This article was initially published on r/truetf2.
After the conclusion of Rewind 1, almost 3 years ago now, the Portland Burnsiders put their heads together and produced our first single: “FroYaoTech”. TheCom stepped up to perform a musical cover of “Black Beatles”, Pumodi hosted us at a recording space and was our sound engineer, LeCrum traveled hours just to sing on the track, and old school legend PanzerXIII happened to be around to photograph the event. The track was inspired mainly by three things: FroYoTech’s dominance over the years, Getawhale wandering the Rewind venue singing “That girl is a real crowd pleaser” and the continued top performances from Nursey on medic for FroYoTech. I really enjoyed working on this song, practicing the lyrics, grooving to TheCom’s funky bass version of the beat, singing with the Burnsiders, and getting to share it with others even years after release. Unfortunately, with recent events, listening to the song just isn’t the same anymore.
It’s been a couple weeks since the eXposure of what I think is competitive TF2’s biggest scandal to date. While the news was huge in our community, there hasn’t been much of a continued conversation about it, and I think there are aspects that are very important to discuss.
If you are unsure as to what I’m referring to, there were a few forum threads on TeamFortress.TV started late at night by Ashes and Tambo that contained allegations of predatory behavior by Nursey and others towards underage players. The thread continued with more evidence added and included accusations against BroKing, Viper, and Retrodavid. BroKing breached Invite a long time ago, but only more recently started to break out of the bottom of that tough division. Viper was a low ESEA-IM player who previously went unpunished by ESEA despite major sportsmanship issues with the team he was captain of. RetroDavid is a newer player compared to the others, two seasons in ESEA-IM and several in Open. The decision by the RGL admin team was swift and the following day all four players were banned from RGL indefinitely. The bans were phrased as being for the following reasons: "Breaking RGL's player conduct stance by interacting with minors in inappropriate and sexually suggestive ways.” Nursey and RetroDavid’s had an additional sentence: "Soliciting images from a minor.” RGL and the other organizations, such as Champ.GG and UGC, who issued similar bans, should be commended for their firm stance on this matter.
This scandal is sad and disappointing in many ways. First and foremost, the behavior itself is disgusting and reprehensible. These individuals were preying on vulnerable youth and really should have known better than to engage in the behavior they did. Whether any of the individuals engaged in criminal behavior is for an attorney to decide, but it is clear their behavior has no place in our community.
Nursey was someone who I had considered a friend due to years of acquaintance. I casted Nursey in many UGC games and got to see her growth as a medic in that format and in 6s. Such a thing doesn’t eXist, but she had a career worthy of a spot in the TF2 Hall of Fame. Had. She doesn’t have the spot or the career anymore. While she issued an apology letter and accepted her punishment, I felt like she didn’t fully address the depths of her infringements. As such, I removed her from my friends list and unfollowed her private twitter. I wish her the best in terms of solving what she admitted was problematic behavior and finding a new hobby besides TF2 or Smash. It’s sad to lose a friend and disappointing to see such a talented player throw away their career but the potential damages from the predatory behaviors displayed by Nursey, BroKing, Viper, and RetroDavid are much worse.
Abuse and predatory behavior have been major systematic problems in traditional sports, such with the USA Gymnastics organization, the USA Swimming organization, and the Ohio State Athletic Department. There have been other stories in esports, YouTube gaming communities, and TF2 itself, that involve popular figures leveraging their status to aggressively creep on underage community members that look up to them. This incident surely can’t be the first time this sort of behavior has been present in the competitive TF2 community, and a similar issue is unfortunately likely to occur again in the future. Moving forward we have to eXamine what organizers can do differently to ensure the safety of their players online and at events.
Players need to be mindful of the fact that as they mature alongside this community, there are other players whose journey is just starting that are adolescents. I was 25 when I joined the competitive community 11 years ago. Having already been a collegiate rowing coach for two years there was already a clear line in my mind of behaviors that would be inappropriate to discuss or engage in with random online acquaintances. When it comes to the competitive TF2 community, players should be limiting conversations about seXual activity or drug use to close friends. Competitive TF2 is like all-ages basketball at a YMCA, both topics would be clearly inappropriate to discuss on the court. Any player on a team has to be cognizant that their behavior reflects upon themselves, their team, and the community. Behavior like this or drug fueled debauchery has the potential to endanger not just a player’s career, but entire leagues and events.
