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League of Legends fans question impartiality of Swiss stage draw

Riot Games Korea seeks to reassure fans on fairness

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Oct. 20, 2023 - 17:04

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A screenshot shows traditional knotted Korean bags of different colors displayed for the Swiss stage draw. (Riot Games, Naver) A screenshot shows traditional knotted Korean bags of different colors displayed for the Swiss stage draw. (Riot Games, Naver)
Host Cho Host Cho "Mata" Se-hyoung (left) draws for the Swiss stage on Oct. 15 at LoL Park, the stadium for LoL Champions Korea, in Jongno, central Seoul. (Riot Games, Naver)

A total of 16 League of Legends esports teams started competing for the grand prize of the Summoner’s Cup at the annual LoL World Championship on Thursday. But some esports fans are questioning the fairness of the tournament.

Controversy erupted Thursday night when an online post surfaced with a screenshot image of the Swiss stage draw.

The Swiss stage is a newly introduced nonelimination tournament that offers a fixed number of matches, allowing the players to qualify for the next round by achieving three victories.

After the preliminaries came to an end on Oct. 15, Riot Games showcased the draw for the first day of the Swiss stage.

Unlike typical draws in which randomness and impartiality are secured with identical prize balls, the organizer prepared Korea's traditional lucky bags, each with a different design.

Fans’ concerns rose as the host Mata, a former LoL player, drew the lucky bags that were displayed in a straight line.

“Anyone can cast doubt about the draw results, claiming that the matches are fabricated with this kind of draw system. I think the organizer should have at least put the lucky bags inside a glass container and mixed them before making the draw,” one commenter said in an online post.

“I think Korea -- the host of 2023 LoL World Championship -- will not be free from foreign fans' criticisms,” another comment read.

Meanwhile, Riot Games Korea refuted the ongoing controversy, explaining that the draws were carried out with a multistep process to ensure fairness.

“Multiple personnel are involved in the strict draw process, each with different tasks that are not shared by another. The lucky bags are shuffled more than enough times to make just draws as well,” a Riot Games Korea official told The Korea Herald on Friday.

“However, we recognize fans’ concerns about the Swiss stage draw. We will put our utmost effort into improving the current system as soon as possible. The 2023 LoL World Championship will be conducted without any suspicion,” the official added.