “Coach, could you summarize it again?”, you answered, “I think I saw shaking you holding your body here.” [The quote likely means to say that the accused, cvMax, was shaking and holding Sword’s body — Ed.]
I’m not sure if it was that day or another day. There were several days like that.
Are you saying that the accused shook Sword by the shoulder several times?
Not only Sword. I’ve seen him do that to the other players, so it’s several times.
According to the phone call with Sword, it seems that you saw the accused holding him by the neck and shaking. Are you unsure that what you said was on February 9?
I don’t remember exactly. I also heard it through the sound on the video. Since I can hear the chair sound, it seems right, but I’m not certain.
You said that you heard a loud thump. Did you not look and just hear the sound?
I was surprised, so I did look back.
How was the situation?
The player was sitting and it was feedback. Sword was sitting and cvMax was standing. It was a sound of him hitting the chair forcefully.
So you looked back and saw him make the loud thump noise?
Did he hit the chair?
How big is the chair?
It’s a personal gaming chair — it’s quite big.
According to the recorded phone call with Sword, you say that you’re used to that situation and it’s uncomfortable to watch.
Since I saw it several times, I couldn’t just watch from behind. I wasn’t able to be involved with the in-game situations, so I wasn’t in a situation to stop him.
It seems that the accused did that to Sword often. Did he also shake other players by the shoulder, hit the chair, or push the chair during feedback?
Did he do that often?
It wasn’t often.
So it didn’t happen often, but it did happen?
You’re also a coach. Did you shake anyone by the shoulder, hit or push a chair during feedback?
I did not.
I thought it was an excessive method, so I didn’t.
Did you think it was excessive and inappropriate?
How did you give feedback on players that didn’t perform well?
I think I just talked to them through words.
Did you think that was the right way?
Is it a common action to shake a player by the neck or to hit a chair in the LoL scene?
I don’t know about that. Griffin is my first team, so I don’t know how it is on other teams.
How’s your relation with the accused?
Did you contact him after quitting the coach position?
I didn’t contact him.
So you’re not close and you don’t have a grudge against him?
Following the prosecutor, cvMax’s attorney questioned the witness.
Attorney: While the prosecutor questioned you, you said that the accused didn’t have excessive feedback that often.
It wasn’t often, but when he did, was it usually related to the game, like when players had very bad performances or made frequent mistakes?
Does he suddenly get excessive in regular life?
Just about the games.
When the incident happened, what was your role in Griffin?
I was the sub coach.
What’s the role of a sub coach?
I assist and record things from the side.
You assist the head coach, record, and extract data?
Was Griffin disbanded because they didn’t apply for the 2020 LCK franchising?
Are you personally close with Sword?
I just contact him once in a while. Just when there’s something to be done.
Do you contact him nowadays?
Only when there’s something needed to be done.
Did you meet Sword or Sword’s lawyer before this trial?
Did they request you to testify in a specific way?
Sword is asserting that he was assaulted. According to your testimony, it doesn’t seem that you saw the whole feedback of the accused on Sword on February 9, 2019.
I didn’t see everything.
You scrimmed with Gen.G, and the accused gave feedback to all five players. Were you there at that time?
At that time, the four players besides Sword played better than their counterparts in Gen.G, but Sword really underperformed, dying more than ten times from the side. Is that correct?
In the scrim, yes.
In this situation, would a coach have decided that Sword needs feedback?
It’s a situation where he needs feedback.
The accused is the head coach, so he would have needed to give Sword some feedback.
When Sword recorded the phone call on Nov. 20, 2019, you talked about Feb. 9. Do you remember that?
Did you know that it was being recorded?
I did know, but I’m not sure if that was what we were talking about.
You knew that Sword was recording?
I heard that he would be recording, but I’m not sure if we discussed that.
Was there a reason you two talked over the phone?
There wasn’t anything in particular. I think Sword brought it up and we started to talk. I don’t remember exactly.
So Sword brought up the topic. Did he tell you that he’ll be accusing the accused of assault before starting the conversation?
Was it after the LCK operating committee started their investigation when Sword first said that he’ll be accusing the accused?
I think it was.
He didn’t mention it before?
Why did you say “he hit the chair, not the table” in what he recorded?
I was confused, so I misspoke.
According to what was recorded, it seems that you’re speculating from the sound. Did you not see the accused strike the armrest of the chair?
I was surprised, so I looked back, and I saw him strike the chair.
