25th March 2021 – 3:23pm
The American Valorant scene is the scene of a new drama. The new head-coach of 100 Thieves has taken the Valorant Champion Tour organisation as a hostage. Following this, Riot Games decided to fine 100 Thieves $5000 and suspend their coach.
At the North American Valorant Masters, 100 Thieves were scheduled to face Team Immortals, but a dispute has emerged. It concerned Frost, 100 Thieves' coach, and the referee in charge of the match. The former challenged the latter's decision regarding the choice of server used to play the match.
In online competition, all teams are subject to ping variations. When a match is played between a team on the East Coast of the United States and one on the West Coast, it's up to the referee to decide which game server to use, taking into account various factors.
When the match started, Frost felt that the referee's decision was unfair to his team. The server chosen for the match offered a ping of about 10ms to Immortals and 30ms to 100 Thieves. Frost wanted another server where the ping ranged from 35ms to 60ms for both teams. The referee felt that a ping of over 60ms was not acceptable for a Valorant match. Frost didn't accept this decision, as the previous week, 100 Thieves and TSM would have found themselves in a similar situation where the server initially selected by arbitration favoured 100 Thieves, but was changed to a 60ms server for both teams following a request from TSM.
In what he felt was an injustice, Frost asked his players to go to the Valorant training area so that the VCT admins could not invite them into the official lobby. The team's unavailability forced the referees to call the 100 Thieves team, reminding them that they could be disqualified if they are not ready in time, as the rules state. It was at this point that Frost had a heated conversation with the referee and a member of Riot Games. During this conversation, he expressed his displeasure with the choice of server. Frost also threatened the coach: " You can't just arbitrarily change the rules. If you're going to do that, we can fight back by literally not playing and if you give us a DC, you're in a bigger shitstorm than we are".
This conversation and these words were considered as threats to Riot Games and the VCT organisation. The 100 Thieves' coach implied that he was prepared to use the influence of the team and its players to damage the image of Riot Games and the competition.
Moreover, 100 Thieves delayed the rest of the competition by about an hour. It may seem anecdotal, but this loss of time is considerable. It impacts the tournament organisers, the hosts, the announcers, but also Immortals and their staff, as well as the several hundred thousand spectators who were waiting for the match. It's hard to imagine a traditional sports team refusing to play a match after an unfavourable coin toss.
In light of this, Riot Games has decided to fine 100Thieves $5,000 and has requested Frost's suspension for the remainder of the 2021 VCT. It goes without saying that in a competition, especially one of this magnitude, the referee's decisions are law. 100 Thieves has played a dangerous game in opposing the organisers... especially over something as trivial and common as ping. Lobbying the VCT and using its influence to create a people's court is not something Riot Games can let pass. If anything, the punishment seems rather measured.
But following this decision, 100 Thieves decided to make good on its threat. The organisation's Twitter account publicly disputed the sanction and posted part of a recording of the conversation with the coach. This has not failed to antagonise the team's fans against Riot Games.
Riot Games has decided to update its official statement with additional details. The conversation between the referee and Frost where the threats were made were corroborated by several witnesses. Frost himself eventually admitted to making the comments. 100 Thieves team now believes that the matter is settled, but it will have set an unfortunate precedent on the Valorant scene. There will always be players who are convinced of the validity of Frost's practices.