League of Legends: Riot’s Toxicity Controversy

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League of Legends: Riot’s Toxicity Controversy

League of Legend's ranked system is coming under fire recently, but not only because of the new positional ranking. People are now criticizing Riot for their punishment system of toxic players. A series of Tweets quickly became viral on Reddit, and attracted a significant amount of attention from the community.

The Problem

This situation all began with a Tweet from famous streamer Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera. He made the argument that Riot's approach to banning toxic players is inadequate because it neglects people who troll or “soft-int.” Instead, the current system only focuses on players that type clear toxic messages in-game.

Another big name streamer, Daryl “Wingsofdeath” Hennegan, joined in. He agreed with IWillDominate and voiced his frustration with players intentionally throwing his games. Everybody's had those times when they've been the victims of trolls. It's a frustrating experience and Riot's response to such cases can feel insufficient.

This perceived problem has existed for a while now. Throughout their careers, streamers along with these two have criticized Riot's detection system for these players. Their chat detection works wonders, so why is their troll detection so off?

This is similar to the win trading fiasco a few months ago. Again, IWillDominate found himself taking charge against the win traders, but was joined by Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp. Like with trolls, win traders were (and likely still are) difficult to catch without manual surveillance. When these streamers went through win traders' accounts, it was pretty clear to see they were breaking the rules. The problem is that catching both win traders and soft-inters with detection can be difficult.

The Community's Response

The community had mixed responses to the Tweets. There were many to point out that these two have had history of less-than-ideal behavior in the game. Some of this criticism may be unwarranted, but the public perception still matters.

Threads formed under the Reddit post discussing how their past behavior seems to contradict their underlying message; that Riot should be more severe with toxic players. Some of this criticism, however, does not directly apply to their in-game behavior, but to their stream's instead. There are instances of toxic behavior in the actual game which should be taken more seriously. It is important to differentiate between in-game attitude and stream presentation though, as the way they act on stream and with their viewers has no relation to their argument.

On the flip side, there are many who sympathize with IWillDominate and Wingsofdeath. Its not uncommon to have any variety of people ruining games and this call out hit home with many players. This is especially true because its easy to see when someone is intentionally ruining a game. The classic Boots of Mobility and Tear of the Godess “build” clearly shows a not-so-honorable Summoner. Its arguably as easy to identify a player with exceptionally high amounts of deaths across multiple games and identify them as trolling.

A Moderate Approach

Criticism of the system is fair, and should be encouraged to push Riot to improve. It can be easy to see unsportsmanlike players in some circumstances. The problem is that because of League's size it would be impossible to use humans to manually catch these players all the time. An automated detection system is necessary, but it is hard for a program to find the line between bad games (or players) and actual toxic players.

Riot Blaustoise Tweeted his personal thoughts on the subject too. In a thread of Tweets, he discussed that the problem of game play not being punished as much as chat causes “feelings of injustice.” He goes on to explain through an allegory that there are measures that can be taken to help with the problem. He proposed two, but pushed for one specifically. That is having distinctly different punishments between the two categories.

Though this wouldn't solve all the problems, it would certainly help some cases. If players were punished for game play more severely than for toxic chat, it would discourage that behavior. Also, these punishments would take these players away from the game for longer, which means overall less instances of bad behavior.

It's difficult to tell how Riot will address this issue, if at all. In the online world, its impossible to stop people from being generally rude or malicious. A perfect system isn't going to happen, but many people think there is room for improvement.

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Featured image via GameSpot.

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Brandon Sturak
Brandon is a writer and editor for ESTNN with a passion for esports. He writes about League of Legends and esports generally, providing analysis and commentary on both. He is a founding member of Niagara University Esports, while being the previous mid laner and Head Coach for the NU Esports LoL team as well. Twitter @GhandiLoL