According to the record, you said, “I think I saw him hold you by the neck and shake you up”, but in the interrogation, you said you only saw him striking the chair.
When we went for dinner, Sword’s neck was red and swollen. I noticed blood marks from fingernails on his neck.
When was that?
I think it was around spring. I’m not that sure about the date. I told Sword that he should put on some ointment, but I didn’t put it on for him myself.
Sword didn’t mention any blood marks on his neck. Did you just remember that?
I did say it before, but I don’t think it went in there.
Did you see cvMax do it?
I didn’t see it.
Did Sword say cvMax did it?
Sword didn’t even know that he had blood marks on his neck.
Then you don’t know if cvMax did it or not?
That’s true, but Sword seldom goes out.
There’s no evidence that cvMax did it?
I just saw that Sword’s neck was like that.
Even in the recorded files where Sword submitted for accusation purposes, he doesn’t mention the neck.
We did talk about it before, but I don’t think he submitted it as evidence.
Even Sword, as the victim, didn't say that he was shaken up by the neck. He said he was shaken up holding the shoulder.
Did he say that?
Are you saying between the neck and shoulder?
Yes. Between the neck and shoulder.
It’s a bit different from what Sword said. Are you talking about what you’re speculating or what you saw?
I did see holding and shaking, but I don’t remember the exact date. I didn’t see pushing the chair though.
According to the record, you said, “Who watches assault, watches violence and likes it?”
Why did you correct yourself using different words, assault and violence?
I don’t know if the two words are that different, so I don’t think it would be considered as a correction.
To my eyes, it seems that the accused didn’t really assault Sword, but that the feedback process seemed a bit violent.
I think it was excessive.
So what you mean is that he didn’t hit the player, but it was a bit excessive?
The accused was strict with feedback when it came to the game, but was he close to the players in regular life?
Sword also called cvMax “hyeong” [big brother — Ed.] and had casual conversations candidly?
▲ Video submitted as evidence
According to the video, it seems that Sword kids around comfortably on a date later than the asserted assault.
In regular life, yes.
Sword says he came to a lawsuit since it was difficult to proceed with daily life due to the accused’s violent words and actions. But according to the video, it doesn’t seem like it. In your experience, is it true what Sword is asserting?
I’m not sure about that, since I’m not Sword.
How is Sword usually?
Usually, he’s really bright.
There’s an interview Sword had during the World Championship, on Oct. 15, 2020, about cvMax. He said “stop talking about the team”. Afterwards, Sword was criticized by the fans. Isn’t the reason Sword had a hard time that he was criticized by the fans?
That too — Sword usually doesn’t express that he’s struggling. He is having a harder time than then. It seemed he was struggling then too. It’s true that he had a harder time after the interview.
So he actually started to struggle after the interview?
The accused said several times, “Since we’re not robots, we don’t get results based on the algorithm from the command. So I’ll use a stronger tone for the feedback in order to deliver the message properly. Whenever you feel uncomfortable, let me know.” Is this true?
I’ve heard him say that.
Did he say that every day before practice?
He did say it, but it wasn’t every day. He said it once in a while.
After the feedback on Feb. 9, 2019, did Sword tell you that he was assaulted and that cvMax needed to apologize?
Later, the team signed Doran. Sword was 600 points on solo queue, and Doran was above 1,000. Was there a discussion that since Doran has potential, they have to give him more experience to prepare?
I’m not sure if there was a proper discussion.
Did Doran compete for the starting top laner position during the summer season?
How did Sword react to having to compete for the starting top laner?
Rather than any reactions, he just did well talking about the top lane with Doran like usual.
Did he say that he’s hurt to you or any fellow players, not being able to say that to the head coach?
Not that I heard of.
But after cvMax was released, did Sword start in all games as the top laner at Worlds?
After the accused became the head coach of Griffin, Griffin’s performance improved, got promoted to the LCK, reached 1st place during the regular season, got to Worlds, and became one of the contenders for the World Championship. Is this an objective fact?
I joined the team in July 2018, so it’s difficult to talk about before that. After that point, I do think he contributed.
Even so, director Cho Gyu-nam released cvMax just before Worlds due to insufficient results. Did the decision seem logical to you?
I don’t think it was due to insufficient results. I don’t know what they talked about, but there’s more between them after the finals when the players were on vacation. They were talking about some data so that might be where it came from. A similar thing happened after the spring split, so I just thought Cho and cvMax would argue about that and it’ll finish soon enough.
