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Valve responds to Chinese players review bombing Dota 2 in protest against racist taunts in tournaments

"It is really damaging to the entire Dota community whenever even a single professional player uses discriminatory language."

Chinese Dota 2 fans have hit out at Valve following a perceived lack of action after racist taunts were used in esports matches.

After the first incident (via ResetEra), on 1st November compLexity Gaming confirmed it had "been made aware of an inappropriate comment by one of [its] players" and "does not condone intolerance of any kind", reporting it would sanction the player - Andrei "skem" Ong - with a formal reprimand and "maximum fine".

A few days later, in a separate incident, another player - this time Carlo "Kuku" Palad - used the same taunt against a Chinese team. Incensed by the lack of consequence from the tournament organisers and Valve itself, Chinese fans started writing emails and review bombing Dota 2 to get Valve to notice their dissatisfaction at how the incidents were dealt with, adding almost 6,000 negative reviews to Dota 2's Steam page since 7th November.

On 9th November, Xu "BurNIng" Zhilei - a professional Dota 2 player and coach - publicly shared an email exchange purportedly from Valve's Erik Johnson. In it, Johnson said (thanks for the translation, r/WhoIsEarthshaker): "Valve does not support racist language between pro players in any form. We fully agree with you and fans in China that this is very offensive and inappropriate. The player involved has been punished and fined by his organization, and has issued an apology regarding his remarks. We think the player is sincere in his apologies and regrets his actions. We also apologize on his behalf for the pain this has caused fans."

In further discussion, Zhilei asked Johnson to confirm if Valve was willing to intervene with racist conduct if the event organisers - or the team itself - did not, particularly if the player was "well-known". Erik purportedly replied that pro players "have [a] huge impact on the growth of Dota 2" and Valve would indeed "involve" itself.

Yesterday, on 10th November, Valve finally formally responded to the incidents.

"We've always had an approach of letting the players be themselves, and to express themselves freely. That's how it's always been for a long time. However, we also expect pro players to understand that they represent the Dota community regardless of where they are. Words carry a lot of meaning. Some people may not agree or understand why certain words are harmful, but it doesn't make it any less so to those on the receiving end. The language used by multiple players over the last week has caused many of our fans a lot of pain and is not behavior that we condone."

"We've been spending the past few days talking to various pro players and community leaders about this," Valve adds. "From all the interactions we've seen over the years, we know that deep down professional players respect each other immensely. However, we want to be very clear that Valve will not tolerate racist language between pro players in any form.

"We think it is really damaging to the entire Dota community whenever even a single professional player uses discriminatory language. It pits fans against each other, belittles and demeans entire groups and makes them feel like they are not as important. Going forward, we expect all teams who participate [sic] our tournaments to hold its players accountable, and be prepared to follow up with strong punishments when players represent Dota and its community poorly."

You can read in the statement in its entirety on the official Dota 2 blog.