Update: The Dallas Fuel has released xQc.
The Overwatch League has taken disciplinary action ranging from a formal warning to a fine and suspension against four players, including previously-suspended Dallas Fuel player Félix “xQc” Lengyel, for offenses including account sharing, posting an offensive meme, and racism and homophobia.
- Tae-yeong “TaiRong” Kim of the Houston Outlaws was given a formal warning for "posting an offensive meme on social media." TaiRong's punishment was apparently ameliorated somewhat by a public apology and donation to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, actions the league said "were taken into account when determining the judgment against him."
- Timo “Taimou” Kettunen of the Dallas Fuel was hit with a $1,000 fine for using anti-gay slurs on his personal stream. Taimou also apologized for his offense but not until it was brought to light by ESPN earlier this week, which apparently lessened its impact in the league's eyes.
- Ted “Silkthread” Wang of the Los Angeles Valiant is $1,000 poorer as a result of account sharing, which isn't necessarily against the Overwatch League rules specifically but is a violation of the Blizzard End User License Agreement.
- Félix “xQc” Lengyel of the Dallas Fuel received far and away the most severe punishment: He's been fined $4000 and suspended for four matches, beginning March 12. "xQc repeatedly used an emote in a racially disparaging manner on the league’s stream and on social media, and used disparaging language against Overwatch League casters and fellow players on social media and on his personal stream," the league said.
The suspension announcement doesn't specify the details of the individual transactions, but according to Unikrn xQc's most recent trouble is the result of spamming the TriHard 7 emote in Twitch chat while reporter Malik Forte is on-screen. xQc denied that the emote is racist during a recent stream (via AvroGag), noting that it's a "global Twitch emote" and describing Forte as a "good friend." He also suggested that the complaints are part of a campaign directed against him personally, and said that he and other members of the community have used the emote regularly and it hasn't been a problem until now.
But xQc was already facing criticism this week when, as reported by Polygon, he tweeted that Overwatch League casting "gave me cancer." Probably more significant is the fact that this isn't his first offense: He took a four game suspension and a $2000 fine in January for directing a homophobic insult at Austin "Muma" Wilmot of the Houston Outlaws. A second offense, especially coming so soon after the first, is not a good look for the team or the league, which said that it is unacceptable for players to "use or distribute hateful, racist, or discriminatory speech or memes."
"It is important for all members to be aware of the impact their speech may have on others. The overwhelming majority of Overwatch League players and staff are taking full advantage of the opportunity to play in the first major global, city-based esports league, and are rising to meet the occasion as the public figures that they are," the League wrote in the suspension announcement.
"We are committed to building a community around the Overwatch League that is welcoming and inclusive for all players and fans, and we hope that these disciplinary actions demonstrate our seriousness in that endeavor."
The Fuel hasn't yet indicated whether it will take separate, more serious action against xQc, as it did following his first OWL suspension. It did, however, announce the signing of Son "OGE" Min-Seok to the team, which could prove relevant to the situation in the not-too-distant future: OGE, like xQc, is a tank main.
ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT! Please welcome Son "OGE" Min-Seok to the team! Previously a tank main for CONBOX, we anticipate @OGE_ow to start playing in Stage 3. #OWL2018 #BurnBlue🔥💙 pic.twitter.com/KjbKiX9sY8March 8, 2018
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.