A report surfaced last month that Echo Fox founder Rick Fox had threatened to leave the company over an investor's use of racist language in an email sent to former Echo Fox CEO Jace Hall. The report prompted Riot Games to launch its own investigation into the allegations—Echo Fox maintains LCS [League of Legends Championship Series] and Academy [an LCS development league] teams—saying that it would "respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules."
Today Riot announced that the preliminary investigation has concluded, and it clearly did not like what it found.
The LCS has concluded its preliminary investigation into the alleged comments made by a member of the Echo Fox ownership group. Hate speech, threats, and bigotry have no place in the LCS. We have directed Echo Fox to take appropriate corrective action within 60 days. (1/2)May 15, 2019
"If Echo Fox does not take action by removing any individuals whose actions violate league rules and agreements within the required time period, the League will take formal action that may adversely impact the future of Echo Fox in the LCS," a followup tweet from LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley said.
Calling for an ownership change, even if it's just the removal of one member of the investment team, is a serious line in the sand for the LCS to draw. It's also laudable. It's easy to say that there's no place for racism in esports (or anywhere else) but much more challenging to put some actual muscle behind it, especially in a high-profile matter involving a popular, successful organization like Echo Fox. The LCS may have been been vague about exactly what will happen if action isn't taken, but "may adversely impact the future of Echo Fox in the LCS" sounds like legalese for "clean up or clear out."
Despite its ominous tone (or perhaps because of it), the LCS response may actually be a boon for Echo Fox. Rick Fox said a couple weeks ago that he'll stay with the team if it cuts ties with Amit Raizada, the investor who used the slur, but the "complicated financial situation" of his investment in Echo Fox through the private equity firm Vision Venture Partners could make forcing him out a difficult process. But the LCS effectively threatening to remove Echo Fox from one of the top leagues in all of esports could prove to be a powerful motivator for other members of management.
Riot Games declined to elaborate or comment further on Greeley's statement.