It looks like game developers are finally taking a stand against cyber bullying and poor online behavior. First Halo 4 issues online bans against sexist players, and now Riot is banning a professional League of Legends player due to his “persistently toxic behavior.”
The player in question is Christian Rivera, AKA IWillDominate, a member of Team Dignitas. Rivera is a pro in every sense of the word, having made money off of League of Legends tournaments and sponsorships in the past. While he hasn’t violated Riot’s Terms of Service, he has “violated the letter and spirit of the Summoner’s Code in a systematic fashion.” The Summoner’s Code is a set of ethical standards that all players are encouraged to follow, though Riot has had no effective way to enforce the code. Well, until now.
According to Riot, Rivera was doing more harm to League of Legends than good. "His persistent tendency to engage in verbal abuse and insults, his lack of cordial demeanor, and his treatment of less-skilled players is unacceptable for any player, especially a high-profile professional player who has a regular opportunity to lead the community by example,” said the Riot eSports team.
Rivera will be banned from play in the pro League of Legends Championship for a year, which kicks him out of all Season 3 events. Rivera dropped out of college to become a League of Legends pro, so this move by Riot leaves him without a job and, to be perfectly blunt, temporarily without a direction in life.
Rivera is a notorious repeat offender, harassing opponents and allies alike with inflammatory and hurtful language. His harassment score synchs up with his play ranking at one of the highest in North America. In fact, Rivera is in the top .7 percent of North America League of Legends players in terms of harassment scores. He has been brought before the League of Legends Tribunal (a community judgment board) nine times, and has been punished eight. He has been warned several times and has always been skating on thin ice with the League of Legends community.
League of Legends is notorious for its horrendous online community. This is partially because the game is designed in such a way that a poor move by one of your teammates could spell death for your entire team. As such, hate flows rather naturally in the online League of Legends world, and low-to-intermediate-level games are filled with trash talk, racial slurs, sexual insults, threats of rape and violence, and other horrible types of comments.
Many League of Legends pros and semi-pros say that this sort of behavior starts to fade away at the upper levels, as players become more concerned with the game than with insulting the people they are playing with. However, this doesn’t mean that professionals don’t act like jerks every so often.
"We fully understand that there are other pro players who behave poorly from time to time," Riot said, “and we do not condone any unsportsmanlike behavior. It's important to note how severe and consistent the behavior of this particular individual was, as is outlined in the ruling. No other professional players in NA approach this individual's harassment score—that said, we monitor all pro player behavior actively and we will continue to make that clear to all pro teams, and will take necessary action should any other players demonstrate unacceptable behavior in the future.”
How does Rivera feel about this situation? Surprisingly understanding for someone who was banned due to bad behavior. He issued a statement on Reddit, detailing his feelings toward the ban.
"Today I was informed by Riot that I will be suspended for one year of the Season 3 Championship Series,” Rivera wrote. “Although the ruling is extremely tough, I agree with Riot that player sportsmanship is a serious matter and I want to apologize to anyone that I've offended in game and my fans.”
Rivera went on to thank his fellow LoL players and assure the community that he will be back in full force come next season. "I fully understand that pro players are viewed as role models and should act accordingly. I'd like to thank my team-mates and the whole Dignitas organization for the amazing year that I have spent with them and wish the team the best of luck going into season three. Personally, I will not let this end my dreams of being a professional League of Legends player. During my suspension I intend to keep my mechanics in top form and remain a competitive jungler. After my suspension I hope to rejoin the Championship series and once again compete at the highest level. League of Legends is my life, and I will do everything in my power to play as long as possible."
So let this be a lesson to everyone who likes to rage online. Your actions actually are hurting other people. There are people out there watching you and their tolerance for toxic behavior is wearing thin. So instead of calling your next opponent a [explicative deleted], try blowing it off and saying “good game” instead.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: December 7, 2012