Two weeks into the Overwatch League, one pro player has already been suspended and fined for throwing a homophobic insult at an openly gay opponent.
Felix “xQc” Lengyel of the Dallas Fuel was suspended by the Overwatch League and his own team Friday after insulting Houston Outlaws player Austin “Muma” Wilmot during a personal live stream on Twitch. The league’s suspension is a clear warning to other players to stay professional and not be hateful or else they’ll risk losing out on vital time playing with their teams.
The Overwatch League suspended Lenyel for four games (two weeks) and fined him $2,000, and the Dallas Fuel threw on an additional week of suspension, which means Lenyel won’t be playing in matches or practicing with the Fuel until mid-February. In the meantime, he is free to play and stream Overwatch without his team and will be given “additional resources, focus coaching, physical training, and support … to help him improve as a professional player who is reflective of the principles of the Dallas Fuel organization, his teammates, and of the Overwatch League.”
Exactly why the Fuel decided to extend Lengyel’s suspension is unclear, but it may be a message to the league saying missing four games isn’t enough of a punishment for hateful speech. The team did not respond to a request for comment.
Lengyel, who was on the bench for Thursday’s game against the Outlaws, was angry about Wilmot using his signature phrase “rolled and smoked” in reference to the Fuel after the Outlaws pulled off a 4-0 victory.
Amidst other colorful language, Lengyel said to Wilmot on his stream: “Shut your fucking mouth, go back there, suck a fat cock. I mean, you would like it.”
Wilmot, who is openly gay, addressed Lengyel’s comment during a personal live stream, saying Lengyel’s “a homophobic piece of garbage,” adding about himself that “he’ll just keep winning.”
Lengyel then apologized to Wilmot on Twitter, and Wilmot accepted the apology.
Behavior like this isn’t new to esports, but it’s rare that a league takes action against a player like this.
Back in April, an Overwatch pro who competed with Toronto Esports (before the Overwatch League started) went on a racist tirade on stream, which prompted the team organization to fire him, basically ending his esports career before it had a chance to get off the ground.
Before the Overwatch League started, a team manager who was involved with the team San Francisco Shock was fired after allegations of sexual assault came out against him.
Overwatch League’s suspension of Lengyel is actually a bit stricter than other traditional sports leagues based in the United States. This past year, the MLB suspended the Oakland Atheltics’ Matt Joyce for two games after he used a homophobic slur at a fan. In late 2016, the NBA took no action against Chicago Bulls player Rajon Rando for using a homophobic slur at a referee, although the Bulls did suspend Rando for one game.
Overwatch League did not respond to a request for comment on the suspension of Lengyel.