LA Gladiators head coach David “dpei” Pei issued a public apology recently following an incident that occurred at a recent match where he accidentally bumped into another player. Pei instantly began working on a public statement to avoid being fined by Blizzard.
The apology was posted March 19th, 2018 over on the Gladiators homepage over on Overwatchleague.com, where Pei begged forgiveness…
“Yesterday during the Outlaws match, I inadvertently bumped into two of the Outlaws players. I hadn’t been watching where I was going. I was distracted thinking about what to say to our team for Kings Row, but I wanted to apologize immediately. I apologized to their players immediately after the game and Tairong shortly after. I am sincerely sorry for my actions and assure you that there was no malicious intent. Even though it was an accident, it was still unprofessional of me to shoulder bump players from another team so again, I am sorry.”
Some gamers believed this was an overreaction, but Blizzard has been monitoring player and team behavior from those signed on to the Overwatch League, including monitoring their social media feeds, their Facebook posts, their personal Twitch streams, and their personal tweets. If any member of the Overwatch League does anything that Blizzard believes is “toxic”, even in their personal lives, they will fine them.
According to e-sports correspondent Rod Breslau this even extends to imagery included in personalized tweets. Dexerto spotted the tweet by Breslau, who explained that Blizzard has banned Overwatch League players from using Pepe the Frog in tweets, social media feeds, streams, or discussions. Blizzard has also been banned spectators from using Pepe imagery at live events.
Blizzard has recently removed pepe signs in the OWL crowd and has requested other OWL players to remove pepe-related memes and images from their social media accounts. Personally, while I understand Blizzard's concern, I don't think it's a big deal.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 18, 2018
Since yesterday other OWL players have removed references to pepe on their social media at the request of OWL team management, including NYXL Pine's phone case tweet. pic.twitter.com/2VGcZjOQfQ
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 19, 2018
The incident in question happened when player Jay Won had attempted to post a joke-tweet thanking people for wishing him happy birthday, which included an image of Pepe the Frog.
Blizzard had Won delete his birthday tweet and forbade him from using Pepe in his tweets.
l0l had to delete last tweet but thanks for the birthday wishes guys ❤️❤️❤️
— Jay Won (@sinatraa) March 18, 2018
Pepe has been deemed a “hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League, and so many communities have banned the use of Pepe imagery, including Blizzard Entertainment.
Back in early March Blizzard fined players for using high-risk memes in their social media feeds, as well as suspended a player for using certain emotes excessively in their own personal Twitch streams because Blizzard deemed the usage of the emote “racially disparaging”.
The company also monitors the social media feed of average Overwatch players, even those outside of the Overwatch League. If the company feels the behavior that they are monitoring is “toxic”, the accounts can be “actioned” or banned from playing Overwatch.
Twitch has also partnered with Blizzard for the Overwatch League, and they now have Twitch users link their Battle.net accounts with their Twitch accounts, so it makes it easier to action those accounts. Twitch is also monitoring off-site activity of users and will ban them if they engage in “hateful” behavior or activities.
This is part of Blizzard and Twitch’s dedicated initiative to excise “toxic” behavior from the gaming community.
(Main image courtesy of AjsFilmCo)