Blizzard’s Overwatch League addresses toxicity with fines and suspensions, while the Dallas Fuel drops a toxic player

Last week, we covered an ESPN piece in which the author called out Blizzard for sitting on its hands after an Overwatch League player signed to the Dallas Fuel, Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, was caught openly using homophobic, racist, and ageist language toward other players, not the first time for the Fuel. It was just one more piece in a long series of incidents in Overwatch toxicity that’s now spilled over into the e-sports league itself.

Or is it? After initially reportedly dismissing the complaint back in January, Blizzard announced this weekend that it was fining Taimou $1000 for the slurs. It also fined an LA Valiant player $1000 for account sharing, issued a “formal warning” against a Houston Outlaws player who posted an offensive meme, and fined a fourth player, Félix “xQc” Lengyel from the Dallas Fuel, $4000 for having “repeatedly used an emote in a racially disparaging manner on the league’s stream and on social media, and used disparaging language against Overwatch League casters and fellow players on social media and on his personal stream.” In fact, we’ve covered Lengyel before when he was fined, suspended, and benched back in January for homophobic remarks to an openly gay fellow player.

“It is unacceptable for members of the Overwatch League to use or distribute hateful, racist, or discriminatory speech or memes,” Blizzard’s public announcement says. “It is important for all members to be aware of the impact their speech may have on others. The overwhelming majority of Overwatch League players and staff are taking full advantage of the opportunity to play in the first major global, city-based esports league, and are rising to meet the occasion as the public figures that they are. We are committed to building a community around the Overwatch League that is welcoming and inclusive for all players and fans, and we hope that these disciplinary actions demonstrate our seriousness in that endeavor.”

Even so, Blizzard was criticized on social media for granting toxic players a slap on the wrist. The Fuel took it a step further in xQc’s case, effectively booting him from the team entirely.

“The Dallas Fuel and tank player Félix ‘xQc’ Lengyel announced they have mutually agreed to part ways,” wrote the Fuel, noting that the suspension was stopping him from practicing with the rest of the team. It’s not clear whether another team will pick him up. And before you applaud, know that there are plenty of e-sports fans on Twitter who side with the punished players on this one because they care much more about matchups than they do about toxicity, and so here we are.

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122 Comments on "Blizzard’s Overwatch League addresses toxicity with fines and suspensions, while the Dallas Fuel drops a toxic player"

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April-Rain
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April-Rain

It fills me with dread the money being thrown at this and the money it costs for a team licence, I really can’t see this taking off or I am too old and don’t get it but I get enjoyment from playing games not watching them.

k2apa
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k2apa

the F?

how does the fine even work? courts aren’t going to do shit for digital game issues.

Blizzard should just perma ban them instead of letting them pay and continue play… this from my view looks like Blizzard is just in it to get some more DOLLARS instead of actually fixing the issue.

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Marc Hill

xqc has always been a toxic ****

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Loopy

xQc, alongside a lot of other pro gamers, unfortunately suffers from the same issue – these are kids who had no opportunity to immerse themselves in normal social situations, to learn social cues, and understand human behaviour. They spent a much higher-than-average time in online communities, where anonymity breeds a certain demeanor and behaviour that real life interactions would seldom approve or tolerate.

And it’s understandable – instead of the kids having an opportunity to develop such social skills through socializing in schools, social events, normal every day interactions, they are were plucked and placed in the spotlight under the guise of a multimillion dollar conglomerate, trying to play by the same “professional” rules like other industries. And somehow people are surprised that the players simply lack the coping mechanism to adjust their behaviours to the new context they are in. It just doesn’t work that way – they are simply too inexperienced.

There is no silver bullet here that would fix it. You go and hire a behaviour coach, and they’ll laugh about it next day in their streams. These are skills that you can’t simply “teach”, you acquire them through life, and through experiencing others people in person.

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mysecretid

Absolutely spot-on summary, Loopy. Thank you!

It’s the same reason certain wealthy kids, and certain celebrity kids, grow up so completely f#cked up — they don’t grow up inside a live social environment where you have to learn to deal with real people on an ongoing basis. Thay don’t learn that actions in the real world have consequences — social consequences, at the very least.

An award-winning teacher at my high school once said to me that the most important thing you learn in high school is how to navigate a pre-existing system which doesn’t always make sense, and isn’t always fair. High school is like a “test run” for the real world, where you figure out how you want to deal with other people, and a societal system, before your livelihood depends on it.

Anyway, great post!

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Nathan Aldana

In fact. here’s my thoughts on Trash Talk being “just words”

it isnt.

