March 4, 2024

Carlos Rodriguez, aka Ocelot, it took many years to become the Spanish master of eSports, a business that in 2020 was close to one billion dollars in revenue worldwide. But just over a week and a few tweets have been enough for him to end his empire and cut ties with his team, the G2. If G2 were the Real Madrid of its sector (a not entirely crazy comparison), Ocelote would be the Santiago Bernabéu. This 32-year-old from Madrid founded it in 2014 and shaped it, making it not only one of the most relevant teams in Europe, but also an extension of himself. Until a video, a trolling and social pressure against machismo have ended everything.

The beginning of the end was created at a party. On September 17, Ocelot was happily popping champagne corks with the guru of the incels Andrew Tate, who says that women should be at home and that they are the property of the man. He brags about beating and choking them. He believes that rape victims should “take responsibility” for their attacks and dates 18- to 19-year-old women because he can “leave an imprint” on them, he explains in his videos. These have been removed from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter for promoting violence against women.

So when Ocelot posted a party video with Tate on his Twitter account, not everyone thought it was a great idea. The fine rain of criticism ended up becoming a viral storm, but far from backing down, Ocelot took out the umbrella and pushed forward. “No one will be able to monitor my friends. I draw my line here. I go out partying with who the hell I want,” the entrepreneur tweeted. Six days later he cut ties with his company: “I don’t believe what I’m going to say, but my time at G2 has come to an end,” he explained in a video in which he made efforts not to cry. “I take full responsibility for what has happened in the last few days and I am devastated.” To understand what happened between some statements and others, it is necessary to explain who Ocelote is and at what moment was the industry when this controversy broke out.

Ana Rosa Quintana was hallucinating. “In a real stadium?” Asked the presenter when a young Ocelot assured her that the Los Angeles Lakers stadium (with a capacity for 20,000 spectators) had been filled to watch an eSports competition. It was 2014, the electronic sports industry was taking off and he, who had already stood out as an average player but with charisma, had created his first team. And he went to the Ana Rosa program to tell it. “That was unheard of at the time,” explains Bruno Ouviña, a sociologist and eSports specialist at the MGG portal, in an audio exchange. Although more for getting to conquer that space than for the interview itself. Ana Terradillos, Eduardo Inda and Ana Rosa herself asked her absurd questions as if this was a real job, if she could have a girlfriend being “with the little machine and such” all the time, or if that hypothetical girlfriend was real or virtual. “It is very interesting and it shocks me a bit that ordinary people, like you, do not know about this phenomenon”, the businessman summarized towards the end of the interview. His words from then have the same validity today.

“Ocelote did not manage to get the journalists to treat him very seriously,” Ouviña admits. “But he showed that he performed very well in interviews, that he had a point of showman. And he knew how to intuit that the shots were going there”. In 2014 virtual sports stood out, but the world of streaming and content creators were not as important as today.

Perhaps the figure that best represents how this world has grown is Ibai Llanos, one of the most beloved and followed content creators in the world (he has 11 million followers on Twitch, as many on TikTok and more or less the same on Twitter). It was Ocelot who made Ibai what he is, or at least helped him along the way. In 2019, the Basque was a commentator for the Professional Video Game League (LVP). He gave voice to the games in which the Ocelote team played. And it was at the end of one of these meetings, at the 2019 World Cups, when the businessman knelt live and asked Llanos to leave his job to become a content creator for G2. The association only lasted a year, but it was productive enough to reinforce the image of the presenter turned streamer and the most mediatic team of the LVP.

In this way, Ocelote gradually created a close public image, far from the gray businessman whose words pass through the sieve of a communication team and more resembling the irreverent and politically incorrect style of communication of the streamers. “It has nothing to do with the rest of the CEOs in the world,” explains Ouviña. “He is the bad boy, but also the funny boy, the one who dresses up as a clown, he laughs at himself. He has built a tough character for himself, who messes with people, has no problem saying what he thinks and knows how to handle the public ”.

Until now. The diarrheal verbiage that elevated him has been the one that has ended up precipitating his departure from G2. When he began to rant against those who criticized his friendships, he was not aware of the implications those words could have. “He did not know how to differentiate well the limits between private life and his personal brand,” he says Lara Smirnova, streamer and journalist specialized in eSports. “When you are a public figure, these lines are very blurred and even more so if you are the one who shares that content. Ocelot believed that this would be one more controversy and underestimated what his behavior implied, ”he analyzes. His company did not. He didn’t wait 24 hours to do damage control. He suspended his employment and salary for two months and waited for him to make a gesture of contrition that came half way. On September 18, Ocelot apologized in a statement in a cold and administrative tone and left clues on his social networks about his true opinion. He changed his avatar into an image of a phoenix. He added to his name an emoticon that smiled smugly. And he was watering likes to all messages of support, laughing in the face of his detractors with a manual trolling.

Perhaps in another context his attitude would have gone unnoticed. But he didn’t do it last weekend. “He timing It has been complicated”, concedes Smirnova, “G2 opted for a place in the VCT, the video game competition Valorant”. All the selected teams were going to have a guaranteed place in this competition for the next five years, win or lose (something like Spain in Eurovision, but with shots), guaranteeing security that hardly exists in eSports and a few million in income in a game with a lot of projection for the future.

The creator of this video game, the Californian developer Riot Games, also has its past. It is a company that comes from paying 100 million dollars in damages to its employees for gender discrimination and sexist behavior. He couldn’t afford a headline that mixed his name with Andrew Tate’s. So he did not give any place to G2 in a move that many in the sector, the interviewees concede, relate to the Ocelot controversy. Six days after he published the controversial video, the businessman disassociated himself from his company. But the echo of the controversy has continued to resound.

“The world of eSports and the gaming machismo has a very big scourge to combat”, Smirnova explains. “Not only do you find very misogynistic behavior on the server when you play, but on social networks, in the chats of women’s competitions, it is something worrying being the fan base such a young audience. For this reason, the journalist believes, the decisions made from above are important. “Macho behavior must be pointed out as something serious. It’s not just another joke anymore bro culture in which we live,” he adds. It is not so much a question of establishing a culture of cancellation as of a culture of consequences: “Because behaviors have their consequences. We have to leave behind the idea that anything goes, and everything is quickly forgotten”.

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