Rocket League Match Throwing Allegations Threatens Esports Integrity
We just can’t have nice things, can we? Just weeks after Rocket League is formally recognized as an official sporting code in New Zealand, we have allegations of match throwing showing up! Not to mention, it’s from the clear favorites in a recent match, Team Esper. This took place allegedly in the Let’s Play Live Rocket League Oceanic Championship. If this is true, it’s appalling.
What Went Down?
Team Esper was the clear favorites to win and already had a 2-0 lead in the series at this point. They instead fell to a reverse sweep by their rivals Fury. Team Esper made some serious uncharacteristic mistakes in the Fury match. They failed to contest two kickoffs and a goal from their captain, Aiden ‘delusioN’ Hendry. This put Fury into the playoffs of the Let’s Play Live Rocket League Oceanic Championship.
This is more than simply having a bad game. Players that perform at this level know the value of contesting kickoffs, not to mention not shooting into their own goal. Commentators and fans alike felt this is more than just having a bad game. The commentators pointed it out but did not declare it a throw, but it sure seems like it could go that way.
A potential throw would have serious repercussions on group standings with Renegades set to go through on aggregate, if Team Esper didn’t win this series 3-0, or 3-1. The feeling is that Team Esper purposely threw the game out of spite so that Renegades would not progress out of groups. I get not wanting a rival team to win, but come on. That’s despicable behavior if true.
The league managers have not decided on this throw but they are investigating. Amy Potter, head of platform and leagues, said that any kind of match manipulation would not be tolerated. “LPL takes the integrity of matches extremely seriously, and any sort of intentional match throwing is unacceptable in our leagues.”
What makes this an even more interesting situation is that Team Esper posted an announcement to Twitter stating they would let go of this roster following this and thanked them for their hard work. The tweet does not suggest it’s because of this incident, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
Many in the esports community suggest that these players be banned as an example against future behavior. Captain of FC Barcelona’s Rocket League Squad, Aldin ‘Ronaky’ Hodzic, was one such player calling for a ban. It’s an awful way to take esports and it makes everyone look bad in the process. Who can say that they would not do this again if they were picked up by another team?
Kudos to Team Esper for disengaging themselves from this squad, but I can’t help but wonder if they wanted their squad to commit this action? I suppose we’ll never really know the truth, but match throwing harms not only Rocket League, but esports at large. We want all teams to play their hardest no matter what. Even if their rivals or enemies make it beyond them, we should still be good sports and do what it takes to get better.
This is an act of petty, ignorant spite, and nothing more. I’m curious to see what the findings of the tournament managers are, too. Events of this sort make all esports potentially look bad.