The esports community is in disarray as the popular LCK organization, T1 files lawsuit on negative commenters against Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok on his behalf according to Korizon Esports, who reported it first. This is done to respond to growing number of “fans” who have been harassing Faker using negative language. This has seemingly caused a wave of confusion among LoL esports fans in regards with its legality and effect on fan culture.
T1 Files Lawsuit against “Fans”
Last July 19th, T1 files lawsuit to the government that would punish any person who would harass Faker. This is in correspondence with South Korea’s Criminal Act Article 311, which makes it punishable for any person to publicly insult another individual. The crime is punishable by imprisonment or imprisonment without labor for one year or by paying a fine that doesn’t exceed two million won (~1527 USD).
This was done on behalf of Faker, so we aren’t entirely sure how Faker, himself, is affected by this entire situation and how much of the decision was made by him. Most of the criticism has been thrown his way being the captain of T1 and the longest-serving member of the organization’s League of Legends roster. The case aims to reduce harassment from local fans and ultimately prevent Faker from receiving severely damaging criticism from their “fans”.
Criticism Against Faker
Many esports fans in different cultures, not just in the east, are extremely passionate about the teams they support. In South Korea, esports and professional gaming has already been incorporated as a part of their rapidly evolving culture. As a country that has been performing at the top in many different esports titles, especially in League of Legends, we can understand (to an extent) why fans react negatively when their teams lose.
As one of the few organizations who has kept their star players in the roster through the years, Faker has been receiving the hate that fans have for T1 underperforming to the fans expectations. Many have blamed him for being the reason why T1 can’t win anymore because the organization refuses to get rid of a relic of their past glory. This has been going on for a few seasons, even leading him to take a break by getting benched for a few games to stay away from the harsh gaze of the public.
Concerns About Fan Culture
The fact that T1 files lawsuit against (the toxic side of) the esports community has made many fans concerned about their status and the underlying precedent that this gives to future organizations. Westerns fans feel that LCK fans are being censored, regardless of the premise of the lawsuit being filed. For eastern fans, they may feel more afraid to voice out their comments to their favorite orgs and players with the concept of what’s acceptable and not being extremely vague.
Many have argued that banter has always been a part of sports, in general, but there are others who defend this decision by stating that it is only targeted against people who are making comments that are dangerous to the individual’s well-being. Not many support this decision, but even more question how it has to the point where the organization was forced to take legal action. Does it have anything to do with the inability of esports fans to differentiate banter from defamation?
Talking About Faker
Faker has been one of the best mid laners and players in League of Legends history. His accomplishments has left him very little to prove, but he has reiterated that he feels like he needs to achieve more in LoL esports and that his past accomplishments were not enough. Even though he’s far from being one of the best players overall both in his lane and generally, he’s still performing way above how an average player would in any other region.
Despite being such a player with a well-respected history, it’s still hard to avoid garnering criticism from passionate members of the community. The fall of the LCK has caused the region’s fans to take it upon themselves to voice out their concerns by going online to protest against elements they seem problematic. It seems Faker has been one of the biggest targets in recent years and this case aims to reduce the trend of negative comments going around.
Is T1 To Blame For Faker’s Involvement in this Issue?
T1 has put Faker’s safety and reputation above all else throughout this ordeal and the fact that T1 files lawsuits on behalf of Faker to protect him speak about how much they value his physical and mental well-being. While T1, itself, has gathered a lot of hate from the community regarding its decision-making regarding staff and roster changes in the past splits, it still isn’t true that they are completely to blame for Faker taking the heat.
While T1 isn’t at fault, that doesn’t mean that Faker is the reason why he’s in the situation he’s in today. The growing trend of toxicity in “fan culture” has been spreading around and causes having a negative attitudes towards orgs and players being normalized on social media. The anonymity that people have online make them feel safe that no matter what they say, there is little chance that they will get reprimanded for their actions.
Will the lawsuit completely eradicate toxic behavior?
No. However, it will significantly reduce the number of people acting negatively online. People who are hell-bent on being toxic have multiple ways to bypass the lawsuit such as hiding behind a fake account or doing the criticisms online. It is hard to say that this case will help Faker stop all the hate he’s receiving, but it should at least alleviate some of the pressure he’s feeling.