Over the last week and a bit the season finals for League of Legends have taken place. They had a big 12 team play-off two weekends ago with the finals scheduled for last weekend. For the most part the games were fun to watch and a high level of play was shown by all. They had some connectivity issues at the venue which resulted in some of the games getting played during the week last week but I don't see that as being that big a deal. It would have sucked to been in the crowd, for sure, and I'm sure they'll do something in the future to ensure super backups of their internet connection, but I didn't mind it so much.
One issue that did come up is with the layout of the arena. They had three huge screens set up so the crowd could watch the games. They removed the normal delay so that the crowd could be watching the game live. I have to believe that feeling the crowd react to things as they're unfolding would have to change the way the games played out. I believe at one point a team tried to sneak in a Baron fight and the other team figured it out because the crowd was reacting to something happening. What else could it be at that point in the game?
Even worse, the huge screens were actually set up so the players could look at them if they really tried. Say, by twisting a little and looking up and back a bit. In a game with a fog of war this is a stupidly big deal. Four different games had teams cheat by looking up at the screen. In some cases they paused the game first and then turned to look! While on camera! It's not like they weren't going to get caught! How stupid can you be?!?
Well, it turns out, maybe it was the people not cheating who were stupid. Most of the teams that cheated just got a slap on the wrist. One of the teams was found to have actually gained a tangible advantage by cheating... Their win ended up standing. They got fined $30000 which sounds like a big deal... Except the team went on to finish second overall and won $250000.
Now, people are saying that they didn't really gain that big an advantage. They won 2-0 anyway, so even if they had an edge in one of the games it probably didn't make a big difference. But in one of the final games they got caught out early and it snowballed right away from them. That's what the team in the quarters was trying to do to them... But couldn't, because they cheated and looked to see where they were lining up the level 1 gank. Would it have worked? Who knows. If it had worked, would it have mattered? Who knows. But it might have!
I hate cheating. I hate cheaters. I'm a big fan of doing whatever it takes, within the rules, to win. Going outside the rules? Hate it. I like knowing what is and isn't allowed when trying to figure out how to win. For example, I could win almost every time at Queen's Gambit if I stacked the decks before playing. I could get a big edge in Puerto Rico by making shady VP chit trades. I could stack my Dominion deck into the right 5-2 or 4-3 split and reshuffle prematurely. I could palm cash in St Pete. I could mark the backs of the characters in Lord of the Rings. There's tons of ways to get edges outside of the rules of these games... But I don't want to get into an escalating cheating war. I like clearly defined rules and then figuring out how to work those rules to my advantage.
A monetary penalty just doesn't do it for me. They had to know that pausing the game to look at the big screen was not allowed. I don't care what advantage, if any, they got from it. I think they should have been DQed.
I don't think Riot is in the clear either. Setting it up so the teams could interact with the crowd is bad. Setting it up so they can see each other is bad. Setting it up so they can see the game on the big screen in any way is terrible! They left the safe unlocked and walked away. Not everyone sees everything as black and white as I do, so they shouldn't be surprised that someone poked in and took some cash. I don't think this excuses the cheaters in any way, but I do hope it encourages Riot to be more pedantic about their set-ups in the future.