The chairman of the League of Legends professional side Team Imagine also happens to be the owner of the pharmaceutical company that has sparked wide outrage for sharply raising the price of one of its drugs.
Martin Shkreli, whose League of Legends handle is "Cerebral," entered eSports as a team owner earlier this year, creating the team Odyssey in April. It merged with Imagine in August.
Shkreli is more notorious, however, as the owner of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which acquired the drug Daraprim in August and immediately raised its price to $750 per tablet. It had been $13.50 per tablet. Daraprim is used to treat a parasitic infection and is of particular need to those who have AIDS.
The pill was $13.50 per tablet. Now it's $750. The CEO says the company needs to make money.
Two medical associations condemned the price hike and Hillary Clinton, seeking the Democratic nomination for president, called it "outrageous" price gouging and said she would lay out an agenda to deal with it, if she is elected.
Some League of Legends fans have wondered if Riot Games, LoL's maker, could ban Shkreli or his team from the League of Legends Championship Series over this, citing language in the official rules for the current season. It's not certain that it applies to Shkreli's conduct separate from the game or team administration.
Shkreli's comments on the price hike have won him few friends. To Bloomberg, he acknowledged that while costs of production and distribution have risen in the 60 years Daraprim has been on the market, they haven't risen commensurately with the 5,500 percent hike in the pill's cost. Shkreli noted the drug's age and that Turing was investing in creating a "more effective and less toxic" version of Daraprim.
Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager who started Turing, said Daraprim had been pulling in $5 million in revenue and that his start-up needed it to bring in significantly more. He later added that around half of the pills Turing produces from now on would be provided free of charge and that those who need it but are unable to pay would not be denied it. However, even patients who do have insurance could have to pay $150 per tablet by themselves, under common co-pay provisions for drugs like Daraprim.
In May, The Daily Dot reported on Shkreli's entry into the eSports scene and noted that after left the company Retrophin, which he also founded and had been CEO, it filed a statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining a long list of misconduct by Shkreli. The allegations included large payouts and transfers of stock, leading to lawsuits against him and the company. The filing also said Shkreli was under a criminal investigation by a U.S. Attorney's office in New York. Shkreli has denied these allegations.
Team Imagine's most recent performance was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Team 8 in the League Championship Series Promotion Tournament held Sept. 6. It had been seeking a bid to the North American Spring Season of the League Championship Series next year. Prior to the loss, Team Imagine made the semifinals of the NACS Summer Playoffs, losing to eventual winner Renegades, but claiming the third-place match against Cloud 9 Tempest.