As a general rule, the players in top-level esports tournaments behave as consummate professionals. And that’s regardless of the outcome. It’s a testament to the industry’s culture and the poise of the players, many of whom are under 25.
However, in the lower tiers, incidents can rise, as they did last weekend at the CEO World Fighting Games 2019 event in Daytona Beach, Florida.
What went down?
CEO is one of the biggest fighting-game tournaments across the globe. It attracts a huge number of players for combat games such as Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat 11, Tekken 7, and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
On the second day of CEO 2019, reports emerged on Twitter of a fight breaking out between two players, Osiris197 and RiotLettuce, two veteran members of the Smash esports community.
Canadian Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player SuperGirlKels tweeted:
“Literally a fight broke out no one did anything. No security. Then a to [sic] got involved and then they started fighting and then it took my mom to go find 1 person to help. A lot of people in the venue are drunk and high, calling out players, causing problems. I wanna leave.”
Since that tweet, both the players involved in the altercation have taken to Twitter to give their version of events, which seems to indicate that drink did indeed play a key role in the fight, which occurred in the male restroom area.
It seems Osiris had knocked a jug of water out of someone’s hands, which had let to RiotLettuce going over to see what the issue was. When Riot suggested that Osiris should not bully children, Osiris squared up to Riot. That was when the fight occurred.
After the intervention of an organizer, Osiris is reported to have smashed Riot’s Gamecube controller on the floor before leaving the area. That said, there are unconfirmed reports he became embroiled in another altercation with a player named “Chez” and was subsequently forced to leave the venue. Osiris denied this in a later tweet.
While we are not going to go into the unseemly details of the altercation, there are a number of issues here that need to be addressed.
Reasonable behavior standards
First off, it’s clear from the reports coming out of CEO 2019 that some of the players in question had drunk alcohol and/or taken drugs. It is abundantly clear from the witnessing tweeters that substances directly influenced the behavior of the players.
It is hard to say at lower level events that players cannot drink alcohol or even use marijuana if it’s legal in the state or locale. However, given the number of potentially vulnerable young fans and players in attendance, surely the time has come for any form of drugs to be outlawed for competitors.
Granted, enforcement can be tough. Organizers of these smaller esports tournaments often do not have anywhere near the budget to operate as bigger events. They can’t afford stringent testing or security to prevent alcohol and drug use.
Additional factors and mishaps
The fallout from the fight last weekend has continued with calls for Osiris, who has a history of dubious behavior and run-ins with fellow competitors, to be banned from tournament gaming permanently.
Sadly, it wasn’t the only issue of the weekend. One of the world’s top StreetFighter players, Justin Wong, went for a walk around Daytona Beach when he was reportedly asked by a local, “You Chinese? You probably broke. White Power, Trump the best”
While this is not an esports issue, it’s another bad look for CEO 2019. Certainly, the organizers of CEO 2020 are going to have to analyze the facts and perhaps decide on a friendlier climate in 2020.
While toxicity can’t be totally avoided and countless esports events transpire without issue or incident, it is incumbent upon those organizing events to root it out quickly. If that means banning perpetrators and moving host venues, be decisive.
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