Broken Promises, Lies and Unpaid Players: The Tainted Minds Case

The Oceanic region of professional League of Legends is a commonly overlooked corner of the eSports scene, but has been brought to the attention of fans from across the globe in light of a recent scandal. The Tainted Minds organisation are feeling the full force of a community backlash, with Riot Games similarly facing criticism for their poor handling of the case.

An investigation is now looking into the allegations of unpaid players and internal disputes, all stemming from ex-player Tristan “Cake” Côté-Lalumière 2,200 word manifesto which shed light on the issues within the organisation. Ranging from unpaid players to terrible living conditions, the team’s former roster are threatening to sue the team owners for their dishonesty.

Tainted Minds Players
Source: oce.lolesports

Team houses have been upheld as the ideal model for professional gamers and professional teams to create an optimal practice environment, yet Tristan begins his manifesto by stating that the gaming house did not live up to promises made by the organisation”

“- no computers
– 500 ping internet, unable to watch any streams or vods
– $50 ikea chairs (we were promised gaming chairs afterwards but they never came)
– house is really dirty, walking barefoot in the house makes your feet go black
– no working AC
– only 1 working shower, took a month and a half to fix the second shower.
– Fas and Nick rooms didn’t have doors, Fas finally got one after about 2 months, and Nick never got his
– no laundry machine, Fas used to go do our laundry, but after she stopped getting paid, we had no way of doing it. We finally got a washer/dryer machine that worked on 4 hours and 8 hours cycles, but only after 2 months.”

Tristan “Cake”  Côté-Lalumière

The ability to compile an entire dossier of issue with a gaming house is certainly a bad start to relations between a player and their respective team. Things may have reached a peak for the team however, when they went without groceries for roughly 10 days. The team was asked to take time to set up online delivery, this is due to manager “Fas” no longer being paid to do so. Tristan even states it would take up to four days for someone from Tainted Minds to answer their questions.

What’s worse than having no food for a gaming team? The roster’s internet started to suffer severe packet loss and the team could barely even play the game, review vods or watch videos. The house had no air conditioning, was infected by mould, had sanitation issues, and was generally unpleasant, forcing players to move the operation to an internet cafe for a fortnight.

Source: Youtube

Understandably, the team turned to Riot Games in hope of salvation. A mediation meeting was called between the affected parties, supposed to take place before the OPL Spring Split began, allowing the players ample opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming competition. In reality, the meeting did not occur until three weeks into the split after multiple excuses from both Riot Games and the Tainted Minds organisation.

Initially, Riot Games employee Chris Schubert was tasked with handling the case, though he was later relieved of his duties after there were issues with conflict of interest flagged, given that he was close friends with the Team Manager. The case was then handed to David Ringland, who also had ties to the Tainted Minds organisation – he had previously convinced an investor to invest in the OPL, which in turn lead to the creation of the professional team.

Although the meeting itself was under a non-disclosure agreement, Cake revealed that the meeting did nothing to help with any of the prevailing issues. The team returned to Daniel to outline the issues not being addressed, clearly stating their displeasure; the team even considered not playing in week 4 of the OPL. They were swiftly told that they had to play irregardless, criticised for not “thinking of the fans”.

The team rallied and played their scheduled series for week 4, before terminating their contracts immediately afterwards. Unwilling to release the players from the ordeal, Twisted Minds informed the roster that their contracts were not terminated and as a result Riot’s inactivity, Tristan later sought legal council in order to finalise the termination of his contract. Riot’s Oceanic division sat back and did very little.

After the team’s roster and manager went public with the information, Riot Games have since announced the launch of an investigation into the organisation, likely to have been prompted by the outcry for the global League of Legends community.

With issues like this having arisen in the past – a famous example being Team Impulse in the NA LCS – something has to be done in the future to protect players. It appears time and time again as if Riot Games are taking little action to first prevent, and subsequently deal with, scandals of this nature. Perhaps the argument could be made that similar cases have been all but eliminated from the cherished LCS, but there is apparently little being done to stop other organisations from exploiting their players in League of Legends’ developing regions.

A potential solution being brought forward by the community is to have a 3rd party mediate these kinds of disputes. An exterior organisation that teams and players can confide in to provide support and guidance would certainly lower the chance of this happening.

There needs to be protection for professional gamers across the globe, especially those in under-developed regions. Cases such as Tainted Minds not only halt the growth of professional League of Legends in other regions, but tarnish the reputation of all eSports as a sustainable businesses; all eSports are stained by the same brush.