The Overwatch League and the Problems of Toxicity

Lacey Case
Dec 17, 2017 · 3 min read

Toxicity is a problem in the game, and the official e-sports league is no exception

The Overwatch League is an e-sports oddity — a massive in scope experience, built and franchised like American football, the OWL has already shown us promising hints at what is to come in January when the official first season kicks off. Three days of preseason games gave observers more exposure to the amazing new spectator tools, and pro Overwatch is easier to follow than ever with the in-game team “jerseys,” smart camera, and instant replays. OWL is doing things e-sports has never done before, with the various teams and their home cities. Season 2 of the league even plans on having games in the cities themselves, allowing locals to buy tickets even away from the Blizzard Arena in Las Angeles.

The age of the modern internet, streaming services like Twitch, and the ability to record and permanently keep record of videos and screenshots means that those in the public eye are more open to scrutiny now more than ever. Even professional athletes in Major League Baseball are not subject to the same 24/7 watchful eye of the internet quite like professional streamers.

“xQc,” as he is known by his player handle, is one of the professional players for the OWL team “Dallas Fuel.” Prior to his signing to the team, he was a well-known streamer with an independent following. Unfortunately, it appears the stressors of being a part of OWL have been wearing on him. Just this week, he was seen on his streams to have a variety of emotional breakdowns, culminating in throwing ranked matches in-game, and spewing toxicity to team mates and opponents alike in the game chat.

xQc is not a stranger to in-game bans, and once again, was suspended this week for 7 days. If anything, xQc is playing an excellent role; just what standards of behavior should OWL players adhere to, and how should these infractions upon said standards be answered? Even the National Football League sees occasional players making embarrassing or unwarranted behaviors in public, but OWL is different in that its players have their own independent media platforms out of OWL control. It is also likely OWL does not want to curb its players streams, as streams only promote the game and serves to bring more interest into the league itself.

This calls into question what control OWL should have over the behaviors of its players. If Dallas Fuel’s administrators have talked to xQc, it is not yet apparent. And what future does the Dallas Fuel look forward to, with one of its players facing possible suspension or penalty within the league? It could be said that no publicity is bad publicity, but xQc’s toxic behavior could cloud the league as a whole in the eyes of the Overwatch community. There are not benches of reserves in the league — if xQc is dismissed, it will possibly put Dallas Fuel (the previous EnVyUs) at a major disadvantage after two excellent preseason games.

* It must be stated that the author of this article does not have insider knowledge into what is going on at OWL, and does not presume to know what is going on in any particular player’s life or how Blizzard or individual team administrators will respond.

Image credits to Blizzard Entertainment

Originally written for

Lacey Case

Written by

I am a lover of games, predominantly Overwatch, Pokemon, and other franchises. I’m a cardiovascular nurse practitioner in the Midwest. I go by “Aiyakiu” online.

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