Cracking down: can the Overwatch League ‘Discipline Tracker’ actually fix their biggest problems?
Blizzard are revving up their monitoring and disciplining of unsavory player behaviors from their flagship game with a brand new Discipline Tracker. Overwatch has been under the microscope heavily in 2018, with over a handful of their professional players subjected to fines, bans and/or permanent suspensions for a variety of behavior.
While commonplace offenses such as flaming (toxicity) and boosting have been dealt with adequately, the new Discipline Tracker will be a front and center approach for Blizzard to show just how serious they are taking this issue of professional player infractions.
Tracking the real problems?
This new incentive from Blizzard is a bold one considering their unique place in eSports. With Overwatch League vying for more ‘mainstream’ viewers it only makes sense for Blizzard to take every step necessary to ensure their image is as clean as their product.
The problem with this new initiative is the possible red tape that could be brought up when it comes to banning some of Overwatch’s most beloved players from the scene.
We can start with a classic example in Felix “xQc” Lengyel. From the very beginning, it was obvious that his popularity within the space delineated with the overall message Overwatch was trying to put out.
As xQc’s fan base grew, his strength as a role model within the game started to outshine the authority that Blizzard had. Soon his fan base began to argue his points on most visible reddit threads and in an instant his mega-popular ‘rage first, ask questions later’ personality became synonymous with solo queue culture overall.
Commanding a super high rank in solo queue and performing in the professional scene as a member of Dallas Fuel only added to his credibility. Pretty soon, the polarizing figure of xQc had to be tempered with some form of punishment from Blizzard due to the inevitable negative reaction from his detractors.
Over the course of the season, xQc was banned several times by the Overwatch League commission for his off stage behavior. By the end of Season One he wasn’t eligible to play for Dallas anymore due to OWL’s stringent rules, and almost missed the 2018 World Cup for other, unrelated behavioral issues he was being reported for.
The fundamental question
With the rise, fall and now reemergence of xQc trying to take his place as one of the biggest entities on Twitch, let alone Overwatch; are Blizzard going to single out players with xQc’s track record as a way to set a precedent, or will they work with players to develop a better ranked ecosystem for everyone involved?
Most fans would ideally hope for the latter, but there’s no question there’s a fair amount of everyday OW players that don’t want to associate themselves with the controversy players like xQc have been marred with for most of their career.
At the moment, it seems like things are still touch and go for this new facet of the Overwatch League’s authoritative arm. Upon their first announcement, a total of six players were suspended and others fined for a variety of offenses.
Upon joining the Overwatch League, players are subject to a full review of their player conduct and due to that clause in the contract even players from Hangzhou Spark and Guangzhou Charge have been reprimanded due to their inclusion in the league.