Conventional wisdom says there’s no such thing as too much transparency, but like most adages, this one comes with asterisks. Yesterday, esports organization CLG demonstrated this by posting a video in which the general manager of its League of Legends team, Daniel “Tafokints” Lee, told downtrodden players that their days on the roster are likely numbered. The video was so poorly received by the esports community that CLG took it down hours later.
CLG’s team is currently tied for last in overall League Championship Series standings and is in a last-place league of its own in the current ongoing summer tournament (via Dot Esports). CLG’s now-removed video, released as part of the organization’s blatantly branded Bud Light Gaming Cooldown series, depicted a moment in which Lee had a frank sit-down with CLG’s LCS roster.
“I’m gonna be upfront: I’m thinking about roster swaps,” Lee said to the team in the video. “It’s been two months; we haven’t really been progressing, so there’s very likely gonna be changes this week. I’m exploring options, so this might be the last time we have this roster of five playing.”
This is sometimes just a cruel reality of esports, but the question here is whether anybody actually benefits from seeing it—especially as part of a sponsored promo video. It doesn’t help that craterous failures at CLG come after multiple players on the current roster experienced career highs elsewhere. Finn “Finn” Wiestål and Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen made serious waves on European teams before joining CLG late last year, and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, playing as part of a different team called FlyQuest, competed in multiple 2020 tournaments’ grand finals. Fielding interview questions about what’s gone wrong at CLG, players have come across as dejected and lost.
As a result, CLG’s video struck many in the esports community as overly revealing—a gratuitous look at one of the lowest moments an esports professional can face.
“Unless you’re making a Breaking Point [documentary]-style piece and this is the trailer, you’re going too far,” LCS commentator Alberto Rengifo said of the video on Twitter. “No one looks the better because of this. Consider taking this down CLG.”
“Can’t even make fun of this,” wrote G2 Esports head coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann. “Showing this is just wrong.”
Others pointed out that players still have time to right the ship, but not if a video like this tanks their morale even more, while fans embraced the idea of transparency, but argued that there has to be “a better way to do it.” After all, what did CLG even communicate here? That some players might get cut? All anybody learned from this video is that players now have to live with the uncertainty of a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
Kotaku reached out to CLG, Bud Light, Lee, and every player on CLG’s current LCS roster for more details about how the video came to be, as well as whether or not Lee and players knew footage was going to be used in this particular context. As of this publishing, they did not reply.
Ultimately, CLG elected to take the video down.
“This morning we published a short post-game video giving a look behind the scenes of our current season,” CLG wrote yesterday on its official Twitter account. “Our goal was to share an authentic moment with our fans and be as transparent as possible leading up to potential changes that may occur this week. We recognize the negative light that it brings to our players, and for that we apologize and have taken down the video.”
The apology has not been well-received.
“Apologize to your players,” Tien Ho, head of marketing for esports organization Rogue (for which current CLG player Wiestål previously competed), said in response. “Might as well film the apology and release it.”