With regards to the claims on verbal and physical violence that was enacted by Kim "cvMax" Dae-ho, three players and the coach from Griffin stepped up and shared their side of the story.
On the 20th (KST), Riot released their investigative results with regards to the controversy surrounding Griffin. Riot stated that Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho verbally and physically violated certain players on the team, so the competitive ruling against him was that he will be indefinitely banned from all Riot-affiliated esports events, from Nov. 21st.
After the announcement, cvMax stated on his stream that "I didn't do or say anything that was violent to the extent where I deserved such a severe penalty. Violence in coaching is dangerous because I could lose trust."
Regarding this issue, three players from Griffin, Choi “Sword” Sung-won, Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop, and Coach Byun "Chaos" Young-sub testified on how cvMax enacted verbal and physical violence through an interview with Inven Global.
The following is what the players from Griffin and the coach had to say about the issue.
Was there physical or verbal abuse by cvMax? If so, can you explain it in detail?
Coach Chaos: I joined the Griffin roster during the second round of last year’s Summer split. From the moment that I joined, there was physical and verbal abuse. I often saw him throw his notepad during feedback. To some players, he often showed aggressive actions. For example, he yelled at a player saying, “motherless play” (xx뒤진 플레이). Some of his other actions included striking the chair a player was sitting on with force or holding and shaking a player by their collar.
*Note: Calling someone motherless or insulting their parents is considered one of the worst insults in Korea.
Sword: CvMax once said to me that, “you can’t make a person who only has one arm clap. Other players have two, but you only have one [arm]. I can’t treat a handicapped person the same as the others.”
On February 9th, during feedback, he held me by the collar and shook me aggressively. After that, he called me to his room and said, “I’m not sorry to you at all. You earned all this. Do you know what you did wrong?”
He also said I’m disgusting and that he can’t handle me. He said that if we lose because of me, he’ll follow me to the end of the world to get revenge or that he’ll kill me. He also heavily cursed in a phone call, which I have a recording of.
Tarzan: I wasn’t the victim of physical, verbal abuse, but I witnessed him doing so to other players. While we were preparing for the Summer finals, cvMax once said to a player, “as**ole, you really f**king suck”, and that was strongly engraved in my head.
When I heard that, I’ve made a request to cvMax, “Can you please not swear?” and he stopped the feedback to tell me that, “You shouldn’t interrupt when I give feedback. In that situation, I had to swear. If I didn’t swear, it would have been meaningless.”
Rather: About 2 years ago, in a scrim against a team, our support player at the time taunted the enemy, but ended up dying because of it. During feedback, cvMax said about that play, “If I was a teammate in that game, I would have called you a ‘b**ch whose mom died’.” Back then, it was really shocking, but we just brushed it off, and even ended up as a meme [within the team].
After some time, he gave feedback saying, “Dead? Dead?”. After what happened, we all know ‘who’ is dead. These kinds of expressions were generalized and players just adapted to it.
Also, one player told me that cvMax pinched him very hard that he had a severe bruise. He told me that he cried because of that.
What went through your mind when cvMax gave feedback in that manner?
Coach Chaos: It was very shocking at first. Since I started my coaching career in Griffin, I didn’t know how other teams did their feedback. Our players didn’t appeal or object, so it was hard for me to tell him to stop giving feedback in such a manner. Therefore, I just accepted it the way it was.
Sword: At first, I thought it would be okay if I just do well. I thought that he was pressuring me because I didn’t do well in-game. As time went on, I even felt relieved when the enemy outplayed me and ended up killing me. However, I became afraid of the feedback I would receive for making a mistake.
It was really difficult to tell [anyone] that the feedback was oppressive. If I told my parents, I was worried that they would tell me to stop being a pro gamer, and to convince cvMax directly to stop giving feedback in such a manner was something that I didn’t have the confidence to do so.
Tarzan: I’ve never received this kind of feedback myself, but if I did, I know I’d have a very hard time mentally. I probably wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on the game because of mental issues. I feel bad for my teammates for not thinking about these issues sooner. I should have told him to stop long ago.
At first, I thought our results were good because of such feedback, but looking back, I know I was wrong. There were things where cvMax definitely crossed the line.
Rather: For me, cvMax was the first Head Coach that I’ve experienced. I’ve often pondered whether or not his style of feedback was the norm.
In his stream, cvMax said that the players tacitly agreed with his style of feedback. Do you agree?
Tarzan: Since we didn’t say anything, he must have thought that everyone agreed. I can see why cvMax may have considered it as a tacit agreement, because everyone was silent. However, does anyone feel good to be cursed at? I didn’t feel good when I’ve overheard cvMax insulting other players.
Sword: I thought if I didn’t agree with his style of feedback, it could affect the other players. So I kept thinking it’ll all be okay if I do well. But he’s misunderstanding things if he says that we agreed to his style of feedback. He was our Head Coach, so we had to do things his way.
Coach Chaos: Isn’t cvMax the perpetrator? It doesn’t make sense if the perpetrator says that there was a tacit agreement. How is it different from bullies saying that their victims agreed to their actions through silence? Logically speaking, it makes no sense.
Rather: As I said, since cvMax was the first Head Coach of my career, I thought that it was like this everywhere. There were times that I thought he went too far, but I believed what he said; that it was all just an act for the greater good. So I just endured it, and tried to not to accept it on an emotional level. If that is considered a tacit agreement… Maybe it is.
Some Griffin players aren’t in attendance for this interview. Why did they not decide to come tonight?
Sword: I believe that everyone has a different experience when faced with violence. There would also be some parents that don’t want their sons to be involved in this incident.
Rather: Actually, talking about this matter directly could be something that may hurt us as well. Knowing this, we agreed to do this interview to fix the things that are wrong. To be honest, even at this moment, I’m scared.
Head Coach cvMax thinks that us coming out is equivalent to dividing up the team and taking sides. The players were really hurt emotionally and went through a really rough time. I just wanted to stop anyone getting any more hurt from this incident. I’m just telling what I’ve experienced with cvMax and I want to fix what’s wrong.
Some players on the team felt uncomfortable doing an interview about this. Unlike us, they’ve said that it’s hard to step up and voice their opinions.
To those that will be reading this interview, is there anything that you really want to tell them?
Rather: There’s a lot of false information about Sword. I hope that people will stop falsely accusing him of things that he didn’t do. The rumor that players are taking sides is simply not true as well. In time, I personally want to tell my side of the story, whether it’s through my personal stream or an interview.
Any criticism of a pro player’s poor performance is something that the players have to deal with on their own. However, I really wish that the personal attacks and slander will stop. We, as players, are human as well, so we do get hurt a lot. I hope that the people that type negative comments online will think twice about the weight of their words before they comment.
Tarzan: I was really afraid to do this interview, and I even selfishly thought about whether or not I could get hurt. However, I’m here to only tell the truth, and tonight, I’ve told nothing but the truth, so I know I won’t get hurt. I’m here on my own will to talk about nothing but the truth.
Sword: I realized that part of the reason why the popular opinion about me is so negative is my fault. However, there are those that still believe in me until the very end. I’d like to thank them so much for their support. At Worlds, I know that I played horribly, to the point where I have nothing to say about it. I’m reflecting on my poor performance, and I want to tell the people that believed in me that I’m sorry.
Coach Chaos: Just like Tarzan, there were many facts that were twisted, so I came here tonight to tell the truth. Didn’t cvMax said everything he wanted on his stream? We couldn’t at the time because we were preparing for Worlds, so we wanted to take this chance to tell our side of the story.