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When hooliganism comes to esports, everyone loses

When hooliganism comes to esports, everyone loses

On Reddit, a salty fan of Cloud9 pointed out that VP fans at Dreamhack Bucharest appeared to be holding up signs reading “THEY ARE A” and “THEY ARE B.” While I’m a plenty salty C9 fan myself, I don’t believe that anyone in the crowd is capable of communicating the right information to teams on stage, nor do I believe the strongest Counter-Strike:Global Offensive team around is going to rely on hastily-scribbled cardboard signs instead of their own instincts and understanding of the map. On the other hand, this is pretty clearly some bad behavior on the part of fans.

The intentions of the other player are the only hidden information.

One of the strengths of the complex games that get played at this level is the way they use hidden information to pressure players into making strategic decisions. In chess or in football, everything on the board is fair game for both players to understand and evaluate. The intentions of the other player are the only hidden information, although you can dig into that, too, if you’re somewhat unscrupulous.


In 2007, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick got in trouble for taping the New York Jets’ defensive coach from a place he wasn’t supposed to be taping from. His goal was to discern what the coach’s signals meant, so that during a game, he could watch the coaches and understand what information they were communicating that was intended to be kept from him. In CS:GO, there is a lot more hidden information than in any sport that’s played on a field, and it’s important that that be preserved. So while it seems unlikely that these signs affected the game at all, it’s good that Dreamhack staff were able to escort the fans in question out of the venue and things were allowed to proceed as normal. But “normal” still meant that some fans were shouting in an effort to disrupt the broadcast, or trying to sneak on stage or onto analyst desks, or throwing things at casters.

In soccer—usually in places where people call it football—a subset of fans have taken bad behavior so far as to require a term for it. Football hooligans throw things and get in fights with supporters of rival teams, and their numbers and wide dispersal make it difficult for the police responsible for crowd control to keep everyone safe. Dreamhack, quite obviously, does not have a problem that large or dangerous to deal with, but they do have an issue with insufficient or improperly placed security, leading to incidents like the fight between CS:GO commentator Richard Lewis and Jonathan “Loda” Berg at Dreamhack Winter 2015—Berg managed to make it backstage and ended up in a physical confrontation of some sort with Lewis, who choked him, or tried to.

A subset of fans have taken bad behavior so far as to require a term for it.

Reddit user Mewyabby also threw in a few clips of fans disrupting analysts at Dreamhack events within the last year. Dreamhack does have a responsibility to try to keep this from happening, but bad behavior from fans is disrespectful to other people at the event, to viewers on the livestream, and to players. Hopefully event coordinators are working to keep these things from happening in the future, and fans are considering their role in the crowd, because while it might initially appear safe and fun, it’s clearly not entirely dissimilar to things like the incident between Loda and Richard Lewis, and it’s not too far from the violence of football hooliganism either.

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