How the CS:GO community's compassion changed the life of a disabled CS:GO streamer

Last week didn't get off to a great start for Adam 'LoOp' Bahriz. The 17-year-old Counter-Strike player hopped onto the competitive Global Offensive ESEA league to play a few rounds while broadcasting to a tiny audience on Twitch only to be bullied and kicked from the match shortly after. Then, after Bahriz's story got shared on Reddit, the community banded together to donate thousands of dollars to pay for medical procedures and college while also boosting his follower count from under 5,000 to nearly 100,000. He's even been offered contracts with Twitch and some of CS:GO's biggest esports teams.

"I'm still absolutely mesmerized this is incredible," Bahriz wrote on Reddit.
It's one of the most dramatic stories of how internet communities can often be toxic one second and heart-warmingly generous the next. And it all started because of a simple misunderstanding due to Bahriz's disability.

Bahriz was born with a condition that has left him legally blind, deaf, and unable to feel pain. It's known as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 2, or simply HSAN 2. Despite his disability, he is still an incredible CS player and currently sits at Rank B on ESEA—a pretty damn good spot to hold for even able-bodied players. But his condition also led to needing his teeth and part of his nose removed. Understandably, this makes verbal communication a little trickier for him. That's why he graciously explained his condition at the beginning of the ESEA match.

"Sup guys I got a lot of teeth removed due to a genetic disease so I can't speak that properly, I can still call but be nice," Bahriz wrote in text chat at the beginning of the round. Bahriz then began using the voice channel to talk strategy with his team, but they didn't take him seriously. 

"Dude, we know you're trolling. Just stop," one player said back while the rest of the team trash talked Bahriz's speech impediment and began muting him. A few rounds later, they voted to kick him from the game entirely. Understandably, Bahriz was upset. His team was up 5-1 and Bahriz was trying to recover from a losing streak from previous games.

"At that point all I could think about was all the bullshit I’ve had to deal with on ESEA for the longest time, not because of a completely lacking of ability to talk, or mechanical skill, or anything like that, but just because of a small speech problem that is caused by something I have no control over," Bahriz told Kotaku.

At that point all I could think about was all the bullshit I’ve had to deal with on ESEA for the longest time... just because of a small speech problem that is caused by something I have no control over.

The whole incident, including Bahriz's frustration following being kicked, was broadcast to his handful of viewers. One of them decided to take action. "This honestly broke my heart man," a user by the name of ch0med wrote on the ESEA forums, linking to Twitch clips of Bahriz being muted and kicked from the game. "This is absolutely disgusting how some people can be towards others without even getting a glimpse of some of the struggles people face. And they turn to gaming to get away from the real world, but still people just feel the need to ruin other people." 

Meanwhile, another viewer posted to the CS:GO subreddit, asking the community to "show him some love" because of what happened. And boy, did they.

Both posts immediately exploded, with the Reddit thread becoming the most popular on the subreddit within hours. Meanwhile, Twitch shared an incredible clip of Bahriz securing a clutch win for his team alone against five enemies. Because of this, Bahriz's popularity immediately exploded and by the end of the day his Twitch stream had upwards of 5,000 active viewers. 

Things get even better. With HSAN 2, Bahriz understandably requires a lot of medical care. As he told Kotaku, he needed eye surgery that his insurance wouldn't be able to cover. But thanks to an outpouring of donations that day, he's able to get the operation done and pay for it out of pocket. What's more, in a Ask Me Anything thread he created on the CS:GO subreddit, Bahriz explains he'll likely be able to pay for college and a trip home to Algeria.

Shortly after Bahriz's story exploded, two of his teammates came out on the ESEA forums to explain their side of the story and apologize. "We thought he was a troll…" wrote Adviko. "What would you think if someone came in with a bind text like that, people troll like that all the time. Instead he should tell the people to check out his Twitch. After I checked his Twitch I realized he was for real. I apologize but it was an honest misunderstanding. Lots of people troll in ESEA."

While their position is somewhat understandable, people didn't have too much sympathy considering how quick they were to judge Bahriz, even after he apologized and said he wouldn't talk. According to Bahriz, each teammate received a three day ban from the third-party league.

The community outreach around Bahriz since the initial flurry of attention has been heartwarming. Team EnVyUs, one of the largest esports teams who most recently took home $800,000 in the World Electronic Sports Games 2016, reached out to offer Bahriz a streaming contract. Bahriz has also since signed a Twitch partner contract. 

Bahriz now has over 97,000 followers on Twitch after everything that has happened, and his audience continues to grow. While he is stunned by the community's response, he also hints that things might've been taken out of proportion. "I couldn't give a single fuck that I randomly got kicked, 20 [minutes] of not pugging is no big deal," he wrote. "[In] other situations I would've probably not muted them and linked my Twitch but I was just tired of that shit at that point."

Still, it's a good reminder to always be mindful that people we meet online might have their own struggles we're not aware of. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.