Riot Korea reports Interim Findings on the "Griffin Incident"
Riot Korea Link (Korean)
The LCK Management Committee (afterwards referred to as the Committee), a joint operation between Riot Games Korea and KeSPA, received news of Jin-hyeok "Kanavi" Seo's unfair contract and was formed on October 17th to investigate the matter. The Committee is currently inquiring whether Kanavi was extorted into signing a contract with JD Gaming (afterwards referred to as JDG), as well as whether there was any process that violated League regulations in Griffin and Kanavi's contract and contract fulfillment.
The Committee believes announcing the findings in full and impartially judging the events under League regulations are the most important goals of this investigation. Therefore, although the following findings can be re-evaluated if further evidence or testimonies surface, the committee has decided to reveal the facts and circumstances they have currently found to be true.
Meanwhile, there have been several reports related to former and current Griffin staff and the organisation itself, which the committee is also investigating.
However, several issues that must be cross-verified with the Griffin players and staff who were attending the 2019 League of Legends World Championship before releasing a final report.
Unfolding of the "Kanavi Incident"
* The report was edited to add additional testimony from Kanavi at 17:48, October 29th. We have left the initial content as well, and apologize for any misunderstanding.
|9/18 (Wed), China||JDG contacts Still8's Chinese Branch Office President (afterwards referred to as Branch Office President K) and requests Kanavi's full transfer. Branch Office President K immediately sends word to Representative Kyu-nam Cho (afterwards referred to as Representative Cho) and asks about Griffin's stance on transferring Kanavi, and the transfer fee they would receive. Branch Office President K replies to JDG's offer with a specific transfer fee.||Testimony|
|9/18 (Wed), Korea||JDG confirms Kanavi's desire to transfer, mentioning JDG is in talks with Griffin about Kanavi's transfer. In addition, JDG reveals that they want a long-term contract (4~5 years) due to Griffin demanding a high transfer fee. Kanavi replies that he doesn't want a 5-year contract, and although he prefers a 2-year contract, he will think about a 4-year one.||Chat Logs|
|9/19 (Thu), China||Branch Office President K receives notice from Korean players in Chinese teams that Kanavi is separately communicating with JDG about transferring. He shares this with Representative Cho.||Testimony|
|9/21 (Sat), Korea||Representative Cho has 1st counseling session with Kanavi. He mentions Kanavi's talks with JDG, and says that said talks could violate tampering regulations and will hurt Kanavi's professional career. Kanavi apologizes for his actions without full knowledge of what tampering is or what he did wrong. Representative Cho asks whether Kanavi wants to stay at Griffin or transfer to JDG, and Kanavi says he would like to transfer. Representative Cho replies that he will fix the problem, and tells Kanavi to wait at his house. Representative Cho calls Branch Office President K and tells him to go through with the transfer. Branch Office President K informs Representative Cho that JDG is demanding a 5-year contract.||Concurring Points from Cross-Testimony|
|9/26 (Thu), Seoul, Korea||Representative Cho texts Kanavi that Branch Office President K has discussed his transfer with JDG and will talk with him when Kanavi arrives from his Daegu house on Sunday.||Testimony|
|9/29 (Sun), Seoul, Korea||Representative Cho has 2nd counseling session with Kanavi. Representative Cho asks Kanavi to choose between a 3-year and a 5-year contract with JDG. Kanavi chooses the 3-year contract. Representative Cho says that he cannot force Kanavi into a 5-year contract, although that is what JDG wants. He tells Branch Office President K to go through with the transfer.||Testimony|
|10/3 (Thu) Seoul, Korea||Branch Office President K contacts Kanavi and tells him that JDG wants a long-term contract, for 4 years or more. Kanavi refuses. Branch Office President K tells Kanavi that if this deal doesn't go through, he might be demoted into trainee status at Griffin, and recommends Kanavi to sign the 4-year contract. Kanavi ultimately agrees to sign. Branch Office President K said that he would accompany Kanavi to JDG, but JDG requests that only Kanavi return (Translator's Notes – from Korea). Branch Office President K tells Kanavi to never sign any contract individually with JDG. Representative Cho also texts Kanavi that if he signs anything, that would violate tampering rules and to contact Griffin if JDG says anything about signing contracts.||Concurring Points from Cross-Testimony, Chat Logs|
