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Riot suspends two  League of Legends  pros for 'toxic behavior'
Riot suspends two League of Legends pros for 'toxic behavior'
June 3, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

Yesterday, Riot Games announced via the official League of Legends forums that players Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez and Erlend "Nukeduck" Holm were banned for the rest of the year due to "extremely toxic behavior" -- for his part, Aguirre Rodriguez was singled out for "continual use of racial slurs."

Riot cited section 9.2.9 of its Challenger Series Ruleset, available here, in explaining the bans: "A Team Member may not engage in any activity which is deemed by the LCS to be immoral, disgraceful, or contrary to the conventional standards of proper ethical behavior."

Both players were members of the Ninjas in Pyjamas League of Legends pro team but were dropped from its roster after this incident.

The League of Legends quickly community gained a reputation for toxicity; the company announced a Tribunal system in 2011 to help "humanize" players and stop abuses. The company later hired psychologists to try and create systems that would engender positive interactions between players, and has also explored neuroscience techniques to the same end. Previously, the company had banned another pro player, Christian "IWillDominate" Rivera, in 2012. He was allowed to return late last year.

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Robin Gash
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For the statement that they were dropped by NiP

Christian Nutt
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Alex Rowland
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Christian "IWillDominate" Rivera was banned for Season 3 only. He has since apparently reformed his behavior and plays in the LCS for Team Curse. I'm not saying that this is the case for every "bad apple," but it has happened before.

Jamie Roake
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So they've been at it for almost 3 years, have they actually succeeded at any degree of improvement to the community toxicity, or are these bans a sign it has been a futile experiment?

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One small correction: IWillDominate was not *permanently* banned.
He was allowed to re-enter the LCS on november 2013 (one year later) after showing a full recuperation.

As a matter of facts, he played a match for team Curse just 3 days ago.

Kris Graft
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Thanks for that. We've updated the article.

Gil Salvado
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If you don't enforce your principles, they become irrelevant. Good move.

Scott Lavigne
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I don't know that this is worthy of a post on Gamasutra. I mean, it's purely an esports news update. It doesn't say anything about player behavior in online games in a broader form or how Riot's systems have/haven't affected their playerbase. If this is all there is to the article, then a billion other esports-related items could be posted (and I'm definitely not advocating for that).

Mike Kasprzak
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Other online games/services like Xbox have banned large amounts of users, and this was newsworthy. What makes LoL any less important?

Scott Lavigne
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The reason for the bans. The incidents you're talking about are a console manufacturer's statement about console modding and how aggressive they're willing to be against people who bought their hardware. Although you may disagree, their stance is a contentious point and it was worthy of debate.

Some players being banned from an online game for being assholes and violating rules they've agreed to is not noteworthy in and of itself, not even when they're professional players. Does Gamasutra cover anything else about professional League of Legends aside from occasional mention of its position in eSports at large, usually regarding progress in professional stability (prizepool sizes, establishment of the LCS). These bans are not anything particularly special; it's not like Gamasutra is following the progress and stability of teams, and it's not like these bans are going to have some huge impact within the gaming sphere.

This is information that only matters to people who follow competitive League of Legends. Gamasutra has covered plenty of stuff either directly or tangentially related to League that was newsworthy, though. I mentioned a couple already, but there's also been a few articles regarding player psychology and efforts to modify player behavior, its monetization scheme, etc. At best, this article is tangentially related to the former, but it makes no direct link and offers no comment on how it might impact the playerbase, the company, etc. It's a simple factual statement, completely untied to anything relevant to the larger gaming sphere.

If this is newsworthy on Gamasutra, then I don't see why any number of other short-term bans to professional players before the establishment of the LCS were not covered or instances of professional players in eSports rigging games for financial gain (Epik Gamer in League a few years ago, Solo in DotA last year). These are all things that don't matter to anyone who doesn't care about specific professional eSports scenes and that, on their own, do not have any significant impact on the progression of eSports being taken seriously (if that's something you care about). A supporting comment in an article a year from now to demonstrate a progression of events? Sure. I really don't see each of these potential stepping stones needing coverage, though.

Matt Jahns
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I don't think you are interpreting the article's motivation correctly. The point isn't that two professional gamers were banned. You're right - that is only of interest to people who follow LoL.

The point is that a developr banned two professional players. It shows Riot is serious about combating toxic players. If well-known pros are not above the rules, then no one is. It *is* newsworthy that Riot takes this stance, which is much stronger than that of many other major developers.

Scott Lavigne
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Except this stance was made clear years ago. They did short-term bans on several players for their behavior in pubs before the establishment of LCS, and even did a serious suspension on at least one player after the establishment of LCS (other than the two the article focuses on), which this article does mention. It's not new.

James Morgan
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Personally, I take the efforts by Riot Games as a positive sign that the video games industry can make efforts that move us toward a better, more tolerable gaming experience.

We've probably all experienced the bad side of chat at some point, whether it be the style of "Barrens Chat" or the toxicity that was rampant in League of Legends and other games. Steps taken by the industry to show things don't have to be that way are important. To me, this makes this article very appropriate to a site about video games.