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Behind the Bengi and Vici Gaming vote controversy: Context and translation of TeD's statement

Images from Week 3 Vici Gaming press conference (Dionne Ng)

On Thursday, PVP Live and Inven Global both reported on a rumor started by Vici Gaming’s WarCraft III player, Zhuo “TeD” Zeng regarding League of Legends jungler, Bae “Bengi” Seongwoong. These reports most likely spread from a Chinese transcription of TeD’s casual stream posted to weibo and summarized even further on Twitter by Tuwan Esports. The rumor states that Bengi was removed from VG after the rest of the team voted him the worst performing player on the team.

A further look at these reports, however, reveals information that both begs context and is inconsistent with the original Chinese transcript.

I’ve translated the full transcript below, but before delving deeper, one must provide a more complete picture. Prior to the 2017 LPL Spring split, Vici Gaming released jungler Choi “DanDy” Inkyu at his request. Following DanDy’s departure from the team, VG signed ex-SK Telecom T1 jungler, Bengi.

During a split of poor performances featuring several support substitutions, including one match where mid laner Lee “Easyhoon” Jihoon played support, CEO Lee “HunTeR” Weijun made several comments disparaging Bengi. In the first, he said, “You get what you paid for,” comparing Bengi to DanDy. His apology further incensed the community when he blamed Bengi’s playstyle and poor communication for the lower level of play by the Chinese players.

HunTeR has made comments reflecting poorly on his players before, including complaining several times that there are just no good bot lane options available in China. According to TeD, the WarCraft III player, HunTeR was punished for Vici Gaming’s loss in their Promotion matches and falling to LSPL by being demoted to General Manager from his former position of CEO. TeD is a known friend to HunTeR, and his stream discussion opened by tying HunTeR’s demotion directly to Bengi.

As such, especially considering the casual and condemnatory tone in which TeD discussed Bengi, one should consider the possibility that he may have brought up issues with an agenda in mind.

Aside from both the casual nature of TeD’s stream and his friendship with HunTeR, one has other reasons to suspect the environment within VG. Other sources, according to the original Chinese post, stated that VG’s DotA 2 team also had a vote about the worst performing player on the team. This reflects a troubling lack of involvement from management and coaching staff.

VG’s LoL team has a history of being largely player-run with some alleged elements of bullying. Li “Vasilii” Weijun reported on the environment and other conditions when he reflected on his mental health problems in an interview with 15w after his first outburst in 2016.

“Mata plays super well,” Vasilii said, referring to his conflicts with support Cho “Mata” Sehyeong.

“His game IQ is very high. But his mentality wasn’t good. Others know that when you get angry with me, I get angrier. So when I played with him, I played poorly. If I played poorly, it impacted me the most… It got to the point where whether I played well or not didn’t matter. If Mata did something, it was always correct. If he played poorly, it would just barely be a mistake, and if I played well it was like I didn’t.”

Vasilii didn’t bother to take this to the coaching staff. He also mentioned poor communication between Vici Gaming and QG Reapers when he went looking for other contracts and a subsequent reduction of his salary by “three times.” Vasilii also said he had no opportunities to play for Vici Gaming after his benching despite improving his rank.

Mata himself allegedly improved his mentality drastically between his time on VG and RNG. When he commented on his treatment in the second Chinese team, he said,For the first time, I feel that esport players are treated so well.”

It seems possible VG’s players would hold a vote for “worst player,” but one shouldn’t assume TeD’s account gives the complete picture. A vote may have been strong-armed, and a lack of staff influence in general suggests mismanagement that could turn a single player into a scapegoat.

An effort by HunTeR, TeD, or other members of VG to lay blame solely at Bengi’s feet for the team’s relegation shouldn’t be reported without context. VG has history of signing strong players and undercutting them with poor roster balance and understanding of synergy. Rather than say Bengi “slumped” as Inven Global reported, I would argue Bengi’s talents lie in tracking the opponent jungler, which is hard to execute with flawed communication and non-pushing lanes. TeD himself reflects on the topic of synergy with Bengi, a factor hardly mentioned in both reports.

Full translation of the transcript of TeD’s stream, as posted to weibo:

“Right now don’t call him CEO. The CEO is the General Manager.

“How many of you watch LoL?

“CEO is VG’s CEO, he was immediately demoted. LPL team played poorly and went directly to LSPL. The boss demoted him to General Manager.

“Didn’t he hire SKT jungler Bengi? He hired Bengi, then the team was demoted. The boss took his anger out on him.

“Originally, he didn’t play LoL, but now he’s the GM.

“The year’s best CEO/CEO is an occupation, etc.

“What does this have to do with Bengi? It definitely has to do with Bengi. Even Easyhoon says it’s a Bengi matter, you know.

“And Bengi already isn’t in VG. He’s a free agent. He already went back to Korea. You didn’t know this news, he’s free.

“This is the team’s vote. Who is the most “low” (note: “low” is said in English), who had to be dragged the most. All of the players voted for Bengi and he returned to Korea.

“I think this is the worst in the history of imports. He was an SKT champion, then he came to China to develop, three months later, he just goes back to Korea. Really funny, this.

“Keep Easyhoon or Bengi — Easyhoon is a big deal and he can’t be a free agent.

“Bengi really, to tell the truth, everyone in the industry really thinks he’s quite bad. Behind the scenes, everyone thinks he sucks.

“I don’t know how he got a championship.

“He doesn’t control the pace of the game, just like he’s rehearsing.

“Team games have nothing to do with individuals. The team is strong, so the individual is strong. In a team game, it’s the same as the wood slats in the barrel. (note:  He referring to the idea that gathering slats of wood together into a barrel makes them stronger)

“Bengi’s style didn’t suit VG, it’s flawed, and they couldn’t win. Bengi needs to play with Faker to play well.

“Because Easyhoon isn’t a carry style mid, he couldn’t play with Easyhoon. Easyhoon is a support mid player.

“When Bengi plays with Faker, Faker can play assassins. Have you ever seen Easyhoon play assassins?

“He just plays Orianna, Vladimir, Karma, all supportive mids. Supportive champs can only rely on assassin junglers, carry style junglers.

“Bengi won’t, Bengi just rarely plays assassin champions.

“This is a team style problem.”

Reports on the topic left out several key points of context regarding why Bengi may be considered unsuited to the team. TeD’s analysis is simplistic and flawed, since he is not involved in the LoL scene, but it does alleviate some of the condemnation from Bengi.

Additionally, TeD uses phrases like “I think this is the worst in the history of imports” and “to tell the truth, everyone in the industry really thinks he’s quite bad. Behind the scenes, everyone thinks he sucks.” The stream itself should be questioned for its agenda before being taken as factual. Indeed, the opening of the stream ties Bengi directly to the demotion of HunTeR, a friend to the source. 

A look at the history of Vici Gaming and the casual nature of TeD’s stream makes it hard to pass judgment on Bengi or take TeD’s word for the information he presents. A deeper look and full translation provides greater context on the topic.

You can follow Kelsey Moser on Twitter @karonmoser.