People are speaking out against toxicity, but aren’t we a bit too hard on the young players?
Many professional Rocket League players are young and competitive. This great combination often comes with a nasty side effect: toxicity. It’s not always pretty when people show their toxic side, but is what we see the whole story? Do we judge too quickly? We take a look at AztraL in particular.
AztraL's 'toxic' attitude
The Dignitas roster in RLCS Season 9 didn’t give the impression it was going to last. The results were still very good, finishing in third-fourth place in Madrid and winning the Season 9 Regional Championships the next season. The team chemistry, however, seemed to be lacking. It’s hard to see that from the outside sometimes, but Dignitas gave us all the opportunity to look behind the scenes. ViolentPanda published a series of comms videos on his YouTube channel, where you can hear the players communicate as they’re focused on the match.
During one specific video, ViolentPanda, Yukeo and AztraL all sound frustrated. Mostly Yukeo and AztraL calling out each other’s mistakes, while ViolentPanda and coach Virge try to keep everyone focused on winning the games. AztraL sighs like they already lost the series in the first game. When Virge asks him to get involved and pick up his energy, AztraL just says “no thanks”. The attitude people saw in this video came back to haunt him.
AztraL's side of the story
AztraL didn’t get kicked from the team, he wanted to leave. On his stream he explains that he didn’t enjoy playing on the Dignitas roster anymore. He didn’t like the playstyle of the team but, he stresses, there was nothing going on with ViolentPanda or Yukeo outside of the game. On top of that, AztraL heard from Alpha54 how great it was to play with an all-French team, and he wanted that too. When he got the chance to replace Fruity, he was immediately interested. He had something to say about the comms videos too:
"I know I got a lot of hate and I have a lot of haters right now. Every time I say something, they bring back the comms video, and it’s actually tilting me. It’s annoying. But the thing you don’t know is that in the comms video, most of the time I’m the guy who shows his frustration. But you don’t know what’s really happening because the video is cut. They show when I’m tilted, but when it’s the others there’s nothing. So there is some inside information that no one knows."
And now people are using his toxic comments against him. AztraL now often comes across people who use it as a joke: if AztraL misses or loses, he’s going to sigh. People in Twitch chat spam ‘YEP sigh’ when AztraL is playing.
Please, it’s not funny. Okay, you do the joke one time, it’s fine. But since literally the first comms video, every time I see my name somewhere, there is this joke. I know I did some bad stuff, I’m not saying I did nothing wrong. I shouldn’t do that and I know it. It was difficult to control my frustration. And I’m really sorry about that, for everyone, for my team.
Maybe we're too quick to judge
It’s impossible to tell what exactly happened and whether it’s fair to blame bad team chemistry on one person. All we know for sure is that AztraL is an incredibly competitive player with a heated personality. Maybe that’s what helps him to stay at the top. When the competition is as fierce as it is, you need the drive to always be the best. It seems only logical that frustrations can run high when it matters most. Johnnyboi’s 1v1 tournament is called the Salt Mine for a reason: the players try everything in their power to win, and sometimes get salty when they lose.
AztraL now has a reputation for being toxic and salty and it means he has to deal with haters. It’s likely he’s just unfortunate enough to have this side of him brought into the spotlights. Other players might have outbursts just as bad or even worse than AztraL, but if they manage to keep it hidden from the public eye, they get away with it.
A player that might be in this position is Firstkiller. Recently, Gyro called out Firstkiller on Twitter, saying that he is ‘the most immature and egotistical player in the RL scene’. That tweet is now deleted. It goes to show that many things stay hidden for the average viewer. It’s easy to judge but it’s difficult to know if it’s justified.
Being rude to people online doesn't take effort. Cyberbullying is still an issue in gaming and elsewhere. It’s hard to understand what it does to someone. AztraL is only 17 years old and has a lot to endure. Calling out toxic behaviour might help these young players if it keeps them from going on like that or prevents it from getting out of hand, but we can go too far and cause more harm than good.
Image via ZeeboDesigns