To the point where the professional player base has almost found itself to be known for their misbehaviour, the Overwatch League has once again been put in the position of suspending, fining and warning players. Coming this morning in a release from Dallas Fuel, the announcement following Blizzard’s competitive ruling details all the information around the seemingly eternally suspended Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel including the announcement of his mutual contract termination.
With an included quote from Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail, he was written to have said “There are few players out there who have achieved as much success in as short a time as Félix has in competitive Overwatch. Ultimately, it was in the best interest of our organization and Félix to part ways before the expiration of his contract.”. This ‘best interest’ is pretty easy to see being the fact that Lengyel has only featured in 8 matches in the entire existence of the Overwatch League due to his somewhat permanent suspension from the league due to his behavioural issues.
Lengyel was not the only Dallas Fuel player to face the hammer, with Timo “Taimou” Kettunen being fined $1,000USD for a homophobic slur he used on his stream. Joining the team of punished Fuel competitors was Ted “Silkthread” Wang, of the Los Angeles Valiant, and Tae-yeong “TaiRong” Kim, of the Houston Outlaws. With Kim being warned for an offensive social media post he made and Wang being fined for violating the Blizzard End User License Agreement through account sharing, they continue Blizzard’s necessity to constantly keep their players under control.
This begs the question of who the onus is on for these players to professionalize and begin to act as professional sportspeople and public figures. One Redditor on /r/CompetitiveOverwatch /u/FoucaultMeMichel made the comparison that teams need to take charge of their players (in this case Lengyel) to help them professionalize their attitudes. This is what he had to say about the Fuel’s development of him.
“xQc had a month outside of professional play to work on his behavioral issues. In that period, the Fuel should have been doing everything they could to teach Felix how to be a professional public figure. I don’t know what they did for him, but it’s clear that they let him down. Because if they didn’t believe that he could be professional, he should have been removed from the roster before it came to this.” See the full comment here.
I for one agree with the Redditor here that teams need to clearly make more of an effort to develop the personalities and responsibilities as public figures. Compared to other flagship competitions, Blizzard has more than struggled to keep the players on leash, with seemingly all public prevention for these players’ actions being retrospective punishments. It’s time this got sorted out once and for all, both for the benefit of the Overwatch League’s players and audience, but more notably it’s commercial value.