|10/5 (Sat), China||JDG suggests a 5-year contract to Kanavi as soon as he returned to China. Kanavi expresses his unwillingness to sign, but JDG eventually persuades him to agree with JDG's requests. (Kanavi additionally testified that he did not sign this contract at this point).||Testimony|
|10/6 (Sun), China||Kanavi signs the contract with JDG (Additional testimony from Kanavi) Kanavi reports that he signed the contract to Branch Office President K. Branch Office President K admonishes Kanavi for signing a contract when everyone told him not to, and tells him to retrieve the contract.||Testimony, Chat Logs|
|10/7 (Mon), China||Kanavi requests the retrieval of the contract that JDG has in possession, but JDG replies that they will give it to Branch Office President K.||Testimony|
|10/8 (Tue), China||Branch Office President K visits JDG, strongly protests the process of signing contracts with Kanavi (without informing Griffin beforehand), and destroys the contracts, one in JDG's possession and one in Kanavi's. Branch Office President K renegotiates the contract in company of JDG and Kanavi into including a sub-contract with supplemented content and fairer annual salary and incentives.||Testimony, Restored Documental Evidence|
|10/9 (Wed), China||Branch Office President K sends written form of sub-contract to Kanavi and JDG for their confirmation. He tells Kanavi to not sign the sub-contract, as JDG is still in talks with Griffin about the transfer. (Kanavi additionally testified that he was only told to receive JDG's confirmation, as the sub-contract had several points that were advantageous to Kanavi). JDG prints out sub-contract, asks Kanavi to sign it. Kanavi signs sub-contract.||Contract, Chat Logs|
|10/10 (Thu), Korea||Kanavi returns to Korea.||Testimony|
|10/15 (Tue), Korea||Kanavi contacts former head coach CvMax and discusses the circumstances behind his contract.||Testimony|
|10/16 (Wed), Korea||CvMax reveals circumstances on his personal stream.|
|10/17 (Thu), Korea||The LCK Committee starts their investigations.|
Committee Judgement on Conflicting Points
1. Whether JDG or Kanavi violated "Tampering" Regulations
- Definition of "Tampering" and Range of Application
"Tampering" is the action of a team's employee contacting a player from another team to recommend or negotiate contracts. This regulation is meant to protect a team's right to own players, and if either the contacting team or the contacted player does not inform the owner team, even the player may receive League-level punishment.
The affiliation of the player is an important issue in applying "tampering" regulations and must be confirmed beforehand.
- Kanavi's Affiliation
Kanavi signed a 3-year exclusive management contract with Griffin on February 16th, 2019 and was on loan to JDG, through a loan contract from May 31st, 2019.
According to the LCK rules regarding player loaning, Kanavi is affiliated to Griffin, and both Griffin and Kanavi are under said rules. However, as the LPL does not have any rules regarding player loaning, Kanavi's affiliation within the LPL was listed as having been transferred to JDG. In addition, Kanavi and JDG had submitted an agreement form for playing in the LPL until November 2020. This rather complicated affiliation is the result of discussion between the LCK and the LPL, regarding player's growth opportunities and the inclination of the team.
The Committee had received the loan contract between Griffin and JDG and had approved it.
- Whether JDG or Kanavi violated "Tampering" Regulations
As Kanavi was seen to be affiliated to Griffin under LCK rules, he could have been violating "tampering" regulations based on the timeline of JDG and Griffin's transfer discussions.
While investigating this issue, it has been confirmed that JDG had already reached a point of agreement with Griffin regarding Kanavi's transfer. Afterwards, JDG mentioned said agreement to Kanavi, which may have led Kanavi to assume that Griffin had agreed to his transfer. Therefore, the LCK and LPL Committee concluded that Kanavi and JDG had not violated "tampering" regulations.
2. Whether Griffin violated League Regulations on Maximum Players Loaned
To grant players not on team rosters opportunities to play onstage and improve, the Committee added regulations for loaning players before the 2019 season.
According to current regulations, 'One player on the team roster' could be loaned, and as the player Hyung-sup "Rather" Shin had been loaned after he was removed from the roster, Griffin had not violated regulations on the maximum number of loaned players.
However, the Committee has recognized the potential abuse of this regulation, and will completely revise the related rules as soon as possible.
3. Whether a transfer contract existed between Griffin and JDG on October 2019
Although specific talks had gone between Griffin and JDG about Kanavi's full transfer, a final, written contract was not signed.
As no contract had been signed between Griffin and JDG, no transfer fee had been paid/received.
