Bad behaviour in esports: It's nice to be nice

As the new money flows into esports, it seems as though some elements of the culture that has been built around professional gaming is slowly being worn away, and probably for the better. Last night a report from ESPN’s Jacob Wolf claimed that yet another high-level practitioner, this time in League of Legends, had fallen foul of simple workplace conduct guidelines following a string of such cases in other games recently.

The incident allegedly happened prior to a pre-game interview featuring Choi "Locodoco" Yoon-seop, the coach of the Golden Guardians LCS team. The interview, with Riot Games no less, was due to be aired during the North American League of Legends Championship Series stream, but according to ESPN sources the coach made a comment to a female member of the Riot team.

Both the Golden Guardians and Riot are said to have deemed unacceptable, even for off-camera consumption, and Locodoco was summarily removed from his position on Friday. This should come as little surprise to the man in question, with both Riot and the Guardians, who are owned by the Golden State Warriors, having a strict zero tolerance policy for any such lack of professionalism shown.

This follows on closely from the Joon-yeong “Profit” Park situation. Profit is a pro player on London Spitfire, the Overwatch franchise based in the UK started his appearance in an Overwatch League match by giving the camera the middle finger. According to reports, he was responding to a sound check, rather than attempting to Ron Jeremy his way out of the OWL, but was still fined $1000, which seems a little harsh.

The OWL has had other issues, and one players has technically lost the ability to play for their conduct. Dallas Fuel player Félix "xQc" Lengyel was suspended for the entire first phase of the competition for a homophobic comment made on his private stream, by his team, having already been fined $2000 and suspended for four games by the league.

kNg is King of bad decisions

That doesn’t compare to the case of Vito ‘kNg’ Guiseppe, the now immortal Brazilian who managed to get thrown off two top end teams in the course of less than a year, as well as technically causing the second to leave the scene. In summary, he turned up late for games, threatened to kill a peer, actually attempted to find and harm said peer, got cut, caused that team to collapse, then got a big move to a new team.

Once in place at the new team, he made a homophobic comment in response to a joke, and then doubled down on his decision by refusing to acknowledge both what was said, and the intent. That obviously led to him being cut, and subsequently the entire team being disbanded, which is about as bad as consequences can be for the scene and team, and probably should not be directly compared to flipping the bird.

So, as you can see, there is a degree of scale about the varying ways players have ruined their chances over recent months, and there are many other examples from other games that have cost more, or sometimes less depending on the scene. What we can assume is that there is a level of education players are not currently getting that they probably do need if more kids are not to throw their chances away.

The same thing has already happened in sport, leading to some amazing moments as players realised they are at risk by committing to an opinion, and just turning up so they don’t get fined. The sad thing is, like in sport, that will also mean the fans are no longer connected to the real versions of the player, and that is something valuable and unique that esports has long enjoyed.

The trade-off is the massive arena, prizepool and media coverage an event like the Overwatch League or League of Legends World Championship gets, which in turn enables more kids to follow their dreams, and creates a sustainable esports for the long term. Progress is painful, but on the other hand, many of these acts would see you censured in a normal workplace, so maybe it’s not the worst lesson for the scene. Be nice, this is a privilege, this life.