Has The MSI 2017 Final Highlighted The Need For Tighter Security At eSports Events?

The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational Final showcased some of the finest moments of competitive play League of Legends eSports has to offer. As SK Telecom T1 overwhelmed G2 eSports to retain their MSI title, the team’s moment of elation was overshadowed as a fan from inside the stadium made his way onto the stage, scaling the stage walls to celebrate with the players. Has the ease with which a member of the crowd achieved access to the players highlighted the need for tighter security at eSports events?

The security concern witnessed at the MSI 2017 Final was the first of its kind for a competitive League of Legends event. The first international event to be hosted in Brazil, both the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro venues used to host the Mid-Season Invitational provided a spectacular stage for the high-octane action on display. The passion of the Brazilian crowd made for an exhilarating tournament, though the passion of one particularly jubilant fan has flagged up a previously unconsidered aspect of eSports events:

“A fan jumped from the railings onto the show floor (a 12 foot drop) and was able to run onto the stage.

“This breach is unacceptable – there needs to be airtight security around our pro players.

“We’ll be reviewing this immediately and putting additional security measures in place to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect teams and players when they’re competing at live events.”

Riot Games Official Announcement

As the confetti fell to signify the end of a dramatic series finale between G2 eSports and SK Telecom T1, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho’s celebrations were temporarily cut short by an emotional fan. First hugging the MSI champion mid laner and jungler before moving on to the team’s bot lane duo of Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, the SKT fan immersed himself in the team’s celebrations.

Though an innocuous incident, the lack of response from any form of stadium security has caused concern within the eSports community. Fortunately, the fan’s motives were as simple as wanting to share a moment with his favourite team, an aspiration the SKT squad were generous enough to oblige. Not every stage invader has sordid intentions, but it is not difficult imagine to a scenario where an individual could have caused harm to the pro players on stage – the infamous tennis example of Monica Seles serves as a harrowing reminder.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Considering the 12 foot drop required for players to reach stage level, it is understandable that Riot Games may have overlooked the need for floor security. Additionally, dealing with stage invaders is evidently not an occurrence that the game referees are prepared for, given the complete lack of response from the official standing behind the SK Telecom T1 squad as the fan made his way towards the players.

Many members of the community have suggested that player booths, utilised as a standard in South Korean eSports venues, would prevent fans having direct access to the players. The proposed solution is not without its critics however, with dissenting voices arguing that booths negatively detach players from the atmosphere created by the audience.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

The stage invasion at the Mid-Season Invitational Final was a warning. Fortunately for Riot’s eSports production team, the fan who made his way onto the stage to share in SKT’s glory wanted nothing more than to show his support, yet the unfortunate reality is that it cannot be allowed to happen so easily again.

Pitch and stage invasions happen in every sport, but in contrast to Riot’s security at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, traditional sports stewards are prepared for such events and the response is pre-planned. Event organisers will face a tough challenge in the months ahead, balancing the unique player and fan interactions that eSports hold so dear, with a need for tighter security as the phenomenon continues to grow in scale.