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Suspicious Activity at ‘League of Legends’ Contest Angers Chinese Fans

Now known among esports fans as the ‘Busan Incident,’ Riot Games’ Mid-Season Invitational did not go smoothly — to say the least — for Chinese team RNG

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May 18, 2022 1 mins read

It occurred on May 12, day three of the 2022 League of Legends (LOL) Mid-Season Invitational (MSI): A technical glitch compromised the gameplay of Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give Up (RNG). To rub salt into the wound, the Chinese gamers had to replay a total of three games.

Due to China’s zero-Covid policy, RNG could not travel to MSI’s host city of Busan, South Korea, to compete in person. Organizer Riot Games, therefore, adjusted the rules to accommodate the Chinese team — after all, substantial fandom in China guaranteed higher viewership and profits.

To level the playing field, Riot Games employed “a network latency tool to maintain a ping [which measures network latency between players’ computers and the game’s server] as close to 35 milliseconds as possible for all teams throughout the competition,” reads a press release.

Even so, the contest saw “a discrepancy in the latency being reported in game logs for all matches versus what was being experienced in the Busan venue.”

Riot Games quickly issued a public apology on Weibo and promised to monitor the playing environment in their “commitment to maintaining the tournament’s competitive integrity.”

Not buying into it, LOL fans in China took to their keyboards to release their fury.

Later, a suspect discovery by a sharp-eyed Chinese viewer further fanned the flames. According to the sleuth, the server’s ping on his screen only read 22 milliseconds during one of RNG’s imposed replays.

An attempt by Riot Games to covertly change the figures was aired by Chinese netizens using Wayback Machine, a website that tracks historical versions of web pages.

Now known among esports fans as the ‘Busan Incident,’ the contest has been much discussed on the microblogging platform Weibo.

“The incident marks the downfall of Riot Games’ credibility and LOL’s status,” reads a comment with more than 10,000 likes.

Many Chinese fans, seeking justice on behalf of their nation’s team, have even written to the Asian Games Organizing Committee in the hopes of disqualifying LOL as an Asian Games subject — a topic that has been viewed over 4 million times on Weibo.

Cover image a 2018 ‘League of Legends’ tournament in Northeast China, via Depositphotos

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