League of Legends: Riot investigating mistreatment allegations against EG over Danny
Evil Geniuses allegedly neglected Danny's mental health issues and forced him to keep playing.
League of Legends (LoL) developer Riot Games is said to be investigating the circumstances around Evil Geniuses' (EG) alleged mistreatment of the organisation’s prodigy Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki.
The allegations were made back in December when some screenshots from Danny’s family members were brought into light by LoL analyst Marc Robert "Caedrel" Lamont, which came after Danny stepped down from the LoL Championship Series (LCS) tournament in September 2022 due to mental health issues.
According to the messages, EG did not treat Danny as well as people might have thought they did.
The issue was once again revived two weeks ago, when it was announced that Danny was returning to the public eye, but as a LoL streamer for EG instead of being a member of the active roster.
When Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia reached out to Riot regarding the issue, the LCS representative said that Riot is "aware of the allegations surrounding the treatment of Evil Geniuses player Danny".
The spokesperson also confirmed that in late 2022, Riot "enlisted a third-party law firm to investigate the matter, which is ongoing”.
At this time, the spokesperson said that Riot had no further comment. They also emphasised that "the health, safety, and privacy of our players remain our top priority”.
What happened to Danny during his time as a pro at EG?
Danny had established himself as one of the best ADC's in last year’s Spring and Summer seasons, with an average KDA of 7.54, according to the LoL Esports section of Leaguepedia. He even earned the moniker “Pentakill King” after multiple pentakills in Spring.
Veteran journalist Richard Lewis cited sources in a report published on Dexerto that the EG organisation allegedly failed to care for Danny's mental and physical health despite multiple staff and players "raising their concerns" about his struggles for a long time.
It was also revealed that Danny has a medical condition that places him on the autistic spectrum and that before he was added to the team, EG had promised his family mental support to cope with the stress related to the job.
According to the report, EG was initially supportive and even hired a separate coach for him. As time went on, players and coaches repeatedly called for Danny to be benched to help deal with his mental health issues.
The source also indicated that Danny’s condition began to deteriorate during the Mid-Season Invitational, where he was affected by the pressure and the negative comments on his performance.
He also tweeted then that he was “glad that it was over” and said in a reply to his tweet about playing five months straight and “everyone hates you. Man I would really like to take a small break.”
According to the article, Danny was open to the management about this, but EG was allegedly not open to the idea of letting Danny take a break.
This led to him seriously considering retirement from the game, while the management still hoped to "earn a return on the player by selling him to another team if such a deal could be brokered".
According to sources in the article, “they said if they could sell Danny during the off-season, it would be a benefit for the year after… They were going to try and drag out more time so they could convince him not to retire and then sell him to another team… They seemed concerned that Danny might be lying and just wanting to join another team.”
More allegations against EG
Another journalist from LA Loyolan, Arsh Goyal, also published a post on Medium regarding the matter, claiming that EG’s staff were allegedly “woefully ill-equipped to handle mental health crises”.
The post claimed that EG's higher-ups allegedly tried to "exploit" head coach Peter Dun's friendship with Danny to get him to play in the LCS Summer Playoffs match against Team Liquid, despite Danny being "in no state" to compete after the "highly traumatic" series against TSM.
This was where the screenshots shared with Caedrel came in, where Danny’s sister, Jaclyn, alleged that Danny’s laning coach was "fired for standing up for Danny and going up to the player’s association for him”.
After EG’s 3-2 win against Team Liquid and securing a spot at Worlds, Danny stepped away from the competition, including Worlds 2022, where he was replaced by Muhammed Hasan "Kaori" Şentürk.
Goyal’s report said that once he arrived home, Danny’s family took him for a medical check-up, where it was allegedly found that he was malnourished, “massively underweight, and had several other related medical issues”. Sources also alleged that the doctor was “concerned enough to recommend hospitalisation”.
After a couple of months of recovery away from the public eye, and before Lewis' and Goyal's articles were published, Danny posted a statement that said the allegations against EG were untrue.
Hello all, ic there has been quite a lot of news out there and I want to tell you that it is completely on me & the accusations towards EG aren’t true. The truth is that the pressure of being an esports pro has overwhelmed me to my breaking point, and EG supported me all the way.
— Dan (@realdannylol) February 28, 2023
However, Goyal’s article indicated that a source had alleged that Danny didn’t write it, and that he allegedly “tweeted it because EG had him do so.”
Danny is currently part of EG’s Creator Collective initiative as a content creator.
Aside from the statement released to the media, Riot did not have any further comment regarding the matter.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.
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