Overwatch League Players Keep Getting In Trouble

Image: Félix "xQc" Lengyel.

Overwatch is still young as far as sports go, but if you're a professional player of anything, whether that means basketball or Russian knight fighting, you're gonna be held to a higher standard than most. Overwatch League's players are having trouble with that.

There's still about a month left until Blizzard kicks off the first season of Overwatch League, and yet the esports org has already seen four different players get fined or suspended — one of them twice within the span of a month.

Over the weekend, Dallas Fuel tank player Félix "xQc" Lengyel got slapped with a seven-day in-game suspension after he got so angry that he decided to throw games on stream, something Blizzard deems "inappropriate for Overwatch" according to the suspension email it sent to Lengyel.

While Dallas Fuel and the Overwatch League have yet to directly address the in-game suspension, Lengyel said in a video released today that "some more consequences are coming, I'm pretty sure."

He acknowledged that his actions were "not OK," but also explained that he was frazzled after a long day of professional scrimmaging, which contributed to him getting mad enough to throw games and make jokes about how, actually, another player owed him an apology. "Listen, my dude," he said on stream of the fellow pro player who reported him.

"I will accept an apology, but I'll only accept a re-add if he doesn't lose against shit-tier teams on stage."

This comes in the wake of a November incident in which Lengyel received a 72-hour in-game suspension for misuse of the game's reporting system.

Lengyel is not alone amongst his Overwatch League peers. Earlier this month, Philadelphia Fusion player Su-min "Sado" Kim got benched by Blizzard for the first 30 games of the League's upcoming first season after it came to light that he'd been accepting payments in return for logging in to other players' accounts and levelling them up, which is against the game's terms of service.

Kim said he did it to scrape together some extra cash for his family after he dropped out of high school, back when he thought his chances of ever going pro were "basically zero." Viewed in that light, Kim's actions don't sound all that unreasonable, but rules are rules, apparently.

Last week, two Shanghai Dragons players, Chao "Undead" Fang and Junjie "Xushu" Liu, got fined by their own organisation for sharing an account. Apparently, they only did it because their individual account rankings would have prevented them from playing together otherwise, but they were still in violation of Blizzard's terms of service.

Image: Shanghai Dragons.

"As professional game players, they should have acted as role models and abided by Blizzard's account use codes and relevant regulations," Shanghai Dragons wrote in a statement to the Daily Dot. The team fined both Chao and Liu 3,000 RMB, or roughly $US450 ($587).

You'll note that the punishments players received came from a variety of sources: Overwatch's in-game systems, teams, and in just one case (so far) Blizzard itself. You'd think that Blizzard, owner and operator of the League, would be more involved in slapping wrists and designating timeout corners, but so far, it's yet to unveil an official code of conduct for players.

The company's spent months in a mad dash to get OWL up and running, so regular terms of service have had to serve. That's resulted in a wide variety of punishments, some of which don't entirely seem to fit the crimes in question.

The situation is also unusual in that these players are young, ranging in age from 18 to 22, and new to the bright, artificial lights of a corporately owned and operated competitive scene.

Those facts don't excuse their actions, but they help them make sense. On top of that, Lengyel's match-throwing, player-insulting outburst is illustrative of the emotional strain many esports players put themselves through: they scrimmage all day, keeping their focus razor-sharp so they can go blow-for-blow with other top players, and then stream for multiple hours to build personal brands and prepare for a life after professional play.

As a result, the spotlight's on when they're supposedly unwinding, and even when it's off, communities on sites like Reddit scrutinize streams and clips and videos mercilessly. There's very little room for players to make dumb mistakes in private, for better or worse.

This recent string of incidents seems to suggest that everybody — Overwatch League players, organisations, and Blizzard — have some growing up to do.


Comments

    This just in: humans are humans, more at 11.

    Let's be honest...we all knew it from day one.
    The biggest problem with Esports as a professional sport, was that the players weren't used to, or ready to be treated as professional athletes.

