Newbee, one of China’s top esports clubs, has sacked one of its members after he lost his temper and verbally abused his girlfriend during a video game livestream, according to a statement the company issued Friday.
A net user recorded Li Junwei, who goes by the online monikers “Declaration of Death” and “vasilii,” livestreaming a match on Thursday evening. When Li lost, he got into an argument with his girlfriend, who told him not to blame others for the outcome in the video game. Incensed, Li threw his computer desk over, smashed several items in the room, and hurled curses at her.
The video was widely shared on microblog platform Weibo. Noises recorded when the two were off-screen led many commenters to question whether Li had hit his girlfriend, too. One highly upvoted comment reads: “I cannot bear those who beat women. I really want to fight him.”
Li’s girlfriend denied on her Weibo account Friday that Li had beaten her. However, she wrote that she had asked a friend to call the police because she felt unsafe. “I was angry and sad, wishing the police would take him away,” she said.
Since May, Li has been part of Newbee’s team for “League of Legends,” a computer game wildly popular throughout the world, and in which two teams of five compete to destroy each other’s bases.
“We feel shocked, sad, and disgusted after learning what happened during the livestream,” the company said in its statement, adding that Li’s actions displayed a lack of common decency and damaged the reputation of the club. Newbee also said Li had been a poor teammate by underperforming and even disappearing during competitions.
ZhanQi TV, a livestreaming platform on which Li has nearly a million subscribers, deactivated his account on Friday following the incident.
While professional gamers can earn money by winning competitions, many stream for hours every day for extra income from fans who happily pay to learn from or be entertained by their idols. In China, where more than half of the country’s 731 million internet users play games online, being a popular gamer has become a lucrative avocation. Xu Fei, an esports player and commentator based in Shanghai, told Sixth Tone that the annual earnings of gamers on livestreaming platforms can be in the millions of dollars.
Xu, who knows Li in real life, said Li’s behavior was more a case of mental illness than villainy. “He can’t control his temper, and he’s reckless,” Xu said. “I can sympathize with him.” He added that professional gamers often aren’t aware that they are public figures.
Wang Zili, a commentator who runs a Weibo account dedicated to esports, told Sixth Tone that this incident might serve as a warning to other gamers who broadcast themselves playing. “This could remind other livestreamers that they shouldn’t be too prideful or commit such irreversible acts,” he said.
Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.
(Header image: Jean Chung/Bloomberg/VCG)