MANILA - Pinoy Wild Rift squad Amihan Esports has been banned from competitive play and stripped off their prize winnings from its recent local and international tournaments after Riot Games found that it forged documents to skirt age qualifications for an underaged player.
In a statement posted Saturday, Riot Games in Southeast Asia said Karl “Karlll” Ken Bautista violated local competition policy over “illegally forged documents that misrepresented his actual age.”
Riot Esports said it was banning Amihan Esports from all Riot Games esports for 12 months, citing the involvement of several members of the team in the issue. The ban will be lifted in July 2022, according to Riot.
Karlll was slapped with a 9-month ban which would start from his last played match June 26.
The squad's former team manager, Christian Villegas, will face a 12-month ban, while owner Francis Mariano will face an "indefinite ban" and will only be able to apply for reinstatement 2 years after the announcement.
Investigations were first opened as Amihan Esports faced map hacking and “inaccurate player documentation” allegations done to qualify Karlll for the SEA Icon Series Philippines Summer Season, according to Riot Games Southeast Asia Esports. According to league policy, players must be aged 17 above to join the tournament.
The initial investigation found that Karlll’s gameplay was clean and his birth certificate was legitimate. However, Riot Games reopened investigation after it received new evidence regarding Karlll’s documentation.
It was here that they found that the documents were forged and that Amihan Esports was "fully aware" of Karlll being underaged.
"While AMI Karlll remains cleared of map-hacking accusations, Riot received admissions and strong evidence that his player documents were indeed forged to misrepresent his age at the time of registration, and that the organisation was fully aware of AMI Karlll being underage," Riot said in a statement.
Riot said such violations “will not be tolerated.”
"Maintaining the competitive integrity of all our esports tournaments as well as the safety and well-being of pro teams are Riot’s top priorities, and we take such violations extremely seriously. All our participating teams are expected to abide by the rules of fair play, agreed upon prior to participation in the tournaments. Violations of the rules of fair play will not be tolerated," the ruling read.
In a statement coursed through the squad’s Facebook page, Mariano said the team was taking "full responsibility" and was "truly apologetic" - citing "oversight of mismanagement within the organization."
"We respect and accept Riot Games’ decision on the matter and hope that this serves as an example for other teams to keep in mind that rules and laws must always be respected in esports," Mariano said, adding that they are denying match-fixing allegations.
"We have won our games with pure competition, training and sacrifices and as an organization, we are extremely proud of what our players have accomplished in such a short time," Mariano said, adding that the team will come back stronger from the ban.
Amihan Esports, considered a dark horse in the local Wild Rift scene, won the Wild Rift - Pro Gaming Series (PPGL) Summer Series championship against Team Secret in a 3-2 showdown last June, qualifying later on in the SEA Icon Series where they got eliminated in the playoff rounds.