eSports

CS:GO Match fixing scandal - Everything you need to know

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The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world has been hit with another wave of controversy. This time surrounding match fixing on popular betting site csgolounge.com where close to $10,000 betting profit was netted. Seven North American players, including most from the former team iBUYPOWER, have been banned from all international majors by Valve, and this is just the beginning. 

Soon after ESEA, the well known competitive matchmaking website and tournament host, announced they too would be placing bans on the players, stating "We strongly encourage all organizations, regardless of their affiliation with Valve, to mirror and enforce these bans so that a clear message is sent -- there is no place for match fixing in professional gaming. "

The big fix

In an investigation by The Daily Dot evidence was gathered which implicated that a game between the former iBUYPOWER and Netcodeguides.com was indeed fixed. The match in question was played on the 21st of August 2014 and despite the odds being heavily in IBP's favour they were beaten 16-4. This sort of occurrence is not uncommon. Often teams with higher odds don't perform up to scratch on the day and lose, such is the nature of Counter-Strike, however this match felt a bit off. To give you an example, the number two ranked team in the world, LDLC, lost to Counter Logic Gaming this past weekend at MLG X Games where the odds were 92% - 8% in LDLC's favour... These things do happen. Opinions on the game in question proved to be true when private messages and screenshots were leaked which clearly stated Netcodeguides.com would come out on top.

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Further evidence provided by The Daily Dot implicated Shahzeb "ShahZam" Khan, who then worked for Netcode Illuminati, a parent company of Netcodeguides.com, where screenshots of a conversation on Steam as well as the bet placed by Khan prior to the match

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 Khan now plays for Cloud9, yet no proof has surfaced he was directly involved in the match fixing scam, but rather benefited from the result by simply being in the right circle at the right time. I personally have lost all respect for him, which is truly upsetting since he is a really talented player.

Source: The Daily Dot

CS:GO Lounge speaks out

In case you're confused while reading this, let me clarify a few things. No money changed hands in this ordeal and the players did not benefit from real money betting, which in some countries could land them in jail. The exploited popular betting site csgolounge.com which is a site which allows you to place cosmetic skins (up to four) on the team you think will win. These skins have monetary value, the highest allowed bet being a $60 skin. Some CS:GO skins are worth up to $1000 but you're unable to bet them due to their high cost.

South Africa's very own Courtney "Honey/Augustana" Timpson had his suspicions after the game and proceeded with his own investigation into multiple accounts who won big... really big. In his investigation he noticed that some of these large bets implicated a player by name of Duc "cud" Pham, and Steam accounts on his friend's list. Timpson detailed his investigation and provided the following statement to The Daily Dot:

“He had nine smurf accounts that he controlled directly that all placed the maximum value bet that they could, yielding a return of $1193.14 value each. Some of these accounts were created specifically to bet on this match. At the time I thought it was strange because he wasn’t much of a 'YOLO' better. By that I mean, he would sometimes bet on the underdog but never before this much and never with his smurfs.”

When congronted by a CSGOLounge.com admin via Steam, Pham denied being a part of it.

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The story runs deep and implicates a fair share of well known North American players. However, Khan did release a full statement in the heat of the investigation.

“The day of this match I had placed a bet on iBUYPOWER. I brought up the bet while talking to Casey Foster, he then voice-called me on Steam Friends and told me to change my bet. He made it very clear the match was going to be thrown. I didn't want to get involved with any of it but I changed my bet, as I thought would be logical at the time while also sharing this information with a friend whom I assumed to have bet the same.

I was wrong for a few different reasons; however, I regret first and foremost not contacting league officials and telling them what was going to happen. I didn't have all the details and didn't know any specifics as I was not the one engineering any of this. Also, given my past immaturity at the time, I wasn't sure if anyone would believe me. 

Once I found out my conversation with my so called friend was sent to Richard Lewis, I was ready to just tell him my entire story but I first consulted Casey Foster, who controlled my earnings for my partnership with Netcode Guides (a joint venture by him and then iBUYPOWER Team Captain, Sam “DaZeD” Marine), about it.

He advised this would be a huge blow to the North American competitive CS:GO scene and cause iBUYPOWER to lose their sponsor, asking me to not say anything at all. The NA scene was fragile at the time, and in my eyes I was between a rock and a very hard place with the partnership I had with Netcode Guides, as it was my sole source of income for playing the game I love.

So I denied everything, I stayed quiet, and at the end of the day I took the heat of the crosshairs when this first surfaced months back through an article very similar to this one. I know I wasn't the only person to have known, but I was definitely in a position to do what was right and come forward with this information and I didn't because I was scared. I'm sorry. I've never been involved with any type of match fixing and I never will be, neither would any of us at Cloud9.”

Source: The Daily Dot

Valve steps in

After the dirty laundry was aired many felt tournament host would step forward and place warranted bans on all players mentioned. Instead Valve stepped forward and announced all players involved would be banned from any and all Valve sponsored events.

Banned Players:

  • Duc “cud” Pham
  • Derek “dboorn” Boorn
  • Casey Foster
  • Sam “Dazed” Marine
  • Braxton “swag” Pierce
  • Keven “AZK” Larivière
  • Joshua “Steel” Nissan

This is extremely upsetting as some of the above mentioned players (Dazed, swag, AZK and Steel) are some of the most talented players in the North American scene. Swag is only 16 and was fast tracked to become one of the CS:GO greats. This has been the biggest blow to competitive Counter-Strike since the cheating scandal. The full force of this incident will be most felt in North America as they've struggled in past majors and have now lost some of their best players.

Source: hltv.org

ESEA follows suit

Soon after ESEA, North America's largest match making and league system, placed "indefinite" bans on the ex-IBP members. Following suit after Valve's decision to ban the players, ESEA applied a zero tolerance policy and promotes other organizations should do the same. As mentioned ESEA is North America's largest pickup system offering fantastic serves, support and a higher skill level, which most top players use to improve and practice. There have been talks of CEVO following suit, and I wouldn't be surprised if Faceit drop the ban hammer as well.

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Source: hltv.org

Swag apologizes

Braxton "swag" Pierce offered up an official apology to his fans after being one of the seven players banned from all Valve involved international majors.

"First and foremost I want to apologize to all the fans and sponsors I let down. I was aware of what was happening and allowed it to happen without saying anything. Stealing from people is wrong, and I got what I deserved. I just wanted to reach out to people online and formally apologize because I feel like it is owed. I feel it is important people know that I was not the benefactor from this scandal like some of the other players were. I received very few skins in comparison to some of the other players and I honestly don't know why as I could careless about skins. If you've seen my inventory I still use half of the default skins. I understand by taking one skin, I am wrong, and should be banned. I just wanted the public to know my level of involvement was no where near the person organizing this. This is very unfortunate for me moving forward but the ban was necessary in order to set a precedent for future players to come. I hope one day valve may have mercy on me and let me compete again. Until then I am deeply sorry to all my fans and everyone that supported me that I was involved in this, and not just because we got caught.

Sincerely,

swag"

Hopefully Pierce doesn't give up on CS:GO. He's an extremely talented player and still very young. I have no doubt he will make a comeback.

Closing thoughts

In the light of the cheating scandal of last year this is honestly the last thing the CS:GO world needed. The competitive title is expected to explode in 2015 and we're not even out of the first month and already some of the top players in the world have been banned. I personally hope this is the last of this sort of thing we see in competitive gaming. I thought it was a given that competitive players do not bet on their own matches, let alone matches held in such high regard. I feel these bans are warranted and these players have definitely learnt from their mistakes.

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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