Two days ago, Riot Games suspended two competitive Valorant players after a public disagreement about teabagging. Dawn “Dawn” Park and Vivian “Risorah” Dela Cruz are now banned from official Riot competitions for three months and nine months respectively.
According to Riot, Park made a “vulgar and targeted comment towards another player,” while Dela Cruz “systematically targeted and isolated another player.” Riot specified that the players were being punished for actions against another member of Galorants, a community for female and nonbinary Valorant players. Park and Dela Cruz were involved in a controversy about teabagging that originated within the Galorants Discord server.
Teabagging is an in-game action that is popular in competitive shooting games. It refers to crouching and uncrouching rapidly over enemy corpses before they despawn, similar to a sex act where one person would put their testicles on someone’s face. It is considered a victory dance and a gesture of team bonding. There has been controversy over whether or not it’s considered bad sportsmanship or if it’s just one of those things you have to deal with while playing games like Halo Infinite.
On June 24, a member named Ripley Lawless said in the Galorants server: “[In games], people think it’s okay to t-bag and that it’s funny when really it’s sexual assault.” The statement was widely mocked across social media, with even big streamers like Charlie “Cr1TiKaL” White weighing in on the topic. Park mocked the connection in her tweets to Lawless and on her own account, while Dela Cruz threatened to teabag Lawless in the Galorants server. Dela Cruz was banned from the Galorants server on June 28. Lawless deleted her Twitter account. Kotaku reached out to Galorants for a comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.
In a Twitlonger post, Dela Cruz said that she would “take responsibility” for her actions, although she would not remove her videos that were critical of Galorants. Park’s post was more critical of Riot’s decision. She said that she had friends who had been sexually assaulted, and “it is not something you can compare to crouching in a video game.” Park told Kotaku that she and Dela Cruz were likely punished because they were a part of the Galorants community. “I do not see how that is relevant to the ruling as Galorants does not have a rule, nor a say, in what we are allowed to post on our personal social media,” said Park.
Although the main incidents took place a month ago, Riot conducted its own investigation, which included interviews with both Park and Dela Cruz. Park told Kotaku that Riot emailed her a list of charges, and she was able to prove that she did not harass Lawless during her meeting with the company. “It was not considered harassment according to Riot because I had not gone out and specifically targeted one individual. I was simply mocking the idea, and not the person.” Dela Cruz confirmed over Twitter DM that her ban was tangentially related to her critical video about the teabagging controversy, but she was mainly being suspended for her threats towards Lawless. Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Since Riot did not publicly ban Lawless for her comments, several sexual assault survivors on Twitter were upset that the company seemed to take her side. Some of the quote retweets on the ban post pointed out that Jay “Sinatraa” Won was banned for a shorter period of time than Dela Cruz despite being investigated for sexually assaulting his girlfriend. Others felt that the company, which is in the middle of settling a $100 million gender discrimination lawsuit, did not take this action with women’s best interests at heart.