Lelis, Brazil’s leading name in the global competitive DotA 2 scene, was the center of an unpleasant controversy during the world’s most prestigious Dota 2 competition.
The player, who started using the nickname “LESLA” in recent months, used the racist term “run n*gga” as the name of one of the items he enjoyed during the match between Soniqs and BOOM. The match took place on October 18th at The International 2022, Valve’s MOBA World Tournament. The fact quickly took over social media and created a massive reaction around this embarrassing situation.
Soniqs Reaction – Official Statement & the Player’s Contract Release
Aware of the controversial attitude, Soniqs, the organization of which the Brazilian was part since August of this year, decided to terminate the contract with him on October 19, 2022. The team justified the decision by having a zero-tolerance policy towards racism or discrimination of any kind.
Using its Twitter account to post an official statement, the eSports firm affirmed that “at the conclusion of our TI11 Match versus Boom eSports, there was a racist message visible in-game from Rodrigo LESLAO Santos.”
They added that “we hold our players to a high standard of professionalism and have a zero-tolerance policy towards racism or discrimination of any kind. Effective immediately, we have released LESLAO from his contract at the Soniqs.”
Is There Hope for Lelis’s Reputation? – Public Apology
Before Soniqs’ official announcement, Lelis used the Twitter account to express his feelings towards the whole situation and demonstrate he seriously regretted using such an offensive expression. Within a few words tweet, the pro-Dota 2 player apologized, said he was sorry and even argued that the item “Heroic Effigy” was renamed by him a long time ago.
In his own words published on Twitter, “the message on my effigy was just brought into focus. It’s clearly inappropriate and hurtful, and I apologize for ever writing it. I had carelessly written it many years ago and then forgotten about it, and I’m deeply sorry for both doing so and not checking/removing it earlier.”
At the time of writing, both Valve and The International 2022 have not officially commented on the topic.
It is worth contextualizing that the Soniqcs team ended up being eliminated in the first phase of the competition after finishing in 9th place in Group A, with 13 defeats and only five victories.
Beyond the Controversy – A Quick Look at the TI11 Stats
Considered the world’s most celebrated event dedicated to Dota 2, The International 11 started about 10 days ago in Singapore. The top 20 best teams in the world were split into two large groups, which allowed us to watch many epic games.
Fortunately, there are four surviving teams, and each one deserves to become the champion.
As for the lower bracket, Team Aster and Team Liquid will both fight survival mode-on style. Team Secret and Tundra Esports will play in the Upper Bracket Final, and the winner will grab one of the spots in the Grand Final.