Riot Games is investigating TSM, one of the top esports organizations in the world, and the org’s founder and CEO, Andy Dinh, over alleged workplace harassment claims.
Riot Games has a long history with TSM, as the org is primarily known for its League of Legends players. League is Riot’s flagship title, a game which has continued to receive widespread adoration and play since its release back in October 2009. TSM was also founded in 2009 — September, to be exact — and has enjoyed the prestige and notoriety that comes with being a top esports org for over a decade.
Now, Riot has hired a law firm to investigate Dinh and the misconduct claims. The game publisher told WIRED that it is aware of the allegations and has hired the Los Angeles-based international legal firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP “to conduct an independent investigation into claims of misconduct made against the leader of this team [TSM], in accordance with standard league process.”
The critiques against Dinh are reminiscent of what has happened at Bungie, Activision Blizzard and apparently even Riot itself. According to TSM employees and affiliates, Dinh “made somebody cry at least every other week” and called employees “stupid” and “worthless.” WIRED also reported that four people who have collaborated with TSM believe the esports org is “dominated by a culture of fear.”
Esports pros have also called Dinh out for being toxic toward players. Former TSM pro Doublelift called Dinh “a bully who gets away with being a bad person because he’s powerful, because people are afraid to stand up to him.” And Dinh has called League player Dyrus a “little bitch” and a “fucking brat” during livestreams. Another esports pro said Dinh “would go on tirades” and “destroy people’s confidence,” while a TSM employee said Dinh has made “several players” cry.
This isn’t the first time Riot has looked into Dinh’s behavior. In March 2021, Riot fined him $5,000 for an “ignorant tweet” about a Cloud9 player.
According to WIRED, Doublelift’s accusations appear to have started the investigations, as the celebrated League pro recently said “I fucking hate TSM, mostly because of Andy [Dinh]” and tweeted accusations that Dinh “harassed and abused people at TSM... so many people experienced public humiliation, mental breakdowns, crying at work, and still people will play it off in whatever way they can.”
Regarding his behavior, Dinh justified himself by explaining he has extremely high expectations for employees and has “zero tolerance for underperformance.” But he also admitted that he should work on his “delivery” and said he “will gladly embrace any recommendations from the investigators.”
The gaming industry as a whole has garnered an infamous reputation for rampant workplace toxicity and a “frat boy culture.” But this is nothing new — according to many who have worked at top gaming companies, this has been an open industry secret for years.
Much like how Hollywood had to overhaul its ethos and policies following the Weinstein scandal and the outrage over its lack of diversity, now the gaming industry must reckon with its bad actors, too.