The North American multi-video game eSports organization Cloud9 said goodbye to one of its Dota 2 players last night, and the parting doesn’t sound too amicable. The Dota 2 team kicked out a player with the username “Ritsu” a little over a week after rumors began to surface alleging that he’d leaked another team’s strategies.
Allegations against Ritsu began to surface last week on Twitter and Reddit (as pretty much all eSports drama does) when fellow Dota 2 pro Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao tweeted an image purporting to show online chat records of the C9 player leaking information and data about scrimmages C9 played with rival North American team Digital Chaos.
Top Dota 2 teams, like many top eSports teams, scrimmage against fellow pros before actually playing in tournaments against each other. This is a common practice that’s mostly intended to let teams practice against similarly-skilled peers. Sharing information about another team’s strategies or techniques is considered illegitimate, if not strictly illegal or against the rules of a specific tournament.
The rumors about Ritsu suggested that he was disseminating information about DC in an attempt to undercut them from qualifying the upcoming Dota 2 tournament The Summit 4, which takes place next month in Los Angeles. Cloud9 didn’t reference anything specific about Ritsu’s behavior in its statement announcing his departure last night other than to say vaguely that “the indiscretions of his past inevitably lead towards this outcome,” and that his “out-of-game conduct was consistently unbecoming of a professional player” (emphasis added):
Effective immediately, [Ritsu] has been dismissed from the Cloud9 DOTA2 roster. Today’s elimination from DOTA’s first ever Major, while unfortunate, held no bearing on [Ritsu’s] removal from the roster. In light of this decision, Cloud9 Captain, Theeban “1437” Siva, shared his thoughts on the dismissal.
“Ritsu’s performance on the roster was better than I expected and while I will miss having him around as a friend and teammate, the indiscretions of his past inevitably lead towards this outcome. His recent efforts to improve his behavior came too late and following our elimination from the Major, it was determined that Cloud9 was no longer the place for him to be.”
Alongside Theeban’s comment, Cloud9’s General Manager, Danan Flander, spoke shortly about the sudden removal of [Ritsu’s] from the DOTA2 team.
“Events preceding the attendance of the Frankfurt Major weighed heavily on both Ritsu and Cloud9 as an organization. His out-of-game conduct was consistently unbecoming of a professional player and although he began taking steps to change himself and how he interacted with the DOTA2 competitive community, his past indiscretions combined were too much for Theeban, myself, and the rest of the organization to overlook moving towards the next Major.”
Before beginning his journey back home, [Ritsu] wanted to share his thoughts about his time at Cloud9.
“While it’s coming to a bittersweet end, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the guys at Cloud9. I made a consistent effort leading up to and during the Major to improve my behavior and felt that I was making progress. I feel that my play and behavior at the Major were both acceptable, but the conclusion Cloud9 drew in removing me isn’t something I can fault them for. In the end, I’m happy I had the opportunity to attend two LANS, participate in my first Major, and work with Theeban, Brax, MSS, and SVG.”
The timing of Ritsu’s departure is convenient for Cloud9, which was eliminated from the ongoing Frankfurt Major tournament right before it made the news about Ritsu leaving public.
Editor’s note 7/7/21: Per Ritsu’s request, some identifying details have been removed. Ritsu tells Kotaku that, in the years since the publication of this article, they have grown and learned from the experience to a degree that the actions described here, while true, no longer reflect Ritsu as a person. Ritsu says they were “not in a good place mentally due to stress from academics, being bullied, and general teenage [edginess.]”