Team Vitality have benched their Valorant head coach, Tanishq ‘Tanizhq’ Sabharwal, as Riot Games and Freaks4U investigate alleged toxic tweets between him and another org’s assistant coach.
Vitality explained in their post that they are proactively benching Sabharwal, who joined the team on April 6, while the investigation happens.
In the meantime, they added they’ve promoted assistant coach Harry ‘Gorilla’ Mepham to take his place.
The tweets in question, which were deleted, but not before being screenshotted and shared by the community, saw Tanizhq responding to ZE1SH, calling him a “cockroach” and ending with a middle finger emoji.
“Firstly, it’s a tweet to let people know we aren’t playing on a stage, which I have been asked about a lot as people assume it’s a LAN match,” the Vitality head coach wrote on Twitter. “Secondly, stay tf out of my mentions you racist cockroach. The amount of hate you incited against Indian people should be a disgrace to KC.”
After deleting the tweet, Tanizhq made his Twitter account private as well. This wasn’t enough to stop Vitality from benching the recently-hired head coach, however.
“We are very clear that we cannot tolerate improper and excessive communication from a member of our coaching staff,” Vitality said in a statement about the move. “It is our responsibility to make professional esports an inclusive and respectable environment, and we are taking this responsibility seriously.”
Tanzihq was a former Overwatch coach before moving over to Valorant in 2020. Before Vitality, he coached Team Heretics, OG, SuperMassive Blaze and Giants.
He’s also been credited as the architect behind Vitality’s current Valorant roster as the team went through a massive overhaul in May of 2022. Whether he’ll be fully released from the team though, remains to be seen at this point.
Vitality announced another update on June 17 saying that they have suspended Tanzihq for two weeks following the investigation into his conduct.
The update also included a statement from the Vitality coach himself with him apologizing to fans and ZE1SH.
“I was under a lot of stress due to personal factors which became compounded during the super week, leading to a momentary lapse in judgement and an outburst which should have never happened,” Tanzihq said in the statement.