Just as the drama surrounding Team Singapore at the SEA Games' Valorant tournament reached a conclusion, another problem has arisen from within our local esports scene.
In a now-deleted Twitter post on Sunday (May 14) morning, the team representing Singapore for the upcoming Overwatch World Cup announced a complete overhaul of their roster after conflict arose from within.
"We are kicking everyone off the team," the post by the team's official account read. "Gg (Good game)."
The Overwatch World Cup is a global, high-tier tournament for Overwatch 2, a five-versus-five first-person shooter game by Activision Blizzard.
Team Singapore, also known as the Crimson Manes, consisted of many of the best Overwatch 2 players in Singapore. They were set to take part in the tournament that would see them facing off against competition from across the world beginning in June.
However, that may no longer be the case for these aspiring talents.
The team's social media manager Ryan "rXis" Tan — who was also behind the rogue tweet on the official Twitter account — shared in a TwitLonger post: "One month before the tournament… We have no roster, no head coach and no players who want to play for the team anymore."
Trouble in paradise
According to Ryan, their troubles first surfaced in early May when one of their players Manfred "Lumi" Sit purportedly wasn't allowed to participate due to being "in bad standing" with Activision Blizzard following a ban due to toxicity.
Two other players, Timotheus "Bubblekitty" Yeo and Figo "Azalea" Chua, left due to reasons unspecified in Ryan's TwitLonger post. The remaining roster included Joshua "Sgy" Lim, Marcus "Kame" Kwa and Kim "Overshake" Do-hoon.
A new roster fielding Joshua, Marcus and Do-hoon was proposed over the past week and "seemingly agreed upon" by Ryan and the team's general manager Maya "Ladydeath" Mikazuki.
However, after the new lineup's first practice session, Maya privately informed Joshua and Marcus that they were being removed from the team because of their toxicity, Ryan added in his post.
Ryan wrote in his TwitLonger: "As someone who previously said all decisions had to be done with the team and that she 'valued' transparency, she made this decision between herself and the head coach Seetoh 'JohnGalt' Jian Qing.
"I, a committee member, was not aware of this decision at all."
He added: "In the week leading up to this, she lied to me about allowing the new roster we formed to play and completely left me in the dark… None of the players knew about this either.
"Imagine getting a chance to play on the World Cup team just for two of your most experienced teammates to get kicked."
He went on to claim that although Manfred, Joshua and Marcus did get heated during practice, they were also the most serious members on the team who gave their all in their games.
In addition, the trio also allegedly helped provide opportunities for other members to learn, such as through reviewing gameplay, offering advice and giving them a chance to play against stronger opponents.
"I do acknowledge they did not treat their teammates as well as they could have, however frustrations were definitely understandable," Ryan said.
"I believe the World Cup is a stage where you represent your country to shed light on a scene which might not often be in the spotlight, and you would try your best to do well, cause upsets and prove yourselves."
Down the rabbit hole
However, Reddit comments suggest that Manfred wasn't just toxic to his team, but also to other players online.
"Every time I run into this dude in ranked (online competitive matches) it's a f*****g toxic s**t-ride, we lose two fights and he goes on a toxic rampage and tells me to kill myself," a comment stated.
Another comment also claimed that Manfred's account had been "silenced" several times before, which is a soft ban imposed by Blizzard when players are reported multiple times for abusive chat.
One comment also said: "I've met him once in a competitive game, the only outstanding interaction I remember was him being toxic, but no real brilliant [skill] observed."
Marcus also allegedly took potshots at other members of the team.
In an expletive-filled Twitter tirade, Marcus accused the other half of the team, excluding Joshua and Manfred, of playing Path of Exile — a completely separate game — during practice.
He then added that the assistant coaches didn't commit to practice and that the goals of gameplay reviews were "never met at all".
"Yes, we are a**h***s, and the way we expressed ourselves was inappropriate. But you all don't even make an effort to show us we are improving as a team. What's the f*****g point?"
Playing to win or playing for fun?
Another issue raised by Ryan — and perhaps one of the root causes of the conflict — was simply that the team allegedly had different objectives in mind when taking part in the World Cup.
Head coach Jian Qing's direction for the team "wasn't to win, but to have fun", Ryan claimed, because he was at a "different stage of life" and his priorities no longer include the esports scene.
Jian Qing, 29, was previously the assistant coach for the Los Angeles Gladiators and head coach for the Washington Justice, two teams in the Overwatch League, the highest tier of competition in Overwatch 2.
"My opinion is that if one side is trying harder, and the other is not, I would favour the side that is trying harder," Ryan posited in his TwitLonger. "To me, the World Cup is an opportunity to represent the best of your country's skill and not for fun and games.
"The joy comes from improving together and qualifying, not playing 'for fun' with no intention of qualifying and not putting in your best."
He added, addressing Jian Qing's direction for Singapore's Overwatch 2 team: "Jian Qing wants to build a team 'for fun', in an event where you are supposed to represent your country and showcase the best talents in your nation.
"Tell me about one national athlete who goes to the Olympics for fun. Does it make sense?"
Ryan has also begun a petition to change the general manager of the Crimson Manes.
'A really hostile environment'
Summarising the situation in comments on Reddit, Crimson Manes head coach Jian Qing asserted: "Three players in our roster were being incredibly toxic to the rest of our team.
"One screamed at our teammates when they made mistakes, another kept calling his teammate 'delusional d*g***t' and the third was also really toxic. This happened despite multiple warnings."
These three players caused the other half of the team to be very unhappy, he claimed, and both he and Maya received feedback that it was a "really hostile environment".
"The reason they shared [their concerns] with the GM and me was because they really didn't want to spend more time outside team practice with the three toxic players," Jian Qing said.
"I will add that the three toxic players were hardworking and passionate; I don't want to take that away from them. They were just… really, really toxic to their other four teammates.
"We discussed our options with Blizzard and proceeded to remove the three players from the roster," he added.
Jian Qing also indicated that social media manager Ryan is "good friends" with these players and "feels that winning is more important than anything else".
This essentially resulted in Ryan going rogue, changing the password of the official Twitter account and locking other committee members out, he claimed.
Speaking to AsiaOne, Jian Qing stated that the committee was aware that "certain players" on the team had a "history of suspension" in the game, and of being toxic to their past teammates.
Unfortunately, he said, these players continued to verbally abuse their teammates despite warnings from Team Singapore.
"Not one, not two, but three other members of Team Singapore approached the general manager and me separately on the behaviours of the toxic players."
He added: "It's unfortunate that Ryan not only condones the players' toxic behaviours, he also acted unprofessionally by immediately changing the password and account info for the Twitter page for the Singapore team.
"We are currently working with Blizzard and Twitter to retrieve access to that account.
"National team players have two jobs: to be competent, and also to be a role model for the next generation of players that is watching them.
"It's why any big franchised esports league (Valorant, League of Legends etc.) all have background checks on the players joining each team."
He also told AsiaOne: "In my position as the head coach, I was in agreement with the general manager that certain players who were playing created a toxic and hostile practice environment.
"We discussed with Blizzard and decided that the best step was to remove these players. We are currently deciding on the roster moving forward."
Maya has declined to comment.
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