Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dart Monkeys were ‘chilling’ through transphobic incident

During the most recent VCT Game Changers Academy tournament, organized by Galorants, unsigned squad Dart Monkeys had an excellent performance, placing second overall and taking home $500. But that success didn’t come without a bit of drama. During the tournament, a player on the Desire Rising X squad, Taffs, made transphobic comments towards Dart Monkeys during the GCA group stage. Her teammates proceeded to condemn her actions, forfeiting the match out of respect, and Taffs has been banned for three months.

According to Dart Monkeys’ Evelyn “eskay” Hollis, a former Overwatch pro, the incident was actually more confusing than hurtful.

“I think the whole community reaction was a little bit much,” eskay said. “We were like ‘wow, this person is actually serious.’ We weren’t super hurt by it. We were just confused, honestly.”

What this altercation really seemed to reveal was that Galorants and the Game Changers scene run by Riot probably need actual protocols to handle these kinds of situations.

“I don’t know if it had ever happened before, but they didn’t really know what to do when it did,” eskay said. “And it ended up being we kind of solved it for ourselves.”

“They should have protocols in place ready to do what is needed to be done when something like that happens. But we were chilling.”

Galorants is the group of independent, volunteer organizers who help Riot run the Game Changers Academy program, along with other smaller tournaments. After the incident, they released a statement apologizing for where they’ve fallen short and how they plan to improve things going forward.

“Admittedly, we have not been able to keep up with the rapid growth of our community and the evolving needs of our members that have come with it. We’re sorry for those times we’ve fallen short of what the community needed,” the statement says.

“While we can’t promise we’re going to get everything right the first time, we can promise you that we are committed to building up Galorants, the Game Changers scene, and uplifting marginalized genders in esports at large. We will always try our best to listen to our members and serve their needs to the best of our ability. For those times we miss the mark? We ask for constructive feedback and patience. The bottom line is, Galorants is here because of its community, so we can’t do this without help from its members and those involved with it.”

The document addresses other recent issues within the Galorants Discord community and the moderation therein. It also firmly establishes the organization’s stance on transphobia and other forms of discrimination within the community, citing their zero tolerance policy for that kind of behavior. But even with that policy in place, Galorants acknowledges that it didn’t have a protocol in place to deal with something like this.

“While our initial warning was meant to serve as a precautionary measure while Tournament Organizers gathered further information and evidence to support escalating the issue to Riot, our initial warning, as well as our follow up and desired outcome, was poorly communicated to the involved parties,” the statement said.

“After discussions between tournament organizers, leadership, and Riot officials took place, a three month ban from Galorants and VCT Game Changers Academy was issued to the player responsible. This event has highlighted a couple of issues we need to address internally for our tournament administration teams. However, it is also worth noting that all competitive rulings regarding player bans must be escalated to Riot, who has final approval on all such disciplinary actions.”

Though Autumn “nmutua” Morgan still feels that Galorants could handle things once Riot implements franchising into the professional Valorant ecosystem, Dart Monkeys’ coach Rohit “CurryShot” Nathani feels Riot might be better off handling things in-house.

“Like how eskay was talking about protocols and stuff like that, for example, maybe Galorants didn’t have that in place last time,” CurryShot said. “I think Riot could do a good job of putting those in effect, so for me personally, I think having Riot takeover would be really good.”

Though it’s unclear how Game Changers will be handled after Riot implements franchising and larger regional leagues, Galorants’ statement makes it clear that at least for now, Galorants will still be the ones doing verification of gender for teams and outlines the ways the moderation team and administrators are planning to improve things going forward. These changes include increasing moderator engagement with the community through focus groups and additional avenues of communication, detailed clarification of all community rules and guidelines, additional training for moderators and administrators, and review of Galorants promotional material to remove non-inclusive language.

As for Dart Monkeys, chill might be an understatement with their recent performance. After taking second in the Game Changers Academy tournament, they survived through the Game Changers Series II group stage to advance to the Main Event for the second time. They only lost one game during their run through groups – to TSM X – who they’ll be facing in their first match of the Series II Main Event on Wednesday.

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