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.