Psyonix update RLCS rulebook following ownership conflict concerns

Adam Fitch
Evil Geniuses

Game developers Psyonix have updated the rulebook for the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) to be more stringent towards conflicts of interest with multi-team ownership in the esports initiative.

North American esports organization Evil Geniuses revealed on September 29 that they would be entering Rocket League esports by picking up a team to compete in the upcoming RLCS season.

Wolves Esports, the esports arm of English football club Wolverhampton Wanderers, joined the RLCS fray in November 2020 and announced their intentions to remain in the game in July 2021.

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There’s a risk of conflict of interest between the two teams as the football club’s majority shareholders Fosun Group made an undisclosed minority investment in Evil Geniuses, valuing the org at $255 million. Psyonix have now updated their rules in an effort to maintain competitive integrity in the esport.

Prior to updating the official rulebook for the 2021-2022 season, there were two rules regarding team ownership. The first original rule stated that no team “owned by a corporate entity, no parent, subsidiary or affiliate of such corporate entity may directly or indirectly own or control more than one team.”

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The second original rule explained that Psyonix were able, at their own discretion, to refuse any teams that are controlled “by a person or entity that operates sports (including esports) gambling, wagering, bookmaking, or betting sites or platforms.”

The new rulebook features a major alteration to the first rule and adds three more elements to their guidelines for the responsibilities of team owners, managers, and coaches. The updated first rule states that no team — including owners, managers, coaches, agents, employees, and subcontractors — are allowed to engage in “collusion, match-fixing, the bribery of a referee” or any other action that may “intentionally influence” the outcome of a game, match, or tournament.

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One of the new rules states that no owner of a team in the RLCS can serve as the coach or manager, or “be involved in or have any power to determine or influence the management or administration” of a second team.

The two other additional rulings enforce that no managers, coaches, or other persons with managerial responsibility can be a controlling person of another team, nor can they have the ability to determine the management or administration of another team.

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RLCS Rulebook 2022RLCS
An updated rulebook for the RLCS increases the guidelines for multi-team ownership.

“The rule needed to be updated based on the ever-changing esports landscape and the difficult problems associated with administering a rule based on ownership,” a Psyonix spokesperson told Dexerto regarding the change. “This particular situation encouraged us to update the rule.”

There’s a chance that Evil Geniuses and Wolves Esports may face each other in the future, whether that’s through the teams competing in the same region or potentially meeting each other at an international competition.

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Psyonix have looked into the ownership ties between the parties and ruled that their organizational setups are independent to the point where they can both meet each other at an event with little cause for concern, especially under their new guidelines.

Cr1t- in Evil Geniuses and Wolves jacket at TI10Twitch: dota2ti
Evil Geniuses’ official apparel features the branding of Wolves, as seen at TI10, a $40m Dota 2 event.

“Evil Geniuses and Wolves are allowed to compete in the same region,” they explained. “Their ownership situation is different than, for example, a single team with a professional and an academy team in the same league. As the rules state, collusion is not tolerated in any form by players and team owners and we have to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis to help navigate the current day esports industry.”

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The 2021-2021 RLCS season is set to have the largest prize purse in the RLCS to date at $6m, an updated format, and new teams taking part — Evil Geniuses, for example. The season will be split into fall, winter, and spring splits that culminate in the World Championship.

About The Author

Based in Lincolnshire, UK, Adam Fitch is a leading business journalist covering the esports industry. Formerly the lead business reporter at Dexerto, he demystified the competitive gaming industry and and spoke to its leaders. He previously served as the editor of Esports Insider.