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League of Legends' Winningest Player Files Police Report Against Online Harassers

Lawyers representing Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok presented evidence to South Korean police on Tuesday.

The winningest player in “League of Legends” esports history, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, and his team T1 filed a police report on Tuesday seeking punishment against a set of anonymous online harassers who have allegedly defamed the player.

A group of lawyers representing the three-time world champion at APEX Law LLC appeared before the media Tuesday morning in front of the Jongno Police Station in Seoul, South Korea, shortly after bringing evidence forward to police. While the lawyers refused to detail the specific incidents they reported, they said that they are seeking accountability for those who repeatedly made disparaging remarks against both Faker and his mother.

“The subjects we are filing a case against continued to spread malicious comments over an extended period of time,” the lawyers said, according to the statement translated by Korizon. “These individuals continued to increase their acts of insult, in number and intensity, consistently publicly posting texts that insult Faker. This has caused mental distress to not only the player, but also his family and colleagues.”

Early reports of the news conference stated that Faker and T1’s attorneys brought a “criminal suit” against the individuals. However, no suit has been filed, civil or criminal, and next steps require action from a prosecutor. Faker’s attorneys stated that they do plan to bring a civil case.

Police will now be tasked with de-anonymizing the suspects and deciding whether or not to bring any criminal action against them.

The news comes on the heels of another South Korean esports team, kt Rolster, issuing a statement of threats sent to their players, coaches and management. 

According to a translation from Korizon, someone sent pictures of a deadly weapon to members of the kt Rolster team, as well as a box containing a deadly weapon to the team’s practice facility. KT will not be pursuing action against the individuals at this time, but said it would take a more “active” approach should the behavior continue.

Throughout his nine-year career, Faker became an idol across the esports world. In his rookie season, 2013, the T1 mid laner led his team to a world championship victory at just 17 years old. He subsequently won two more in 2015 and 2016, further cementing his legacy as the best player to ever play “League of Legends.” 

In early 2020, he signed a contract extension that made him a co-owner of T1, a joint venture spinoff co-founded by SK Telecom T1, the team he has spent his entire career with, and Comcast Spectacor, the owners of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Fusion. 

One More Thing: Another Activision Blizzard Studio Moves to Unionize

Quality assurance workers at Blizzard Albany filed a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, marking the second subsidiary of Activision Blizzard to unionize this year amid reports and lawsuits alleging workplace misconduct.

“I firmly believe that having the union is going to give us the power that we need to make our workplace better,” Blizzard Albany associate test analyst Amanda Laven told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “It’s very exciting to go public with it and hopefully be able to inspire others the way that we’ve been inspired by Raven and Starbucks and Amazon and all the unions that have come before us.”

According to the Post, Blizzard Albany employees informed management of their decision last week. Activision Blizzard acknowledged the choice to unionize but did not provide guidance on whether it would recognize the union or not.

“We deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union,” wrote Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George in a statement to the Post. “We believe that a direct relationship between the company and its employees is the most productive relationship. The company will be publicly and formally providing a response to the petition to the NLRB.”

Formerly known as Vicarious Visions, Blizzard Albany’s union vote follows the exit of Jen Oneal, the longtime leader of the upstate New York studio. Oneal resigned from her post in November amid a wage discrepancy with her direct counterpart, former Xbox executive Mike Ybarra. 

Following Vicarious Visions’ merger with Blizzard and Blizzard’s president J. Allen Brack’s ousting following a gender discrimination lawsuit in July 2021, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick promoted Oneal and Ybarra to co-lead Blizzard. According to a Wall Street Journal report in November, Oneal left after sending a scathing email to the company, in which she stated she had “been tokenized, marginalized and discriminated against.”

As Vicarious Visions, Blizzard Albany developed a number of high-profile titles, including most recently games in the “Skylanders” series and remasters of titles in the “Crash Bandicoot”, “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” and “Diablo” franchises. In October 2021, Activision Blizzard put in motion a merger between Vicarious Visions and Blizzard, renaming the studio to Blizzard Albany.

Workers at one of Activision Blizzard’s other studios, “Call of Duty: Warzone” developer Raven Software, formed a union in May. Jessica Gonzalez, a former Blizzard employee who leads employee group A Better Activision Blizzard King, told The Jacob Wolf Report on July 7 that she hopes her group will unionize in the future.

Elsewhere in Gaming and Esports:

It’s been a busy week in gaming and esports so far. Here’s what’s going on out there.

🎮 “Sony is acquiring esports tournament platform Repeat.gg” (Jay Peters / The Verge)

Sony is continuing to bet on esports, this time by acquiring tournament organizer Repeat.gg. It’s a big move on the heels of another for the PlayStation owner—last year Sony participated in a joint venture acquisition of Evo, the largest fighting game tournament series in the world, which will kick off on Aug. 5 in Las Vegas. 

🎥 “Esports company OpTic Gaming acquires Dallas streaming chatbot Botisimo” (Jake C. Piazza / Dallas Morning News)

The acquisitions keep coming this week. OpTic Gaming—the now wholly-merged forces of OpTic and Team Envy—announced an acquisition of Botisimo, a streaming assistant for livestreamers. The company has more than 30,000 users and the acquisition follows a trend of esports companies diversifying their portfolios by investing in IP, specifically technology. 

💸 Twitch Is Testing a New Charity Fundraising Tool” (David Anders / CNET)

Twitch is cutting out the middleman. After years of tools like Tiltify, DonorDrive and others serving as the primary means for livestreamers to raise for charities securely—without incurring tax headaches of their own—Twitch announced a new charity fundraising tool that will live directly inside the Amazon-owned livestreaming service. All funds will be administered by the PayPal Giving Fund, who will collect and distribute the donations. Twitch said it will not collect a service fee, something Tiltify, DonorDrive and others do, and the only deduction will be transaction processing fees.