Team SoloMid imposes media ban to focus on gameplay
Yesterday, Team SoloMid announced they will not give interviews or participate in social media so the team can focus on improving their performance. The move has sparked a fair amount of debate in the esports community, which, despite its pretensions to media maturity, has yet to find common ground between journalists, athletes, and managers.
The moratorium is a suggestion of the team’s new coach, Yoonsub “Locodoco” Choi, who believes the team doesn’t need the distraction as they try and improve on their middling 4-4 record in the League Championship Series.
“In Korea, they also ban players from looking at social media, especially when they’re going through a really rough patch,” explained team owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh. “So that’s why we decided to lay back from doing interviews right now, and really focus on our play, really focus on getting better.”
Dinh made sure to note the decision isn’t a permanent one, and the team may relax the restriction when they feel it prudent. But he also specifically targeted esports news site OnGamers for a more long-lasting reprisal.
In a candid YouTube video titled “Ongamers” Dinh pointed to the talk show Summoning Insight, hosted by OnGamers journalist Duncan “Thorin” Shields, as the reason for his decision. The show has been a lightningrod for criticism, largely in part to the critical style of the show itself.
Alliance top laner Mike “Wickd” Petersen has described the show as “creating content by bashing others,” a view with which Dinh agrees.
Christopher “Montecristo” Mykkles, the coach of Counter Logic Gaming and a cohost of Summoner's Insight, believes that “people who confuse my criticism with bashing have never seen a sports talk show. I critique CLG and all teams as a pro analyst.”
But Dinh doesn’t see it that way.
“Nothing ever comes positive from Summoning Insight and really I just don’t want to work with OnGamers as a brand if they’re going to try and make money off other people’s misfortunes.”
Dinh and Team SoloMid have a long-standing relationship with onGamers journalist Travis Gafford, who started his career by posting interviews on the SoloMid website. But Dinh said he feels “betrayed” after he revealed his media ban to Gafford, who subsequently gave what Dinh believed was privileged information to his co-workers.
“Before I was mainly doing interviews with Travis because of our personal relationship, and I really feel like that bridge has been burned,” he said. “You shouldn’t go out of your way and tell your coworkers to bash me.”
That comes in response to criticism leveled against Dinh and his decision on the latest episode of Summoning Insight. Gafford responded on Reddit, saying it was never his intention for Dinh to be targeted and pointing out that he had to explain to his bosses why he did not interview Team SoloMid after their recent week of play.
“Our content is free for them,” Dinh said. “We specifically go out of our way to give them interviews, even when we’re at tournaments, we make time to give them free interviews where they make money off of us. Why should I provide them our time when only negative things come out of it?”
Mykkles was quick to defend his show on Twitter.
Also, as to Regi's vlog, the trade for giving someone content is promotion. That is why all sports teams talk to the press. It's publicity— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 10, 2014
Sports figures do interviews for free all the time because teams aren't news networks. To say they gain no value is absurd.— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 10, 2014
Finally: the positive aspect of SI is that we can talk about the teams in a more open manner. It's the only thing in LoL not coated in PR.— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 10, 2014
Of course the team owners would prefer to not face criticism, but that doesn't mean it's bad for the eSport. This is absurd.— MonteCristo (@ggCMonteCristo) June 10, 2014
Mykkles also hit a little below the belt, claiming it hypocritical for Dinh to decry Summoning Insight while hiring new coach Choi, who has appeared on the show twice, and whom Mykkles called “one of our most critical guests.”
Screengrab via Team Solomid/YouTube