Overwatch Pro's Mid-Match Ban Raises Questions About Blizzard's Reporting System

Félix "xQc" Lengyel was playing a competitive Overwatch match last night when suddenly, he was booted from the game and informed his account had been banned or suspended -- an action that's sparked a debate over witch hunting and false reporting.

Lengyel was mid-match when it occurred, leaving his teammates down a player after the punishment was placed on his account. You can see the confusion when the game goes from just an average end-of-round screen to the log-in page.

A player from the Canadian Overwatch World Cup team that recently took on South Korea in the BlizzCon finals, Lengyel is set to make his Overwatch League debut next month in the preseason matches.

After the ban was issued, Lengyel opened the accompanying email from a no-reply address at Blizzard on stream. The message says the suspension will last 72 hours, for the offence of "misuse of reporting system." Issued "only after a careful review of the evidence," the message specifies that it refers to reporting other players for the express purpose of preventing them from playing.

"False reporting" is the colloquial term for reporting someone in a game of Overwatch without reason to do so. The reporting tool is meant to help Blizzard moderate players who try to intentionally ruin games, spam abusive terms, or just generally make the game worse for all other players involved. But anyone can submit a report if they want, truthful or not, and it's unclear how much additional information is used to support those reports when they reach a Blizzard rep's desk.

A reddit post yesterday had highlighted Lengyel's "false reporting" that was shown on-stream, with a message asking for extremely public action "whether or not it involves xQc." But stream detectives later pointed out that Lengyel might have had some reason behind his report; it was a player from a previous game that had refused to switch off a character, even when they were repeatedly dying.

We've reached out to Blizzard to clarify the reasons behind the suspension, but have not yet received a response. Lengyel, in the mean time, had some passionate words about Blizzard's actions.

While this event certainly highlights the dangerous potential of a witch hunt over information lacking in context, it also raises the issue of false reporting and how much information is really included with any given report. It would stand to reason that a look at Lengyel's match history would show if he had played multiple games with the same person, a player who might have stubbornly refused to switch in a high-level competitive match and died repeatedly because of it. Since Lengyel is also an Overwatch League player, there's an issue of professional ramifications as well.

Until Blizzard issues any sort of official ruling on the matter, we only have the clips to go off. In the mean time, enjoy this dumb, dumb edit of the moment of Lengyel's mid-match ban, cut to a somber tune.

Update [3:00 p.m. ET]: Lengyel's team, the Dallas Fuel, has responded, saying that their management is investigating and assisting both Lengyel and Blizzard in "correcting the situation."

We have updated the headline of the piece to accurately reflect the nature of the continuing debate.


Comments

    The videos embedded in this article autoplay (quite loudly) as soon as the page loads - please consider using something that doesn't do this.

      Sorry about that. Something went wrong in the backend. I've removed the videos from the post until I can stop the autoplay.

      Edit: Pretty sure I've fixed it up now. Let me know if there are still any problems.

        It's still auto-playing for me, at least. Mac Chrome Version 62.0.3202.94 if that helps.

          Aaaand as soon as I post that, it isn't. I swear I refreshed a few times to make sure first too.

        The one in the Minecraft post was doing it, had a tab start suddenly singing at me.

    Do the videos (as of this post) autoplay for anyone else? If so - please don't do this Kotaku, let me choose whether to watch it or not.

    On topic: abuse of a report system? Well, who would've thought...

      Sorry. Bit of a hiccough with the autoplay that I'm fairly sure has been fixed. Let me know if you're still having issues.

    His "reasons" for reporting were complete bs, as was the way he went about the reports.

    As a professional player that's represented his country at the highest level of his chosen sport, he should absolutely know better.

    He deserves the temp ban, and if he does it again then I hope that the ban is permanent to serve as an example to others.

      So does he actually do bs reports? That's something the article fails to explain.

        yeah wtahc the Unit Lost video on youtube. he just chooses heaps of people in the same game, chooses a random reason and in the written feed he writes 'f- you' (he writes the whole word) for each of them, live on air.

          Actually, it was the same person he reported multiple times.

          Apparently he'd encountered that person earlier and disliked the fact they're a Symmetra main which is what let him to report them at the start of the next game they were in.

