StarCraft pro Larva plays with his feet during ZOTAC Cup Grand Finals match

During the Grand Finals of the ZOTAC Cup Masters StarCraft Remastered competition, which wrapped up late on Sunday night, something crazy happened and the StarCraft community is already blowing up about it. 

During the penultimate round of the tournament, well known streamer and pro StarCraft player Larva already had a solid lead on his opponent, Legend. So confident was he in the outcome of this game, he played out some of the remainder with his feet.

See for yourself:

Skill or disrespect?

While a casual viewer may find the foot-play nothing but laughable, reactions amongst the StarCraft e-sports fanbase are more divided. Of course you have to admire the sheer dexterity of playing out a game like this, but there’s also a point to be made about poor sportsmanship and disrespect (and the Twitch chat during and after the controversial moment was full of references to "BM," shorthand for Bad Manners).

Where's the line between good-natured showboating and sheer bad manners? Earlier in the same tournament, Larva called in not one but two nuclear strikes. For those not in the know, this tends to be a fairly decisive late game move, and in professional circles pulling of a single strike takes a great deal of skill, and is usually enough to close out a game. Two is gratuitous, to say the least, and it was clear his opponent in that game was at least a little embarrassed by it.

But Larva is known on his stream for these kind of antics. He’s an incredibly versatile and skilled StarCraft player, and regulars on his Afreeca channel will know that he tends to display high highs and low lows. He was also invited as a special guest to the tournament, and didn’t have to play his way in like some of the other players.

Furthermore, ZOTAC Cupmasters is an independent competition, and didn't have the same detailed set of regulations in place as you would see from other tournaments. So what Larva did might not have been against any specific rules. But should there be a universal code of conduct for e-sports players?

StarCraft-related communities online are already aflame over the controversy, divided into two main camps. One group seems to think this might rank among the most disrespectful acts in e-sports history, and the other half is blown away by Larva’s skill. Either way, this will probably be a hot topic in the community for a good while.

UPDATE: A lot has happened since Larva’s performance during the Grand Finals of the Zotac Cup Masters tournament. Here are the highlights of the past few days.

Firstly, a clip of Larva playing with his feet was posted to the r/videos subreddit, and that post eventually made it to the front page of Reddit as a whole. This of course means the little controversy has expanded beyond the confines of the StarCraft fanbase.

Other than reddit, the Team Liquid forums are a nexus of discussion about what happened, and a translation of a short statement from defeated player Legend is circulating around that board.

In this translated statement, Legend goes on call Larva “mentally ill” and his fans “mentally challenged”. You can read or yourself below:

"How did I meet such a mentally ill person while going overseas to have a little fun (not sure if that’s what his metaphor means). What kind of enjoyment did you get from this, or did you do it for some mentally challenged fans. When I first knew you I thought you got your results through hard work, and I respected that. But now I see that I was completely wrong. Even if you were to nuke me in game I would just laugh it off. Outside the game you act like a clown, this is the difference between you and a 1st place professional player. Trash…"

Of course it's important to note that this translation was provided by a non-professional, and it's difficult to judge how close the phrasing and word choice is to Legend's original statement.

Finally, Larva has received a ban from future ZOTAC events that just seems to apply to ZOTAC China, rather than the organization as a whole, and Larva himself has released a further statement addressing the event's organizers and players.

That may be the end of things for now, but if not we'll continue to update this article as the story develops.