Camaraderie and Conflict: How to Encourage Good Sportsmanship in Esports

Posted on May 30, 2023 by Riley Cashly

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The esports sector is gradually becoming more accepted by the masses. In 2022, esports took pride of place alongside traditional events at the Commonwealth Games. In 2023, The Olympic Esports Series will cap off with an in-person final in Singapore. While investment in esports is growing and audience figures continue to rise, competitive gaming is still a markedly different beast than conventional sports. Good sportsmanship and player etiquette might seem like alien concepts, but they’re an important part of esports competition. 

What’s Expected from Professional Esports Players? 

Although the esports sector is growing rapidly, it’s still an emerging market. As such, it’s taken a while for organizers to regulate the industry. Nonetheless, expectations from players are pretty high. Performance-boosting medications and illicit substances are heavily frowned upon, but not every organization actively tests players for them. This presents a problem as several high-profile esports stars have reported that abuse of over-the-counter medication is rife within the competitive gaming community. 

Organizers need to get a handle on issues like this quickly. The use of illicit substances not only gives one side an unfair advantage but also jeopardizes sponsorship deals and financial investment from outside sources. While many S-Tier teams are backed by nine-figure investments, this capital could quickly fall away if players fail to maintain a squeaky-clean image. 

The Problem of Match Fixing 

Match fixing is hardly new. It’s been around for centuries and continues to be a problem for sports like boxing and soccer. However, it’s also permeated the world of esports. Even top-tier organizations like Team Dignitas have become embroiled in match-fixing scandals. In 2014, Dignitas and Team Curse were disqualified from the Major League Gaming Summer Championship for colluding to alter the outcome of a match in the tournament finals. After an investigation, it was discovered that both teams had agreed to end the match in a draw and share the prize money equally. 

While few major teams have been tarnished by match-fixing dramas since then, it’s still a problem. Valve banned Newbee, a Dota 2 team, back in 2021 after they were revealed to have been involved in match-fixing the previous year. Many solo players have also ruined their careers, with South Korean stars like Lee “Life” Seung Hyun being one of the most shocking examples. The youngest was convinced by representatives from a betting syndicate to throw a series of StarCraft II matches at the World Championship. He pocketed around $60,000 for his involvement, although he ended up having to pay the same amount in fines after being discovered. He also received a suspended jail sentence and a lifetime ban from participating in professional esports. 

Examples of Good Sportsmanship in Esports

While organizers have clamped down on match-fixing, unsavory sponsorship deals, and dubious behavior in recent years, it’s often left to players themselves to set the tempo for good sportsmanship. In 2019, South Korean gamer, Bae “Knee” Jae-Min bridged the cultural device when he flew out to Pakistan to meet with fellow Tekken players after coming up against opponents from the country alone. His visit was met with applause from the Pakistani gaming community, with many local players welcoming him at the arrivals hall. 

In 2018, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyljev showed just what a good sport he is at the ESL ONE Cologne. Although he’s often considered one of the best CS:GO players on the planet, s1mple proved he wasn’t a cheat when a reflection on a nearby screen displayed the location of an enemy player. Rather than keep things to himself and steal the advantage, s1mple willingly gave up his own location and voluntarily forfeited the round. 

Looking for more examples of sportsmanship in action? Head to for the latest LoL tournament fixtures to follow your favorite teams.

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