Blizzard Provide a Statement on Overwatch “Ellie” Controversy After Investigation
Amidst the strange chain of events surrounding pro female Overwatch player "Ellie" now proving to be a fake, Blizzard has now issued a statement stating "it was created by a veteran player to obfuscate their identity".
Last Friday, it was reported that a pro female player for Overwatch named “Ellie” had been forced out of Second Wind, the competitive league she was in due to constant harassment made by the online community which questioned her legitimacy because she wouldn’t provide her real first and last name. This then lead to “doxxing” threats and a host of drama that, in the end, wasn’t worth the hassle leading the player to quit.
Since that story broke, it apparently has turned out that “Ellie” was an imposter and nothing more than a “social experiment” by another player who is rumored to be Punisher, a top 500 player on the Overwatch ladder. At this time of writing, Punisher or anyone else that may be associated with the Ellie account hasn’t stepped forward to explain their reasoning in this bizarre and damaging experiment.
A Cloud9 Overwatch streamer who goes by the name of Aspen stated live on Twitch that “Ellie” was, in fact, Punisher all along and that the experiment just went badly wrong for him and things got out of hand pretty quickly. After Second Wind’s long rant by team owner Justin Hughes about how he brought her onto the team and how he wanted a player, but it seemed like the public wanted something else, Second Wind quickly had to turn on their heels and issue a further statement when it broke that Ellie wasn’t actually a real person.
“When we originally onboarded Ellie, we had just recently lost players for various reasons and we desperately needed to find a substitute. As a team, we have always had faith in the leaderboard when it comes to scouting for players, and in our search for a new player we found Ellie as rank 4 in the North American servers. Our team members had played with them in the competitive ladder several times and saw them to be very skilled with a deep hero pool. Due to our need to fill a main position as well, a closing in deadline for roster submissions, and our team having experience with the player, we extended an offer to play on Second Wind as a substitute. When we originally contacted Ellie, there was nothing that would spark suspicion. They seemed to be very genuine and willing to work with us on calls and within private messages. Due to the fact that we do not have any physical contact with our players, we wanted to verify their identity but also wanted to respect their privacy as well. We genuinely had no idea of what was to come, and at the time we underestimated how important it would be to set an example as the first team to take on a female player for Contenders.”
“As soon as Ellie was announced, many questions came up regarding the legitimacy of the player. We reached out to Blizzard early on to help verify their identity and calm the suspicions about our newest player, doing the best we could for the time being. During this time, we worked with Ellie to improve their public presence by prepping them for interviews, streams, and encouraging an environment where they could play with other team members publicly. This, unfortunately, fell through due to Ellie opting out for “personal reasons” we did not want to press them for. Ellie began receiving doxxing and personal threats due to their anonymity. In a bid to respect Ellie’s request for privacy, we contacted Blizzard about not having their name published on the Contenders website. As a team, we admit we handled this poorly. More could have been done to support our players, but we had found ourselves unprepared for the attention Ellie got upon their onboarding; we had full faith in them. Due to our desperation to fill a roster, we, unfortunately, overlooked crucial information that should have been paid more attention to. We did not properly allocate enough time to communicate with the public as a means to support our players, and as a result, caused more questioning that could have been avoided.”
“Ellie decided to step down on their own, and shortly afterward we announced their departure from the team. As of today, Blizzard had gotten back to us on the background of Ellie, and notified us that they were not who they claimed to be, and discovered that the Ellie account was used for purposes we do not support. We apologize to the community as a whole for not handling this situation better when we should have, and we will aim to do better.”
Unikrn has since made contact with Blizzard for more much-needed information on why this was allowed to happen and what were their findings into the investigation of this fake Ellie account. An Overwatch esports representative replied with a statement stating that –
“After investigating the matter, we found that “Ellie” was a fabricated identity and is a smurf account. The owner of Ellie’s account is a player with no current or prior involvement with any Overwatch Contenders or Overwatch League team. “Ellie” was never formally submitted to the active roster of Second Wind and never played in a Contenders match.”
The Overwatch rep also went into details about the process involved in confirming the identity of Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders players, saying “we do background checks to ensure that players are who they say they are as well as meet other eligibility requirements, and will take action against players if we discover any behavior that warrants it.”
As to be expected, and rightly so, some harsh and worrying comments from the Twitter community and also the owner of the Overwatch site Overwatchscore were aired due to this damaging “social experiment” in an attempt to make some kind of point about women in esports, when really it had the entirely opposite effect.
I am seven goddamn thousand levels of livid about this Ellie situation. People involved aside, this “stunt” will have lasting ramifications for ANY woman/nb person trying to get into Contenders. They will ALL now be subject to “lol are you real??” harassment.
— Liz Richardson (@mizliz_) January 4, 2019
Not only does Punisher stand a good chance of never being picked up by a team in any esport for the stunt he pulled, prospective employers are going to stumble across articles about him if they ever run a simple google search. Hope that social experiment was worth it 🙂 pic.twitter.com/urwHNv4I1p
— Dustin Steiner (@GetSteinered) January 5, 2019
hey punisher im so glad you had a fun time seeing what its like to be a girl playing an online video game for *checks calendar* about 12 days. glad you can go back to ur normal life now and not have to deal with any of that anymore. wish i knew what that felt like!
— nika (@runchranda) January 4, 2019
very cool also that this dude decided he didn’t feel like dealing with the backlash of being a woman in gaming anymore so he just got to stop. where’s MY opportunity to opt out of misogyny
— bonnie 🌻 (@bonniequeue) January 4, 2019
There’s really no telling what will happen next and what the punishment will be for “Punisher” (isn’t that ironic) but it seems as though Blizzard’s vetting process clearly needs a haul to make sure this kind of ridiculous behavior doesn’t happen again. In the meanwhile, it has unfortunately set women in esports back years – where, in reality, it wasn’t that much further along to begin with. I do hope lessons can be learned from this and esports as a whole can work towards a more positive and meaningful environment, especially for women.