Tech

Sources: TSM League coach Peter Zhang has been fired over alleged financial irregularities

TSM fired League of Legends coach and head of player development Peter Zhang on March 19, citing “serious allegations of a conflict of interest.” Sources have since told Dexerto the reasons for his sacking stemmed from an agent-like setup where he would secure spots on the team for Chinese and Taiwanese players in exchange for a revenue cut.

On March 19th, TSM made the surprise announcement that they were immediately terminating the League of Legends coach’s contract Zhang “Peter Zhang” Yi.

The brief accompanying statement from the LCS organization read: “We have recently been made aware of very serious allegations of conflicts of interest and unethical practices against League of Legends coach Peter Zhang.

“After an initial investigation, we terminated him with immediate effect. We are working with outside counsel to complete a full investigation.”

This development is the latest in a long line of controversy surrounding the TSM brand. Despite their position as one of North America’s most popular eSports entities, they are constantly under fire for serious management missteps.

Former President Leena Xu was at the center of a long-running controversy over her relationship with then-player Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, a conflict of interest by most professional standards as she was directly responsible for deciding whether to reinstate him and the details of his Contract.

This later fueled further controversy when she released details about Joshua ‘Dardoch’ Hartnett, the team’s former jungler, struggling to find a new home on Peng’s stream, details that seriously undermined Hartnett’s potential bargaining power.

At the end of 2021, Peng will leave TSM and speak openly about negative experiences with the owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh. After Peng’s departure, Xu, coach Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg and general manager Parth Naidu would follow. This would result in a public report on Wired which revealed that Dinh was under investigation for bullying and harassment by both an independent body appointed by TSM and Riot Games itself.

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Twitter: TSM

Reginald’s organization and himself have recently come under scrutiny.

Considering how controversial they have been of late, many began to speculate about the seriousness of the crimes that prompted TSM to terminate Yi. A common narrative that emerged on Reddit and Twitter was that it must have something to do with match-fixing, an issue that saw 38 players, managers and coaches suspended in China’s LPL and LDL divisions in April 2021.

In the resulting Reddit thread responding to Yi’s firing, LCS Commissioner Jackie Felling made a point of stopping speculation about match-fixing.

“Nothing to do with match-fixing” Felling said. “This is an internal team matter. I’m not making any statement from Riot at all, but I don’t want people to think this has anything remotely to do with match-fixing or betting, which it doesn’t.”

According to his own investigations, Dexerto can now confirm the reasons for Peter Zhang’s sudden departure.

Sources familiar with the matter tell us that he had used his coaching position for enrichment, taking money to ensure certain Taiwanese or Chinese players were included in the squad. To guarantee TSM their acquisition, he would receive a portion of their earnings as a fee; In essence, he positions himself as a team coach and international agent at the same time.

The allegation is that Yi, in his capacity as a coach, would work with management to select players for the squad, then he would go to the player in question and offer to act as his “agent” and explain that he would select them for that TSM could win roster if they allowed him to represent them. To negotiate the deal, he took a player revenue cut, often much higher than a standard agent’s fee for brokering the deal.

Peter Zhang coaches TSM in LCS
Riot games

Zhang reportedly had an agent-style deal with Chinese and Taiwanese players to secure them a spot on TSM’s roster.

Furthermore, the same source told us that Yi has also borrowed significant sums of money from many figures in the TSM organization, including players from both the main and roster of the academy. The use of this money, which is said to total a “substantial” amount, is not clear, although Yi himself cited a medical emergency involving his grandparents. The veracity of this claim is not clear, but when affected parties raised concerns about the loans, they began repaying them. At the time of reporting, almost all of the money has been refunded.

Regarding these loans, Riot Games is currently investigating the matter and will likely expand its investigation to include any improprieties related to his dual role as team coach and players’ agent.

“There are other reasons for their release,” the source concluded, “but these are the top two.”

Dexerto spoke at length with Yi about these allegations, which he explained were either a misunderstanding or a malicious framing of events.

First, he explained that he was never active as a players’ agent. He admitted he received a percentage from TSM Academy players Wang”Jursan“Sheng Yu‘s salary, $1000 per month, but that this fee was sent to his actual agent and that he was just a conduit for the transaction.

He added that he’s often traded Yuen for dollars for players across the roster as he’s a US green card holder and has bank accounts in both countries, which makes it easier. He believes these transactions could create the appearance of wrongdoing.

Regarding the need for sudden loans, he explained that he had a family emergency and presented evidence that he had asked for time off to return to China for this reason. However, the need for the loans was prompted by his former player whoo”swordsmanship“Shuo Chieh.

According to Yi, during SwordArT’s time, he had teamed up with Yi to sell an $80,000 car he had bought for his time in the US. After returning to China to play for Weibo Gaming, Shuo-Chieh asked Yi to sell the car for him and send him the money. When the car was sold, Yi kept the money and delayed payment due to his grandmother’s surgery.

Earlier this month, Shuo-Chieh demanded the money back, saying he would make the debt public if it wasn’t paid. With the money spent, Yi approached the organization’s players for loans to ensure the matter was not made public.

“I recognize that keep the money [from the sold car] was wrong,” he said, “but I worked to pay that debt and paid half before I was fired. My grandmother’s bill was due at the end of the month, so I couldn’t pay both debts. I’ve had a very difficult time financially, but I will pay SwordArT back every penny. The other claims against me are not applicable. In China, it is common for friends and colleagues to lend each other money. I learned a hard lesson about cultural differences in America. I will cooperate with Riot in any investigation and have evidence necessary to prove my innocence.”

As part of our discussions with Yi, he showed us receipts of transactions that he claims were for currency exchanges conducted with the full knowledge and consent of the other parties involved.

Currently, Yi plans to fly back to his home country of China before any public statements from TSM. Dexerto understands TSM is considering legal action. TSM said Dexerto “wBeyond our original statement, we have no further comment at this time.”

https://www.dexerto.com/league-of-legends/sources-tsm-league-coach-peter-zhang-fired-for-alleged-financial-irregularities-1787150/ Sources: TSM League coach Peter Zhang has been fired over alleged financial irregularities

Emma Bowman

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