A professional League of Legends player has been suspended and fined after posting racist jokes on social media. The game’s developer Riot Games moved quickly to issue discipline to the pro.
This not the only high profile case of professional gamers getting themselves into hot water over racist messages, with a professional Overwatch player being fired last month for using racial slurs.
League of Legends: YoDA Racist Tweet Results in Suspension
On Twitter, a Brazilian League of Legends player, Felipe “YoDA” Noronha posted a racist joke making fun of Japanese players. The tweet, which has since been deleted, mocks Japanese pronunciation and includes an incorrect spelling of “frango” (which means chicken in Portuguese).
The spotlight was already on YoDA as he would be competing in the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2017 as a member of Brazilian team Red Canids; and the annual MSI event is being held this year. After League of Legends fans caught wind and the offending tweet began to do he rounds on social media, the professional player deleted the tweet before issuing and apology and deleting those apology tweets too.
The tweet and delete strategy wasn’t enough for the Red Canids player to avoid the long arm of Riot Games disciplinary department though as the League of Legends developer issued a three-game ban as well as a $2,000 fine against the player. This meant that YoDA would be forced to sit out Red Canids first games at MSI, where the team would be involved in the opening match of the tournament.
On April 27, RED Canids’ registered substitute, Felipe “YoDa” Noronha, made comments on social media using racially offensive language regarding players from another region.
We expect professional players to maintain good behavior in and out of game, and have zero tolerance for this kind of racially derogatory language. Although Noronha does not have any prior history of toxicity or other discipline infractions, pro players should demonstrate respect to other players and their cultures, and these actions clearly violated that principle.
On reddit, most League of Legends fans seem to agree that YoDA should have been punished, but the community seems to be split about whether this punishment was severe enough. As Riot itself notes, the pro players’ offense is fairly similar to the offenses of Svenskeren and Road, players previously punished in a similar fashion for racist and toxic language and/or behaviour and so Riot may be aiming for consistency.
And although being suspended in a professional tournament in your home country may sting, some have also noted that YoDA is a substitute player and so may not have gotten to play in those MSI 2017 games (which resulted in two wins and a loss for Red Canids) anyway.
Both are fair points and unfortunately Riot will likely have more opportunity to tweak its punishments in future. Addressing racism (and all forms of discrimination) in esports is an ongoing issue for developer and organisations and so future punishments against pros may well be much more severe.