The Overwatch League has been no stranger to drama and controversy as Blizzard has suspended and fined multiple players. Many of these issues deserved judgment from the Overwatch League, there still was no basis or standard against which to weigh those acts. There were no public documents to check which rules the players had broken.
The league simply stated those players "broke" the players' conduct code and deserved punishment.
Today we release the OWL rulebook. You can download your copy herehttps://t.co/lydK15SOpU— Richard Lewis (@RLewisReports) March 23, 2018
Lewis was one of the first to speak up about the prevailing issue at hand and quickly noticed the lack of information regarding a code of conduct. Players were being charged with breaking unknown rules and the community simply had to trust what Blizzard was saying.
https://t.co/PPy1uPeiLC @RLewisReports is doing amazing work with bringing the OWL code of conduct to light. The fact these growing pains are being covered in rational terms gives me hope for the #OWL. Looking forward to diving into the document for a legal review.— Adam Melrose (@melroseadam) March 20, 2018
Recently, Lewis has been under attack for absurd and tiresome reasons. Despite this affront, he still takes it upon himself to find out the buried truth. No matter what the community says, Lewis helps the entire esports industry by doing what he can to create a more transparent environment. Blizzard has failed the community by not providing an Overwatch League Rulebook from the start and instead keeping it hidden from the public.
This should allow players and fans alike to take a deep look at the Overwatch League and its ability to control the system. Blizzard already decided to ban fans who use certain emotes
One of the most telling parts of the Rulebook is the section on League Office Discipline.
"In order to establish the integrity of the League and preserve its reputation for open and fair competition, the League Office will have the right to impose certain sanctions for violations of the Official Rules. By agreeing to the League Rules, each Team Member and each Owner acknowledges and agrees that (I) he/she/it may be subject to public reprimands, fines, suspensions, debarment, and/or disqualifications imposed by the League Office for the violation of the Official Rules."
Basically, when you sign on the dotted line, any of Blizzard's vague rules can be enforced without any trial or due process. They are the judge, jury, and executioner and there is no opposing power to halt any corruption or oppression of the rules.
No one is saying that xQc's and Taimou's decisions didn't deserve punishment, but there needs to be a fair system put in place. xQc is innocent until proven guilty, and that needs to be established quickly and properly.
This may seem insignificant to many, but Lewis releasing the Overwatch League Rulebook while the OWL refused to make it public is a massive step in the right direction. Even if it's only one person standing in defiance, it should encourage more people to speak out.
The Overwatch League isn't the bogeyman and I'm not saying Blizzard is an evil corporation. We are saying the developer and league need to establish an opposing power to check and balance the league office and create a transparent system for everybody to see.
Photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE