Punishment! Riot Games Puts Esports Team TSM Owner On Probation for Bullying
Riot Games issued its punishment on Wednesday for a top esports businessman accused of workplace toxicity and bullying.
Riot Games issued its punishment on Wednesday for a top esports businessman accused of workplace toxicity and bullying. After an eight-month investigation, Riot Games found Andy Dinh, owner of prominent esports team TSM, guilty of violating the company's rules around “harassment” and “profanity and hate speech.” Riot Games placed Dinh, 30, on a two-year probation and fined TSM $75,000, which will be donated to an anti-bullying or mental health charity.
“We believe that there was a pattern and practice of disparaging and bullying behavior exhibited by Dinh,” Riot's head of North America Esports, Chris Greeley, wrote in the ruling. “This included verbally abusing pro players and TSM staff members and communicating in a demeaning and belittling manner.” The ruling noted that witnesses didn't recall situations in which Dinh's reported verbal abuse extended to protected classes.
TSM operates competitive gaming teams in popular titles like League of Legends and Valorant, which are both produced by Riot Games. Los Angeles-based Riot also operates those games' associated esports leagues. Dinh has led the organization, which had 51 full-time employees in January, since 2009. Riot Games is owned by China's Tencent Holdings Ltd. Tencent's American depositary receipts fell 1.3% in New York.
Forbes named TSM the highest-valued esports company in 2022 at $540 million. In 2021, TSM cut a $210 million naming rights deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which changed its name to “TSM FTX.”
In a January article in Wired, former employees detailed “mental abuse” they had endured from Dinh for years. TSM launched its own investigation, which in May found that Dinh had perpetuated “no unlawful conduct.”
Riot Games investigators spoke with 14 people including Dinh. In addition to the fine and probation, Dinh is required to attend sensitivity and executive training. A spokesperson for TSM said neither the team nor Dinh had a comment on the ruling.
The League of Legends Players Association, which helped with the investigation, said it was “pleased to see strong action from Riot” and the League of Legends Championship Series on the matter. “The findings and associated consequences announced today have the potential to ensure a lasting impact on the workplace at TSM that will benefit all their players and staff,” the association wrote in a blog post.