According to your memory, do you think cvMax left the team on his own will due to the discord with Cho?
All the players were sitting, and Cho called him, saying that cvMax is leaving for such and such reasons. The players’ reactions were, “Why did he make that choice?”
It doesn’t seem that the players know exactly why cvMax left.
At first, they didn’t know. Afterward, we had a meeting and they said, “cvMax should accept and resolve it well with the players”. Probably, cvMax wanted to check how much the players believed him. Cho said, “If you check, you have to leave”, and cvMax said he wanted to check. That’s why the players had to gather up. They gathered up, and they said he was leaving.
Do you know what happened between Cho and the accused?
I don’t know the details.
CvMax often said publicly that his dream is to win Worlds. Do you think he left the team due to discord with only one month left to Worlds? Weren’t you suspicious about it?
It’s true that I didn’t understand.
Standing in your shoes, if cvMax left, there’s a possibility for you to become the head coach if cvMax leaves. Wasn’t it regretful for you?
If I had the ability, it would have, but I was the sub coach. I knew that it would be difficult for me, so it wasn’t a situation where I would have agreed.
Griffin streamed himself commentating Griffin’s debut at Worlds. Did you see it?
We were preparing for the match, so I didn’t see it.
Did Cho tell the players, “cvMax is leaking important strategies within Griffin. You have to point that out in an interview”?
He said that cvMax said, “Mid Ezreal was a pick we prepared!” during the stream… After a match and it was hectic, Cho said that we should release a statement from the team. It turned out to be Sword and Viper.
Did Cho order them to do that?
Rather than it being an order, he asked for the player’s opinion. The players didn’t know anything, and just thought it was true. It was a hectic situation.
Did Sword say, “If you were really a head coach that cared about us, be careful for the team”?
After the fans found out through his stream that the accused was fired, they started criticizing Sword. Did Sword know that he was being criticized?
I think he would have known right away. The players look at the communities too.
How did Sword react after he was criticized by the fans?
He struggled a lot.
After cvMax revealed the Kanavi incident, did Cho and general manager Kim Dong-woo explain that “cvMax is a paranoiac and adds stuff to the truth”?
They did explain something.
Have Cho and Kim asked the players, “Did cvMax ever do something wrong to you?”
They did ask.
Do you know the LCK operation committee investigated cvMax specifically, about whether or not he committed assault?
Cho and Kim asking the players for what he did wrong, investigating cvMax specifically — looking at the situation, wasn’t this all Cho and Kim’s attempt to attack cvMax to obscure the Kanavi incident?
I’m not sure about that.
After Cho resigned, Kim called up the players and said, “This could be the last time. You are cowards and on-lookers. Sword is being attacked, and you are just going to be standing there like that? You’re irresponsible.” Is this true?
After that, did the player behavior change, become impetuous, and call other players that didn’t respond a coward?
After Kim told you that, did four people have an interview about the assault?
Do you think cvMax’s feedback on Sword was only to give him pain, without any purpose for education, to unnecessarily intimidate Sword?
I do not.
Objectively, do you think it was as much to bring criminal charges?
I don’t know the standards for criminal charges. I think it would be different for each person.
After Witness A, the prosecutor questioned Witness B.
Did you see the assault?
I did not.
Are you saying that you didn’t see him hit?
What did you see and hear?
We were in the practice room. We were looking at our monitors and there was a loud sound. When I turned my head, I saw him strike the armrest. The voices got loud and I saw him shake his body. [The witness didn’t mention who shook whose body — Ed.]
Did you see him hit the armrest?
I think so.
How many times?
Maybe once or twice.
Did the accused’s voice get louder after that?
Did you see cvMax hold Sword by the shoulders using both hands and shake him?
According to the recorded conversation between you and Sword, you said, “I saw him hold your neck and shake you. He did hit the desk, too.” Did you see that happen?
I think so.
What was the reason that you felt it was assault?
Sword went to a mental clinic and had drug treatment. He seemed to be having a hard time. I may have used strong words in an attempt to console him.
Did you say it was assault because you wanted to console him?
Did the accused shake you too?
He did the same to me, but I didn’t think it was assault.
cvMax’s attorney followed in questioning B.
