Schalke 04 suspend League player for toxicity hours before start of EU Masters run

Meg Kay
S04 Isma benched

Schalke 04 Evolution’s EU Masters run is off to a rough start after the team suspended jungler Ismaïl ‘Isma’ Boualem for solo queue toxicity.

A tournament like EU Masters is one of the most important events in the career of a young professional League of Legends player. It’s a chance to prove yourself against the best of the best, and to show off and show out in front of one of the biggest audiences of your career.

Which is why it was all the more surprising when Prime League representatives Schalke 04 announced that they would be benching jungler Isma with immediate effect.

The announcement came after S04’s first game of EU Masters against GameWard had already begun , and initially did not offer any explanation as to why the benching had taken place.

However, Isma later took to Twitter to explain the rationale behind the benching.

He explained that, four hours before the team’s first game at EUM, he’d received a call from Schalke’s head of esports saying that he would be benched due to reports of toxic behavior in solo queue.

He stated that he’d asked for the punishment to be lessened, offering to be fined and make a public apology, but Schalke were insistent on his benching.

The toxicity in question

According to Isma’s Twitlonger, the toxicity for which he received the ban was against a Challenger Katarina player on the EUW server known as Nyro – who responded to Isma’s tweet with screenshots of the toxic behavior in question.

According to Isma, he did not receive any kind of warning from Riot themselves over the language used in-game. Community responses were immediately mixed, with some saying that the ban was too harsh considering he had received no in-game repercussions for his behaviour.

On August 31, Schalke posted a further response to the incident which clarified their reasoning around the severity of the punishment.

They explained that although the language used by Isma may “hold a different weight within the League of Legends world than it does in the world where we as Schalke 04 operate”, they hold everyone within their organization to the same standard, and did not see his behaviour as acceptable by their standards as a traditional sports organization.

“Sometimes people seem to forget that the things we say online have a real impact on people. This is real life, and the things we say matter.”

Schalke went 0-2 in their opening games of EUM 2022, moving top laner Lennart ‘Jaeger’ Warkuss to the jungle and bringing in substitute support Bastian ‘EliteJoint’ Ahrens in as a last-minute top lane substitution.