Professionalism of Pro League of Legends Players

This is a topical discussion due to the 1,000 USD fine of Copenhagen Wolve’s ADC Konstantinos ‘FORG1VEN’ Tzortziou. Now, we’ve seen a huge amount of discourse over this fine as to whether it is fair, unjust, excessive or not enough. Let’s ignore the amount for a moment and consider why Riot decided on this action (taken from the link above):

“Tzortziou has continued to consistently engage in behaviour which violates the letter and spirit of the Summoner’s Code. His tendency to engage in verbal abuse, insults and offensive behaviour is unacceptable for any player (even if provoked). This behaviour is especially harmful in a high-profile eSports competitor who should lead the community by example” 

It seems pretty clear here that disciplinary action was necessary. It is not that he acted in a toxic manner once or twice and then proceeded to be an upstanding citizen of the League of Legends society, he consistently behaved in a less than desirable manner. If any player behaves like this and receives sufficient reports, for evidence, then that person would most likely receive a ban from Riot. You obviously cannot ban a pro-player because he needs to practice, he needs to maintain his skill level to ensure the quality of the LCS. Riot’s solution was to deliver a monetary punishment. MonteCristo and Thorin have tweeted on the issue and Monte’s response was on point:

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Banning him from a playoff series in the upcoming EU LCS should hurt him rather more than the money seems to have affected him. It also hurts his team. I am largely against banning players from playoffs though, as you need to uphold a certain standard of play for this time of the season. The issue is whether or not FORG1VEN will be a part of the LCS Summer Split where he could be suspended for three games. In general though, I agree more with this course of action until there is a more standardized model for player income. FORG1VEN’s attitude does not seem to have changed in the immediate aftermath, tweeting that he will “write the fake ‘GGWP enemy team intense series, next time better!’ So it makes all the fans happy”. He has missed the point. The issue is purely about being a good sportsman and upholding the Summoner’s code, which is agreed upon when you first start playing. Being a good sportsman is fundamental in any form of competition. I coached at a school for four years and after every game, had my team line up to shake hands. This was done regardless of the result and regardless of whether or not we had bad calls from the referee or anything like that. Yes, we all get annoyed and yes, we have ALL turned to anger and submitted to the frustration and said things we probably should not have. If it did not happen in League, it happened in another sport. Why? Because it is a competitive environment. League pitches five random people on the same team who have to think the same way and be on a similar page in order to secure a team victory. This does not always happen and sometimes your Jax will get fed and do everything for you, but that is not really relevant here.

One has to control their emotions and remember that you are playing a game (advice that I should also use more often). If you realize you were in the wrong, apologize and do not let it happen again. If someone provokes you, do not react irrationally and merely mute them. Imagine someone growing up playing basketball, soccer, handball, what have you, and they are also adamant fans of the LCS, and particularly love the Copenhagen Wolves. They see FORG1VEN cussing and insulting his random teammates in Solo Queue. Result? Emulation. This can translate to similar behaviour in those other sports. I can definitely tell you that if you behave like a two-year old in those sports, your team probably will not want to play with you again. WAIT! It’s Solo Queue! He will not see those players again! Wrong. In high elo play, it is common to have the same teammates quite a number of a times due to 2% of the ranked player population being in Diamond V and above, so let us not forgot how much smaller that percentage goes when discussing Diamond I 75LP and above, where most of the pros reside (~0.26% for all DI and Challenger players. Source: na.op.gg. Switch regions to see the percentage for those)

Alliance’s Tabzz chimed in about the vast amount of interaction pro players have with the community through streams and Solo Queue, going so far as to say the ‘practice environment is so dependent on playing with 4 new random players of varying skill level (lower than you) every game’. This really is not completely true. If this was the case then every pro player would be in Challenger in the top spots. There are CS (Challenger Series) players in Challenger and high Diamond I, along with streamers such as Nightblue3, who are individually just as skilled but maybe either do not play professionally out of choice or cannot translate that into a 5v5 LCS scenario, which I think we can agree is vastly different from Solo Queue. If you expect to use LCS strategy in Solo Queue and become frustrated when that cohesion is non-existent, you are missing the point of ‘Solo Queue’. LCS teams have their scrims for hours most days, so raging for what is individual mechanical practice does not make sense. For a second consider the position you are in as an LCS pro. You are able to interact with your fans on a daily basis and have the opportunity to accomplish something for a community. Why not seize that (see ‘Get Fit with Snoopeh’) instead?

Back to Thorin’s tweets (he had numerous tweets on the topic with valid points in some cases), yes, the Pros play Solo queue almost every day as practice and expecting them to never get mad IS unreasonable. FORG1VEN is being punished for repeated offenses. He did not just rage once. This is occurred to the point that Riot stated ‘He has received consistently more reports than any other LCS professional player, and also has one of the highest harassment scores in the history of the LCS’. As stated before, we all get frustrated, but this is never a reason to be toxic and behave like child who thinks they only lose because of other people and never themselves. One can explain in chat what went wrong, instead of berating people for what might have been a mistake. No one is perfect. TMS’s TheOddOne attempted a Baron steal with Pantheon’s Grand Sky Fall last night on stream and went completely too early resulting in his death. Baron was warded. He said ‘my b’ and everyone moved on. No one insulted him or berated him or told him to get cancer. What a horrific thing to wish upon someone, by the way. Why anyone would say that is beyond me.

TSM’s Xpecial sums it up nicely: ‘There’s no getting around it as a public figure. Those that can’t control themselves should have their chat disabled or just punished’. It is stressful, it is all day, every day, it can get frustrating, you may just want to yell at someone, but you are now a public figure. You are the best in the world at something and get to do it for a living. Many people would love to be in that position. USE that position. Use your knowledge and position to coach your Solo Queue teammates. If something occurs that you see is wrong within the context of the game? Give advice as to how to improve it. EG’s Krepo does this on stream to great effect (why he is so great on the analyst desk) along with other LCS players. We understand, as a community, that it is stressful for you to be 100% dedicated to one game for so long, for so many hours a week, and you naturally need to release your frustrations. Take a break, watch a TV show, go to the gym, but do not be a jackass to those who do not have the time to spend to become as good as you.

Non-pros also behave in a toxic manner and it is also wrong, but most of us never encounter them more than once and after our report is submitted, we move on. Professional players are in the public eye, and when you get paid to play League of Legends, you represent Riot. You are a Riot employee. If you think that in any other job in the world, you could behave like this and not be punished, you are delusional. It is your job to uphold the integrity of the company you represent. Riot has invested significant energy into having League of Legends recognized as a sport, and thus everything that goes along with that will be a part of the industry. 19 and 20 year old athletes are drafted in the NBA every year. They are informed of the rules of conduct, they sign their contracts, and they are in the public eye. If they behave in a manner deemed irresponsible or in a way that taints the NBA, they are punished. The same thing has happened here and no one should be defending the actions of the offender. Hopefully FORG1VEN has changed his mentality and anyone playing with him will have a much better time.

We, as players of a competitive game, will get frustrated when we have losing streaks, and get angry at having no control when we are on the end of AFKs and D/Cs and intentional feeders. We  play this game because we like to compete to win and have fun at the same time, but losing a lot really is not fun. The point is this: Do not take out your frustration on your teammates who were not in your other losses, who did not AFK and cause you to fail your promos. Maybe look at your own play as well. Take a break, work out, watch a TV show, find a punching bag! Just do not be toxic.

Flame is lame, enjoy the game!

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