          Completely bs reason to report. As someone that's oft been reported simply because of my choice of hero, I was hoping his ban would be permanent to serve as a warning to others not to report for false reasons.

    "Correcting the situation"?

    What's to correct?

    He broke the rules. He deserves the ban.

    He should probably consider himself lucky he's still in an Overwatch League team after the way he acted.

    So he reported someone for not playing how he wanted and now gets a minor punishment for his tantrum? Justice served in my opinion.

    "A reddit post yesterday had highlighted Lengyel's "false reporting" that was shown on-stream, with a message asking for extremely public action "whether or not it involves xQc." But stream detectives later pointed out that Lengyel might have had some reason behind his report; it was a player from a previous game that had refused to switch off a character, even when they were repeatedly dying."

    That's not a reason to report someone... being bad at a character, or a game, is not a reason to report someone...

      Yeah actually that sounds like full abuse of the reporting system. If that's true he actually deserves the ban

    It explicitly states that a player not changing heroes is NOT a reason to report. Glad to see someone being punished for abusing the system.

    After watching the Unit Lost video I have very respect for this player. He was actively reporting innocent people, live on air, for a laugh and get 'likes'. I dont care how much of a good player he is apparently, being a sportsperson worthy of respect goes deeper than just being good at a game. It is also how well you play with others, and the respect you up hold.

    That rant of his was fairly typical. Deflecting his own issue with that of someone else wrong doing, I bet he doesnt even remotely see how reporting a whole bunch of innocent strangers and just typing F. U. in the comment for the reason is bad. All live on air.

    He might be (apparently) brilliant at the game, but he is now in a professional team, that means a higher degree professionalism is warranted.

    Does no-one actually care or consider that 5 other players were punished for this also??

    His teammates would have lost the match and SR for it... I'd be pretty dirty about that

      It is unfortunate for those players especially if they were randomly placed with him however if they were a premade team then perhaps it will serve as a life lesson about who they associate with.

      You would think they could appeal the loss of SR to Blizzard and regain it but as I don't play this game I am unsure if they would even restore the loss in rating. What usually happens if someone rage quits or disconnects? Does the team usually get a free pass (genuinely asking)? That could be a new way to exploit for friend's SR if that is the case.

      That seems like something they should blame Lengyel for, who pretty clearly broke the rules. Blizzard didn't bring that on them, he did.

    and what about all those innocent other players who now all have a 'complaint' listed against their name, telling them to f off, all because one dude had so much disrespect for them and use them as the butt of his joke, in front of thousands.

    What a douche

      Article should be "Self entitled pro overwatch player reports players for no reason, gets 72 hours ban, justice is served"

        Or perhaps "Professional Overwatch player abuses report system, justice rains from above."

    Deserves it - he misused the reporting system plain pure and simple.

    So in line with the title of the article, what are the questions being raised? Is it "How can other games benefit from Overwatch's reporting system?" or maybe "What should you do when a "Pro" mis-uses the reporting system?"

    Blizzard said they were clamping down on toxic behaviour including false reporting, and asked the community to play nicer cause it takes resources away from game development.

    Also Blizzard are not stupid or known for making mistakes with bans after 13 years of WoW. They are cautious and dobt ban on doubts. Behind the scenes I think they monitor player reputations based on reporting data and game data.

    If you spam the report button and no one else is... you get noticed. There mission control also monitors streams and social media to see server issues or bugs... so being popular player doing dodgey stuff gets you noticed.

    nope according to blizzard because you get angry you should be perma banned for life, because they think every one is a robot.

      Difference between getting angry... and misusing and abusing the reporting function to get rid of people you hate.

      One is an emotional state, the other is a toxic action against policy which Blizzard has to pay people to police.

      Also going progamer when Blizz is aiming to oen the whole league... getting ban may be a career ender. LoL is super harsh on their progamers being toxic and Blizz may start getting harsher.

    "False reporting" is the colloquial term for reporting someone in a game of Overwatch without reason to do so.

    You make it sound like its only in Overwatch... lol

    Guy is supposed to be a professional, an exemplar of how an Overwatch player should behave, and as such should expect to be held to a higher standard than your average player.

    Ban is justified.

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