March 22, 2018 marks the official opening of the Esports Arena Las Vegas and a big day for esports. Located at the Luxor Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, this 30,000 square foot arena boasts a competition stage, telescopic seating, broadcast center and production studio and a 50 foot video wall. The sight may prove to be the ideal location for major gaming events in the Las Vegas area.
To celebrate the grand opening, Esports Arena Las Vegas is hosting multiple game competitions and broadcasts to demonstrate the capabilities of the arena. Games such as Super Smash Bros., Rocket League and Dragonball FighterZ will be showcased. There will also be a special broadcast by Twitch streamer Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins. Ninja recently made rounds in gaming news thanks to a Fortnite broadcast on Twitch this month featuring special guest appearance by musician Drake.
Image courtesy of www.esportsarenavegas.com
Along with these events, the Smite Pro League will take to the stage as well. Reigning champions eUnited will take on newly formed Spacestation Gaming – a team comprised of the previous season Luminosity Gaming roster. This match up will not be part of the Smite Pro League 2017 Spring season. The two teams will have their first official match following the event on March 23rd.
This will certainly be worth watching to see how both teams are adapting to changes in Smite’s latest season. The event will hopefully serve to widen the audience. More importantly, it may help bring more attention to the Smite community. Hi-Rez continues to improve on the gameplay of their flagship title and provide thrilling competitive experiences on the battleground of the gods.
This is not the first arena of this nature. Esports Arena alone has opened two similar locations previously in Oakland and Orange County. The medium continues to garner popularity thanks to streaming services like Twitch and Mixer. Along with new organizations like the Overwatch League, it is unlikely to be the last either. Arlington, Texas recently made an announcement that the city will open a 100,000 square foot esports stadium later this year.
Fans can check out the Esports Arena Las Vegas event at twitch.tv/esportsarena where they will stream matches and broadcasts from March 22nd to the 25th. eUnited and Spacestation Gaming will play Thursday evening.
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Another Dallas Fuel member has been caught using a homophobic slur/comment on his personal stream. ESPN has outed Taimou, or Timo Kettunen, for using such language on his Twitch stream. Reportedly, this comment comes from a player-submitted support ticket to Blizzard. This report was submitted on January 23rd, yet this is the first hearing of it for many. The Dallas Fuel were unaware of the ticket and incident until being alerted by ESPN and their coverage.
Overwatch League Code of Conduct
Source: Blizzard Entertainment and Overwatch League
Félix Lengyel, xQc, missed all of stage one after making a homophobic comment towards fellow Overwatch League player Muma, Austin Wilmot. At the time of his ban, Overwatch and the Overwatch League had yet to reveal a code of conduct for the players. However, both the Fuel and League understood that such behavior could not be tolerated. As of February 21st, Overwatch and the Overwatch League have set standards for conduct and rules of competition. The rules for conduct are as follows:
Observe the highest standards of personal integrity and good sportsmanship
Compete to the best of their skill and ability at all times
Comply with all applicable laws at all times
They will not engage in any activity or practice which brings him or her into public disrepute or scandal
Not engage in any form of harassment or discrimination
Not place bets on any games, matches, or tournaments involving Overwatch
They will not make any false, defamatory, libelous, or slanderous remarks, comments, or statements
Not use or attempt to use any bugs or exploits in Overwatch
With a code firmly in place now, what will happen to Taimou? Blizzard Support’s response to the report ticket doesn’t seem to really claim much. Their response was, “Due to privacy/security concerns, we will not be able to discuss specifics like how we investigate these or what actions we will be taking from here. Rest assured, however, this has not been ignored.” For being reported over a month ago, it sure seems like it has been.
Other OWL Players that received Discipline
Blizzard has suspended xQc before. He was suspended for a week in December, following a breakdown during streaming in which he decided to throw games. Blizzard also suspended his account for three days in November after he misused the reporting system. Three suspensions in three months for xQc. He is not alone however. Blizzard’s biggest suspension hit Su-min Kim, Sado, of the Philadelphia Fusion. In an attempt to raise more money for his family, Sado was boosting other accounts for money. Handing out a 30 game suspension, Sado will miss the majority of the first season. Shanghai Dragon’s players Chao Fang, Undead and Junjie Liu, Xushu, were fined by their team, Shanghai Dragons, for sharing an account. This violates Overwatch and Blizzard rules, and the league determined the fine was punishment enough.
Looking at the bans and fines given to players, there becomes a real discrepancy between the Fuel players and the others. The others have violated a rule in place to prevent unfair advantages of other players. Taimou and xQc have crossed a line where their comments constitute harassment towards other players.
The Fuel Perspective
Source: Overwatch and Dallas Fuel
Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail has issued comments about team conduct before. He spoke before xQc’s stage one ban, stating, “Things that we don’t tolerate are pretty standard in the workplace. You can’t go around saying racist slurs, harassing people, getting physical- whatever. It’s a code of conduct of civility and humanity.” The Dallas Fuel received praise for their handling of xQc’s comments towards Muma. Blizzard enacted a four game ban, along with a $2,000 fine on xQc for his comments. The Fuel were not content with that, and extended his suspension for the remained of stage one. They clearly wanted to send a message to both xQc and the league that this behavior should not be tolerated. A strong message, one that apparently did not reach teammate Taimou.
Is there a streaming problem for the fuel?
Source: Robert Paul and Blizzard
Two different members of the Dallas Fuel have now used offensive language, more specifically a homophobic slur, while streaming. The Fuel have some of the biggest streamers in Overwatch, with Seagull, xQx, Effect and Taimou; all prominent members of the streaming community. Their personalities are what have attracted a lot of fans to the team, but now they seem to be making the team look bad. Streaming is a hard business, you face constant scrutiny and trolls from viewers, and often act out. Some of this acting is what draws in bigger viewers.
However, now that these players are professional on a big stage, they must conduct themselves as such. Whether they’re playing at Blizzard Arena or from the comfort of their home, everything they say matters. Sure they didn’t ask to role models, but by becoming professionals, they are. Players in every sport must conduct themselves to a professional degree, in public, in private, and most importantly on camera. The Fuel and Overwatch League have yet to issue a statement regarding Taimou’s actions. Did Blizzard deal with xQc so swiftly because he directed his comments toward another OWL player? Blizzard and Overwatch must respond to Taimou’s words against an unprofessional player much in the same way, or they will send a message that so long as their not a professional player it doesn’t matter. It all matters.
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