eSports, grow up

Let's say you're really into football. Let's say you're so into football that you'd rather, I don't know, watch this week's game than attend the birth of your first child. Now, imagine your favorite team--which performed quite well last season--is gearing up for a new year of competitive play. Only, right before the season starts, the NFL suddenly announces that your team has been disqualified and won't be competing this year at all, because WHOOPS, the team's manager didn't fill out the necessary roster paperwork by his, ahem, third deadline extension. Such is the case for Lemondogs, a World Championship-contending (err, ex-World Championship-contending) League of Legends team whose story is but one instance of the negligence proliferating the eSports scene.

Lemondogs' tale, as reported by OnGamers, is tragic. The team was a new yet dominant addition to the competitive scene in 2013, and was successful enough in tournament play to earn a spot in the 2014 League Championship Series (LoL's equivalent of the NFL). Suddenly, the majority of the Lemondogs roster bailed before the upcoming season had begun (bad management, perhaps?), so a new team had to be established and registered. Here's where things get a bit tricky--I'm going to give it to you fast and dirty, because it's not the point of this article.

In short, all the Lemondogs team members that peaced out joined a new team--one that didn't have a spot in the big leagues, but wanted one. Their solution? To purchase the now-fucked Lemondogs team; with rights obtained, they wagered, they could essentially buy their way into the LCS. Except Riot Games, the creator and driving force behind LoL, wisened up to these plans, and instituted new rules that stopped the plot before it could be hatched. Which, by the way, meant Lemondogs' owner Daniel Aicardi had to fill a team roster and submit the necessary registration paperwork by a certain deadline. In the end, he did submit the necessary paperwork--a mere two minutes before his deadline. And, of course, it wasn't complete by any stretch of the imagination, so now Lemondogs is out of the LCS.

Aicardi's story, while not common, is certainly not an isolated occurrence. Take, for instance, the inept behavior of Simon Boudreault. This young Quebecian used his inheritance money to buy a League of Legends team. By which I mean, he used every cent he had to put together a semi-decent roster, one that unfortunately lost its qualification series to get into the LCS. Following that defeat, he Tweeted one last message: "Hopes got crushed. Broken Dreams & what ever." Boudreault has since gone missing--oh, and he owes his team thousands of dollars in compensation (money they'll likely never see).

What we're seeing here is childish, immature, and flat-out unprofessional behavior from eSports management. And when you have that kind of thing at the top, it bleeds down to the rank-and-file. Take Russian pro LoL player Alex Ich, who, during a postgame interview in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers, proceeded to explain that he got "raped" in a match. Or how about StarCraft II player Greg "IdrA" Field, who publicly denounced his fans as "a bunch of fucks" before following that statement with an equally tasteful one: "It just so happens I get paid to treat you like it. It's fucking awesome." He was kicked off his pro team as a result.

Look, I love eSports. I want it to grow. I want to sit down on Friday nights and be sure that my favorite team is going to be on Twitch, playing. And if eSports are going to get to that point, then they need to get their shit together. And if they don't, what's next? Illegal dog fighting rings? Friendships with despots? I mean, it's as if…

Oh fuck. eSports is on its way to becoming a "real" sport, isn't it?


  • ncurry2 - January 17, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    I don't know, it's hard to have sympathy for them when they missed a deadline 3 separate times and were given more chances. Then to send in the paperwork with nothing but the leader's name on it 2 minutes before the deadline and hope that would qualify for an extension just seems like a slap in the face. Personally, I see this Riot as the mature actor in this. If this was anything else in the world, it would happen exactly as it did. If Peyton Manning was given an offer by the Packers to come play football and he missed the first deadline, they wouldn't give him another chance to meet it. And even this argument isn't valid because whereas in football there's almost nobody like Peyton Manning, there's literally thousands of other teams as capable as Lemondogs. But let's ignore that and say they did. And he failed to give his paperwork again. And on the third chance that they never would have given him, he sends the entire stack of paperwork that is essential in moving forward with the signing process, he just writes his name on it and doesn't fill out the rest of the 20 pages, do you think the Packers would put up with that? No, because in the real world you have to meet deadlines or you are out. This isn't high school. There shouldn't be second chances. A team that followed the rules will be playing in their spot and that is how it should be.
  • dangomushi - January 13, 2014 9:50 p.m.

