Booing is a common occurrence on the terraces of traditional sports stadiums, though are generally an unfamiliar spectacle within the relatively infant scene of competitive eSports. Ahead of the 2016 World Championship Quarter Final between Korea’s Samsung Galaxy and home favourites, Cloud9, Samsung’s players found themselves on the receiving end of boos and jeers upon their introduction to the stage – they quickly silenced the disrespectful crowd however.
The booing witnessed in Chicago has certainly caused a stir within the League of Legends community. There were faint boos when each member of the Samsung roster was introduced individually, in addition to the more significant heckling voiced upon the team’s entrance to the stage.
The boos were likely the result of the Korean side playing the against the last remaining North American team in the tournament, having contributed to Team SoloMid’s early exit in the group stages.
The crowd reaction has split the community down the middle: a number of fans at the event have suggested it is within their rights as sports fans,- vocalising their support for the home team by attempting to intimidate the opposition – whilst other viewers and pro-players have voiced their disappointment at the disrespectful actions of the NA fans:
Regardless of wherever I played, Korea, Europe, etc we always got cheered on. It’s just the polite thing to do.
— Hai Lam (@Hai) 13 October 2016
Seeing foreign teams being boo’d makes me sad. Cheer for your favorite team, don’t drag down their opponents.
— Søren Bjerg (@Bjergsen) 13 October 2016
I miss the crowd in France from last year.
They cheered for everyone and seemed genuinely happy just to be there.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) 13 October 2016
After the crowd reaction, I hope C9 loses all three games in under 30 minutes.
And I hope the Cubs get destroyed.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) 13 October 2016
Ultimately, Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles got his wish. Cloud9 were slaughtered on the rift by Samsung Galaxy in what is surely one of the most one-sided quarter finals in the history of the tournament. The American crowd were quickly silenced, obnoxious “USA” chants were dampened by stomp after stomp until the 3-0 was complete. By the end of the evening, the only noise echoing through the Chicago theatre was the faint cheers from the handful of Samsung Galaxy fans who had slipped through the gates.
SSG AD Carry Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk, who dominated the bottom lane in each game, later claimed that the boos barely affected the Korean roster:
“I think it was a worthy experience to me,
“It was really weird to get booed at some point and also get cheered on later, so I think it was a good experience.”
Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk
The Samsung players may well not have been particularly bothered by the booing – they’re professionals after all – but eSports is at a point in it’s timeline where it needs to decide what kind of sporting event it wants to be.
Frankly, the argument that traditional sports (football, basketball etc) generally accept booing and thus so should eSports, simply doesn’t hold water within the context of a World Championship.
Within a typical stadium atmosphere, you boo your local rivals and visiting teams, the entire spectacle typically takes place in-country, where everyone understands the culture. On an international level, to boo during another team’s national anthem for example, is considered very disrespectful. Booing an international competitor is rude, classless, and shows that the people who are moaning about ‘soft-fans’ or that ‘eSports needs to toughen up’ are blind to the differences in game etiquette.
You don’t boo at a League of Legends World Championship – the sporting culture is not the same as that at a local football game. That a section of the North American audience decided to boo a team from another country at an international event – that is as much about uniting the various regions in competition as it is about challenging each other – is like booing a foreign athlete at the Olympic games.
“So of course we didn’t expect as many cheers as C9, but getting booed at by the crowd, it definitely motivated us to play even better.
“We were actually really, really ‘burnt-up’ to play even better after that incident happened.”
Yongin “CoreJJ” Jo
It’s not a reflection on Cloud9, for whom the crowd reaction was obviously out of their control, but there was certainly a sense of justice watching Samsung Galaxy mercilessly take the hopes of the disrespectful crowd, and put them firmly in the dirt.