You said Choi was struggling and was attending a mental clinic, so you wanted to console him. Him going to a mental clinic, was what back in Feb. 2019, after the feedback, or was it when he was talking to you on the phone in Nov. 2019?
He didn’t go to the clinic in February.
To your memory, was it around Nov. 2019 when he was struggling so much that he had to go to a mental clinic?
I think so.
When you first joined Griffin, were your monthly wages around 500,000 to 2,000,000 KRW?
How high was your yearly salary when Griffin reached Worlds in 2019?
I remember it was less than 100M KRW.
What was your salary after moving to Hanwha Life Esports?
It’s about XX0,000,000 KRW. [The exact amount was left off the record on purpose — Ed.]
Around the scrim in February 2019, Sword’s performance wasn’t that good and he made frequent mistakes, is that correct?
League of Legends is a 5v5 team game. If Sword underperforms at top, he puts pressure on his teammates, and it could lead to a loss at Worlds where all teams perform better?
Did the other four Griffin players want Sword’s performance to improve?
Sword is the oldest in Griffin and is the leader. When he underperformed, he said sorry first and treated his teammates more nicely, so the teammates didn’t criticize him directly?
I think so.
In LoL where five people play together, is the head coach, the one who maintains the players’ mentality, an important role?
In the police investigation, you had said that you saw cvMax hit the armrest on Sword’s chair, but you didn’t see what happened next.
I think so.
You didn’t see the accused threaten Sword’s body directly, you saw him scold Sword in a loud voice, but you didn’t think it was abusive language?
I think so.
In the recorded phone call with Sword in November 2019, you said “striking the desk” and then corrected yourself to “striking the chair”. Is it wrong that he struck the desk?
What I remember could be different since time has passed.
According to the police investigation, when the head coach would criticize a player, other players would just put on their headsets to avoid the uncomfortable situation and do something else.
I think so.
By “uncomfortable situation”, does it mean that it’s kind of embarrassing to listen to the head coach criticize a specific player?
It’s hard to recognize what goes wrong when I play bad. I think I said that because the situation where I don’t perform well is uncomfortable in itself.
Is it rather embarrassing for the younger player when watching Sword being criticized, as Sword is the oldest on the team, as well as the situation being embarrassing for Sword?
I think so.
Since everyone felt uncomfortable, had their headsets on, and didn’t see, there is actually no one who properly saw the feedback in February 2019, right?
I’m not sure about that. I was talking about myself. I don’t know about other people.
You said in the police investigation, “It may differ person to person, but it could be thought of as assault”, is that correct?
Does it mean that even if things happened exactly as Sword said, it could differ by person that it could be thought of as assault?
I think so.
Was cvMax strict only as a head coach, and friendly as a person-to-person?
Sword said that he struggled after the feedback on Feb. 9, 2019. In your eyes, how was he?
In my eyes, I don’t think he felt that uncomfortable back then.
Even up to when cvMax was fired, he didn’t seem to be struggling that much?
To what I saw, no.
Was it that Sword struggled because of the severe criticism from the fans after the Oct. 15, 2019 interview?
I saw him struggle after that.
Did Sword ever tell you or another player that cvMax has to apologize for the feedback on Feb. 9, 2019?
I don’t know about other players, but I don’t think he told me that.
Griffin signed Doran afterward. Did Doran start instead of Sword to reach Worlds?
I think so.
When Doran was starting, did Sword say that he was upset?
He didn’t say anything to me.
Did you think cvMax left with his own will when he was fired from Griffin?
Was that because Cho explained it that way?
It’s hard to answer for sure. I don’t really remember. I can’t answer for sure that it was because of Cho.
I’m asking if Cho explained it that way, that cvMax left on his own will.
I think so, yes.
Did you or other players not know about what exactly happened between cvMax and Cho?
I think so.
There was a player that was upset and felt a sense of betrayal since cvMax left just before Worlds due to some minor issues. How about you?
I don’t know about how others felt, but I think I thought I was really disappointed in him.
Did Cho order [the players] to say negative things about cvMax’s stream?
I don’t remember exactly, but he said that we should talk about the unfair situation in the interviews.
What was unfair?
Sword… Back then, something was being mentioned continuously, so that was unfair. I think it went like that.
So did Sword say in the interview on Oct. 15, 2019, “If you were our head coach that cares about us, be careful for the team” because of that situation?
I think so.
On the same day, cvMax said on stream that the reason he was fired was due to the conflict with Cho. He also talked about feeling betrayed by Sword and was hurt.
