China’s League of Legends esports operator TJ Sports announced Monday that the company is currently investigating a “match-fixing” report from Chinese esports organization FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), targeting FPX’s League of Legends player Zhou “Bo” Yangbo.
According to FPX’s official Weibo, Yangbo initiated the report to FPX, but claims he was coerced into it by threats from some undisclosed party during his professional career in League of Legends Development League (LDL), the secondary league in China’s League of Legends esports.
“The FPX managing team and Yangbo have reported this situation to TJ Sports, and Yangbo will be suspended until the investigation has a complete result,” FPX stated.
Yangbo used to be a player in LDL and joined the FPX LPL team as a rookie in January. He was expected to play FPX’s “Jungle” position, replacing player Gao “Tian” Tianliang who left the pro scene due to chronic pain.
This led to a wider discussion in the Chinese esports industry on match-fixing and the vulnerability of younger players. On the one hand, behavior such as match-fixing is a serious accusation in esports or any other sport, but some argue that if Yangbo was truly threatened by a senior person or group, he is being used as a means to an end and is an easy target to manipulate or coerce because he is very young and wants to enter LPL from LDL.
Earlier this month, PFX signed a long-term partnership deal with the U.S. furniture design company Herman Miller. Yangbo was featured on the official poster.
TJ Sports stated that the investigation will also include a third-party law firm. The Esports Observer will keep monitoring this situation in China as it develops.