North America experienced a lot of changes to their competitive scene this year. With the new franchising system instead of relegation and the League Academy Championship Series instead of the League of Legends Challenger Series, both players and coaches have difficulty finding common ground.
As League continues toward establishing itself as an esport, players and teams alike display growing pains. When Cloud9 benched respected players Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, Andy “Smoothie” Ta and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, fans criticized how the players reacted to the news. With the recent trades, organizations suffer pushback on leaving some of the players without contracts and income.
As the climate of League is changing, players need to understand the significance of their conduct. Even if on the Academy team, the conduct of Joshua “Mabrey” Mabrey, Tristan “Cake” Côté-Lalumière, and Ming “Spica” Lu is unacceptable.
Banning out their Teammates
Cake, Mabrey, and Spica met Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp and Willie P in champion select. Both Tyler1 and Willie P are streamers with significant fan followings. Both players are considered OTP or one-trick ponies. Tyler1 is infamous for his Draven, and most recently, his Quinn. Willie P plays Udyr. Despite knowing this, the Echo Fox Academy players decided to ban Quinn, Draven, and Udyr.
To add insult to injury, Cake posted on Twitter, saying, “promoting one-trick ponies for expanding their champion pool to make sure they are eligible for scouting grounds”. Once the community learned about this game, Cake deleted the post. In the past, Tyler1 and Willie P expressed no real interest in participating in scouting grounds. While the NA LCS Scouting Grounds formed rules against OTPs, to intentionally ban out teammates in a ranked game is despicable.
Simply trolling their teammates is not enough. Cake played under the summoner name “PainlessDeath22” and Mabrey under “TEAMLUKEEE.” Both PainlessDeath22 and TEAMLUKEE are streamers whose summoner names are separate from their Twitch channel names. Cake allegedly posts Painless’ Twitter account during champion select. These Echo Fox Academy players effectively slander these high Elo players when they play under their name and troll.
League of Legends as an esport relies on word of mouth. Due to the small number of players at the top, many players recognize names on the ladder. Impersonating Painless or Luke degrades their reputations, making it harder for either to go professional or even stream.
Cake built a reputation of being toxic in the community, and Mabrey, formerly Impactful, received a suspension for Elo boosting before.
Looking to the Future
The Echo Fox Brand
Echo Fox earned a lot of bad publicity due to this incident. Failing to keep their players in check reflects badly on the organization as a whole. Since the incident blew up, Cake apologized in an unsatisfactory manner. In his tweets, he tried to justify himself and push the blame off of him.
Having a sincere apology from every player involved seems like a necessary public relations move at this point. Professional players should be held at a higher standard. Echo Fox needs to respond to this incident, or risk loss of respect.
As a region, North America fails to perform. The NA LCS Summer Split reflects poorly on the skill level of North America. Too many teams are tied at the top of the standings. When everyone is first, no one is first. As a whole, the region cannot adapt to the meta. Players consistently make mistakes that end games. No team looks particularly clean in their execution.
One of the reasons people look to when finding fault in NA is solo queue. Not only does NA suffer a lack of players, but the environment is toxic. If even pseudo-professional players troll in the game, the region cannot get the practice needed to reach the peak of League of Legends play.
Professional players need to understand that their actions reflect directly to the organization. With franchising, the organizations are here to stay. Every major misstep affects the organization’s image and how the community views the player. League of Legends employ relatively young professional players, and with the age, some immaturity is to be expected. However, blatantly playing in a manner that refuses to win is unacceptable. At this time, Cake is 23 and Mabrey is 24. There is no excuse for this type of behavior.
Maybe the NA LCS Players Association should consider upping their influence. Players need to act in a professional manner. As the epitome of what the community should be, their behavior and gameplay should reflect the basics of Riot’s Summoner’s Code.
Featured image courtesy of Riot Games, Willie P.