Local League of Legends (LOL) gamer Kurtis Lau Wai-kin, also known as “Toyz”, announced in a Facebook post on Thursday that he will be leaving the Hong Kong eSports (HKE) team, adding implications that that HKE CEO Derek Cheung fixed tournaments and requested him to lose on purpose.

In the Facebook post, Lau discussed his departure from the team and said that he could not divulge details on the matter at the moment. However, a netizen pointed out that the block of text in Lau’s Facebook post, if read vertically, said in its second line “I don’t think you guys know that ‘Chung Kung’ [the nickname given to HKE CEO Derek Cheung] forced me to lose, I’m sorry but I won’t do unconscientious things in LMS.”

LMS, or League of Legends Master Series, is the new professional league for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau teams. Previously, teams in these regions belonged to Garena Premier League (GPL) of Southeast Asia.

hke banner
Hong Kong eSports banner. Photo: Toyz via Facebook.

Lau’s message had been hidden within the original post, which read, “It’s been two weeks since the last live-stream and a lot of people have asked me where I’ve been – unfortunately I’m not in a position to share what has happened recently, and I hope you will forgive me. I’ve been back in Hong Kong for the past couple of days, and I feel very sorry I couldn’t say goodbye because things happened very suddenly. I can only apologise to those who have supported me and I hope I can one day repeat the good times when I live-streamed with everyone.”

“…whether I can continue to play or even if I want to continue to compete, things seem out of my control now. It’s likely that you won’t see me compete for the HKE team anymore – [though] LMS performed superbly in the world championships, I left Taiwan very quickly, and I feel very guilty for that. In regards to future live-streams, I will try my best to solve the problems – from now on I’ll keep my updates to my personal account only, and thank you for your concern.”

Since the announcement, the HKE facebook page has been flooded with comments from fans repeating Toyz’s hidden message to show their support.

hong kong esports
Hong Kong eSport’s facebook page has been flooded with comments. Photo: Facebook.

On the Garena website, Riot, the developer of the game, said that it received word that HKE had fixed a match on July 9. After an investigation, the management confirmed that players had been instructed to deliberately lose in two competitions as a strategic move for league advancement. The LMS committee ruled that the players had not comprised their professionalism and in the end they chose not to lose on purpose. While the tactic is not uncommon, it is unethical for management to influence tournaments and undermine the sportsmanship and fairness of the competition. The HKE has been fined TWD$200,000 as a result.

Stand News questioned whether it was differing political views that contributed to Lau’s departure from the team, as Derek Cheung had shared a video of the anti-Occupy demonstrations last year, while Lau shared a Beyond song on his Facebook page in support of the pro-democracy protests.

Toyz. Photo: Toyz via Facebook.

Lau is originally from Hong Kong and lives in Taiwan. He is a LOL Mid Laner (controlling lanes is a key tactical component of gameplay) and started playing the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game in 2011 after a friend introduced him to the game. Lau’s team, the Taipei Assassins (TPA) won the 2012 World Championship. He retired in 2013 after a wrist injury from carpal tunnel syndrome, but returned to professional gaming scene in 2014 when he joined Hong Kong eSports.

HKFP has contacted Toyz and HKE for comment.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.