The event in Austin featured a number of great storylines: Veteran Keaton “Chakki” Gill won his first major event and it was the first international event of the new Standard meta. But those stories, and many others, were dwarfed by the torrent of racism in chat whenever runner-up Terrence Miller played.
Users in Twitch chat often create a toxic and inhospitable environments for minorities. But this was one of the most concentrated and high profile esports cases to date. And Blizzard has taken notice.
“We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last.” Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said in a statement. “One of our company values is ‘Play Nice; Play Fair’; we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community.”
Morhaime went on to say that Blizzard has reached out to players, streamers and community members, as well as Twitch and tournament organisers like DreamHack, to investigate ways to combat this during esports events moving forward.
The statement also claimed that Twitch is currently working on ways to “streamline moderation and combat ban evasion.” Blizzard will also be updating its rules for tournament sanctioning to include a responsibility to combat toxicity in Twitch chat.
This isn’t the first time that Morhaime has taken a public stance on online harassment. At Blizzcon 2014, he used part of his opening speech to take a stance against harassment within the gaming community related to the Gamer Gate movement.