Recently, Riot Games shoutcaster and analyst Joshua “Jatt” Leesman sparked outrage in the League of Legends community when he criticized Cloud9’s top laner, An “Balls” Le. Jatt pointed out that Balls’ play was not particularly strong during the Summer Split, and later went on to comment that the player has not had the same level of success in Korean solo queue as some of his peers.
Apparently, this behavior was completely unacceptable, according to the community. The analyst dared to analyze a player who has been underperforming? Unthinkable! How could he even think of questioning a player who had the second worst gold per minute of all top laners in the NA LCS, and was 7th out of 10 in KDA ratio? How dare he point out that while some of his contemporaries are hitting Master or Challenger tier, Balls has appeared to become stuck in Diamond 2 while boot-camping in Korea?
Huni: 375 LP Masters in 115 games Balls: D2 84 LP in 192 games There's more to life than solo Q, but this is a worrying trend for C9.
— Josh Leesman (@RiotJatt) September 14, 2015
Using stats to back up a legitimate concern? Blasphemy!
These sentiments are absolutely absurd. If you’re Cloud9, or even just rooting for North America as a whole in the upcoming World Championships, of course you should be concerned about this. There was a time where Balls was the best top laner in North America, and one of the more highly-regarded carry-oriented top laners in the world. His Rumble was universally feared, and it was almost impossible to attempt to target him in the pick/ban phase. Balls’ stock has fallen tremendously, and for a Cloud9 team that finished in 7th place during the regular season, they certainly need to see a better performance from him.
Back to the matter at hand, which is Jatt openly questioning Balls’ ability to help his team at Worlds. Let’s be clear about this one: Jatt didn’t say that Balls is terrible, or needs to be replaced, or should retire, or anything else that could be construed as mean-spirited. Heck, he certainly didn’t wish cancer on the player or tell him to uninstall the game, which apparently a portion of the community feels is perfectly acceptable when they’re playing. Leesman simply did his job, which was to offer an opinion, or analysis, based on the facts in front of him. This wasn’t a mistake; this was perfectly warranted criticism.
— Josh Leesman (@RiotJatt) September 12, 2015
No wonder the community is all over him. Such harsh and disrespectful language!
The fact that Jatt felt the need to later backtrack and apologize for his comments is an incredibly sad commentary on the way his words were received. Let’s reiterate this point, so there’s no confusion here: Jatt did nothing wrong by pointing out Balls’ struggles. That’s what an analyst does. If a professional football player begins to perform poorly over an extended period of time, analysts on ESPN aren’t going to say “Well, at least he’s trying really hard. I’m sure he’ll be just fine.” They talk about the fact that the player is struggling, and wonder how it’ll affect his team’s playoff chances. If you think that’s wrong, you have a very misguided view of what an analyst should or should not say.
So as not to belabor the point, I won’t keep ranting about this. Jatt shouldn’t have needed to apologize for his comments, and the community’s reaction was both ludicrous and just plain sad. The day when analysts are only allowed to say positive things about players is the day they cease to be analysts and instead become glorified cheerleaders.
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