Professional Behavior in the Esports Scene
Professional behavior is present in every part of our lives. Employees are representing their employer at all times, whether physically in the workplace or at home.
Employers trust their workers to represent them and their brand. Maybe someone should have mentioned that to the president of Toronto Esports, Ryan Pallet, before he launched a series of unprofessional Tweets on November 12th.
The community did not support his behavior. When his peers spoke up, he went after them as well, making himself and his organization look worse. Ultimately, Toronto Esports left the Overwatch Contender Series on rather embarrassing terms.
This situation brings an important subject to light. What type of professional behavior should we expect in the esports community?
Professional Behavior in Esports
Although trash talk is a staple of video game culture, it’s become unacceptable in the professional scene. As in traditional sports, the amount of vile trash audience “tolerate” is tied to the player’s popularity.
Think about basketball superstars who have gotten into legal trouble, only for it to be swept under the rug and never discussed again. On the other hand, that same situation could result in excessive penalties where they are made an example of.
While esports players aren’t on the same level of superstardom as basketball players, there are still ramifications for their actions.
Toxicity is thrown around a lot when discussing player behavior in games and social media. Although veteran gamers see it as standard behavior – it’s not acceptable when trying to present video games as professional sports.
Toxicity can be considered cheating, trolling, vulgarity, hate speech, blatantly throwing matches, or any other form of bad behavior. Since introducing Overwatch, Blizzard has been blatantly targeting toxicity.
Overwatch has seen its fair share of toxic behavior, and punishments are handed down to even the most famous or rather notorious players, such as Félix “xQc” Lengyel. Lengyel was dismissed from the Dallas Fuel for repeated offenses of toxic behavior – establishing Blizzard and the Overwatch League’s stance on toxicity.
Professionals need to take note of what is acceptable behavior and understand what is expected of them in the environment they wish to thrive. Toronto Esports will stay in our memories for sure, but not for the reason they hoped.
OWL vs. OWC
Branding is a big part of the esports scene, and everyone is fighting for their piece of the pie. That does not mitigate the fact that esports organizations are businesses and those who represent those brands need to act professionally.
This isn’t just playing video games in the living room anymore yelling at your buddies. Esports is a growing part of our entertainment culture, and the leagues were established to add legitimacy to the scene. Remember, esports is trying to get into the Olympics, and they need to uphold standards.
The Toronto Esports drama is why there are multiple leagues and hoops to jump through. The leagues are set up as a step by step process for those looking to get to the professional level – and apparently – weed out those organizations who should not be involved.
Overwatch Contenders series is described as a “high-level tournament series for aspiring pro players who dream of ascending to the Overwatch League.” The Overwatch League is designed to be the main attraction. Toronto Esports didn’t get that memo it seems.
Pro brands get precedent, which makes sense. A major league baseball team wouldn’t give up their name because a minor league team wanted to be called “The Boston Pink Stockings.” While some may argue that isn’t fair, they need to remember that esports is still trying to establish itself as a legitimate sport.
Gaming companies set the precedent when it comes to how people should behave professionally because their goal is to legitimize their game as an esports.
Blizzard has made it clear that they intended to stamp down toxic behavior in their community. While we still see some toxicity, Blizzard claps back hard when people violate the rules.
There are many ways to handle issues in the professional world and going to Twitter to call out professional sports teams is not the way to do it. The Toronto Esports drama was strange but will provide a valuable lesson to future esports organizations on professional conduct.
Professional Behavior Wrap Up
It was strange to see the president of an esports organization having a temper tantrum. One can understand where Pallet’s anger was coming from. It’s not easy to have a game developer step in to say you have to change your name.
The business world isn’t always fair, the Toronto Esports situation is a great example of that, but there is a right way to deal with these things and a wrong way. When Toronto Esports found out Toronto Defiant was coming onto the scene in the Overwatch League, they had the opportunity to make changes and join the OWL in the future.
Instead of changing their name immediately, they waited until Blizzard forced them to change names. Instead of trying to solve things behind the scenes, Toronto Esports took to the public forums in hopes of bringing attention and social media support to back them up. Their plan failed, and they had to leave the OWC.
For those in the competitive scene of the esports community, this situation was a great example of how organizers should behave when representing their brands.