With the recent roster movement of Dardoch from Counter Logic Gaming to Team Liquid (for those not yet in the know, Liquid Dardoch), it seems like an apt time to discuss one of League of Legends’ largest problems. We’ve all been in that ranked game (and more often in normal as well, unfortunately) where things just can’t seem to turn out well- often times no one’s fault- and someone refuses to accept what’s happening. Now, playing with the assurance that things will turn out for the best, that’s fantastic. Refusing to accept that things have spiraled out of control and that a teammate is to blame? Still nothing wrong with that in the strictest sense. Spending the entire game hammering away at the keyboard with fat little fury fingers? This is where it gets unacceptable.
So, I know that the above isn’t anything revelatory or new, everyone knows what toxic behavior looks like. The question, though, is why is it so acceptable in the game we all love? Oftentimes, I’ve seen responses to toxic behavior be as extreme as telling the person being harassed to stop defending themselves, because the toxic player “will just carry the game, don’t worry”. Why do so many people accept this as a viable response? Just because the player who’s flaming and screaming up and down all chat can play well, he deserves a free pass? I’ve even seen this taken a step further: a player who got really into explaining every detail of his jungler’s mistakes- and how it ruined bot lane- went on to snowball a lead and win the game. The craziest part was, this being a recent game, everyone can see when the whole team honors someone. The toxic player ended up getting the most honorable accolade for three votes from teammates. Everyone decided that because this guy played so well, it excused his early toxic behavior. Now, in the interest of completeness, I don’t know why everyone voted. The player did tone it down as the game progressed, and I can only assume someone respected him for getting his temper under control. Whatever the reasons, the result- the honor callout- tells the player that his bad behavior is acceptable so long as he plays well enough. So what can we do to fix that lesson?
In spite of this sort of honor response only being visible with the honor update, this isn’t some “rito pls” basing of the company. I love the honor update, following its release I’ve had far more wholesome games on the whole. This isn’t something we as players should wait for riot to fix. It’s something that, whether we like it or not, is entirely in our hands. If you see someone getting away with toxic behavior because they play well, call them out on it. You don’t need to respond immediately- I understand that earning that last win for your promos is important- but maybe say something in post game lobby. Even better, if you want to go that extra step- message the player who got harassed, tell him you don’t accept the earlier toxicity and reported him after the game, but that confronting the problem during play would likely have made the rest of the team’s experience worse as well. This is obviously an extended response, but when you hear stories of players having the most wholesome experience with the game, this is usually why. Players that care enough to take that further step.
So, how does this relate to Dardoch, CLG, and Liquid? By now, I think most of us have heard the secondhand stories of Dardoch’s problems with attitude. Not being connected to him or any of the organizations he’s been associated with, I cannot speak with certainty on the subject. However, CLG’s statement regarding their parting of ways speaks volumes. The reasons they outline in the above post speak specifically to a team dissatisfied with a player’s attitude, despite the talent he brings. With the general consensus that he’s an incredible player with a lot of talent who suffers from attitude problems, he seems like a good match to the earlier solo queue examples. So how have pro teams dealt with him? At the beginning of this split, we saw Immortals make a trade with CLG where they unloaded Dardoch for Xmithie, who many saw as underperforming with CLG. For the first half of the split, both teams appeared happy with the way it all worked out. They dominated play, with each team battling each other for the top spot in the standings. Recently, however, we’ve seen CLG give Dardoch less play time, favoring new player Omargod instead. And now, prior to Week Eight, we see CLG cleaning their hands of Dardoch completely, trading him to Liquid, who has been struggling to hold together a successful lineup for some time now.
CLG’s decision to choose a positive environment over what looks to be a skill edge speaks to the value players at the highest level place on treating one’s team right. Why, then, do we allow such behavior to go unpunished in our own games, both ranked and normal? While it’s true that LCS teams require a far higher level of cohesion and trust than typical games, all levels of League of Legends revolve around playing as a team to achieve maximum benefit. We, as players of solo, flex, and casual games, should take a page out of CLG’s book. While we can appreciate skill and talent, those should never be used to justify or validate someone’s horrifying harassment of other players. And it’s not a hopeless cause, either. I’ve played with certain people over the past four years who I’e seen go from tilt induced rage quitters to optimistic teammates who stick out even the most hopeless games if there’s a chance to win- and oftentimes it works well for everyone. So if you see that salty player in your ranked game, have that friend with the tendency to hard tilt, or simply get frustrated too quickly yourself, take the time to push back against the toxicity hurting the game.