One of the best parts of esports is the variety. Dozens of games have fostered competitive scenes, from sports simulation titles like FIFA to sci-fi strategy games like Starcraft. Every competitive esports scene was assembled by its regular player base, and another perk of esports is being able to play the same game as the pros, oftentimes for free.
However, not all gaming communities are made equal. Each game comes with a different kind of culture, and some are more poisonous than others. A toxic gaming community can almost ruin a video game by itself, and even fans of this esports will admit to the belligerence of the average player. These are the top 10 most toxic gaming communities in the world.
Our first example is an exception to the rule. While there are plenty of loudmouth Reaper “mains” and voice-chat abusing Winstons out there, Overwatch largely avoids problems with toxicity. A strict code of conduct enforces consequences for Overwatch esports players showing bad manners. Comprehensive word filters make for a tranquil, casual experience more often than not, though some argue Activision-Blizzard’s methods are a little overbearing.
Overwatch’s reputation as a toxicity-free game was partially spawned from a famous Kotaku article accusing the game’s player base of being too nice. That can’t be said for the other toxic gaming communities on this list.
It might be hard to imagine toxic behavior coming from a card game. While Activision-Blizzard’s other esports title Overwatch has several measures in place to prevent communication abuse, Hearthstone’s tools are preemptively limited to six voluntary emotes. The most threatening produces a short, snarky quip from your character.
Due to Hearthstone’s often-random and explosive nature, expect to see those emotes fly at every opportunity. Take too long to sequence your turn? Stomp your opponent? Get mildly lucky? Expect emote spam. The limited options prevent anything beyond minor annoyance, but Hearthstone’s most toxic players would clearly do much worse if they could.
8. Rocket League
Rocket League’s emote system works very similarly to Hearthstone. Most players have a few preset messages tied to hotkeys, and that’s it. Typing in text chat is possible, but the fast-paced nature of Rocket League makes that impractical. The key difference between Hearthstone and Rocket League is that the latter is team-based. What does this mean?
The guy chat-spamming can be your teammate. Rocket League’s griefing potential helps elevate it to one of the most toxic gaming communities. Matches are short, and players are quick to judge each other. The younger player base also makes for some less-than-emotionally-stable teammates even at the highest levels of play. Still, there’s a fairly big jump to the next spot in our list of the most toxic gaming communities 2020 has to offer.
7. Call of Duty
Call of Duty’s sheer size is both a blessing and a curse when talking about its toxic gaming communities. Millions of people play CoD, and the average person doesn’t care too much about the game. They get home from work, make a sandwich, and play some Ground War. However, the size of CoD lobbies and the game’s mature subject matter leads to Call of Duty’s reputation as a toxic gaming community.
Call of Duty’s legacy of toxicity stretches back to the early 2010s. Online gaming became accessible to the average person, and CoD’s massive sales meant that more people than ever were experiencing online lobbies for the first time. Content creators and entire communities were centered around trash talking. Call of Duty esports players aren’t afraid of controversy in 2020 either, likely emboldened by the Wild West nature of the average Modern Warfare 2 deathmatch.
While Call of Duty is a victim of popularity, it at least has the saving grace of being an M-rated game that costs $60. Fortnite, on the other hand, is a complete free-for-all. Fortnite: Battle Royale’s close connection to streaming, an industry where people become famous for getting mad, and a spry player base has led to one of the worst reputations in gaming.
Between the high-variance nature of Battle Royale, the average age of the player, and a close connection to the culturally conscious, Fortnite attracts some of the most poisonous players in gaming. Between angry children in chat and angry men on Twitch, Fortnite lands just outside the top 5 most toxic gaming communities in the world.
5. Fighting Game Community
The fighting game community is one of the most dedicated scenes in esports, but the complicated and often unexplored nature of fighting games contributes to the FGC’s reputation among toxic gaming communities. The average Tekken 7 or Street Fighter V player will not hesitate to stomp and demean a new player. Knowledge comes hard in fighting games, and fighting gamers exploit more often than share.
The other factor making the fighting games scene a toxic gaming community is the eagerness and confidence of its least-educated members. Misinformation is rife within fighting games, and people are quick to give opinions on titles that they’ve never even played. While the FGC can showcase the best in gaming communities, it can also be one of the most negative and ill-informed.
Call of Duty’s heyday in the early 2010s defined a generation of video games, but the origin of console-based multiplayer shooters can be traced to 2004’s Halo 2. Halo is the icon of multiplayer shooters on Xbox, and many of the harassment complaints connected to Xbox Live are a result of Halo games taken personally.
Like Call of Duty, content creators and professional Halo esports players aren’t afraid to bring toxicity to the most visible level of the game. There are even celebrity trolls that make a living recording themselves disrupting multiplayer matches and posting the results on YouTube. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the community that invented teabagging is our fourth most toxic gaming community.
3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Starting off our podium of toxicity is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The first-person tactical shooter has all the makings of a toxic gaming community; free-to-play, voice chat, high skill ceiling, and plenty of griefing potential. Valve’s less-than-strict safeguards make sure that your delinquent teammate only gets to kill you three times before being kicked in a game with no respawns.
Smurfing and cheating are both significant problems in Counter-Strike, and it’s incredible how rampant both are when Valve has taken major steps to address both issues. Kick and Mute options help stem the tide, but Valve still has to chat-ban tens of thousands of players every couple of weeks. Thanks to the sheer rampancy of toxic players, Counter-Strike secures the bronze for one of the most toxic gaming communities 2020 has to offer.
2. Dota 2
Coming up in silver is the first of both multiplayer online battle arenas on this list. Dota 2 features many of the same problems as other esports titles, namely common abuse of voice chat and griefing. Dota’s unique situation is that the worst of the worst are always one step ahead of the developers.
Players have found ways to avoid AFK detection by going permanently invisible near a creep wave. An angry player can waste wards, Smokes, and Tomes, and open voice and text chat means you’re always one keystroke away from hearing a very well-informed and articulate message from the guy wasting nine other people’s time. Add in the ease of making burner accounts and rampant smurfing, and Dota is solidly one of the most toxic gaming communities out there.
1. League of Legends
Finishing off the top five most toxic gaming communities in the world is League of Legends. LoL topping our list isn’t just conjecture; the toxicity of League of Legends players is downright studied. An artificial intelligence from IBM determined that the League of Legends subreddit is one of the most toxic gaming communities on the site.
This is due to various factors, but the in-game experience for League takes the worst parts of Dota and Hearthstone. The five-versus-five nature means that you’re rolling the dice nine times with every game, and the complex mechanics of League means mistakes are easily punished. The real catch is the lack of voice communications in League. Text chat may have word filters like Overwatch, but this only produces the same kind of constrained rage as Rocket League. Toxic League players are as creative as they are obnoxious.