PaiN Gaming sues Riot over poaching punishment

An esports team in Brazil is taking Riot Games to court over a disciplinary decision. This raises questions about how major esports organisations manage disciplinary measures and how aggrieved parties can appeal those decisions.

The team, paiN Gaming, allegedly illegally enticed IntZ support player Caio Loop Almeida to join their team, leading to a Riotrulingon Dec. 17 that ache poached the player. The penalties included fines and a one year forbid on the player vying as the states members of paiN. But the team feels that Brazil acted in an authoritarian, arbitrary, and illegal route when they handed down said punishment, per Brazilian news sitemyCNB.

Both Almeida and his parents claim that pain did not act improperly, eventually disclosing that the player learned of ache interest in him through his mother, who heard it from a mom of another player, leading to him leaving his IntZ contract. In March Riot Brazilstatedthat they were confident in their decision, and that paiN Gaming presented no new proof to refute their research into the alleged infraction.

Regardless of the details of the case, pain Gaming is surely right about something: Riot Games acts in an authoritarian way every time they hand down a decision, basically serving as magistrate, jury, and executioner.

The only recourse for paiN Gaming, if they feel Riot Games has acted unfairly, is to take the suit to tribunal, which is exactly what they are doing. But thats hardly a solution.

If the only opportunity for to achieve the outcome they want is going to take multiple years for them to get a outcome, then they basically have no boulevard for redress for this particular grievance, said Bryce Blum, founding partner of esports law firm IME Law.

By the time litigation is complete, Almeidas ban from the pain lineup will have ended and even if paiN Gaming wins the instance they likely wont recoup their legal fees .

The team requested an early decision before the May 2 deadline for the present transfer period ahead of the upcoming season of the CBLoL league, which could have opened the door for Almeida to compete, but the request was denied by the magistrate because the cast presented was not clear cut. By the time litigation is complete, Almeidas ban from the ache lineup will have ended and even if pain Gaming wins the occurrence they likely wont recoup their legal fees.

League of Legends and esportsmove too quickly for the legal system. By the time a decision is reached, the situation for a player and squad can change drastically. In esports a players career may only last a handful of years and missing a season can be a death sentence. Cases like this one highlighting the need for a better system to handle disputes, one where the party with outsized influence doesnt hold every card.

This is an area where esports shouldnt reinvent the wheel, Blum said. There are a number of excellent models across the world in the traditional arena where some kind of expedited and abbreviated justice system is in place for a sports league, he explained. Simpler evidence collection. Shorter term period. Everybody gets the opportunity to be heard. When a decision is reached, theres an expedited secondary option of some appellate mechanism through a neutral third party.

Major athletics leagues like the NFL and MLB feature third party arbitration systems where evidence is collected quickly and a instance is heard in a timely manner. Suspensions are not served until after a hearing and a players potential appeal to a third party arbitrator are resolved. The process perhaps isnt entirely transparent and certainly not perfect in any major athletic, but it dedicates aggrieved players and squads third-party recourse in a timely manner, key to any judiciary system in sports.

I would love to seenot just in , because League is actually further along on disciplinary and grievance procedures than most other esportsI would love to see this type of body available either on an individual level or across the industry, Blum said. But its undoubtedly a really important mechanism in justice in traditional sports that is relatively lacking in esports.

“Its undoubtedly a really important mechanism in justice in traditional athletics that is relatively lacking in esports.”

Right now, theres no transparency to the process. There are stated set standards by which Riot collects proof and hears a suit such as this one. While Riot likely acted in good faith and quite possibly made the correct decision with whatever evidence they collected, without a more transparent process and a technique of appeals, its easy to see how a squad like paiN Gaming might feel wronged. And if in fact paiN is in the right, they are essentially out of luck. Even if they managed to prove it in a court of law, theyve essentially already lost.

Theyve already played a season without Almeida in the lineup, and with the magistrate shutting down an early decision on the court case, theyll expend the rest of the year without him too. Its likely the team will no longer pursue the lawsuit, considering they can retain Almeidas services more easilyand more cheaplyby simply waiting for Riots sanction to expire.

The hope that a suit like this one could make a precedent that would aid teams in future disputes is likely misguided, Blum explains. While he has no knowledge of the Brazilian legal system, if a similar example hit American tribunals, itd likely have to reach higher courts to have a real lasting impact. For ache Gaming, thatd has become a poor reason to continue litigation, anyway.

Litigation is anything but certain, Blum said. The only thing you can be certain of is that litigation is expensive.

You can also be certain well assure suits similar to this crop up until esports figures out a route to address disputes in a timely fashion. Until then, companies like Riot Games and Valve will be free to rule their esports empires as they see fit, with no oversight.

H/ t Esportsobserver

Photo via Riot Games Brasil/ Flickr ( Used with permission)

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