4. Whether Griffin had undue influence during Kanavi's contract with JDG on October 2019
- Whether Kanavi had signed a contract with JDG
The first contract Kanavi tried to sign with JDG was signed personally by Kanavi on October 6th, but was not countersigned by JDG, and was subsequently retrieved and destroyed by Griffin. (Kanavi additionally testified that he signed the contract on the 6th, not the 5th.)
Afterwards, Griffin wrote a sub-contract that modified several points in the original contract, and Kanavi and JDG both confirmed they signed it in China. However, both Griffin and JDG have testified that as the original contract had been rendered void, the sub-contract is also not legally binding.
All negotiation and signing of contracts was conducted without any intervention from the Committee, and the Committee has confirmed that the original contract had been voided during their investigations. The Committee was in no way involved with the contract or its nullification.
- Whether Griffin had undue influence during Kanavi's Contract with JDG
All participants of the contract have given their testimonies and written affidavits, but due to conflicting testimonies and lack of confirming evidence, it is difficult to reach a decision. However, the Committee will continue to investigate this issue, and through an outside institution with legal investigative powers, will apply strict punishment on the League-level if any sign of extortion or threats are found.
5. Whether the Contracts between Kanavi, JDG, and Griffin have violated any League Regulations or Policies
- Whether the May 2019 loan agreement contract between Griffin and Kanavi had violated League regulations (upper limit on contract duration)
The LCK has set the upper limit to contract duration between players and teams as 3 years, in the "League of Legends Champions Korea Participation Team Contract", to protect a player's right to job-finding.
The Committee has found an unfair clause in the loan agreement contract Kanavi signed with Griffin on May 2019 ('Subcontract Regarding Management Contract'), where Kanavi's loan duration with JDG was not counted as fulfilling his original contract with Griffin.
Griffin had violated League regulations by effectively extending Kanavi's contract over 3 years.
The Committee is currently investigating whether contracts with other players have also included this clause, and will announce a League-level punishment after all investigations are concluded.
- Whether the potential October 2019 contract between Kanavi and JDG had violated League regulations (upper limit on contract duration)
The LPL also has set the upper limit to contract duration as 3 years.
The Committee has investigated the issue and found that JDG unfairly tried to create a 5-year contract. The LCK Committee has informed the LPL Committee about this decision and has requested their compliance with taking action in regards to said decision.
6. Regarding Signing Contracts by Minors without Legal Guardians
Kanavi, born November 2000 (Age 18) is a minor under Korean law, and requires the agreement of a legal guardian in order to sign a legal and binding contract.
Accordingly, when all contracts were investigated,
Kanavi's legal guardian had signed both the February 2019 contract with Griffin, and the May 2019 loan agreement contract that sent Kanavi to JDG.
On the other hand, the potential October 2019 contract and subcontract that Kanavi signed but was then dissolved was signed without the agreement of Kanavi's legal guardian, but Chinese law states that any person over 18 years of age can sign contracts without the agreement of their legal guardian.
Plans for the Future
As mentioned at the start of this announcement, the Committee will continue to investigate concerns and reports regarding this issue, and will conduct interviews with the players and staff who have participated in the World Championship after the end of the tournament.
The Committee will discuss any action they could take regarding the investigation results, and will inform the public about said results when possible.
In addition, holes in the regulations that have been revealed in this investigation will be supplemented by the start of the 2020 season, to facilitate the original function of these regulations.
- Kanavi and JDG did not violate tampering regulations
- Griffin and JDG have both violated maximum contract duration and will be punished
- Whether Griffin threatened/extorted Kanavi into signing the contract remains unclear. Riot may have to request legal prosecution.
- Riot Korea had no influence in the contract signing, or contract annulment in any way.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that several lawmakers in the National Assembly had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to investigate the circumstances behind Kanavi's contract on the 21st. However, the Ministry replied that they had no legal authority to investigate tournaments hosted by private organisations, in this case Riot Korea.
Furthermore, lawmaker Tae-kyeong Ha of the BareunMirae Party (who seems to have proposed the investigation to the Ministry), uploaded a reaction post on Facebook regarding Riot Korea's interim results, criticizing the way Riot Korea interpreted Kanavi's status as a minor in China.
Lawmaker Ha posted "Is Kanavi Chinese? According to an independent legal counsel, Kanavi's contract with JDG is an international contract, and Kanavi is therefore protected under Korean law. Griffin and JDG were in talks to make Kanavi sign a contract that is illegal. I warn you, Riot Korea. Conduct your investigations impartially. Never forget that everyone is watching you."
Source: Original link
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