It was a tweet that if made even a year ago would have had esports fans laughing in their gaming chairs and throwing memes. Esports fans still laughed and meme’d, but that one tweet got the man behind the Immortals social media account fired. The tweet in question responding to a joke from Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo that an absolutely terrible but funny player would be taking the spot of one of the Immortals players came “too soon.” Welcome to the new era of esports social media Mateus Portilho.
Unfortunately, this Tweet was unprofessional and out-of-line with what we stand for. The person responsible no longer works for Immortals.
— Immortals (@Immortals) September 23, 2017
But why? How did one tweet get the lanky Brazilian with flowing locks of black hair that has all the looks of an 80s front man fired?
To understand the context of the tweet, back up to September of 2017 when Vito “kNg” Giuseppe and Immortals were playing at DreamHack Montreal. kNg, Henrique “HEN1” Teles, Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles, showed up late for the finals, forfeiting the first map, and eventually lost in the finals. However, they were also late to their previous semifinal match against Counter-Logic Gaming, but still managed to win. CLG’s coach and one of their players took to Twitter after finding out they were late once again.
Update from #DHMTL17
After apparently spending the night partying, IMT players showed up late to our match this morning
And again now
— Ryu (@SelflessRyu) September 10, 2017
Worst part is I lost to a team with 3 players who were hung over 😡
— Pujan Mehta (@FNS) September 10, 2017
These tweets were seen as a personal insult to kNg, who after the event went door to door in the hotel the teams were staying looking for FNS–and not to just have a talk. After not finding FNS in the hotel, people thought things had calmed down. Not a chance. kNg fired off this tweet in response to the accusations made by FNS and his coach:
A death threat which led to a series of events that saw kNg removed from the team and eventually saw one social media manager get let go.
Portilho took to Twitter in 2012 as a way to stay updated on everything esports. He didn’t know just how far it would take him. He’s been through a lot already in his two years of working in social media. From firing to hiring to scandal to success, he’s seen a lot. In fact, even though Portilho was let go by Immortals, a silver lining appeared in the form of the owner of Cloud9, Jack Etienne.
“After I met with Noah and he told me I was fired, he sent me a plane ticket so that I could go back to Brazil. After what happened I thought I would go back to college, but that didn’t happen,” Portilho said in retelling his story. “While I was packing my stuff, I decided to make my version of what really happened public because Immortals made a tweet saying that the Social Media Manager was no longer working there. I made my statement and some time after doing that, I got an email from Jack from Cloud9. I received five other job opportunities from various esports organizations, but I was happier with Cloud9s.”
Even though Portilho now works for Cloud9, he still thinks about the one tweet that got him fired from Immortals when tweeting for his new employer.
“About the tweet, I saw everyone doing banters about what happened. Players and analysts were doing this almost every time because no one would expect that kNg would say that on social media. That’s when I had the idea to make banter with it on FalleN’s tweet,” Portilho said. “I didn’t want to say anything bad. By that time, we just had to accept that everyone was memeing with-on us and I wanted to embrace the meme by doing that. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Social media has changed drastically in esports in since 2015 when money and sponsors started to arrive. The esports industry is experiencing astronomical growth with forecasts estimating the industry will reach $1.6 billion dollars in revenue by 2020. Sponsors bringing hundreds of million of dollars into the space are being ultra vigilant because of the past history of esports and the then “say anything” culture. The scrutiny being leveled upon the people in esports is enormous as brands are being wary of who they associate with.
“I think the social media today is a dangerous place because you can’t say things today that you could just two to three years ago,” Portilho said. “You must think twice before posting anything. Even if you are a player, a social media manager with the organization account or a person who works in big companies. I’ve learned a lot at Immortals with criticisms from fans,managers, and players. Social media managers need to take care of your posts, shares, retweets, and replies. There are bad people out there looking to hurt your career for reasons unknown. Sometimes I think they do it just for fun.”
“It’s a painful feeling to receive hate for what you’ve done,” Portilho lamented. “It’s terrible because reading negative words makes you sad and unmotivated. It’s terrible because I failed Noah and Immortals. One time, I did a tweet for [Jesper] JW [Wecksell] saying ‘Better luck next time’ and I got a LOT of hate from JW fans. I even got death threads on my personal profile via DM.”
Death threats or not, the young Brazilian is not deterred.
“Sometimes I will still try to do some different things like posting spicy content or trying to engage with important people in the esports scene. It’s important to stay true to what the esports scene is about. Freedom of expression and the ability to talk trash even to ones you love and care about. Esports is family, we should be able to talk to each other.”