Dallas Fuel Releases Félix Lengyel After Second Suspension Over Racist Commentary

Ex-Dallas Fuel player Felix Lengyel
Ex-Dallas Fuel player Felix Lengyel Felix Lengyel via Twitter
The Dallas Fuel's first season in the new Overwatch League, the competitive gaming league centered around Blizzard Entertainment's frantic first-person shooter game Overwatch, is off to a shaky start on and off the virtual field.

The Fuel ranks 10th out of 12 teams this season, and some players have caught more attention for their online behavior and subsequent fines and suspensions rather than their league play. Félix "xQc" Lengyel is no longer a member of the team after he was punished again for repeatedly posting a racist meme in an online chat.

The local Overwatch League team announced Sunday it has released its "Main Tank" after Lengyel's second league suspension and third infraction in less than three months. All of the incidents occurred during online trash talk from Lengyel against rival players and online broadcasters that ended with him making homophobic comments and racially charged posts. League officials ruled that Lengyel's comments violated its code of player conduct.

Lengyel's latest punishment came down Friday when the Overwatch League suspended him for four games and fined him $4,000 regarding comments he made against eSports broadcasters on the online game broadcast channel Twitch and his personal social media accounts. The comments included "repeated use of an emote in a racially disparaging manner on the league stream and on social media" and "disparaging language against Overwatch League casters and fellow players on social media and on his personal team," according to a joint statement released Saturday by the league and Blizzard Entertainment.

According to PC Gamer, Lengyel posted a "racially disparaging" emote several times in a Twitch chat during an broadcast of the Overwatch League's match between the Houston Outlaws and the Philadelphia Fusion on Friday. Lengyel posted the TriHard 7 emote, a chat image that uses the face of popular black Twitch streamer Mychal “Trihex” Jefferson, several times during a broadcast segment featuring Overwatch League host Malik Forté.

Lengyel denied any racist intent and said the emote offered by Twitch has no racial overtones. Forté responded on his Twitter page in a series of tweets that "spamming it whenever a black person is on the screen and only then is 100 percent racially insensitive, rather that's the intent or not. To me, it's a sly way of saying 'hey gais, luk! A black guy heheh.' It's been happening to me for about 3 years."

Two days before the TriHard 7 incident, Lengyel was already drawing controversy from comments he made on his Twitter account against Overwatch League commentators, also known as casters, that "casting is cancer," according to Polygon.

"It is unacceptable for members of the Overwatch League to use or distribute hateful, racist, or discriminatory speech or memes," the Overwatch League said in its joint statement with Blizzard. "It is important for all members to be aware of the impact their speech may have on others."

The Dallas Fuel released a statement that both the team and Lengyel "mutually agreed to part ways" after the player only appeared in six matches in its opening season before the end of his season-long contract. Lengyel returned to the circuit after his first league suspension issued in January for homophobic comments he lobbed at the Houston Outlaws' Austin "Muma" Wilmot, an LGBT player whom Lengyel told on his stream to "Go back there and suck a fat cock. You would like it."

"There are few players out there who have achieved as much success in as short a time as Félix has in competitive Overwatch," Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail says in the statement. "Ultimately, it was in the best interest of our organization and Félix to part ways before the expiration of his contract. No one wants to see Félix succeed more than we do and we believe he has a bright future ahead of him."

Lengyel retweeted the Dallas Fuel statement his Twitter page, and one of his followers wrote, "Now xQc can meme and shit talk as much as he wants, he's free now." Lengyel also read the team's statement on his Twitch stream on Monday, announcing, "It's all over, boys," before removing his Dallas Fuel jacket and urging his fans and followers to "try to be as reasonable as possible."

Lengyel is the second player on the Dallas Fuel roster to face a league punishment for making homophobic comments. The Overwatch League also issued a $1,000 fine against Timo "Taimou" Kettunen for "using anti-gay slurs on his personal stream," according to the statement released by the league and Blizzard on Saturday.

ESPN reported that Kettunen referred to players on his Twitch stream as a "fucking faggot kid" and "batty boy," a Jamaican homophobic slur. Kettunen posted an apology on his Twitter page "to the fans and supporters I let down and offended recently."
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.