    I can't tell if that kid looks more like the Joker or Steven Tyler...
  • Bansheebot - January 13, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    Maybe it'll be a bit better when the esports participants literally grow-up.
  • Doctalen - January 13, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    Its one thing to use derogatory banter among friends. Hell when I play with friends I know, we make it a challenge to come up with witty/disgustingly derogatory insults because well we know its not serious and because its not serious we don't give two shits about being polite. But its another to take that kind of banter and speak it publicly, on record, and then to make it seem like its no big deal. Seems like the players/manager/whateverthefucktheyare need to understand the difference between public company and private company.
  • totallyaware - January 13, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    The biggest enemy of esports being taken seriously is the fans of it. In the end, the gaming community needs to come to terms with the fact that over the last 10 years, the mix of internet culture and gaming culture has become toxic. Sure, small groups and communities exist where you can play your games in peace with a good set of competitive and friendly friends, but playing games and being on the receiving end of insults and poison is a daily occurence. 'Banter' exists amongst all sports and is arguably important, but in the last week I've had two seperate people wish death upon me by cancer. One only needs to look at the reems and reems of craziness, that is, the twitch chat feed while watching a game. Your mention of Alex Ich's 'rape' comment is a perfect example of it. Whats to blame? Internet culture! Its the same problem that exists in the famous youtube comments, where its now possible for the comments of a video review of a new range of kettles, to suddenly descend into a discussion about Jewish conspiracies. The answer then, is to do what has largely been successfully achieved in Korea. Remove the culture of gaming, and in this case particularly, esports, from the culture of the internet.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - January 13, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    It's sad, isn't it? The shit people say during a competitive game is TRULY unsettling. Threats that (most) people wouldn't dare speak aloud. And it's such a bummer, because this is really exciting stuff--only, as you say, it's being held back by the very people involved in / consuming it.
  • slimjim441 - January 12, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    I'm not saying eSports is a joke, but I just don't see it easily becoming a legitimate sport considering it relies on the addictive power gaming of high school deadbeats. I don't know, maybe that's just my opinion.
  • cJinL - January 12, 2014 11:23 a.m.

    Well "esports" are clearly not quite there yet, and even the fans don't seem to take it seriously enough that they think all of this is no big deal. That's fine, but then I guess we're just accepting the fact that esports is not REAL sports; they're getting paid but they're still completely unprofessional and basically don't care to behave any differently than their socially-inept selves.
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - January 11, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    I'd much prefer playing a game then helping pay fuck-wits like the above by watching a game. Sports and gaming both.
  • Vonter - January 11, 2014 8:20 p.m.

    Same thing for Sport matches and sport games. I think another reason the Internet got invented; to catch the highlights.
  • GoldenEagle1476 - January 11, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    To be fair about Alex, he was speaking a second language, and to say that you got raped --however rude or offensive that me be-- is common lingo among League players.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - January 11, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    Very true! And he publicly apologized, which is good - I'm just hoping eSports participants become a bit more aware of their words and actions.
  • yonderTheGreat - January 11, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    Just this past season, Elvis Dumervil's agent filed his paperwork 6 minutes late and it cost Dumervil 8 million. Pretty sure that agent got fired real quicklike. Point being, I find this kinda stuff HIGHLY entertaining. Except the rape comment. I *HOPE* that was just a mistranslation problem, akin to "we will bury you" or something like that.
  • J-Fid - January 11, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    As a Raven's fan, I was pretty happy with the outcome :)
  • yonderTheGreat - January 13, 2014 2:05 p.m.

    Oh I'm certain you are.
  • DarthPunk - January 11, 2014 2:22 a.m.

    The guy in the picture on the front page for this article looks like the Joker and he's seriously creeping me out
  • BladedFalcon - January 10, 2014 10:07 p.m.

    "Sports" and "grow up" are words that are just as compatible as oil and water.
  • shawksta - January 10, 2014 11:25 p.m.

    Clearly Ryan means that the players need to act more professional about the whole business ordeal not that it has been recognized as a sport in the first place. You cant just do whatever, thats not how the business works.
  • shawksta - January 10, 2014 11:39 p.m.

    *now that it has been recognized as a sport The comment system needs edit buttons :P
  • Vonter - January 11, 2014 8:27 p.m.

    Depends on context, I admire some values that sports can make of a person, mainly passion (even if it can be misguided at times). In regards to videogames, half joking - I think it'll be cool if they put professional players playing against mean, perfectionist CPUs, like it has happened in chess.

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