I didn’t see his stream, so I don’t know.
After cvMax’s stream, fans criticized Sword. Was Sword aware of the criticism?
How did he react to the criticism?
He felt tight. I think he struggled a bit.
Did he say that he didn’t know why he was being criticized?
He didn’t say it that directly. It seemed like it to me, though.
Someone said Sword cried, do you remember that?
No, I don’t remember.
How were other players’ reactions? Did they console Sword or have bad emotions on cvMax?
Actually, I didn’t really have any personal conversations with other players. We were all struggling.
Did you console Sword?
I consoled him after Worlds.
Did Sword struggle then?
I think so.
Do you know about the Kanavi incident? Did Cho and Kim call cvMax a paranoiac and say that cvMax adds stuff to the truth, and that the Kanavi incident isn’t true at all?
I’m not sure if they used those expressions. What I remember is that they said it’s not true.
Did Cho and Kim ask you if you were treated wrongly by cvMax?
I don’t remember exactly.
The reason I’m asking this is because after Griffin returned to Korea, the LCK investigated about assault. It seems that the investigation was after Cho asked the players if they were treated wrongly by cvMax.
I don’t know if it was about assault. All I knew was that Riot was investigating something.
Were you investigated as well? Did you write any statements?
I did not.
During Worlds, the players were unable to contact cvMax. All they were able to do was listen to what Cho and Kim said. The players wouldn’t have known the exact situation. Did you think cvMax was tricked by Kanavi?
I didn’t think at all about that. I only thought about Worlds, so I’m not sure if I had that thought or not.
After returning to Korea, were there players that said that they didn’t know if the Kanavi incident was real or not?
The LCK operation committee came to the Griffin team house to investigate. Unlike other teams, they investigated cvMax specifically. The objective of the investigation was specified to the accused.
I’m not sure about that.
Did Kim say to the players, “Cho was fired, and this could be the last time being in front of you. You’re on-lookers. Your teammate, Sword, is attacked, and are you going to be just standing like that? You’re irresponsible”?
I think so.
That night, players went to meet Kim. Did you not go?
I didn’t go.
Why didn’t you go?
I just didn’t do anything since I didn’t know what the truth was.
After the players met Kim, did their behaviors change, feeling uneasy, and say to you that you’re a coward?
I don’t think they said I was a coward.
Did Kim say call you cowards and on-lookers, and then said, “cvMax is Thanos, and you have to be the Avengers. If you hold together, you can beat Thanos”?
What I remember is that the purpose of the conversation was that Sword is in an unfair situation, so we need to help him.
If you helped Sword, cvMax would be attacked. Did other players think it was alright for cvMax to be attacked?
We didn’t have any deep sincere conversations. The players didn’t talk to each other personally, so I didn’t know what the other players thought.
After Kim called the four people, the interview was published. Was there a reason that you didn’t participate?
I didn’t do anything since I didn’t know what the truth was. I just heard that a certain article would be published on the day before it was published. I don’t know about other stuff.
Was it after you returned from Worlds when Sword said he was going to sue cvMax?
I think so.
Did he ever say he’ll sue before or during Worlds?
No, he didn’t.
Is it true that Sword was hurt severely after struggling from cvMax’s stream and being criticized for things like saying “grow up”?
I don’t know in detail, but I did see him struggle.
Do you not know why he struggled?
I think he just thought everything was unfair, so he struggled.
What seemed unfair?
Fans criticizing him.
What we think is: A) Sword was hurt from cvMax’s stream; B) Cho and Kim decided to attack cvMax because they were in a critical situation because of the Kanavi incident; and C) Cho and Kim induced Sword to bring up the Feb. 9, 2019 feedback incident afterward. Do you know if Cho discussed with Sword?
I’m not sure of that about the Kanavi incident. Sword didn’t say ‘let’s do this’ to me about anything.
Do you mean that you’re unsure about using the lawsuit as a measure?
You had said to Sword, “I experienced the same thing that he did to you, and I’m grateful for that. I think I was able to grow through that”?
Do you think cvMax did that feedback on Feb. 9, 2019 to simply give pain to Sword?
I don’t think he did.
The next trial was scheduled to be within December. CvMax requested for an additional witness. The next witness will be C, who was cvMax’s player and followed him to the next team. The court will come upon a verdict after the next witness appearance. The date of the verdict hasn’t yet been decided.