Encouraging Rivalries in Esports: EnVyUs vs Rogue
Should we really berate players who engage in non-destructive trash talk?
Note: Following the group draw in OGN’s APEX, Taimou and Talespin got into a bit of a scuffle via Twitter and Discord. This article will not refer to their brief spat, and will instead focus on whatever happened before.
The playoff draw of OGN’s APEX used a format in which top seeds picked out their first round opponents. To the surprise of nearly everyone, Rogue’s aKm calmly walked up to the stage and selected the squad considered Rogue’s rival as their first round opponent — Team EnVyUs. While Rogue already 3–0ed the remaining team they could have picked, Afreeca Blue, they instead picked out a team that most expected to finish top 3 in the tournament.
When posed the question of why Rogue chose to immediately play against the “number one team in the world,” aKm had fighting words: “they were only number one in NA.” While this is relatively tame trash talk, the Reddit community derided aKm, calling his comment “classless,” “immature,” and “off-putting.” Fans that brushed off the comment as banter were downvoted for a period of time, while others suggested that aKm failed to recognize both the time and place for such a comment.
But this was EXACTLY the time and place to talk trash.
aKm committed no harm by trying to hype up the match between Rogue and EnVyUs. EnVyUs has no claim to the number one spot in the world; without a victory at a LAN event, they are simply a good team, but not the best. The comment was likely looked down upon due to Taimou’s reaction, which was rather somber and accepting of aKm’s critique. However, Taimou’s trash talk-loving, outspoken attitude itself was previously trod upon by the community after he failed to hold his tongue in a few specific touchy incidents earlier. Under normal circumstances, a rebuttal from EnVyUs’s star is no far cry.
Think upon traditional sports, which fans of esports often ask to be accepted into. What would the NBA be without revitalization from the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? Would MMA fights be nearly as popular without the intense trash talk leading up to big events? Even within esports, would Super Smash Bros. Melee be more hype without Mango and Hungrybox jabbing at each other constantly? Would the current EU LCS get nearly the same attention without Rekkles and FORG1VEN’s banter?
EnVyUs vs Rogue has the chance to be the marquee matchup of Overwatch leading up to the formation of the Overwatch League, but without banter, it won’t carry the same hype that it should. Instead of actively berating players who engage in non-destructive trash talk, sit back and let the matches do the talking.