League of Legends pro team warned over discrimination incident

A league of legends team was issued a formal warning for discrimination during a professional tournament.

Rox Gaming was told they’d broken a discrimination against gender rule in a match against fellow Russian pro team Vaevictis.

The LCL is League’s “Continental” division. While the quiet championship series typically goes under the radar due to its lack of high tier or iconic teams it suddenly stirred a hot topic within the League of Legends community a few weeks back.

During the tournament, two Russian teams, Rox Gaming and Vaevictis eSports fought in the RIFT, the game’s solitary map. Rox Gaming is a standard competitive team within the LCL. However, their competitors, Vaevictis Gaming, are the only all female League team within the entire competitive scene. The only other team like Vaevictis was Team Siren, who disbanded only 18 days after their promotional video released.

But why does Vaevictis being an all female team matter? Well, Rox Gaming decided to do something unheard of and ban only support champions. The reason why banning only supports is such a big deal is due to the League of Legends stigma behind the crucial role. As shown on this reddit thread people in the community honestly believe the support role is dominated by a specific gender stereotype.

One redditor called Gamergirlx3 said:

“I think support is played more from female players because it is closer to social norms in real life than other classes. Same goes for playing healer in rpgs. You are the mom that takes care of their kids and look after them or the girlfriend that makes sure her partner is happy. Just like a support/ healer looks after her team.

“I don’t think this is a conscious choice but more like a unconscious one.”

This attitude is something the League community has struggled with for a long time, as they have previously harassed female streamers for playing the support role calling them “boosted egirls”. However, how does playing support make a female streamer an egirl? And what is an egirl? Well, luckily Julia Lee of the Riftherald discusses and researches the definition of egirl coming to the conclusion that:

“ultimately … an egirl is just a cute girl who plays games? Interesting that there’s a need for a polarizing term to describe nearly all women, but alright.”

The fact Vaevictis can be singled out because of their gender in a professional tournament ran by Riot, makes us question Riot’s commitment to stopping the harassment of female players.

However, it’s not the first time Riot Games have been called out on their attitude to women in gaming. Kotaku’s Cecilia D’anastasio wrote an extensive feature called “Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games”, which detailed how toxic a work environment Riot has been for female employees. The story is filled with first hand experiences of female employees describing their uncomfortable memories of the “Bro-culture” plaguing Riot Games.

So post-sexism controversy, how did Riot respond to Rox’s actions? Well, it seems Riot tried to keep their response under the radar. They posted a blog to the Russian League of Legends website. They didn’t release the statement to any other site, despite the fact players from around the world watched the incident.

Rox has been issued with a warning due to this behaviour within the professional environment of a tournament. Riot stated they “do not accept discrimination on the basis of sex or any other grounds”.

What do you think? Is Riot trying to hide another sexism controversy? Were Rox Gaming using a legitimate strategy, or were they using Vaevictis’ gender as a punchline?

Let us know in the comments below.

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