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Dota 2: A Community Divided

Gillian Linscott  | 
In the aftermath of the Skem’s and Kuku’s racist emotes in-game, the Dota 2 community has found itself divided.

In the aftermath of the Skem’s and Kuku’s racist emotes in-game, the Dota 2 community has found itself divided.

In the aftermath of the Skem’s and Kuku’s racist emotes in-game, the Dota 2 community fell into a lull or rather the Western Dota 2 community thought that Valve’s official “statement” had placated the Chinese Dota 2 scene. In reality, the statement did nothing for the Chinese community but incite the community to push for harsher punishments on these players. The Chinese community felt that Valve’s blog post did nothing to support their scene and didn’t have a big enough impact on the players. The “hope” Valve had for players to educate themselves didn’t convey any sense of actual change within the community.

Matthew “CyborgMatt” Bailey, Manager for Team Secret, in a series of tweets stated that both Skemberlu and Kuku had received official bans from attending the Chongqing Major. CyborgMatt said that both compLexity and TNC Predator had been contacted and that both organizations had been asked if they wanted to kick their respected players. In a series of subsequent tweets, CyborgMatt continued by saying that there’s a chance that these bans will be extended and it could lead to these players being potentially banned from attending TI9. He then stated that although many teams are protesting the Major from continuing as the state of the community was in disarray, the Chongqing Major is still scheduled to continue. He noted that in addition to teams protesting the Major from continuing, teams were also upset about the potential penalty that TNC Predator could receive if they qualified for the Major and Kuku was refused entry into the country.

The Community Response

Many prominent Dota 2 community leaders took to responding to CyborgMatt’s tweets as several people felt as though Matt’s tweets were inaccurate and misleading. Kyle Bautista, the CEO of compLexity, immediately responded to CyborgMatt’s claims that the teams were notified by Valve of how they should proceed and deal with Skem. He said that no one had directly contacted him to remove Skem and that he also had not received any official noticed from either the Major organizers Starladder or any members of the Chinese government. Kyle mentioned that he had heard the rumours of Skem’s ban but had yet to receive any official information on the matter. He concluded his response to CyborgMatt by informing his audience that he had attempted to contact Valve to try and resolve the issue several times and had yet to get a response. Kyle’s hope is that the community can learn from this situation to help preserve the Dota 2 community and competitive scene for years to come.

In addition to compLexity’s CEO, many professional players in the community took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the situation. Some players like Jacky “EternalEnVy” Mao argued that the bans were not a rumour and that Skem and Kuku will most likely receive bans. EE doesn’t believe that the players deserve such a harsh punishment, echoing similar sentiments from Sébastien “7ckingMad” Debs, as there was no malicious intent behind the player’s actions. 7ckngMad says that instead of focusing on feeding into the drama, the community should recognize that it is up to Valve to decide which players should be banned. He argues that as a community we should be focusing on how to understand each other’s cultures and differences and that we need to focus on building a future for tomorrow instead of feeding the animosity from yesterday’s actions. Other players like Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahlberg and WehSing “SingSing” Yuen focused their attention on the issue that TI9 is in China and what the future would hold if a country could ban players from entering. Peter “ppd” Dager also questioned what China was doing on the international Dota 2 stage by potentially banning these players from entering the country.

What Has Been Lacking

What was lacking from most of these conversations was the simple acknowledgment that these players actions greatly upset a large part of the Dota 2 community. This lack of recognition by the players, the teams and the Western community of how hurt the Chinese community was by these players actions is the bigger issue at hand. We in the West are often isolated from what goes on in the Chinese and SEA region as the players and the fans use different social media platforms to communicate such as Weibo. That, in addition to the language barrier, further isolates the Western Dota 2 community from understanding how deep the issue goes.

In response to the backlash from Kuku’s racist emote, TNC Predator apologized for Kuku’s actions and committed to donating a portion of the winnings, if they place at the Chongqing Major. The biggest issue that I have with their apology is that the beneficiary of the donation is the “Chinese community”. The vagueness of their “commitment” doesn’t seem to have the positive impact they anticipated it would have. What good does donating money to the “Chinese community” do to help these types of racist incidents from happening again? How will this vague donation help have a positive effect on our community? The reality of the situation is that this donation that TNC Predator has committed to sounds a lot like a bride. Rather than committing to change, this bribe just looks to placate the Chinese Dota 2 community.

The Remarks and Backlash Continue

As the community patiently, er impatiently waited for Valve to release an official statement on Kuku’s and Skem’s punishment, another incident of racism in the competitive Dota 2 scene quickly became public. Quinn “CCnC” Callahan took to Twitter to apologize for an incident that had occurred days before. In his tweet, he apologizes for the word “ape” he used as an insult and reflected on how nice everyone in Brazil has been and that the people in pubs had been “super nice”. He argued that he didn’t know the word “ape” had such a negative connotation “here” [read South America] and that in hindsight he shouldn’t have used the word. He committed to being more considerate of other cultures and history to help ensure he doesn’t make this mistake again. There was no mention of how he would be more considerate in the future or how he would avoid making this mistake again.

CCnC’s apology didn’t take well and Heitor “Duster” Pereira quickly commented on CCnC’s apology. Duster took to Twitter to write, “don’t be racist in our region, since u were homeschooled I thought your parents would teach you not to be racist”. It is hard to believe that someone in the twenty-first century wouldn’t know the connotation or history of the use of the word ‘ape’ especially when CCnC used it in a way that used ape as an insult.

Things don’t see to be going well for the ever-absent Valve whose yet to publish or make an official ruling on the growing tensions between their Western and Chinese scenes. CCnC’s incident adds more fuel to the flame as the Dota 2 community is growing more impatient with Valve’s lack of authority. The only way to resolve this ever-growing issue to for Valve to officially disclose what they’ve been doing behind the scenes with the teams to ensure this type of behaviour doesn’t happen again and to clearly indicate what the consequences for this type of behaviour is – whether that’s being banned from a game or two or if it’s a full tournament ban for a player. The only way for the community to move forward is to fully understand the consequences of these sorts of actions and to have some sort of code of conduct that players and teams must adhere to.

In the infamous words of Shakespeare – Where for art thou Valve?

Gillian Linscott
Gillian Linscott
Gillian is Hotspawn's Communication Manager. She is also a lifelong gamer with a habit of getting distracted by random side quests, falling in love with fictional video game characters and forever buying wards as a position 5 in Dota 2. You can normally find her watching far too many Twitch streams to be human and rambling about esports community issues with a cup of coffee in hand.