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Riot permanently bans League of Legends pro for "persistent toxic behaviour"

"The decision to impact someone's career is not one we make lightly."

Professional League of Legends player Christian Rivera aka IWillDominate - a member of Team Dignitas - has been permanently banned for "persistently toxic behaviour".

Note that he hasn't overstepped the game's hard and fast rules, the Terms of Service, but rather the ethical Summoner's Code all players are encouraged to abide by.

"His persistent tendency to engage in verbal abuse and insults, his lack of cordial demeanour and his treatment of less-skilled players is unacceptable for any player, especially a high-profile professional player who has a regular opportunity to lead the community by example," Riot's eSports team declared (via PCGamesN).

"IWillDominate has violated the letter and spirit of the Summoner's Code in a systematic fashion."

Rivera also won't be eligible to play in the pro League of Legends Championship for a year. He's out of Season 3 and he's without a salary or a job, it seems - apparently Rivera dropped out of college to play professional League of Legends.

An appropriate illustration I think.

On the topic of his career, Riot wrote: "The decision to impact someone's career is not one we make lightly, which is why this is tough news to deliver. Unfortunately, our Tribunal recently was forced to permanently ban a pro player as a response to his persistent toxic behaviour, and after closely reviewing the individual's case and history, the Riot eSports team has issued a ruling that follows this post."

Rivera is a repeat offender and has been well and truly warned before. He's faced the League of Legends Tribunal - official community judgement - nine times and been punished eight, usually with a temporary ban. His harassment score is so high he's in the top 0.7 per cent for all North American League of Legends players.

In short, Riot wanted to show that no one was above the law - err, ethics - of the game.

"I will not let this end my dreams of being a professional League of Legends player..."

Christian "IWillDominate" Rivera

"We fully understand that there are other pro players who behave poorly from time to time, and we do not condone any unsportsmanlike behaviour," Riot went on. "It's important to note how severe and consistent the behaviour of this particular individual was, as is outlined in the ruling. No other professional players in NA approach this individual's harassment score - that said, we monitor all pro player behaviour actively and we will continue to make that clear to all pro teams, and will take necessary action should any other players demonstrate unacceptable behaviour in the future.

"Promoting good sportsmanship and improving player behaviour is a mission that's extremely important to Riot, and this ruling is a reflection of our commitment."

What says Christian Rivera?

Rivera doesn't look particularly toxic.

"Today I was informed by Riot that I will be suspended for one year of the Season 3 Championship Series. Although the ruling is extremely tough, I agree with Riot that player sportsmanship is a serious matter and I want to apologise to anyone that I've offended in game and my fans," IWillDominate wrote on Reddit, although there's speculation about whether it was him or a PR manager from Team Dignitas.

"I fully understand that pro players are viewed as role models and should act accordingly. I'd like to thank my team-mates and the whole Dignitas organisation for the amazing year that I have spent with them and wish the team the best of luck going into season three. Personally, I will not let this end my dreams of being a professional League of Legends player. During my suspension I intend to keep my mechanics in top form and remain a competitive jungler. After my suspension I hope to rejoin the Championship series and once again compete at the highest level. League of Legends is my life, and I will do everything in my power to play as long as possible."

I tried to contact Christian Rivera through Team Dignitas but met a dead end. I asked whether Team Dignitas would issue a statement on Rivera's behalf.

"No we won't," Team Dignitas managing director Michael O'Dell told me. "Christian has done that himself on the Reddit post and apologised to everyone. Obviously we are looking for a new player for Season 3."

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