The decision comes amid an exchange from a partner within Vision Esports, the investment group that put money into Echo Fox, seemingly using racist language towards a high profile representative of their business interests.
In an email sent on April 19, Rick Fox addressed all major stakeholders and informed them of his intention to leave saying the following:
This is an official notification of my intention to exit the Echo Fox organization as a shareholder and participant as soon as I am able to facilitate a transaction to do so. The recent outrageous and abhorrent display of pure racism made by a significant Echo Fox shareholder as well as threats to my family have made it impossible for me to continue to remain associated with the company.
I will not support or be associated with such behaviour and attitudes displayed at the shareholder level. Racism is an anathema to what my personal brand strives for and tolerating any form of discrimination such as this is not acceptable.
This notification serves as the beginning process of exiting the company. I will be contacting all relevant and interested people. My position in the GP and the entity that owns my shares are available. Depending on the proposal there are different ways to structure a deal, acquire my entity, swap positions, etc. Interested parties can contact me. I’m moving on the first deal that sits well."
The incident that seems to have triggered this decisive response from Rick Fox is the use of a racial epithet aimed at Jace Hall, former CEO of Echo Fox and Head Custodian of Twin Galaxies, in a heated email exchange.
In an internal business dispute between Jace Hall and a member Vision Venture Partners, whose esports division invested in the Echo Fox brand, the shareholder used the n-word to describe Hall who is of African-American descent. We are currently withholding the shareholder's name pending a response to comment.
Sources close to the situation informed Dexerto that this isn’t the only time such language has been used in relation to both Jace Hall and Rick Fox from the shareholder in question. One source added:
“Most shareholders have tried to ignore this in the hope it goes away and this has forced Rick’s hand to leave. He obviously isn’t going to stand for that and was hoping the matter would be addressed on a shareholder level rather than just swept under the carpet.”
Rick Fox first entered the esports space in December 2015 when he purchased the Gravity Gaming LCS slot for League of Legends and rebranded them as Echo Fox. Since then the organisation has expanded into multiple titles, most notably various fighting game titles.
While their expansion has brought them mixed fortunes, it would be incredibly difficult to imagine a future without the involvement of the high profile figure and public facing ambassador that the brand is named after.
According to The Esports Observer, Echo Fox have provided a statement that confirms the reports of there having been multiple incidents of "racial epithets" used by the shareholder in question.
Here is the official statement:
There have been incidents in recent weeks in which a limited partner of the Echo Fox organization, who is not an employee, officer or director of Echo Fox, used a racial epithet towards individuals both verbally and via email. One such incident was detailed in media accounts today. And although that incident was not directed towards an employee, officer, member or shareholder of Echo Fox, racial intolerance connected to Echo Fox is entirely unacceptable. There have been other reported incidents where the shareholder in question used this same vile language towards Rick Fox personally. These incidents are especially significant for us as Echo Fox boasts an unparalleled level of diversity in its principal ownership group, management, leadership and player base. Upon being made aware of the incidents, the Company has made various demands to the offending investor, including the investor’s disassociation from the company and we are continuing to work diligently towards this end.
Riot Games have responded to the reports regarding Echo Fox, with LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley announcing that they have launched an investigation and will "respond accordingly based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules."
We have launched an investigation into the allegations and will respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules. -Chris Greeley, LCS Commissioner (2/2)— lolesports (@lolesports) April 26, 2019
We will continue updating this story with more information as it becomes available.
Updated: April 26, 2019 - 7:50 AM EST