I ask you to hear me out not because Xj9 is a good person or a good player but because now is when the community consensus about Xj9 and the Lyte Smite hangs on a knife’s edge and a momentary suspense of past resentments can change how players are evaluated as an asset or harm to the community. I’m not speaking because of any personal desire to see Xj9 welcomed back, and personally I think he’s an abomination of a person. But I think the repercussions of banning Xj9 again outweigh the positives.
Reddit loves to rant about how the American prison system fails to rehabilitate prisoners and just creates people who are permanently aligned against the state and the police, and how other countries (especially Scandinavian countries) focus on treating crime like a disease and looking for a cure, which helps people reintegrate into society instead of needing to be isolated from society. I’m not taking either side of the prison debate but I just hope you can use the example as a lens to be open-minded about a certain League player.
Xj9 is the poster-boy for neckbeard anger and the worst of the League of Legends community. Emotionally unstable, narcissistic, with a mercurial temperament to match his emotions, he fulfills every negative gaming stereotype. I half expect him to stream from a dimly lit basement coated in Doritos dust. However, keeping him banned holds Xj9 in permanent stasis. He will always be the toxic player that brought the community a bad name. So long as he is banned, there is no chance to take a negative story about League of Legends and give it a positive ending.
I hope everyone reading this is thinking, “like hell he’s gonna change, he hasn’t even ever apologize for being a disgusting son of a bitch.” Good, because I’m not asking you to be overly naive about him. If I was, I’d be putting this is /r/leagueofmemes for some of that sexy satire karma.
There are three distinct benefits to unbanning Xj9:
a) He brings an innovative mind to the game. I don’t think anyone can say he didn’t fundamentally change the jungle role, and for the better. Would League be as fun without the carry jungle style? No, it wouldn’t be and I don’t think it’s in Riot’s interest to keep the player who made the game evolve into something more fun banned. Carry jungling is healthy in the same way changing supports to be more than roaming-ward-machines was, and you can see how much of an impact that had on the game from competetive play to even the jungle items designed after the farm style became popular. Meteos is maybe the most prominent legacy of Xj9, and he breathed life into the North American jungle scene. Without a doubt he is one of my favorite players to watch both in competitive matches and on stream because he does so damn much with the resources he can snatch.
b) Xj9 could be a redemption story for riot. As it stands he is crystalized as an example of why League is a sausage fest of neckbeards – that was above. Unbanning him will either force the Xj9 apologists to shut up when he is toxic and banworthy again or he won’t be toxic and will be a productive part of the community. Everything I am writing can be summed up as: parole Xj9, because he either will prove he should be banned by being toxic or he will have reformed and put out decent content (e.g. the guides he does, which actually aren’t bad). The current handling of Xj9 opens the door for the Richard Lewises of the world to smear Riot for being ‘unfair’ in their reform programs, doing things like letting incarnati0n change but still keeping Xj9 banned, ie. being biased towards pros and saying ‘screw it’ to the everday players. I DO NOT THINK RIOT HAS THAT MENTALITY and I don’t think the incarnati0n / Xj9 comparison is apt but it’s an easy example to leverage against Riot and there is little to no cost to unbanning him.
c) Think of him as a person not a problem. You have to give it to him, Xj9 loves League of Legends. Like, the game is his bread and butter, he has all but defined himself around him gameplay and I wouldn’t be surprised if he fantasized about being Hecarim half his waking hours. Banning him every time he reaches high elo on a new account just makes playing miserable for him instead of preventing him from playing in the first place. THERE IS NO DISCERNABLE NEGATIVE TO UNBANNING HIM BECAUSE HE IS PLAYING ANYWAY. The only difference between having him banned and unbanned is whether he can stream or not, because he is going to be playing the game with or wthiout riot’s permission. Having him stream is a positive because it adds some regulation – he has to be careful, or he loses that privilege. Giving him that privilege gives Riot leverage over him instead of the other way round, because instead of Riot being the powerless ‘ban him occassionally but can’t stop him from playing’ Xj9 will attempt to work within Riot’s rules so he can keep streaming and become well known. He wants nothing more than to be loved by the community, as proven by about a year of facebook posts.
I think Xj9 has shown progress – his work with Supa Hot Crew shows that and I would love to hear LS how he was able to help and what his attitude was. LS was quoted saying: “What he did was severely immature. What he did was bad. There’s no denying that. Speaking with him, he acknowledges that. He was stupid and the choices that he made were idiotic. We can’t excuse the things he did.” I think that’s an incredibly rational approach: we can’t excuse what he did, but we also have to be open to him changing and to some degree, growing up. Instead of forcing him to grow up by the wayside unable to show the community he is improved we should let him back into the game where he will have to prove to an incredibly skeptical group of gamers that he isn’t the same person who went berserk when his girlfriend played Lee Sin.
TL;DR – Xj9 was/is a bad person, and the best way to test whether he still is a bad person is unbanning him and following his actions like a parolee from prison. It’s a no cost solution because Riot will be able to very legitimately ban him again indefinitely if he shows negative tendencies, and the community will benefit if he doesn’t.
Ninja edit: sources will be in the comments actually, still compiling.