Maintaining a professional tone at LAN events is also important. I enjoy a good after-party, but have had my share of concerns at such events. Sometimes it’s just been hushing people in hotels but other times have been more serious. There were issues around drunken behavior at Rewind 1 that could have lead to Rewind 2 not happening, and while it was better controlled in some ways, there was also drunken behavior at Rewind 2 that probably didn’t help Rewind 3 happen. In Europe, there used to be an event called DeutschLAN where Highlander teams would each rent out a chalet in a ski resort for a weekend. Sounded like a cool event and one I wanted to attend, but again, past tense. As it was told to me, someone got too drunk and while semi-or-not-conscious in the shower, they left the water running and caused eXtensive damage to the house. No more DeutschLAN. I have had one eXperience at a LAN that left me feeling uncomfortable and questioning whether I stood up for myself enough; I dread to think about what others might have had happen to them. For the safety of our players and for maintaining the support we do have from eXisting events, organizers need to maintain the professionalism of their staff at events and make sure any associated after parties are reasonably safe for attendees.
There is one final aspect of this incident that I want to discuss: FroYoTech. The squad led by b4nny has been the most dominant team in North American TF2 since before they were even FroYoTech. The team has been well supported by the competitive community in terms of merchandise sales, Twitter followers, and various fundraising campaigns over the years. While b4nny’s personality has been controversial, the team as a whole hasn’t been without controversy either. There was the time a community contribution of over a thousand dollars was pulled because of racist behavior from a FroYo player and another incident with transphobic slurs. I wasn’t keen on how FroYo handled the first incident I mentioned, but b4nny was apologetic and took the issue seriously. In the latter incident, b4nny seemed to be making light of people’s concerns over it on twitter and I called him out on it. I had a private discussion with another member of FroYoTech and my main issue was that FroYo wasn’t upfront with how they handled the discipline. I shared my concerns with the other players about how this incident reflected on FroYoTech and would harm their ability to obtain sponsors. I can’t tell you whether b4nny wants to be considered a community leader or not, and I don’t know what the ambitions are for the FroYoTech brand, but the fact of the matter is that the results he’s accomplished over the years have inherently put him and FroYoTech in a spot where they need to lead the community by way of eXample.
While b4nny holds no responsibilities for Nursey’s actions, he does have a responsibility as the leader of FroYoTech to eXplain to the community what happened and what his team plans to do moving forward to make sure they don’t end up with another player on their team, using their status to prey on minors. I’m interested in FroYoTech stance as an organization and b4nny’s stance as an individual, because literally the week before the news about Nursey came out b4nny made a tasteless joke on his twitter regarding the concerns that were raised at TwitchCon regarding how drinks were served and the potential for people to be roofied. Getawhale succinctly called him out on it, and as far as I know, b4nny never responded to people’s concerns over his “humor”.
There are serious questions about this incident that FroYoTech needs to address. When did b4nny find out about these allegations and did he look into their authenticity? Was FroYoTech considering to punish Nursey before RGL and others laid down their bans? Did b4nny speak with Nursey before the RGL ban or since? Was there ever worrisome behavior that was witnessed by other people on FroYoTech? Does b4nny think the punishment from RGL was fair? Is Nursey still rostered due to technical issues or would she be welcomed back if the ban was lifted? What is FroYoTech doing to ensure that such an incident doesn’t happen in the future? Is Shade a temporary replacement or back for a while?
Some of these might seem irrelevant, but speaking for myself what the answers were would change how I would view FroYoTech. Their silence certainly hasn’t helped my opinion of the team.
To be fair, Meat Market should also issue a statement discussing what happened with BroKing. While an emerging brand in TF2, they don’t have a Twitter account or a long-standing relationship with the community. If they do plan to continue, their leadership should clear the air and underline that such behavior is unacceptable in the community.
It was disappointing for me that b4nny stayed quiet and didn’t tweet in support of i65 in the leadup to the event, it’s sickening to me that FroYoTech and him are trying to act like this never happened. The FroYoTech brand has unlimited potential, but with this sort of behavior they’re looking un-sponsorable. Despite their continued results in game, their lack of professionalism in this incident has completely destroyed FroYoTech and b4nny’s ability to act as community leaders.
“FroYaoTech” is coming off constant repeat and going back on the shelf. I believe TF2 is in a great spot right now and I’m eXcited for its growth. As I stated earlier, this incident has been disappointing in a lot of ways. However, this has started good conversations and everyone wants to work together to make sure our community is safe for newcomers.
Thanks for reading.
Editor's Note: The views presented in this article are those solely of the author. The opportunity for further opinion articles may be offered in the future upon request.