There are plenty of things that will get you banned in an online game: toxic language, going afk for extended periods of time, even playing poorly enough to impact your teammates. But playing your character in a different way, even when it works?
That’s what happened to “Take The Draw,” a League of Legends player who likes to play Nunu in a support role, as opposed to his usual counter-jungler role. Without getting too much into how LoL roles work, suffice it to say it would be like playing a medic as an attack character or a tank as a sneaky flanker.
The thing is … it worked, at least more often than it failed. Take The Draw has a 53% win rate on Nunu, but that also comes with him being reported for poor play 50% of the time, including when his team won. That was enough to land him a 14-day ban from the game, as he made it “frustrating and ‘unfun'” for his teammates.
But maybe this isn’t totally a case of Riot clamping down on creativity. According to the comments on the Kotaku article reporting this incident, Take The Draw would generally announce his intentions at the start of the match and then offer little to nothing in terms of communication throughout the rest of the match. This left his teammates — who were expecting a certain gameplay style — to fend for themselves. Even if it worked 53% of the time, that could still leave a sour taste in their mouths, enough to report him. According to Player Support Lead WookieeCookie:
But wait! Communication doesn’t stop after you press the Enter button on your keyboard; and that’s where we saw a problem in this particular case. All of us need to be aware of the difference of communicating “with” someone vs. communicating “at” someone. Telling your team what you’re going to do and then ignoring them isn’t really working with them it’s holding them hostage. Telling your team what you want to do and actually working towards a common plan is a central part to playing any team based game.
After some back-and-forth on Reddit, Riot eventually ended Take The Draw’s 14-day ban prematurely. But it does lead to an interesting dilemma: Should players be punished for poor — though non-toxic — communication even if they’ve got a winning though non-traditional strategy? Personally, I don’t think so, but I can see how leaving your teammates high and dry can be frustrating. It’s probably not a cut-and-dry situation, and it’s something WookieeCookie said the LoL team itself is debating.