Dom Sacco shares his thoughts on what we can learn from one of the most childish and unnecessarily dramatic series of events in UK esports.
Last month, epic.LAN 21 took place at the Kettering Conference Centre – and all seemed well at first.
I interviewed Epic MD Jon “winbar” Winkle one week before the event and we had a good chat about the LAN’s history, which tournaments were coming up as well as the karaoke party and people getting pied in the face for charity.
Towards the end of LAN, and for a few weeks following it, UK CSGO scene Twitter pages seemed to become entrenched in some kind of bizarre ongoing drama specially reserved for gutter publications such as The Sun or The Daily Sport. (I would say don’t even think about comparing them to ENUK but I’m on holiday right now so I don’t really care and won’t see your comments anyway)!
Honestly, the UK League of Legends scene has nothing on this sh*t. And believe me that really is saying something.
It all blew up around June 20th, some tweets came out suggesting an amateur CSGO player had cheated at LAN (no, not that kind of cheating, no scripts or aim bot programmes. Cheating as in cheating on a partner).
Other claims emerged of underage drinking and drinks being spiked.
Days and days and days of hearsay, wild accusations and arguing. Petty squabbling, back and forth. People started making memes about it and speaking as if they had all the facts. Some nasty, abusive tweets were made. Many tweets were deleted. Twitter accounts were made private. Those who chose sides were attacked.
It was honestly all-in-all one big fiesta fit for Jeremy Kyle.
“I’m not sure the amateur scene ever will grow up. It’s full of kids, teenagers who are doing crazy sh*t while they’re away from their parents for the weekend at LAN.”
For once I’m not going to name names. I don’t want to dig this all up again, point fingers when there is no hard proof, and start people flaming one another again. I don’t know the full ins and outs and I don’t want to – I don’t care.
The purpose of this article is not to cover a drama story (it’s too old now to be news anyway) – it’s to offer my opinion on the whole debacle and how it makes UK esports look.
I don’t need to say it makes UK esports look unprofessional, childish and immature. You know that already.
My point is, I’m not sure the amateur scene ever will grow up. It’s full of kids, teenagers who are doing crazy sh*t while they’re away from their parents for the weekend at LAN. This kind of thing has happened forever and will continue to happen. Teenagers will experiment, try new things and rebel.
Ask your mum or dad or grandparent whether they bought and drank alcohol under the age of 18. Even just trying a little bit. They will probably say they didn’t.
They’re quite possibly lying.
I embarrassingly followed the ‘grunger’ trend as a teenager in the early noughties; I was part of that generation that used to hang around in parks at night with their skateboards drinking White Lightning while listening to Limp Bizkit (smh).
Loads of people try a drink or a cigarette or whatever when they’re a teenager. I’m not advocating it, but it happens.
What do you expect to get when you fill a building full of teenagers and other young adults, with a bar and make it a party? It’s not rocket science. The fact it’s a LAN and involves esports tournaments is a side point and not an issue emblematic of esports.
As Jamie Harris, owner of Gamers Apparel and Team XENEX, said:
Young thirsty Kids, not much more to say really.
— Jamie Harris (@Gizmo_GH) June 20, 2017
So the reason I didn’t put ‘the UK esports scene needs to grow up’ in the headline, and instead made it a question, is because I’m honestly not sure it can grow up.
By the time the current crop of 16-year-old UK CSGO kids hit their late ’20s, we’ll have a new breed of Generation-Z players keen to muck about, be children and post crap banter on Twitter.
Esports is popular with young people. That’s unlikely to change. And I don’t want it to, it can be a positive, fun activity.
What I want to see is people remember that Twitter is an open playground. Personal attacks and problems don’t need to go public.
Don’t be a dick. Simple as that, really.
Despite what some of you may think, I honestly don’t enjoy writing sh*t like this. I’m starting to despise it.
Let’s focus on the esports, remove the nastiness and keep the banter, and just have fun.
Of course, if you are looking for a host for a UK esports Jeremy Kyle show, I am open for bookings.
We need a UK CS edition of the Jeremy Kyle Show
— Jasmine Kanuga (@Veracityy_) June 21, 2016
peace out lads pic.twitter.com/9w4Y6jgls0
— Ben Forbes (@draggles) September 8, 2016
‘Rulebreakers are not welcome’ – epic.LAN statement
Of course, accusations of under-age drinking are serious, and event organisers do have measures in place to prevent this.
On that note, we asked Epic MD Jon “winbar” Winkle (pictured left) for a statement.
He told Esports News UK: “We were disappointed to learn of some of the epic21 CSGO community drama, after one of the most closely contested tournaments ever seen at epic.LAN, which should be the real story everyone is talking about after the event.
“For epic21 we increased the external security provision to the highest level of any previous event, at significant cost to us. As always at our events, those aged under 18 are identified through alternative coloured wristbands to prevent them from being directly served at the bar.
“Unfortunately people will always try to get around systems we put in place and cause disruption to the event and put our relationship with the venue and local area at risk. We want to operate a fun and relaxed event for people, but as the event grows it seems some people are keen to cause trouble and abuse the rules.
“That sadly means that we have to continue to spend more on external security in the future, rather than investing money back into the customer improvements for the event, or even prize pools.
“Because of one or two selfish individuals, the whole community ends up suffering. Where there is clear evidence of individuals or groups breaking the rules at our events, they will not be welcomed back in the future so we can focus on those people who want to enjoy epic.LAN and have a great tournament.”
Further reading: ‘Drama can help promote the UK LoL scene, but we need to get better at reaching sponsors’
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.