T1 released a video to Twitter on Friday responding to some backlash online against their decision to hire Cody " Stunner" Macleod. Stunner was previously convicted of cheating and was banned from PUBG competition, so many T1 fans were concerned when he was announced on Thursday as the team's newest VALORANT assistant coach.
In the video interview, T1's VALORANT head coach spoke David Denis spoke candidly with Stunner about his past in an attempt to clarify the circumstances surrounding Stunner's ban from PUBG competition. The overall purpose of their video was to make the case that Stunner deserves a second chance.
"We wanted to come out and address the concerns raised by the community after the announcement of Cody Macleod as our assistant coach," Denis explained in the introduction of the video. "We wanted everyone to understand that we were and are fully aware of Cody's history, including the ban that he received for having cheats installed on two separate accounts during his PUBG career. . . Cody served this competitive ruling a number of years ago in 2018, but it hasn't ever really been publicly addressed."
Stunner explained his history as a PUBG player and why he was banned originally, including explaining that although the cheats were on his machine, he never used any cheats in professional competition.
"Bluehole did an investigation into my accounts and they found that I was using external programs prior to me ever being a professional player," Stunner said. "Once Apex Legends was released I started competing in that game early on against many top teams. . . All my teammates knew, it was brought up multiple times that I had this past. . . The Apex players let me compete in their online league as long as I streamed with a hand cam on, which I did."
He argued that some of his Apex Legends teams could have been signed, but due to his past history as a convicted cheater, organizations chose not to pick them up. He also claimed that he had a number of other opportunities in esports that have been shut down due to his past.
"I was looking to play and compete in VALORANT, before I decided it was my best chance to go towards coaching due to my past history," Stunner explained. "[Using external cheats] is my biggest life regret because it did jeopardize one of the only things I want to do in life, which is continuing in my passion for esports. . . it cut a lot of my opportunities away, and that's okay, at the end of the day it was my fault for being a part of that incident."
"At T1 we really believe in second chances," Denis concluded. "In my career in esports so far, I have worked with a lot of different players with these kinds of incidents in their past that have worked through the adversity and challenge of that, and have changed who they are as people and gone on to have wonderful careers. I believe Cody is another person like that."
Cody is not the only professional esports competitor to receive a second chance after being convicted for cheating. FaZe Clan superstar Andrej "BabyBay" Francisty, for instance, was once banned for using cheats in his younger days but was able to earn back the good graces of the esports community while competing in Overwatch.
"In terms of my overall story, early on in my gaming career, I was like a big troll, and everyone knows that I cheated and got banned from ESEA," BabyBay told Inven Global in an interview. "I hope they see that people can change and some people make stupid mistakes when they are young."
Stunner will make his debut as T1's assistant coach at the Stage 2 Challengers 2 tournament which will kick off on April 22nd, 2021.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.