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Following T1’s disqualification during their VALORANT Champions Tour Challengers 1 Open Qualifier match against TSM, CEO Joe Marsh praised Riot Games’ investigation and offered insight on how the handled the situation internally.
T1 head coach David Denis triggered the incident when he posted “help sewers” to his players during the Jan. 30 match. Since communication is not normally allowed between coaches and players during rounds, TSM called out T1 on Twitter mid-match. This resulted in an investigation from Riot and Nerd Street, the organizers of the event. Sufficient evidence was found to punish T1 by forcing them to forfeit their losers bracket match, eliminating them from the tournament. TSM went on to lose 0-2 to AKREW in their following series.
“From a Riot standpoint, I think it was completely fair to DQ us,” Marsh said. “Would we have won? Yeah, probably, but I think that’s why they let the penalty be what it was, because we were pretty close to qualifying for the event and we lost.”
T1 suspends head coach for the weekend
Following the disqualification, T1 issued a statement on Twitter announcing Denis’ suspension for the next round of qualifiers starting on Thursday. While the head coach won’t be with the team during the upcoming matches, Marsh confirmed he will return to the team after the weekend for whenever the team plays next.
— T1 (@T1) February 1, 2022
Marsh also stressed the player’s lack of involvement and T1’s own personal responsibility to hold their staff accountable for their actions.
“The fact that Riot cleared us should show everyone that the players did nothing wrong in this instance,” Marsh said. “T1 decided to punish David and suspend him for this weekend’s event partly because we wanted to show that we would have won regardless. He broke the rules and there needs to be consequences for those actions, but I think being gone from the team in a competitive nature, where we have a four day event that we should be pretty competitive in without our head coach, I think it’s a just punishment for what he did.”
If T1 fail to qualify for Challengers 1, they will have to wait several months for the next stage of VCT before competing again. While Marsh said he is confident in the team’s ability to succeed, he also understands the importance of having a head coach with the team. In the meantime, T1’s assistant coach, Cody “Stunner” MacLeod will step in for Denis.
Praise for Riot Games’ competitive integrity
After T1 received their loss for communicating during the match, some in the VALORANT community pointed out how Riot handled a similar situation regarding G2 Esports in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region differently. While T1 forfeited the match against TSM, G2 Esports went without punishment.
This led some to question the consistency of rules between the different regions competing in VALORANT online. However, Marsh said he is confident that Riot Games will use the team’s mistake to better the competitive ecosystem overall.
“I think Riot will certainly look at this holistically,” Marsh said. “They do a great job with League of Legends, but online play is always tricky. I have full faith that they’re going to review all of this, and not just in NA.”
Riot Games also allegedly told T1 that competition is built on an honor system while tournaments are played online. Marsh explained that with 128 teams competing at one time, there isn’t enough staff to watch over every team. These issues come with online play when team’s can’t be monitored as closely as they could be when playing on LAN.
“I think a lot of teams are breathing a sigh of relief,” Marsh said. “To be honest, I think that this was a wakeup call for everybody. We deserve the punishment and we’re owning it, and we accept it. And hopefully we can bounce back this week. But I think it’s a good reminder for the rest of the teams regarding fair play.”
Marsh responds to fans
T1 received a lot of support on social media following the forfeit, and Marsh wanted to thank the fans who stuck by the team and defended them throughout the situation. While he said the situation may have created a setback in terms of competition, the organization itself still takes prides in having passionate and supportive fans.
“We don’t want to hurt our own community and fans,” Marsh said. “We appreciate you [the fans] for sticking with us. I know it’s not easy being a fan when you are kind of in the line of fire right now, but I just appreciate them sticking up for the team and players.”
Finally, Marsh emphasized that Denis had not lost the confidence of the players. He shared that in a team meeting following the incident, Denis received the player’s full support.
Danny Appleford is an esports journalist for Upcomer that started writing for Daily Esports in 2020. He now specializes in articles surrounding League of Legends, Call of Duty, VALORANT and Halo.