Dallas made the right decision to extend xQc’s suspension

Stirling Coates Roar Guru

By Stirling Coates, Stirling Coates is a Roar Guru

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    Toxicity will not be tolerated in the Overwatch League (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

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    It’s very rare to see a team impose a suspension on one of their own players that greatly exceeds the one already handed down by the league. The Overwatch League’s Dallas Fuel did just that recently – and that’s the best decision they could’ve made.

    The first Overwatch League season has been cruel to a handful of teams, and the Dallas Fuel can definitely count themselves in that handful.

    Picked at the start of the season as the biggest contender to the Seoul Dynasty in the Pacific division, the Fuel instead find themselves languishing in second-last in their division and third-last overall.

    The goodwill their competitive 2-1 loss to the Dynasty in their first game generated was quickly undone by a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Valiant just two days later, but week two ended up being a lot worse – for different reasons.

    A 4-0 shellacking at the hands of the Houston Outlaws had Dallas in an early-season tailspin, but it was a homophobic slur from star player Felix “xQc” Lengyel after the game that well and truly put them in a nosedive.

    xQc directed the comments at Houston’s Austin “Muma” Wilmot – the only openly gay player in the competition – on his personal twitch stream after the game, with condemnation and discipline coming from the league very shortly after.

    For his part, xQc apologised shortly after the incident, and his apology was publically accepted by Muma, but the damage was already done.

    In the league’s first instance of issuing player discipline, xQc was suspended four matches and fined $2,000. His absence was felt immediately by the Fuel, who put in a competitive performance against top team London in their next match, but were unable to get over the line in a tough 3-1 loss.

    But where sports teams of all shapes and sizes have been quick to contest any infractions against members of their own roster, the Fuel not only accepted the League’s punishment in full – they extended it themselves.

    In a statement, the club announced they would suspend xQc, arguably their best player, for the remainder of stage one – an additional three matches. The move was met with widespread praise, but also concern as to what havoc it would reap on the rest of the Fuel’s stage one.

    Dallas broke through in their next match with a 3-0 win over fellow cellar dweller San Francisco, but since then it’s been back to the loss column, with a 3-2 loss to Boston, a 4-0 trouncing by Philadelphia and a 3-1 loss to New York putting the team in a previously unthinkable 1-7 hole.

    xQc would’ve been eligible for the grudge match against New York but, despite the their predicament, the team stuck firm and kept him inactive.

    The short term pain this has inflicted on the team, however, is more than worth the massive long term gain their impeccable handling of the situation will grant them.

    For starters, this is a massive boost to the overall public perception of eSports.

    There’s no denying that the eSports world, and indeed video games as a medium, have suffered various image problems over the years. The Overwatch community itself has been labelled one of the most toxic in competitive gaming.

    But now, the message has come down clear that this behaviour is intolerable. While traditional sports leagues debate about where to draw the line on sledging, one eSports league has gone ahead of the curve and set the standard in no uncertain terms.

    Secondly, this puts xQc – who’s had disciplinary issues in the past – firmly on notice. While this is by far the lowest act xQc has committed on the Overwatch ‘field’, this is actually his third suspension in the last year.

    Previously his account received temporary bans by Blizzard for intentionally losing competitive games as well as filing bogus reports on the behaviour of other players.

    While Dallas can’t claim to be caught unaware of their marquee man’s patchy past, they’ve absolutely done the right thing in telling xQc – and showing the rest of the league – they’re more than happy to go above the league to keep their own players in line.

    Most importantly, however, their decision to stick firm on the extended suspension despite poor results is an excellent testament to a belief that should be core for any sporting enterprise – nobody is above the team.

    Way back in 2008, Barry Hall of the AFL’s Sydney Swans was famously suspended for seven weeks after a sickening punch to the head of West Coast’s Brent Staker. What is not as well-remembered is that later that year, Hall was suspended again – this time for attempting to strike Collingwood’s Shane Wakelin.

    Sydney vowed Hall wouldn’t play for the team again until he completed a rigorous anger management counselling program – a program Hall finished just as the club’s other star forward, Michael O’Loughlin, got injured.

    There’s every chance that was just a coincidence, but in any case, sports history is littered with examples of teams pulling of all sorts of tricks to get their superstars off the hook.

    What’s not as documented is the unrest that creates in the rest of the team, with other players feeling rightly aggrieved when run-ins with the tribunal aren’t contested as hotly.

    The Dallas Fuel, however, will have ensured everyone feels like an equal citizen following the xQc suspension, with the team unity such a feeling creates sure to pay dividends as the season wears on.

    The first Overwatch League season may already be a lost cause for Dallas, but when they do eventually reach the competition’s summit, this may just be the moment they point back to.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • February 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm
      moustache_twirler said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

      Some interesting remarks…

      I dont think that XQC is Dallas’ best tank player, let alone overall player. What makes you believe he is a more valuable part of the team than Cocco or Effect?

      Dallas are in part paying for their arrogance. Before the league started, they made the assumption that their Envyus lineup would tear up the opposition. They therefore didn’t bother to augment their roster by recruiting players who would cover their weaknesses. They instead took the luxury of recruiting popular streamers like Xqc and Seagull, in an effort to swell their fanbase. Even Custa seems to have been a gimmick recruit, as he pulls in the Aussie supporters (this view is supported somewhat by the “who are the dallas fuel” video on youtube, when Taimou says of Custa “he’s our token Australian.. he wouldn’t be in the team if he wasnt Aussie”). The tactic has worked from a fanbase recruitment point of view, but has failed dismally when it comes to “on field” performances.

      While I agree with you that the League’s (and Dallas’) response to the XQC incident was a commendable one, I feel that their LACK of a response to the Profit incident was appalling. The league may have made the right action in disciplining XQC, but it seems they did it for the wrong reasons. By punishing one player (XQC) and not doing the same (or more) for Profit for a much more severe indiscretion, tells me that they only punished XQC to pander to the masses. They did not do so because of some strict moral compulsion. If they did, then where was this morality when Profit disrespected EVERYONE (not just gays)?

      I like my sports politics free. And I know that I’m not the only one that feels this way.

      • Roar Guru

        February 8th 2018 @ 9:08am
        Stirling Coates said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        I think you’ll find in almost any sporting league that obscene language directed towards another person (homophobic or not) has always been punished more heavily than obscene gestures.

        I would argue that xQc would’ve received a similar suspension for what he said, regardless of whether the person he directed it toward was openly gay.

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