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Ninja bans his first tournament player

Yesterday, May 28, marked the first episode of Ninja's new Mixer series, Ninja Battles featuring Fortnite. The new show brings together teams of the top Fortnite players to compete for their part of a massive prize pool. The series brought with it quite a bit of hype, but nobody expected things to go off the rails quite as quickly as they did.

At the close of the post-game interview, TSM's ZexRow was asked if he had anything he wanted to plug or anyone he wanted to give a shout-out to. His response was less than ideal.

"Everyone that didn't place in top 10 can, like, suck my d—," said ZexRow. "They're f—ing sh-tters. I don't know why they talk sh-t they're actually also dogsh-t and braindead. That's all I'm saying."

Even though that was indeed "all" that he said, the damage was done. The host of the interview can be heard trying to stop ZexRow in the middle of his diatribe. Unfortunately, he managed to get through the whole thing with a smile on his face. It's clear that the comments were meant to be playful, but the offensive language used comes off as more than a little bit unprofessional.

Almost immediately, ZexRow seemed to have realized he messed up. He tweeted, "aww sh-t forgot parents watch [the streams] I'm sorry."

Ninja was less than enthused — and probably a little embarrassed — by ZexRow's behavior. He responded to ZexRow, writing, "Congrats on your first and last Ninja battles placement!"

It appears as though ZexRow is no longer welcome to participate in the Ninja Battles series. ZexRow initially seemed to have completely missed the point when he worried about parents watching the stream. It's a bad look all around to make remarks like these with such a platform.

However, ZexRow followed up his initial apology with a longer one. He apologized for using language that "even would be distasteful to say on [his] own stream." He also added, "I want to directly apologize to Ninja and the tournament organizers for overshadowing what otherwise was a great tournament that was fun to play in with my immature actions ...  I should live up to the standards of a professional and in that moment I didn't."

Following the heavy backlash, ZexRow has also told fans that he will be asking his team if he can leave the TSM roster. According to ZexRow, he worries that this has become too much of a "PR nightmare." He has expressed a feeling of not wanting to drag his teammates into the drama with him.

As ZexRow put it, "It was a big mistake but I've made a lot of those ... I just feel bad for tsm and all the hate they'll get for this."

It's worth noting that there were more than a few replies to this from fans and even fellow esports players that felt like this was an overreaction. There has not been any update on whether or not ZexRow will be staying with TSM following this debacle.

TSM has remained strangely quiet on the matter. However, it would not be a surprise if the team made some kind of statement in the near future. As ZexRow mentioned, this is a bad look for the team. It's especially a bummer when taking into account how excited TSM seemed to be over ZexRow's win. The official TSM Twitter account could be seen interacting with Ninja following the victory. It must have felt like a punch in the gut to see things go so sour, so quickly.

It remains to be seen whether or not this ban will also result in the loss of ZexRow's winnings. This is unlikely, considering ZexRow actually played well and earned the win. Despite his behavior during the post-game interview, he still took that victory through legitimate means rather than by cheating. This kind of punishment is usually reserved for more obvious cheating, as recently happened when Japanese player Sekosama was caught colluding with another player during the Fortnite Champion Series Invitational.

On a positive note, dealing with these kinds of outbursts may be helpful for Ninja and his new series in the long run. Ninja has been openly critical of how the Fortnite competitive scene has been run in the past. There's a chance that this incident, as well as being in charge of such a large-scale event, has given him some perspective on how difficult such an undertaking can be. If nothing else, it's commendable that Ninja is seemingly committed to making this series a more civil affair.

Hopefully the next round of Ninja Battles will come with less drama. You can check that out for yourself next Thursday, June 4 at 12 p.m. PT.