I've played Hero and Team League since season 1 and always hovered around upper Plat. This season I learned a few new heroes and rapidly climbed several tiers (or maybe it's just the dwindling player numbers), so now I have upper Diamond, Master, and GM allies almost every game. Great, right? The problem is that 100% of the time at least one of these players will harass me for literally the entire game.
Now, Plat had its share of toxic players and not every GM is that bad. I've also had some great games with Diamond+ players where we come together and execute strategies that simply wouldn't be possible with less-skilled allies. They're definitely pushing me to play better. It should be fun! But it's not, because every single game now I have one or more allies harassing me over my draft choice, talent choices, when and where I use my skills, everything. I could understand pointing out my faults and missteps (to a degree) but I'm talking about players raining down insults on me for making choices that are a matter of preference and play style.
I know I don't have to listen to it, muting is simple and easy, but Heroes is best played with communication and camaraderie. I've had a lot of excellent games (back in Plat) where we kept our spirits high even in losing games. Games where players congratulated each other on playing well as our core goes up in flames. I'm not having games like that anymore, even our wins are full of insults and mockery from one or more of our "allies."
I have one simple rule for MOBAs: I play my hero and you play yours. If you insta-locked a third assassin before we have a tank or a healer then fine, I would have made a different recommendation but it's too late to discuss that now. I'll fill and do my best to set up kills for you. You just locked Murky after our team already has Nazeebo and Sylvanas? Let's hard push every lane and overwhelm the enemy with lane pressure. These things actually work! What doesn't work is asking "why??????" as though any player has the time to justify their choice to you or the ability to go back and make a different one. All we can do is put the past aside and discuss where we can go from here. Blaming allies doesn't make them play better.
Toxic behavior isn't fun or entertaining, and outside of gaming is extremely weird during real world competitive events–if it doesn't get you ejected from the event completely. Good sportsmanship is a basic tenet in most actual sports. Why not eSports? Why should we expect high level competitive video games to have less decorum than a game of pick-up basketball? I've participated in sparring competitions where you can literally punch your opponent in the face but if you insulted them or laughed at their mistakes you would be barred from the competition and your teacher would be ashamed to have taught you.
What's extra weird is that some of the players behaving like this are pros from the late HGC and Open Division, players I've watched and admired from afar. It's been fun to finally play beside them. Most of them. But some of them . . .
Imagine becoming such a skilled basketball player that you ended up playing beside LeBron James in an informal but high level game of basketball, only he spends the entire game making fun of your shoes and calling you names. And he was on your team! Would you want to play with him again? Would you want to play in a league that considers it normal to trash talk your own teammates?
I think this is it. I play because gaming is fun, and now it's not. It's that simple.
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© Post "Just climbed to the higher ranks of Team League and now 100% of my games have toxic players" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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