Carlo “Kuku” Palad, a Dota 2 player for Filipino esports team TNC Predator, was banned from attending an upcoming tournament after he was found to have used racist language against the Chinese team during a public game.
Dota 2 developer Valve announced in a statement that it was banning Palad from participating in the upcoming Chongqing Major Dota 2 tournament in China in January 2019.
Palad was accused of typing the phrase “ching chong,” usually used derisively to mimic the Chinese language, in a public game with Chinese players in November 2018, but his team TNC refused to bar him from participating despite outrage from Chinese stakeholders.
Valve previously criticized Palad’s statements but refused to step in. In its most recent statement, the company explained that TNC’s refusal to discipline their player forced them to change their stance on the controversy.
“TNC has mishandled the situation on multiple occasions, making the situation much worse than it needed to be,” the company said in its statement.
“It seems like TNC is currently not taking proper responsibility for their actions, coupled with the attempted cover-up by the team, so we are now stepping in directly and banning Kuku from attending this event,” it added.
Valve also said that it will be slapping a 20 percent penalty on TNC Predator’s DOTA Pro Circuit points earned in the Chonqing Major, which will affect their eligibility to compete in future tournaments.
Some criticized the decision to ban Palad, saying that his remarks were only a momentary lapse in judgement. An online campaign using the hashtag #LetKukuPlay was recently launched by those criticizing the ban against him.
Mad respect bro! It's not about just Kuku but for the game as well. We all made mistakes but that should not define us or our entire race. You do not fight racism by persecution but by compassion. #letkukuplay
— Joseph Buglosa (@yolgub) December 2, 2018
We can still support Kuku in our own little ways. I also encourage everyone within the Dota community to change their name in Dota to "#LetKukuPlay" in support for Kuku on this issue. I've done my part. Now, you do yours as a Pinoy Gamer. 🇵🇭 pic.twitter.com/FGYHsk8Mn9
— 4k1r4 (@4k1r4_PH) December 3, 2018
WHAT ABOUT WHEN A CHINESSE TEAM REMOVE THEIR HEADSET IN AN OPEN AREA WHILE INGAME VERSUS A PHILIPPINE TEAM(RAVE)..SO WHO IS THE CHEATER???#chowkingmajor
— gardu (@gardzJR) December 2, 2018
Racism in esports
The controversy around the famed “Kuku” is not the first of its kind in recent news. Shortly before the controversy surrounding Palad blew up, Rolen Andre Gabriel Ong or “skem” formerly of compLexity Gaming was also banned from the Chonqing Major for also using racist language against the Chinese during the DreamHack DreamLeague Season 10 tournament.
Like Palad, Ong was criticized for using the phrase “ching chong” during the tournament. He was removed from the team’s active roster and is expected to move to another team.
Racism in the esports has destroyed the careers of some players. Toronto Esports Fortnite and Overwatch player Matthew “Dellor” Vaughn drew flak after he went on a racist tirade that was broadcast on his Twitch account during a ranked match.
Dellor was dropped by Toronto Esports despite his apology.
Despite the collective outrage, some figures are still opposing the decision to ban Palad from attending the tournament.
Casters Grant ”GrandGrant” Harris and David “GoDZ” Parker and DOTA 2 legend Henrik ”AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg all opposed the ban. Harris and Parker mulled boycotting the tournament.
TNC is reportedly still mulling whether it will participate in the Chongqing Major or back out.