TSM: A Lawyer Breaks Down All the Doublelift, Leena, Dardoch Drama

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images.
Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images. /

The first big issue that I have seen from the day the Doublelift trade was announced is the improper use of the term “conflict on interest.” While I recognize that this is being used in a sort of layperson shorthand for “this situation seems sketchy because some of the people involved are dating,” it’s important to recognize that there is a legal definition for this term.

A “conflict of interest” exists when a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, and doing so causes an adverse outcome to the interest of another. In short, it’s a situation where doing what is best for two people you have a legal duty to (or have a personal interest with) is impossible because the interest of one opposes another.

It is important to note, then, that two competing interests existed when Doublelift was on Team Liquid. Doublelift was acting to help Team Liquid win a championship, while Leena was acting to help TSM towards that same goal. They each have a personal interest in their relationship with each other (wanting the other to succeed, to be happy together, etc.). Those interests are directly conflicting (since both teams cannot win the championship) and thus if either took action contrary to those interests, a conflict would exist.

However, it is not clear that happened in this case.

From all accounts, Leena has not acted contrary to TSM’s interest in seeking to acquire Doublelift. For instance, if she undermined the former TSM AD Carry, Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup or lobbied to acquire Doublelift as an attractive option for TSM in a trade, a conflict would be clear.

Similarly, despite many pseudo-conspiracy theories, there is no evidence that Doublelift’s poor performance or attitude during the spring split was in service of his relationship with Leena or a desire to play for TSM. If there had been, Team Liquid’s owner Steve Arhancet likely would have not been so willing to accommodate Doublelift’s request.

Any discussion of the trade itself being a conflict of interest would hinge on these obligations. The key question would be whether Leena allowed her personal interest to harm TSM in whatever role she took to bring on Doublelift and whether Doublelift harmed Team Liquid by requesting the trade. From the actions of both organizations and the determination by the LCS, the answer appears to be no.

TSM has already cited its poor bot lane performance as the reason for wanting to acquire Doublelift. Liquid has been quite courteous to Doublelift in the aftermath of the trade, and no one on the team has insinuated that he was trying to get off the team and onto TSM. Absent any further proof, there is no evidence of a conflict of interest surrounding the trade.

In fact, upon the trade being completed, it is actually TSM who has exposed themselves to the most risk that a conflict of interest exists, in Leena or Doublelift putting their personal interests ahead of TSM’s. If Leena acts to benefit Doublelift at the expense of the rest of the team (protecting his position, procuring him favors, changing organizational strategy to favor him), then a conflict of interest would exist.

This is similar to a nepotism situation, in which a person is employed by a company and has the opportunity to hire or do business with their relative or spouse. It is not always the case that these two duties create conflicting interests and there are ways for the organization to insulate themselves from such conflict.

For instance, preventative actions such as recusal from the decision-making process (i.e. Leena recusing herself from any negotiations involving Doublelift) or evaluation by a third-party (which happened in this case in the form of Riot’s review) can absolve the parties from a claim of conflict of interests. Based on TSM’s actions and the LCS oversight, it is likely that any potential conflicts of interest have been adequately addressed.