    Not saying they are incapable, but the environment of the popular gaming personality and that of a professional sportsman were, and still kind of are, chalk and cheese.

    In saying that, having a clear payment schedule and professional budgeting is something that needs to be addressed, it's one thing we keep hearing about professional gamers cocking up, but the other staple is unpaid team members and players....

      There's a generally average mind set about people who play competitively at the moment.

      The age bracket is usually somewhere between 17-26 and call it stereotypical but quite often they have no world experience, especially these days. My roommate plays competitively in a team and is careless when it comes to online representation and what information they make available. We were pizza pranked a while back where dominoes and pizza hut both showed up within 10 minutes of each other with $50 worth of food only to be turned around at the door, roommate gave them a rude dismissal where it was his actions that likely caused it and I'd have offered up an apology that it had happened at least.

      Their platform is the internet more often than not and the veil of anonymity makes for poor attitudes devoid of real world consequences so they are never put in a position where it would affect them personally.

      The point of no payment schedule is another psychological trap too. There's this idea that having a sponsor provide you with a new keyboard and mouse is somehow an adequate payment for time and managers of teams use this to their advantage to not pay their players.

    Because professional football/basketball/whatever players never do anything wrong or get into trouble.

      As we're all aware, they do, and they are penalised for bad behaviour both on and off the field. If Esports is to be held in the same regards as professional football/basketball/whatever, then Esport players must also be held to account and penalised when they display inappropriate conduct or violate the rules or ToS.

      Any player that wants to participate and be sponsored at a professional level is expected to act in a professional manner.

        I don't disagree.

        I do disagree with beating the same old drum anytime an e-sports pro does something wrong, acting as if it doesn't happen in other professional sports.

        All it does is give more ammunition to anyone running around with ideas like, "See? These children playing games aren't professional and neither is what they do."

        If anything, esports are just like any other professional sport... Because there are fuck ups from its professionals. Remind people of that, instead of talking like esports is some sort lesser thing.

        Otherwise all you're doing is harming e-sports, not helping it.

          eSports IS full of children who aren't professional though. The industry has a long way to go to gain respect, and it's biggest challenge is curbing the behavior of it's participants who are used to an online world of little to no consequence for their actions.

          How do you think real world sports leagues got the respect they hold now? By ignoring players poor behavior when it made media headlines or public attention? Maybe in in decades past, but these days they come down like a tonne of bricks on players poor behavior. eSports NEEDS to do the same if it wants to progress, and the media is right to call out the shitty antics of gamers to help draw attention to it.

          Beyond helping legitimise eSports as a whole, punishing pro gamers shit behavior has another far more important role to play - that of reinforcing in the online community what is acceptable (sportsmanlike) behavior towards fellow players. Currently team based competative games are toxic - some more than others, sure, but all share a commonality where many players think it's perfectly fine to berate, insult, troll, or generally ruin another persons day. "EZ GAME", which many players fail to see a problem with (hell some think it is their earned RIGHT to say), is not only unsportsmanlike but also undeniably toxic. It's common as hell online, but when was the last time you ever witnessed anything similar at a RL sports game, of any level? This sort of behavior can be curbed by pro teams and streamers.

          Educating the playerbase won't happen overnight, but "beating the same old drum any time an e-sports pro does something wrong" is definitely one way of helping things move forward.

            You miss the point entirely.

            By all means talk about it... But don't gloss over the fact that professionals fucking up is not something unique to esports when doing so.

            All you do is give more ammunition to the 'esports aren't legitimate sports' crowd.

              I think YOU are missing the point entirely. Nobody is pretending it doesn't happen in "real world sports" as well; however this is a media outlet focusing on gaming so that's what they'll talk about here.

              Flip your argument and you could be on a Fox Sports site saying "yea but esport pro's fuckup too so how come everyone is focusing on physical sports pro's!"

    I think some orgs are catching onto the idea of PR training, both from a promotional but also role model perspective.

    Ultimately I don't think you'll ever get rid of this behavior but fame and money can lead people to do shit things so it's definitely worth curtailing it.

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