Being a pro Dota 2 player is difficult, but so-called fans don’t always make it easier.
Ninjas in Pyjamas offlaner Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek took to Twitter to vent his frustration with an interaction he had on social media. The direct message from an individual with an apparent burner account invites SabeRLight- and his family to “please die.”
While this could have been chalked up as a strange occurrence with one troubled individual, that was quickly dispelled. A number of other pro players came forward and discussed similar experiences that included death threats and other forms of extreme toxicity.
Rasmus Johan "Chessie" Blomdin chimed in and speculated that most pro Dota 2 players receive these sorts of messages, with the offenders most likely being losing bettors spurned after a team drops a game. That said, esports pros have faced this sort of unfortunate criticism for more reasons than just that.
It's been a bad year for esports pros:
Dota 2, esports pros have long been abused by fans
SabeRLight-’s story is a sad one, but it’s not unusual in the grand scheme of esports. People in all walks of professional gaming have faced this sort of treatment, both in esports and streaming. This largely plays out quietly, but there have been several incidences of this that spilled out into public.
One of the biggest examples of 2020 came from League of Legends’ fabled T1 organization. The team opted to bench Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok for several games of the summer season in order to give live stage practice to an upcoming substitute mid laner. The move was so poorly received by fans that the organization made numerous statements regarding the abuse hurled in the direction of its players and management, and even took legal action.
It isn’t just MOBAs where this happens, either.
Earlier this year, 16-year-old pro player Nathan "leaf" Orf faced death threats after he was accused of cheating during the cs_summit 6 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament. Though evidence of the supposed wrongdoing was strictly limited to speculation, a number of pro players amplified the accusations. This prompted a slew of fans to pile on the teenager in what was one of the worst CSGO stories of the year.