The world of esports and Dota 2 in particular is rather fraught right now. Kuku and Skemberlu, two established professionals are caught in the midst of a scandal that has already damaged their reputation but it risks dividing the community as a whole.
Skem and Kuku Overplay Their Hands
Earlier this year, TNC Predator’s Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Rolen Andrei Gabriel ‘Skemberlu’ Ong (a compLexity member) allowed themselves to use derogatory language to describe fellow Chinese players. Their remarks did not go unnoticed, causing a major upheaval in the community.
Proud Chinese gamers started tanking Dota 2’s ranking by posting hundreds of negative reviews and demanding that Valve step in and punish the wrongdoers. However, Valve are not known to meddle in the internal affairs of teams, as this would create dangerous precedents.
Instead, the company released a statement whereby it said that it would expect all professional gamers to meet the standards of the community and uphold the same values that the developers themselves promote and set great store importance by.
it's not a rumor, the municipal government met to discuss after outrage and anger grew over what people in China felt was an inadequate or delayed response and reportedly came to the organizer saying: "this event cannot have these two players"
— Jack Chen (@KBBQDotA) November 24, 2018
Understandably, many community members, from casters to professionals, stepped in to help things de-escalate quickly, condemning the words of both players, but also explaining that the community had long had problem with racial language and violence. This, some argued, was an opportunity to address a problem head-on and move past it.
Skem bore the brunt of the scandal, as he’s currently inactive, dropped from compLexity’s roster according to sources, and possibly shifting to another team if anyone would be willing to take him, especially in the face of a Chongqing ban.
The Dota 2 Chongqing Major Ban and Is Justice Served?
compLexity has obviously been quite severe towards Skem, potentially ending his competitive career and TNC Predator have been stern in their reprimand of Kuku, explaining that the team would not tolerate any such behavior.
As for the beneficiary, we are committed in giving assistance to the Chinese community.
We will be asking help from some Chinese people whom we know to help us find the right person/group to help. We will keep everyone updated.
— TNC Predator (@TNCPredator) November 25, 2018
However, that seems to not have been enough. Both players are now reportedly banned from the Chongqing Major, a decision that was initiated by the local government. This is wrong in many ways. First, the hosts do not have the right to ban players from entry into the tournament, because this stilts the competition in favor of other teams.
Secondly, there have been measures taken against the wrongdoers and what the local government is doing resembles retribution that is definitely not worthy of any political institution. Lastly, the government is in fact politicizing an issue rather than working with the rest of the community, trying to patch things up and make sure that the community as a whole benefits.
The divisive rhetoric will now certainly put Valve in a difficult position. Some outspoken players such as Jian Wei “xNova” Yap have been ridiculing Chongqing’s local government, chiming in with others that the competition should be dropped and moved elsewhere.
An outright ban would be damaging to Valve, but allowing local political units to benefit from incidents such as these and spread their political ideology is also equally wrong.