Pro players and streams are role models for the community, and sometimes their behavior can make toxic and game ruining actions more normalized.
Almost every game has a toxic and rude part of it’s fanbase. Perhaps over the years the Dota 2 fanbase has become notorious for its toxicity. Recent initiatives from Valve with the Overwatch system have helped to combat some of this toxicity with punishments for people who ruin games. But it has not solved the problem entirely.
A big part of trying to build a positive community is making sure that the most visible members of that community set a good example. For Dota, pro players and streamers are those most visible members. However, on occasion, those players and streamers are not putting their best foot forward when playing pubs.
Toxicity Ruins Games
I bring this up now in part because of a recent tweet from Austin “Cap” Walsh about people ruining his games. This could include anything from feeding, running down mid, or even the dreaded item-breaking. This prompted Viking.gg offlaner Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann streamer to chime in. KheZu believes a big reason for game ruining in pubs are bad examples set by community figures. He says that “perhaps it should start with not allowing streamers/pro players to ruin/destroy their items in front of thousands of viewers”. KheZu’s point is that if you watch community figures do toxic things, then people in the community will think it’s ok to be toxic.
Dota Pros set an Example and its not a Good one
This is especially true when it comes to pro-players. Even if they are sportsmanlike in game, acting out in pubs sets a bad example. The same day, Virtus.pro put out a tweet seemingly condoning midlaner Danil "gpk" Skutin’s behavior in his pubs.
The tweet was a side by side between his impressive mid play in pro matches, versus him selling his items and buying a shadow amulet in his pubs. Virtus.pro fans might have thought it was funny, but not TI 5 winner and analyst Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling. He commented “Are you celebrating and thus encouraging game ruining behavior.” Virtus.pro has since deleted the tweet but it’s a testament to how normalized toxicity has become in the community.
We Need to Do Better
All of this shows that visible people in the Dota scene are held to different standards than the rest of the community. But this also shows that helping the Dota community improve involves holding Dota Pros and streams accountable.
Analyst Cap has even suggested that people who do game ruining things in game could be permabanned. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but there have to be harsher penalties, yes even for pro players, when people ruin games. Showing people in Dota that even the people at the top have to behave may be a good start in helping Dota become a more fun game to play.
"This is far from the first time pros or streamers have acted out in games or on stream. Popular streamer Mason "mason" Venne has been banned multiple times on Twitch. There was also an incident when T1 midlaner “Karl” Matthew Baldovino fed down mid in a pub game during the AniMajor, and even “Quinn” Callahan can get tilted."