Theres basically two possibilities for why someone would trash talk

either 1: Theyre trying to get a rise out of people to make them screw up, in which case they are tacitly admitting words have power to hurt people

or 2: words have no power whatsoever over other people and trash talking is just screaming random hateful shit into the void for no reason but your own pleasure.

Neither of those possibilities makes someone using trash talk look good.

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Utakata

Trash talk, by nature of being trash is mostly toxic.

…though I think there’s some that are confusing it with “dirty talk”. Which to me should only used to enhance the experience of passionate copulation if all parties are GGG for it. Though I would imagine that would be a bit too much of a distraction for the rated T of teens “e-sports” events being streamed live. o.O

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Randy Savage

Trash talk is pretty natural in competitive environments. I think what’s going on here with Overwatch is something else entirely, where unimaginative kids have to use words like “gay” as a slur because their vocabulary is too limited to come up with something more creative and original. I mean, just look at how Shakespeare would write insults and compare them to today’s “lol ur gay”. The difference is night and day. And in the professional sports world, trash talk is very prevalent but it’s still considered a weakness if you have to reduce yourself to using sophomoric terms like that. Muhammad Ali was an infamous trash talker but he didn’t have to resort to bigoted inflammatory language.

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Nathan Aldana

He also was using it for purpose numero uno. he knew it affected people and threw them off their game by making them angry enough to make mistakes.

Thats literally the entire strategic point of trash talking.

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Randy Savage

If they’re going to get [upset]then of course it is effective, but such language is weak and only works against the equally weak. Top trash talkers in professional sports do not often resort to such low hanging fruit because it isn’t that effective against the mentally tough and it just makes them look weak for doing it.

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Arktouros

I’ve been gaming over 20 years online and have had just about every insult imaginable thrown my way some accurate, most inaccurate. It doesn’t even remotely phase me at this point.

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Randy Savage

You can’t expect kids who are barely over 20 years old to have the same resistances built up, especially given how completely ineffective the parents have been at preparing their millennial children for the harsh reality of how cruel the world can be. They simply don’t have the mental faculties to deal with bullying so they’re looking to more authoritative institutions to deal with it. That being said, whether or not kids can handle inappropriate language does not change the fact that the language is inappropriate. I will always advocate for folks to toughen up, but at the same time, we can’t have a civil society without being civil towards each other.

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Nathan Aldana

*eyeroll* yeah. those damned millenial kids who are also the only ones not too chickenshit to stand up to death threats for their stances on gun control are just the most weak people

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Randy Savage

I wouldn’t even blame the millennials as much as I would blame the so called “self-esteem movement” in parenting that developed back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. So its roots are far deeper than the millennials. They’re just the latest generation that some of these issues have manifested in.

And that’s not to say they can’t course correct. Generation X is another byproduct of the psychological failures of the self-esteem movement and many of them course corrected and eventually grew out of their self-absorbed cynical nihilism. It just took them half their lives to do it. So there is hope for millennials. They’re just learning the hard way that the world isn’t going to change through hashtags. Mean people are going to say mean things. Evil people are going to do evil things. And no amount of involvement from Blizzard or Big Brother is going to change that.

By all means though, keep fighting the good fight but the best you can hope for is to hold the line against the darkness of human nature. There can be no definitive victory. Only a counter balance. Duality. Dichotomy. Juxtaposition. The Yin and Yang. Jedi and Sith. Love and marriage. Horse and carrots. This I tell ya brother, ya can’t have one without the other.

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Nathan Aldana

See, my thing is. I dont think the millenial generation is weak. I think theyre constantly denigrated by older people who want to see them as such because their own generation is too complacent to do fuck all about whats wrong with the world and want to see kids efforts towards those things as “being pussies”

koolthulu
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koolthulu

I bet OWL adds a no streaming clause to player contracts in the future seasons.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

I find it hilarious that the OWL mods are threatening to permaban anyone on the OWL stream for spamming TriHard 7, and yet the chat is constantly being spammed with TriHard 7.

Although, ageist? I guess that’s a new one to be offended by.

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Nathan Aldana

I mean, it is kind of offensive when you imply that being older makes you smarter and or more mature by default and that kids are worthless or stupider for being younger, because if anything, we gamers should know thats utter bullshit.

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Bruno Brito

We as people, honestly. It’s telling of how badly parenting is in this world when people make kids left and right and think kids are stupid for not knowing. Ignorance isn’t stupidity, and knowledge isn’t inteligence.

My aunt once asked me what i thought about parenting. Coming from a dysfunctional family, where my father was a itty bitty too violent and negligent, i said to her: “You should ever treat your kids with the utmost respect and should diligently teach them about the world without making them feel stupid.”

She said: “So, you can’t make mistakes? Isn’t that a bit harsh?”
Me: “No, that’s the whole point. If you wanna make mistakes, DON’T have kids. Don’t perpetuate this shit where parents get kids to think they’re the biggest authority on everything and demand respect, and then every kid discovers that they aren’t and go through their rebel phase. If you wanna have fun and discover the world, don’t have kids. You’re responsible for a human being. Don’t mistreat that. Ever.”

I think we as humans aren’t really taking care of what we teach and HOW we teach our children. I don’t need to be a parent for that, i was one of those mistreated kids. I’m not having a kid, if i don’t feel up to the task. That’s how important i think humans are. Specially when they’re as fragile as kids.

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Nathan Aldana

Agreed. Parents who think that they must absolutely appear like infallible gods confuse me as someone who doesnt want kids. I’ve been on the planet over 30 years now. I still dont have the goddamn answers to everything and I shouldnt be respected just because I was born before someone else.

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Randy Savage

Respect for one’s elders has little to do with whether they have all the answers or not. It has more to do with them having the experience of surviving all the stupid mistakes they’ve made.

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McGuffn

Yeah, but then the young’uns look at the elders continuing to make mistakes and the elders continuing to demand respect like it’s owed to them and that’s where the whole thing starts to break down.

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Nathan Aldana

Theres a difference between respecting one’s elders, ad treating them like theyre infallible or have all the answers just because theyre older.

Like I said, i’m in my 30’s, I dont have all the answers, and I probably never will, and a teenager respecting me solely because I’m older than a teenager is stupid. I’d rather they respect me for who I am as a person , ethically speaking, than because i’ve been through shit they havent yet.

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Randy Savage

At the same time, it would be just as unwise for a teenager to discount your experiences. I see people try to lord their age over people because their argument holds no other weight without it, but knowing better because you’re older and being able to articulate the why of it are two different things. Parents have resorted to the “because I’m older” argument far too much and it’s not effective leadership. But not using your experience at all is just as ineffective.

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Nathan Aldana

agreed. I just dont like people who lord age as an ‘I win”, because yeah, I may be in my 30’s and someone else is only 25, but if they majored in physics my age is fucking meaningless in an argument on high level physics.

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Randy Savage

True. It would depend entirely on the subject at hand and one’s relative experience with said subject

boredinBC
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boredinBC

Despite all of the negativity that seems to breed in the gaming community, it’s always good to see the stalwart champions of the MOP community speak out against it.

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Darthbawl

Some interesting opinions in here. I would believe that Blizzard is certainly worried about public image here, to some degree. All these toxic players are not exuding a positive image/perception for the League. If I were part of the League brass, I would be at least somewhat worried about that image, esp. with all the PC’ness these days.

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Greaterdivinity

It will always amuse me that Blizzards “friendlier” multiplayer game seems to be ending up with both a more toxic userbase and pro scene than we see in MOBA’s nowadays.

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Randy Savage

That’s why professional chess players don’t have this problem with toxicity because chess requires too much skill to attract the trolls to it. The more accessible a game is, the more likely it is going to dredge up the filth at the bottom of the barrel of humanity.

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McGuffn

This is very true. There are counterexamples though. GW2 is friendly and casual. It was when they started going hardcore that people started becoming more awful.

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Randy Savage

Yeah I don’t even recognize GW2’s community anymore. Raiding has turned things very elitist and toxic. It’s not an alternative MMO anymore. It’s the worst of WoW manifesting in Tyria.

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Bryan Correll

The ghost of Bobby Fischer just called to say that members of the OWL were rank amateurs in the field of being toxic.

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Scratches

Personally, I would’ve gone with John McEnroe. Out of the top 20 outbursts in the history of tennis, he occupies all 20 slots….

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Melissa McDonald

Chess boxing. ’nuff said. Just better not hope you see a Klitschko facing you! They’d beat you handily in either one.

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Nathan Aldana

I’d say its more because pro chess players are held to behavior standards or they dont get to fucking play chess.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Disagree to an extent, playing at this level requires an enormous amount of skill. Is it the same as a pro chess player? I don’t know, I think that 1:1 comparison would be hard since they’re focusing on different types of skills.

I think it has much more to do with who is playing and the overall scene. These are young, immature kids/adults which is absolutely a factor. Pair that with them often reflecting the community of the game and the history of shit-talking in gaming, two things that are completely different in chess, and their behavior becomes more understandable. No less disappointing, but more understandable.

That’s not to say that chess is free from shitty behavior, I know I’ve read more than a few stories of issues with pro chess players over the years even if I can’t cite one off the top of my head.

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Randy Savage

Yeah my response was more tongue in cheek but it’s definitely a huge cultural contrast. I can’t imagine chess attracting the “bro” culture that video games do. Although, the image is kinda funny.